2017 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Riesling Trocken, Burgergarten, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz, Germany.
The Burgergarten in the Haardt vineyard as used by the famed Mueller-Catoir, or hill garden, is a Premier Cru site that is composed of weathered yellow sandstone interspersed with layer of loess and clay giving the perfect conditions to make a lush, but crisply dry Riesling of refined elegance and with a concentrated underlying power, which in 2017 is incredible and joyously perfumed. Muller-Catoir, which converted to 100% organic in between 2007 and 2009, uses a more reductive (non oxidative) winemaking style, with a gentle crush, a long skin contact, and a very slow pressing of the grapes as to not push bitter phenolics from the seeds, along with their ferments at warmer than what is considered normal temperatures in stainless steel tank. Mueller-Catoir, which was founded back in 1774, is now run by Philipp David Catoir, the ninth generation of Catoir’s to do so and has the Martin Franzen as the cellar master (winemaker) and who took over from the legendary Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2001, and in my opinion has even raised the quality here. The 2017 Burgergarten Trocken goes a long way to proving that with exotic tropical fruit and floral aromas with plumeria, jasmine, dried pineapple, gingery/peppery notes and grilled citrus leading the way on the racy palate, this Riesling feels a bit like Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile, adding layers of wild peach, while cherry, tangy apricot and zesty lime notes along with loads of tannin like structure, zippy acidity, chalky stones and a Chablis like steely edge! Air brings more body out and clears the touch of reduction that easily blows and this Riesling becomes in fact more white Burgundy like in some ways, while also gaining hints of spearmint, chamomile and verbena, which clearly are Riesling influences and it is strikingly impressive for keeping its tension , clarity and severity, like a firm GG should.
Parts of Burgergarten were originally planted 700 years ago, making it one the first vineyard sites to be in the Pfalz region, which is not all that from from Alsace and one of the more interesting regions of Germany, it’s chalky soils much different from the classic slate of the Mosel and to those of the Rheingau and the Nahe. This area can produce monumental dry Riesling, as witnessed here with this Erste Lage Trocken from Mueller-Catoir, but it can also do riveting Pinot Noir, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, especially when done by the neighboring Von Winning estate as well as one of the best dry Muscats or Muskateller in the world, of which Mueller-Catoir is my favorite. Terry Theise, Mueller-Catoir’s famous importer, says the estate produces wines of outstanding transparency and density, and remains emblematic of Riesling at its most sophisticated, and I totally agree, these are amazingly pure wines that are both wildly entertaining in expression and wines of remarkable class and finesse. I have long been a fan, as longtime readers of my reviews will have certainly noted, and while Theise has waxed lyrically about the Spatlese and Auslese here, I am completely seduced with the dry wines at Mueller-Catoir and this one is no exception, in fact I find it as compelling as the GG’s! This not Riesling for the sweet toothed or for hot and spicy cuisine, it is more at home with unadorned sushi, the freshest of mackerel, toro and or crab cakes. This Burgergarten grows on you with every sip and should get even more intriguing with 3 to 5 years more are on it, patience I think will be well rewarded, and I hope I get to revisit it a few more times.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive