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Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Kabinett 2001

Riesling from Mosel, Germany
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    Winemaker Notes

    Scharzhofberg is one of the most famous sites in Germany and was probably planted by the Romans. Situated in Wiltingen, it is removed from the Saar in a side valley and faces due south. It is both very steep (30-60% grade) and high in elevation, starting at 180 m/590 ft. and reaching 280 m/918 ft. The soil, formed from gray Devonian slate decomposition, is very deep with no bedrock. Scharzhofberg is very well drained but still holds sufficient moisture (a characteristic shared by many of the very best European vineyards). The vineyard comprises 27 ha (67 acres), of which Egon Muller owns 7 ha (17.5 acres). This includes 3 ha (7.5 acres) of ungrafted Riesling vines planted in the last century. The Kabinett wine is very racy and austere, with superb mineral-toned complexity and a steely edge of acidity. This is Riesling at its most ethereal, and arguably one of the great white wines of the world. Even at Kabinett level, a Scharzhofberger can develop in the bottle for 20 to 30 years in a good vintage. The ones produced from noble rot are immortal.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Egon Muller

    Egon Muller

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    Egon Muller, Mosel, Germany
    The Egon Muller Saar wines are entirely estate-grown and come from two domains, either his original, 200 year old 21-acre property at Scharzhof (founded in 1797) or the 10-acre Le Gallais vineyard in Wiltingen partially acquired in 1954. The Scharzhofberg vineyard is the equivalent of a Cote d'Or grand cru and considered by many German wine authorities to be one of Europe's finest white wine sites. It is entitled to be labelled with the Einzellage (vineyard) name alone rather than being identified by a village prefix. The 17.5 acre Egon Muller holding includes 7.5 acres of ungrafted Riesling vines from the last century. Yields are very low; 60 hl/ha (3.4 tons/acre) is considered ideal but it has not been reached since 1992.

    Following the Mosel River as it slithers and weaves dramatically through the Eifel Mountains in Germany’s far west, the Mosel wine region is considered by many as the source of the world’s finest and longest-lived Rieslings.

    Mosel’s unique and unsurpassed combination of geography, geology and climate all combine together to make this true. Many of the Mosel’s best vineyard sites are on the steep south or southwest facing slopes, where vines receive up to ten times more sunlight, a very desirable condition in this cold climate region. Given how many twists and turns the Mosel River makes, it is not had to find a vineyard with this exposure. In fact, the Mosel’s breathtakingly steep slopes of rocky, slate-based soils straddle the riverbanks along its entire length. These rocky slate soils, as well as the river, retain and reflect heat back to the vineyards, a phenomenon that aids in the complete ripening of its grapes.

    Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically on the desirable sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type and altitude. The best Mosel Rieslings—dry or sweet—express marked acidity, low alcohol great purity and intensity with aromas and flavors of wet stone, citrus and stone fruit. With age, the wine’s color will become more golden and pleasing aromas of honey, dried apricot and sometimes petrol develop.

    Other varieties planted in the Mosel include Müller-Thurgau, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), all performing quite well here.

    Riesling

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    A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling, and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Oregon, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes in New York.

    In the Glass

    Riesling is low in alcohol, with high acidity, steely minerality, and stone fruit, spice, citrus, and floral notes. At its ripest it leans towards juicy peach and nectarine, and pineapple, while in cooler climes it is more redolent of meyer lemon, lime, and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of gasoline.

    Perfect Pairings

    Riesling is very versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice), and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.

    Sommelier Secret

    It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.

    HEI771420_2001 Item# 56047