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Egon Muller Scharzhof Riesling QbA 2016

Egon Muller Scharzhof Riesling QbA 2016

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"Penetrating aromas and bright juiciness of apple and lemon are reinforced in their invigorating effect by the pungency and bite of raw ginger as well as a nettle-like prickle. An impression of wet stone also runs from the nose through the polished, delicate but concentrated midpalate. A luscious infusion of fresh apricot and a saliva-liberating lacing of mineral salts add appeal to an animating finish and render the next sip irresistible. I can’t recall having tasted a more impressive Scharzhof bottling, a fact that might well be directly related to the major crop losses suffered this year in Saarburg (and to a lesser extent Wiltingen), whence this cuvée is sourced. But as Veronika Lintner points out, some of this wine’s delightful sense of levity can be laid at the door of lower must weights, offering yet another example of how, inexplicably, crop loss this year to peronospora seldom resulted in prematurely elevated Oechsle. I wouldn’t hesitate to cellar some of this. Drinking window: 2017-2026. 90 points

“Let’s put it this way,” said Egon Müller’s assistant Veronika Lintner. “In August of 2016, we weren’t counting on anything like the wines we ended up with. When we started picking on October 11, we were amazed at how healthy the grapes were. There were only healthy grapes – absolutely no botrytis. On October 21,” continued Lintner, “we called a halt for 10 days in hope of botrytis developing.” But it didn’t, which explains why there is not even a single Müller Scharzhofberg Auslese from this vintage, although the Wiltinger Braune Kupp eventually came through on that score – and with dramatic results. “There was some concentration here and there through dehydration,” reported Müller in explaining why there is just a single 2016 Scharzhofberg Spätlese, and that not picked until early November, “but it wasn’t to the point where selective picking would have resulted in sufficiently distinctive differences. And as for botrytis, that requires some humidity, whereas October 2016 remained completely dry. Acid levels weren’t high like in 2015,” he added – but he’s pulling my leg a bit, because he’s talking about 2016 levels in excess of nine grams a liter! Grapes left hanging in the Scharzhofberg after the first week of November eventually froze hard on the 30th and again on December 5, resulting in a phenomenally concentrated if as yet embryonic Eiswein. The small number of bottlings here this year is deceptive as regards yields. Peronospora in Saarburg accounted for a dramatic reduction in the volume of Riesling Scharzhof, but losses in the Braune Kupp and Scharzhofberg were at most 20%."

David Schildknecht, Vinous (03/18)