The French have Mouton-Rothschild, Italy has Sassicaia and Germany has Egon Müller. Possibly the only world-famous wines to orignate from Germany are those from Dr. Loosen, Robert Weil and Egon Müller – the latter being, by far and away, the most expensive.
The Scharzhofberger site is so synonymous with Egon Müller that, in wine circles, if you say the vineyard’s name, Müller’s wines are the ones you think of despite several wineries owning parcels in what is Germany’s most-famous vineyard.
But it is Egon Müller that is so commonly associated with this slate-soil site in the Saar region (a sub region of the Mosel) and for good reason. The off-dry and nobly sweet wines from this winery and from this vineyard belong to the world’s finest white wines – on a par with top whites from Burgundy – despite being vastly different.
Pale, golden yellow in the glass, the nose of this wine is slightly different to the Mosel and Saar Kabinetts I have tried in the past. There is far lesser reliance on fruit and the mineral aspects: slate, white pepper, fresh herbs are far more prominent. There is fruit in the way of pear, a touch of something tropical (mango, papaya, pineapple) and a decent amount of fresh apple juice. Interesting too is the way the residual sugar is worked into the wine – believe it or not but it is not immediately noticeable – of course this isn’t a dry wine: that is obvious, but the fruit is so composed and worked into the spice structure that it isn’t bright: it doesn’t dominate as is so often the case in Kabinett. The fruit does come through but the slate aromas coupled with a unique sense of smoke and the fresh herbs on the nose run the show leading to a very clean finish – unusual for Kabinett which often remains sweet and syrupy on the palate.
A fantastic Kabinett which presents the soil perhaps better than any other wine of the same classification from this site – composed, clean and remarkably addictable.
Egon Müller wines in the UK
Egon Müller wines in the US
2004 was one of the worst Bordeaux vintages in recent years and the wines of Médoc and Graves are sometimes worth avoiding. However, general sweeping statements are usually a mistake and they are in this case too: many of the top producers made very good wines in 2004 – even in Médoc.
In Pomerol and St. Émilion, the vintage wasn’t as bad as it was on the left bank. Whereas it was far from being ideal, many Pomerol producers still managed to create great wines and, particularly interesting for impatient people, many of them are ready to drink already.
Château l'Évangile’s 2004 wine is one such example. It’s still bright and fresh but it is starting to open up, especially if you give it a few hours in the decanter. It’s about to enter the ‘dead phase’ though, a period that many wines experience for a number of years: once the fruit phase vanished, the harsher tannin notes take over and the wine goes into a kind of hibernation before eventually emerging as the wine it was supposed to be enjoyed as. I guess this phase will take over in the next two to three years and the wine will stay in this phase for ten to fifteen years before emerging a ripe and ready Pomerol in around 2030.
The producer itself is making waves. Whereas Lafleur and Pétrus might be Pomerol’s flagships, the Rothschild dynasty (Lafite branch) purchased the l’Évangile estate in 1990 and its vineyards neighbour those of both Pétrus itself and Cheval Blanc in nearby St. Émilion. The winery’s produce is going from strength to strength with every vintage gradually improving. The 2005, 2009 and 2010 wines from Château l’Évangile were some of Bordeaux’s best for those vintages according to leading Bordeaux specialists and the Château is starting to emerge as a real alternative to the leading wines of the right bank – it retails for a fraction of the price of Cheval Blanc and Lafleur and, compared to the prices of Pétrus, well, it’s a bargain.
Deep, ruby red with a youthful lilac hue.
Lots and lots of blackberry with a whole host of other forrest fruits in the background: wild raspberry, wild strawberry, blueberry and even redcurrant. This is a hint of sweetened, dried plum and this is held together with vanilla in oak, plentiful tobacco and a cedar wood feel.
The blackcurrant is, predictably, the first note on the tongue with a youthful burst of ripeness and freshness – it is in fact so sweet that you might initially feel the wine to be a touch too young but, when it gives way to the rest of the fruit: Cassis, red plum, wild strawberry and even a decent helping of rhubarb, the wine slowly falls into place with the red fruits working together to form a luxurious compote. This eventually runs into a touch of wood with tobacco, pepper, smoke and even leather to finish off the wine – the fruit lingers long in the mouth long after the finish has vanished.
The promise in this wine is very interesting. The unusually ripe fruit together with the background role of the tannin (at the moment) is proof that the wine will keep for decades. An underlining and reassuring acidity holds it together and the fruit will soon take on a background role. It’s interesting to drink wines before the ‘dead phase’ takes over although this wine is far from its prime. One to look out for in future: it’ll be more affordable than the 2005, 2009 and 2010 wines but no less better at defining the estate and Pomerol AOC itself.
I often find the Cru Bourgeois are overlooked when it comes to Bordeaux. Lead astray by the ridiculous classification act of 1855 (which has remained pretty much unchanged since its introduction), consumers commonly label the Cru Bourgeois wines as forgettable – not real Bordeaux. Thankfully, this often has an effect on their prices: wines are usually considerably cheaper than their classified neighbours and, in good vintages, it is a great idea to stock up on Cru Bourgeois.
2004 was a bad year for Bordeaux: probably one of the worst vintages in the last 20 years: top-end wines seldom show real character and a glance at the prices alone (compared to the 2000 and 2005 vintages) show just how much the Châteaux of the right bank would like to forget the vintage. Nevertheless, a handful of vintners still managed to pull-off good wines – particularly the wineries of Haut-Médoc AOC and Médoc AOC were able to create wines that weren’t hugely noticeably different from previous vintages. In some cases, the 2004 wines were better than those of 2003 and 2002 (both average Bordeaux vintages).
One such winery is Château d’Aurilhac of Haut-Médoc. This 2004 is a Cabernet-dominated affair with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the final wine. Unlike many other Haut-Médoc wines, it feels warm and youthful, most probably thanks to the limestone-pebbled soils of the Château’s estate.
Ruby red with a pink hue – amazingly still showing its youth after eleven years.
Lots of black berries but also a fair amount of Cassis. Blackberry, black cherry and a handful of red berries are immediately noticeable. A toasty oak and vanilla sense is in there as well and so too is freshly-ground espresso.
The attack is a bright red and black fruit note with lots of blackcurrant and a decent serving of Cassis. Amazingly, a certain amount of acidity is still there and the long fruit body is thick with cherries and hints at plum. The finish is woody, smoky and brings with it dark chocolate, tobacco and espresso (not to mention a hint of vanilla).
This wine tastes about five years younger than it is. You’d never be able to tell that it was from a poorer vintage and it is quite a good example as to how good some Haut-Médoc can be: especially after a few years in the cellar. Serve with lamb roast or grilled game.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry