Thursday, 31 January 2013

Halenberg GG

Owing to - shall we say - a very fortuitous alignment of the stars, a single bottle of this, the 2011 vintage of Emrich-Schönleber's Halenberg grand cru, recently landed in my possession. If asked to name one particularly feted Grosses Gewächs (GG) requiring ample cellar time, this would be many people's choice. And yet, as Frank Schönleber himself commented on his winery's Facebook page at the end of August 2012, "Jetzt wunderschön zu trinken sind folgende Jahrgänge ["The following vintages are now drinking wonderfully]: 2011, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001".

"Ah well," I thought, "life's too short to prevaricate." If I had six bottles of this elixir, I would probably drink one now anyway (but then hide the remaining five away at least for another half a dozen years or so).

Weingut Emrich-Schönleber, Halenberg GG, Riesling trocken 2011, Nahe, Germany
Pale yellow. Minerally, mildy pungent opening that positively bristles with slate. Initially imposing on the nose, but by no means unapproachable. Over the course of three evenings, this Halenberg partially unveils its mask to reveal yellow stone fruit, hints of pineapple and dry herbs. I say "partially" because you can positively smell the potential. The complexity is there but remains akin to a clenched fist.

And yet, Herr Schönleber was right. This wine is wonderful to drink. Again, blistering minerals on the palate. Highly taut at first, with a ultra-cool entry that grips your gills. A taste sensation that slams you onto the proverbial canvas. Wham! Over 48 hours, the wine loosens up to reveal beautiful, silky acidity. The mouthfeel is velvety while the (yellow) fruit is surprisingly smooth and accessible. And the aftertaste lingers and lingers - at which point the minerally substance returns. Medium-bodied despite packing such a punch.

Genuinely, I would say that this wine puts as great a demand on your concentration as any other I have had. On the other hand, it is up there as one of the best Rieslings I've had the pleasure of drinking.

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