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Egon Muller Wiltinger Braune Kupp Riesling Spatlese 2017

Egon Muller Wiltinger Braune Kupp Riesling Spatlese 2017

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"The 2017 Wiltinger Braune Kupp Spätlese (AP #4) is coolish, pure and stony on the crunchy and concentrated nose. Lush, sweet and round on the palate, with piquant, racy acidity and pervasive minerality, this is a complex and intense, lush and concentrated Spätlese with lingering salinity and a long, precise finish. A fabulous and promising Spätlese. Tasted in June 2019. Drink: 2030-2060. 94 points

There are many days per year that start less spectacular. One morning in mid-June this year, I met Veronika Lindner at Egon Müller's Scharzhof estate to taste the 2018s and what was left in the private wine library from the 2017 vintage that I didn't manage to taste before. Except for the auctioned Scharzhofberger Kabinett, Veronika lined up the whole series of 2017s and all the 2018s. Only the Grosses Gewächs from the Scharzhofberg, which was not yet ready to taste. "It has not even been decided when or if we are going to bottle it," she disclosed. "We will release the wine when Mr Müller is totally convinced about the quality." I asked her if it will be a really dry wine or an off-dry Grosse Lage, and she said, "The wine tasted from the barrel was delicious with 13 to 14 grams of residual sugar, but Mr Müller wants to have a really dry wine—'If I produce a dry Riesling from the Scharzhofberg, it should be a really dry Grosses Gewächs.' He is really curious and wants to know how it tastes." I had to smile about this, because I remember a noteworthy sentence Egon Müller once said to Roman Niewdoniczanski about van Volxem's dry "P" (Pergentsknopp): "It's a remarkably good wine. However, can you imagine how good your Scharzhofberger could have been if it had at least some grams of unfermented sugar?"  

Back to the wines that do exist, starting with the 2018s (even though I tasted the 2017s before the 2018s). "From today's perspective, we can say it was important to start the harvest early enough in 2018. We began on September 24, one day earlier than in 2017, and finished on October 19." The harvest started in the Rosenberg, went on in the Braunfels, then in Saarburg before the harvest team picked alternating in the Wiltinger Kupp and the Scharzhofberg. "The first three days we picked for the Scharzhof QbA," said Veronika. "The quantity was really excellent: After the first couple of days, we had as many fuders as we had in 2017 in total," she explained (51 hectoliters per hectare in 2018 versus18 hectoliters per hectare in 2017). "On day five or six, we already started sorting botrytis berries. We didn't have many botrytis infections, but we had them, and the shriveled berries were perfectly healthy. In the end, we produced two TBAs. The last selection for TBA was on October 13, and after that we only picked for Auslese. The weather was perfectly dry, and the acidity levels remained stable. So, there was no stress and enough time for selections."  

The result is the estate wine, three Kabinett selections (including one from the Kupp), one Spätlese and one Auslese from the Kupp and the Scharzhofberg, two golden capsuled Auslesen from the Scharzhofberg (one of which will be sold at the auction in September). There is no BA, and neither fo the TBAs are yet in the market. The fortune of the GG candidate was still unsettled. The wines were bottled early, as always: The QbA was bottled in late February, the Kabinett and Spätlese Rieslings in the middle of March and the Auslese selections in April this year.

The 2017 quantity was very low due to the frost in April, which caused a loss of 30%. The natural reduction had a positive effect during the summer, which was even drier than in 2018, but there was no lack of water. There was quite a lot of botrytis but not as generous as in 1999, 2005 or 2006. The 2017s are firm and concentrated but still relatively closed compared to the charming 2018s. Which vintage gave the greater wines will be decided in years. However, there are fascinating wines from both years, but unfortunately you have to buy the highest predicates to get the finest wines. The excitement only starts with the Auslesen, and the Scharzhof QbA is rather disappointing compared to former vintages.

Final note: Müller's long-term cellar master, Stefan Fobian, left the Scharzhof at the end of last year and is followed by Heiner Bollig."

Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (244)