Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett Alte Reben 2017


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“This year (unlike in 2015 and 2016) only a single fuder from some of Müller’s oldest vines was bottled as “Kabinett Alte Reben” and sold at auction, limitations that the estate expects to perpetuate in future vintages. The contents originated not just (as in past years) with the single-post-trained vines in the Im Breiten Weg Gewann that adjoins the winery, but also with some old vines high up on the Scharzhofberg hillside in a section known as Knipp. On paper, acidity and residual sugar are almost identical to those of the “regular” Kabinett, but the sensory upshot is almost dry. White peach and pear are garlanded in mint and bittersweetly perfumed flowers on the nose, then inform a glossy but buoyant, silken-textured, lusciously juicy palate. As with other Müller 2017s, there is an invigorating bite of cress that, along with suggestions of lime zest and fruit kernels, serves for delightful counterpoint, here reaching a mouth-shaking degree of vibrancy. Yet all the while, there is also a soothingly cooling aspect to the wine’s green herbal inflections and inner-mouth floral perfume. Salts and iodine add intrigue and saliva-inducement to the bell-clear, superbly penetrating and persistent finish. Drinking window: 2019-2036 94 points

Müller’s losses to frost were largely in the Saarburg vineyards that are the mainstay of his basic Scharzberg Riesling – with the consequence that its production volume did not even equal that of this year’s Scharzhofberger Kabinett. “Any losses we experienced in Wiltingen,” opined Egon Müller’s assistant Veronika Lintner, “simply helped with concentration,” and this year’s wines certainly don’t lack that! Egon Müller indicated not the least displeasure with the rain that fell in September 2017, since it triggered the botrytis he looks for, so that despite this having been (after 2003) his estate’s earliest recorded harvest – commencing on September 25 – he ended up with a glorious collection of nobly sweet wines. “We had beautiful botrytis right from the beginning,” related Lintner, “and we didn’t miss a day doing selection.” By October 15, harvest was over. “It was very warm during midsummer,” noted Lintner, “but not so warm as [in 2018]. We anticipated a collection rather like 2011 – lovely, if perhaps wanting a bit for acidity. But [instead] the cooler weather as harvest approached, especially at night, locked in acids.” When pressed on the matter, she acknowledged that shutdown in the vines during midsummer might also have contributed to the higher-than-anticipated acid levels. “There was one really hot period,” she recollected, “though not as long a one as [in 2018], when there was definitely shutdown.” Lintner perceives 2017’s combination of high ripeness and high extract as having conduced to “relatively muscular, weightier wines than in 2016, when the wines were unusually slim and filigreed.”

The 2017 collection here includes a Trockenbeerenauslese that Müller elected not to auction but instead (as he has done once or twice before in the recent past) to sell directly to his importers and other agents as an opportunity and token of gratitude. This had for me the unfortunate consequence that I could not taste that wine when I visited as usual in late summer. “We also picked and vinified in anticipation of a Beerenauslese,” explained Lintner, “but there was a very tiny potential volume, and in the end we decided to split it up, part going to the eventual gold capsule Auslese and the other to the Trockenbeerenauslese.” (For much more about this fabled estate and its Le Gallais sister – whose bottlings are treated for purposes of the Vinous database as a subset of Egon Müller Scharzhof – consult the introductions to my accounts of their 2014s, 2015s and 2016s.)”

David Schildknecht, Vinous (10/19)