Specialty Club – October 2011

2007 Clemens Busch, Puendericher Marienburg Rothenpfad Riesling, Grosses Gewaechs
One of the most interesting developments in the international wine scene in the last few years has been the German public turning against traditional Mosel Rieslings in favor of drier wines that pair better with a wider range of foods. Although not yet in danger of extinction, the classic wines of such wonderful producers as Selbach, Loosen, Pruem, Moenchhof, Christoffel Erben and their peers are now much more prized among American and English connoisseurs than in their own homeland. However, one of the benefits of this change in the taste of the German public has been to create a market for drier styles of Riesling, of which this wine is a great exemplar.

Since 1984 Clemens and Rita Busch have tended ten hectares (approximately 24.7 acres), all in the Marienburg vineyard in the commune of Puenderich in the lower part of the Mosel valley. The soil is very similar to the famous area around Bernkastel, where the vineyards consist of incredibly steep terraces made up of alternating layers of gray, blue, and red slate. The Busches were among the earliest in the Mosel to adopt organic viticulture, and they have also worked biodynamically for several years. While they make wonderful off-dry wines, particularly from the blue slate Fahrlay parcel, this wine comes from the weathered red slate of the Rothenpfad section, the oldest area of the vineyard. This vineyard is a hidden treasure; the “Grosses Gewaechs” label is the new German equivalent of a Grand Cru designation. The wine features wonderfully complex aromas of honey, minerals, apple, and citrus, and on the palate it has tremendous finesse, purity, and length. As a dry Riesling, it is not dissimilar to the great Rieslings of Austria, and it would pair with vegetable dishes as well as any Gruener Veltliner. Enjoyable now, like all great Rieslings this wine will continue to develop for at least another ten years. It is $51.50 and we can get more. We were very pleased to be able to put this wine in the Club, not least because Clemens’ delightful visit to our shop last year was one of the highlights of the year.

2009 Marcel Lapierre, Morgon
Marcel Lapierre, who died last October at the age of 60, was one of the great heroes of French wine-making history. As the growers of Beaujolais succumbed to the lure of industrialization and mass production, selling most of their grapes to large negociants for Beaujolais Nouveau, Marcel Lapierre went in the opposite direction in the early eighties. Together with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thevenet, he formed an informal group, called by importer Kermit Lynch the “Gang of Four,” who argued for organic viticulture, natural yeasts, and limiting the amount of sulfur dioxide to be added to the wine. Slowly, over the last fifteen years or so, Beaujolais has regained the respect of the world’s wine drinkers, as the improved wine-making and growing practices have elevated the wines of the ten Crus. And, then, almost as a reward for Marcel’s efforts, 2009 has proven to be the best vintage in the history of Beaujolais. And you can taste that in this Morgon, the last wine he made. To quote the somewhat excited review of David Schildknecht of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “Exuberant strawberry and red raspberry in confitured and distilled form are threaded with lilac inner-mouth floral perfume, striking notes of blood orange rind, nutmeg, toasted pecan, blond tobacco, and subtle hints of game and forest floor. Silken in texture, sappy and pungent, this finishes with an exhilaratingly animated exchange of fruit, flower, and mineral elements.” It’s just plain heavenly, although, as a wine with low sulfur content, it should be consumed this holiday season, preferably with the Thanksgiving turkey. It is $39.75 and we have only a few bottles left.