Monday, 30 April 2012

Lagrein from Bad Dürkheim

Over a year ago, I attended the annual Pfalz wine fair in Bad Dürkheim. One of the wines I tasted there - Weingut Egon Schmitt's Lagrein trocken 2008 - made a lasting impression. It was quite unlike all the other red wines on account of its mouthwateringly refreshing, stiff spine of acidity. Based on this first-hand experience, I recently bought six bottles of the 2009 vintage.

Lagrein is the red grape of choice in the Südtirol (Alto Adige) region of Italy. It's only relatively recently that a few wineries in Germany have started experimenting with it. Weingut Schmitt's Lagrein vines were planted in 2004 in the Dürkheimer Nonnengarten vineyard on alluvial gravel soils not too disimilar to those found in the variety's home region.

Weingut Egon Schmitt, Lagrein trocken 2009, Pfalz, Germany
Further proof that no two vintages are ever the same. Whereas 2008 was redder, 2009 is a brooding mass of darkness that needs air and, above all, time. Given that the winery itself says that the optimum drinking window for this wine begins from around 2014, my intention was to open one bottle now and lay the other five down. This still seems the best course of (in)action.

Quite opaque garnet red with slightly purplish edges. The nose is unresponsive on the first night. It takes around 24 hours to develop into something defineable, i.e. red fruit, cherries and something reminiscent of chocolate. Tightly woven tannins are what characterises the palate - not of the strigent, abrasive variety, but there is an obvious imperviousness that bears testimony to the wine's relative youth. Full-bodied with some initial suggestions of dark berry fruit. The fruity side of this wine should come the fore once the tannins start mellowing.

This wine has plenty of potential, so I'll certainly give it another couple of years. That said, it offers plenty of enjoyment and character even in its current shy state.

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