2016 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Scheurebe Trocken, Haardter Mandelring, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany.
The gorgeous 2016 dry Mandelring Scheurebe by Mueller-Catoir, from Germany’s Pfalz region shows a brisk intensity and zesty form with layers of jasmine, tropical essences, mineral tones and vibrant grapefruit, white peach, lemon rind, spearmint and green apple notes as well as chalky stoniness, saline and dried pineapple. Scheurebe is an unique grape found primarily in Germany, but also in Austria where it can also be called Sämling 88, Scheurebe was created by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu, (hence the name, which was made official in 1945) in 1916, when he was working as director of a grape-breeding institute in Alzey in the Rheinhessen region, by crossing Riesling with an unknown wild vine, though not confirmed and according to official Austrian sources it is in fact a cross between Riesling and Bouquet Blanc. Scheurebe, while not well known in America, is an expressive white grape and the wines do have a Riesling like personality, but far more overt and sometimes with a dense flamboyant nature with a cloying tropical side, but Mueller-Catoir really gets this grape and makes a great and elegant version, as does Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe. The grape was originally planned and created to be a more interesting version of Silvaner and with more frost damage resistance. The vineyards in Mueller-Catoir’s Haardt Cru are composed of primary rock (urgestein) and sandstone, with an increasing proportion of gravel lower on the slopes where Mendelring sits with some loam that brings out the fruity character here. This vintage shows a dynamic vitality and focus with plenty of structural extract and zippy acidity keeping everything balanced, this is a brilliant year for this wine and it should be enjoyed over the next 3 to 5 years.
One of Germany’s great estates, Mueller-Catoir has been family owned since 1774 with nine generations tending the vines under their belt, the winery is now run by Philipp David Catoir, who contuse the traditions that have made this place so special and so coveted by Riesling enthusiasts. On the winemaking side, Mueller-Catoir has the talented Martin Franzen running the cellar, he is from the Mosel originally, but comes with experience as head of operations at Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe and Gut Nagelsforst in Baden, and he took over winemaking responsibility from the legendary Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2001. Both Catoir and Franzen are completely focused on purity of form and have a great respect for the environment and in an effort to showcase terroir and varietal character, Mueller-Catoir has adopted strict organic practices in the vineyards. These holistic methods have risen the quality even further here and the wines have an amazing sense of energy and bring out brilliant aromatics, which are especially highlighted in their dry Rieslings as well as their fantastic Muskateller, which might be the finest dry Muscat wine in the world, and this fabulous and exotically perfumed crisp (dry) Scheurebe. Terry Theise, the renowned Riesling guru and importer, notes that, Müller-Catoir was a pioneer of reductive winemaking in Germany, and the estate implements a gentle crush with a lengthy skin contact, a slow gentle pressing, and then ferments at warmer than customary fermentation temperatures in stainless steel. The wine is racked only once and very late. Mueller-Catoir produces wines of outstanding transparency and density, and remains emblematic of Riesling (as well as Scheurebe) at its most sophisticated. This Mueller-Catoir white is a fantastic food wine as well going beautifully with briny sea foods, lighter Asian cuisines and a variety of soft cheeses and or cured meats.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive