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J.J. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 2009

Riesling from Mosel, Germany
  • RP92
  • WS92
0% ABV
  • WE90
  • WS89
  • RP89
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Winemaker Notes

This is a thicker and more sassafrassy version of the Kab; it increases not in sense-of-sweetness but instead in tangible depth; pungent aromas, round, many-layered silky palate, crammed with Würzgarten garrigue.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Christoffel’s 2009 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese leads with kiwi, white raspberry, sassafras, and pineapple; comes to the palate alluringly creamy – almost vanilla custard-like – yet lusciously refreshing and fresh fruit-filled; and finishes with delectable length and the proverbial kiss of wet stone. I would plan on enjoying it anytime over the next quarter century. Interestingly, the total acidity here is the same as in the corresponding Treppchen, despite this wine’s unmistakable extra measure of vivacity and refreshment; and the residual sugar is marginally higher than in the Treppchen, even though the latter’s sweetness sticks out.
WS 92
Wine Spectator
A very honeyed style, delivering flavors of freshly squeezed blood orange and red peach, with notes of tropical fruits mixed in. The airy finish is elegant and rich, showing dollops of butter and spice. Drink now through 2020. 15 cases imported.
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J.J. Christoffel

J.J. Christoffel

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J.J. Christoffel, Mosel, Germany
The Christoffel family of Ürzig has been involved in wine production dating back to the 17th century. In 2001 Hans Leo Christoffel leased the management of his vineyards and winemaking to Robert Eymael of the Mönchhof estate. All of Christoffel’s 4 hectares comprise the Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Treppchen, including a very special parcel directly above (and contiguous with) the 2.2 hectare Erdener Prälat. Cultivation in these sites has been recorded as early as the 7th century, and has for centuries been prized because of its southern exposure, deep Devonian slate, and steep gradients. The Ürziger Würzgarten, or ‘sprice garden,’ is so named because its iron rich slate is red, and produces notably spicy wines. With its gradient of 70 degrees the Würzgarten is incredibly difficult to farm, as is the Erdener Treppchen, immediately adjacent to the Würzgarten. Because of the sheer steepness of these sites, the majority of Christoffel’s plantings are over 100 years old and on their original rootstock. The star system on Christoffel’s labels represents specific parcels, which are vinified separately.

Eymael continues the legacy of winemaking that drove the estate to prestige under Hans Leo, in a style that maximizes clarity: whole cluster pressing, slow and cool fermentation in fuder, racking immediately off the gross lees followed by a short time on fine lees and early bottling to preserve the freshest of fruit characters indicative to Mosel typicity.

Home to some of the world’s finest and longest-lived sweet and dry white wines, the Mosel is a region of Germany formerly known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer—named thusly for the three rivers that flow through its dramatic valleys. Geology, climate and topography are paramount here, and the wines produced communicate a distinct sense of place. In addition to being prized for their heat-retaining properties, slate-based soils lend a stony minerality to the wines, contributing to some of the most recognizable terroir in the world. Cool temperatures necessitate the use of the region’s rivers to reflect heat onto the vineyards, and the best wines are made from sites with south or southwest facing slopes to receive sufficient direct sunlight for ripening. The breathtakingly steep slopes that straddle the river banks cannot be worked by machine, contributing to a high cost of labor (and treacherous working conditions).

Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically the sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type, and altitude. These wines, dry or sweet, are distinguished by marked acidity, low alcohol, and intense flavors of wet stone, citrus, and stone fruit. With age, a pleasing aroma of petroleum often develops. The lesser plots are mainly planted with lower-maintenance but relatively neutral varieties like Müller-Thurgau and other German crosses, but Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) can perform 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.

WVWGJC181_2009 Item# 112291