France: Loire, featured
If neither the 2014 nor 2015 vintage meets your expectations of Muscadet, then it’s hard to imagine what you could possibly be seeking. And if you still aren’t acquainted with these subtly intriguing, delicious, enormously versatile and ridiculously underpriced wines, there will never be a better opportunity to remedy that.
Two thousand-fifteen, a stress-free vintage for growers, overflows with generous, lovely wines that belie mid-summer drought and record-setting heat.
Mother Nature presented a host of obstacles in 2014. But as a wide range of outstanding wines and numerous consistently excellent collections testify, these obstacles could be overcome using quite diverse strategies, at times resulting in wines that taste as though they must have come from two completely different vintages. A number of growers in Mosel turned in memorably fine collections.
Meteorological adversity in the Mosel in 2014 led to inevitable compromises, yet intrepid growers scored some improbable successes. In general, the Mosel Rieslings of 2014 are not meant for long keeping. But there are some notable, even spectacular, exceptions.
The Ruwer is a tiny Mosel tributary that enters the Mosel just downstream from Trier. Only its last three miles are flanked by vines, and then sporadically, representing a surface area far smaller than it was in the mid-20th century, let alone 175 years ago when Karl Marx, himself the inheritor of family vine acreage at the edge of today’s Maximin Grünhaus Herrenberg, penned an impassioned plea on behalf of his beleaguered fellow wine growers. This article covers releases from the challenging 2014 harvest.
Germany: Saar, Germany, featured
Praised since the late 19th century for achieving the height of Riesling perfection, the Saar has got its mojo back, as witness successes by both old-line estates and relative newcomers in the challenging 2014 vintage. The best Saar Rieslings of the vintage share vibrant, at times mouth-shaking acidity and, even at the dry end of the sweetness spectrum, alcoholic levity.
Two thousand fourteen will be remembered in Germany for an extremely stressful growing season and challenging harvest. But in Rhine regions that had luck with the weather, circumstances conspired to permit outstanding quality from growers whose viticultural regimens are scrupulous and who had skilled, motivated and outsized picking crews.
At several stages, the 2014 growing season in Austria’s Riesling and Grüner Veltliner-dominated growing regions offered a near mirror image of conditions in 2013. Yet, meteorological opposites though they often seem when viewed on a month-by-month basis, each ended-up delivering wines comparatively high in dry extract, pronounced in acidity and low in alcohol. The deviations from the norm in 2014, though, were extreme. And only very selectively could growers achieve ripeness and depth of flavor—not to mention aromatic and textural allure—that could be compared with the norms of downright sensational 2013.
Despite a growing season marked by a dry summer that was statistically among the five hottest of the last century, Austria’s 2013 Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners display exceptionally bright acidity, clear flavor definition and uncanny complexity.