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måndag 14 april 2014

Weingut Reinhold Haart

There is no rest for the weary...

So on that not I'll just grab another piece of paper with scribbled tasting notes and continue sharing impressions. By the way, when writing uo the previous notes I felt I couldn't do it with a dry throat so I opened this beauty to moisture my palate while continue writing.

2005 Selbach-Oster Zeltingen Himmelreich Riesling Auslese
Turning more and more yellow, into something that really looks lovely, like liquid gold. Still with considerable sweetness yet showing the first signs of integration where everything seem to converge towards the middle, smooting the tropical flavours out with the slate salitinity and together with the balanced acidity truly creating something very drinkable. You have hints of vanilla, yellow apples, mango and hints of Tropicana's blood-orange. Wonderful creamy texture that never gets cloggy thanks to the balacing act the acidity provides. I think this will become even more interesting once the sweetness takes the backstage even a notch further but already now a beautiful, elegant juice. 92 points.

But first, some music.

Next up is Reinhold Haart from the beautiful village of Piesport. Keeping with my tradition of not planning ahead and just taking my chances with some spontaneous visits I mailed Johannes Haart the day before and found out he was in Norway, serving Riesling to hundreds of thirsty wine aficionados. However, as it turned out, he would arrive late at night and be ready and able the next morning so who am I to say no? I must say I admire his stamina. First all these Norwegians and then after hardly any sleep he has this Swedish invasion. And just as the icing on the cake, before I left he had another knock on the door and it was John Gilman with his hommies. I think that on this day, Johannes didn't do anything but pour his wines into eager and thirsty throats. Kudos! At least now you know the reason why the total production might be unusually low. Or...that's not really fair to say because a visit to Johannes is actually always the same - I keep nagging about it every time I see him. He's so generous with his wines that after every visit, the table in his small tasting room looks like the Manhattan skyline. No wionder, since he keeps disappearing time after time again and returning with yet another elixir in his hands. Always soft-spoken, never pushing any wines but just quietly bringing them, putting them on the table without so many words, leaving you there staring at the bottles, looking at the time and realising that you are way, way too late for your next appointment but then again...these bottles are on the table. They're standing there. What to do? Always the same story... Mental note to myself - after a visit to Haart, NO appointments afterwards!

While Johannes was pouring wines, Theo was out overseeing the demolition of part of their cellar. They are about to upgrade their working space to get more room to work with and, sadly, they will also create a more modern tasting room. Don't get me wrong, I perfectly understand it because their current tasting room is small, even cramped but...ya naw...tradition. I've always associated my visist to Haart with this pitoresque little corner of their house where they keep a wall with the soil profiles from the estate's different vineyards. Such a perfect setting for a tasting! But who could blame them? So wines were poured and Johannes being Johannes it meant that there could be just about anything on the table. Different vintages, different vineyards, you name it. Always a treat, always a pleasure. And here's the verdict from the Swedish Jury.

2012 Reinhold Haart Riesling Trocken
Crisp, light and elegant. Some green herb flavours on the rim while the citrus and grapefruit dominantes in the middle. Somewhat drying towards the finish. A no-nonsense quaffer. 82 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Riesling Trocken
Much more crystalline and filigree here, very finely polished throughout the palate, with salty stone lick in the middle and a nice, crisp, clear finish with ripe acidity. Balanced and ready to be quenching many thirsty throats! 86 points.

2011 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Riesling Trocken

This is one of the fun things about tasting with Johannes - you never know what will show up and often you are treated to unique opportunities to taste other vintages for comparison. Here, however, there was some disappointment. Not at all the same dancing balance as the 2012, the brightness from the previous wine being somewhat tuned to a lower tone. Some stinky sulphur aromas on the nose mellows everything out and makes you barely notice the potential hidden beneath, with green apple, starfruit and some melon. 83 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Riesling Haart to Heart
This shows my "expertise"... I mentioned to Johannes that this feels very dry for being the "Classic" type of Riesling that it is and Johannes replied it's one of the sweeter Haart to Heart in a while with maybe 22-23 g of residual sugar - isn't it fun that this passion always keep you humble? Always a student, always much more to learn... So, okay, it feels dry and very fine and with nice extract but I lack...some character. I don't really get the Sense of Place here. I still prefer the beautiful Piesporter Trocken more. 84 points. For a nice quaffer at a restaurant sure, a typical and quite fine Riesling but I'm missing something here and when looking through my notes I suddenly discover what it is - but more discussion on that topic after the tasting notes.

2012 Reinhold Haart Goldtröpchen Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Oh, this is better. Feels bone-dry, with tickling citrus tones from the first fresh sip, followed by a delicate finesse in texture throughtout the palate. An intriguing combination of firm, fresh mandarin-peel acidity yet with this underlying layer of...oily nutiness so typical of Goldtröpfchen, with some green melon and herbs added to it to make it less tropical. Fine focus and grip on the finish. 90 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Ohligsberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Yabiddaabeedoo! Oh, this is to my liking. Before anything else, let me start from the finish instead of the beginning. This truly displays a beautiful balance throughout the drinking experience. I think that was what impressed me the most - the lingering characteristics in every direction somehow combined into a most delicate balance that follows you hand in hand throught the nose, the texture and the precise finish. Fazer is a candy producer from Finland. Green Fazer candy - look it up and buy it and you'll know what I mean. In addition, a lovely mixture of pear and some vanilla fluff. I love the feel of this "aristocratic" herbiness in the background, almost minty in it's flavour profile. This is a winner. 92 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Kreuzwingert Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Wholy cow! Truly lip-smacking acidity with 3-4 r.s., very much "feinherb" style with its combination of smoke, salty slate, crushed stones, green herbs and juicy fresh Granny Smith apples. Fresh as a daisy of course and no doubt with quality but to my personal palate a little to dry and acidic to reach the higher levels of drinking pleasure. 87 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Grafenberg Riesling Kabinett
Same character every year, always a reminder why I love this wine so much - compared to the more "oily", tropical sunshine of the perfect amphitheater-exposed Goldtröpfchen, this little brother displays greener characters, more dried herbs, crisp freshness, transparant and lean in its texture yet full of stuffing once the mineralic coating opens up the flavours inside: Fazer-green (you need to shop for that Finnish candy...), loads of fresh herbs, green fruits just slightly spiced-up with something more juicy and ripe, like a piece of mango. Feels really "bright" and sappy from the very beginning and with such a persistant and complex finish you simply cannot go wrong here. Bravo. 92 points.

2012 Reinhold Haart Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese
Okay, here comes my problem. Delicious but...not the style I expected. After all, this is a Goldtröpfchen but the usual suspects of charcteristics, like the patented oiliness from this warm site is much more taking a back stage here. There is a touch of nutmeg, nutty oil and hints of tropical flavours here but much more so you get a feeling of crisp yet ripe acidity, slate minerality and even with some slightly green fruits mixed with more yellow peach and nectarines. Normally I would have expected even riper succulent red peach with hints of pinapple, ripe mango, yellow kiwi, mangosteen and similar tropical attributes but this wine displays a leaner style. Sure, it lies beautifully on the palate, delightful texture, it has a long and persistent fresh finish and the whole package truly breaths...balance; but there is something missing here for the higher levels, at least to my palate and based on what I have always associated with this magical vineyard. 90 points.
 2012 Reinhold Haart Ohligsberg Riesling Spätlese
And here comes to confirmation of what I'm talking about above because here you have the riper fruit with more tangerine, apricot, lovely spiciness and somewhat sweeter (more "Spätlese) while still displaying great tension, finesse and a lively acidity - but this is what I expected from Ohligsberg, while I always have found Goldtröfchen to display even more of these riper, fruitier and sweeter characters. Nice interplay between succulent fruit and a more restrained flavour palate of herbs and spices, making the finish more interesting. 92 points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Riesling Trocken
Going into the 2013s and back to the dryer beginning, this is fresh spritz with nice tension and up-lift from the first sip. Possibly 9-10-11 g of r.s. or thereabouts, according to Johannes. Crisp, salty slatiness with a coating of green grass and herbs. Very young and maybe a little too sprawly at the moment. 83-86 points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Kreuzwingert Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Surprisingly floral on the nose but on the palate the usual herbiness as expected from Kreuzwingert. It really has this feinherb trademark attached to it every time. The flower sensation fan out into a yellow/green "glue" component - could it still be a touch of yeast influence in this wine? Clear and pure texture with ripping acidity and just enough residual sugar (6.6 g, according to Johannes) to balance it out. Overall a firm grip, crisp acidity and mineralic texture. 87-88 points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Ohligsberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs
More finesse here - you can really sense the filigree with this smoother brush strokes of finely crushed (almost to powder) stone minerality, feels very polished and cool, balanced throughout and surprisingly more fresh and grapefruit crisp than the herbs annd more warmer fruit characters I usually find in wines from this beautiful vineyard. I think that at the end of the day it very much comes to if you are in a "mineralic mode" or feel for a more fruit-driven drinking experience. 90-92+ points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Goldtröpchen Riesling Grosses Gewächs
So the question is... Is it because of its very early stage that this feels very unlike Goldtröpfchen? I scribble down words like green apples, fresh grapefruit, lime, green tea leaves, zappy minerality - as you can see, much cooler fruit flavours and clear-cut precision rather than the rounder, silkier tropical fruit flavours. It's finesse throughout and sure enough, you DO feel the usual "fatty" characteristics but more like a thin coating in the background, sidestepped by the cooler, fresher and bright finish. Sure, it's well-balanced and impeccable in its own way but I miss the true Goldtröpfchen character. 88-90 points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett (version 1)
Obsviously, just as with Willi Schaefer, the sweeter wines from this vintage are progressing in a glacial pace and are not nearly a finished product. Johannes showed to versions of what will be their Kabinett - this one undblended from a double-fuder. Like pear ice-cream, loads of grey slate, minty and fresh, green apples and grapefruit, green moss and overall a very cool, crisp and delightful creature with lovely intensity. But...Goldtröpfchen? Again, almost like an alien from another planet having taken over the body of Goldtröpfchen and now are trying to pose as someone else. Still potentially delicious jucie here. 88-91+ points.

2013 Reinhold Haart Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett (version 2)
More soft-spoken and delicate, even subdued in its texture, like a fine, mineralic coating above the fruit somewhat masking the underlying fruit of citrus and yellow peach. The texture here is a little broader and the finish feels silkier making the version 1 seem more burly, even slightly unpolished but I would still give my nod to the previous version for its greater intensity and uplift. 87-89 points.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to taste the true gems, the Spätlese range, which always hits the sweetspot in my palate preference so I certainy need to go back and pester Johannes with more knocks on the door - next time probably in their newly-built tasting room.
 So back to my discussion on how I sometimes feel a little lost when I drink these wines from Piesport. I think the Haart family are faced with a dilemma (oh, remember, from my point of view, and from my palate perspective - their aim is of course not focused to please this humble taster's taste buds but rather focus on more important ambitions). But at least it's free to express one's personal opinion so I can go on jabbering all I want here. :-) To me, the wines from Haart always have a special and unique place - I LOVE the fact that they show such a pronounced "typicity" (is that even an English word?), the fact that they typically originate from this place, from Piesport (except for the Ohligsberg of course, originating from Wintrich). A true terroir-driven Sense of Place. No one can mistake the oily, creamy, floral, and tropical characaters of a beautiful Goldtröpchen Kabinett, Spätlese or Auslese. On my opinion, there isn't really anything like it along the Mosel - and it shows time after time again whenever you taste the same vineyard from another producer (grab a Goldtröpfchen from St Urbans-Hof and you'll experience the same thing so it really is a true Goldtröpfchen terroir signature). This typical identity of Piesporter wines give them a unique and special place within the diversity of German Rieslings. There are all sorts of different Rieslings under the German sky but none truly resemble Piesporter Goldtröfchen. However, I also realise that this is not the style for everyone. I would rather say that although unique and in my opinion world-class, it occupies a rather peripheral territory among the regular Riesling consumers. The market probably doesn't favour such a broad, creamy, ripe style of Riesling but rather asks for Riesling to be much more lean, crisp, green, fresh, delicate and bouncing. Very much the oppoiste of what a perfectly sun-exposed and warm vineyard like the Goldtröpfchen is optimally suited for. I imagine that the Haart family is, or will be, more and more "pushed" to produce Rieslings with even more delicate ligtness and finesse, just like the market wants, in particular the domestic German market. After all, grapes need not just to be grown, harvested, pressed, fermented and bottled. They need also to be...sold. But in doing so, I believe they are at risk of loosing something that has always set them apart. Overall crisper and more delicate wines will make them one of many similar contenders. But again - what to do if the market goes in another direction? No one will pay them money just because we admire their Sense of Place.

In my opinion, another dilemma (if you may call it that) is that although I sense a certain shift towards more focused and crispy style of wine, I still believe that the tropical, oily characters of the Goldtröpfchen will blossom and show itself much more pronounced if left in the bottle for some years but for most Rieslings I think it's a safe bet to say that they are consumed very early. Probably with the first year after bottling. I have discussed this with both Theo and Johannes and it isn't a brilliant first discovery by yours truly but rather something they have been discussing between each other for many years and because of that they have indeed put aside - deliberately - a certain percentage of their harvest to be released later, possibly after 5-10 years in the bottle "to give consumers and wine lovers a chance to see what these vineyards really can taste like with age", according to the Haarts. After all, that's what most wine critics persistently recommend people to do; wait 10 years for your Spätlese to allow the residual sugar to mellow and fully integrate with the fruit, acidity and minerality but how many of us do really give ourselves time to experience this Optimal Riesling Experience?

Not opening the bottle deliberately to prove my point, but as it happended I recently popped a Goldtröfchen with some age and I still remember how I literally had to fend people's hands off as they were trying to go for second pours at the table before I had any a chance to sample this golden nectar. Note to myself - next time: pour a glass to myself before my friends get their share...

2007 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese
I mean...just the colour should merit a high rating. Astonishingly beautiful, like liquid gold, truly golden yellow. The boquet bursts of summer flowers and tropical fruit aromas. On the palate...beautiful tension with a broad palette of juicy, succulent yellow/red peach, mango, nutmeg and papaya. Silky, creamy, smooth it's just a brilliant wave of Copacabana beach-flavours (in a sun hat) hitting your taste buds. One a second lap you get dried honey, even more tropical fruit, almost creamy caramel but...get this: not at all cloying in any sense but rather with a beautifully persistent acidity that creates this up-lift and tension and exposes the fruit basket as fresh, not overripe - despite the tropical feel. 94 points. Reminds me of a similarly brilliant Domherr from the 2005 vintage that I rated even a notch above this beauty. Give this a year or two and I believe it will be even more delicious. This is Reinhold Haart to me, this is Goldtröpfchen to my palate but is it what the market wants? And is it what guests at restaurants want? I'm not sure... And hence, the dilemma, in my opinion of course.

Time to conclude with some music.

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