When I was a student at Oxford I used to buy plenty of Muller-Catoir wines, so many that the wine merchant put neck labels on the bottles saying “David Strange highly recommends this wine”. At the time I thought I was a serious mover and shaker in the Oxford wine scene but in retrospect I suppose that my pronouncements would not have resulted in that many extra sales of unfashionably sweet German wine. I loved them back then and when the Elitistreview team hit Germany and visited their Weingut all those happy taste memories came flooding back. 2009 is an excellent vintage at this address. You may note a distinct lack of tasting notes for trocken (dry) wines, something for which Muller-Catoir are well-known. This is because they hardly tweak my fancy so we decided not to taste them.
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Riesling Kabinett Mussbach 2009
The fruit on the nose has apple hints but they are somewhat masked by its distinctly exotic aromas. This smells hilariously ripe and is clearly only a Kabinett as far as the label goes. There is a good creamy minerality to it, though, and it is not over-blown. There are certainly no problems as far as balance goes on the palate; all of that overt fruitiness is perfectly matched by a steel rod of acidity running through it. Highly drinkable.
Riesling Spatlese Mandelgarten 2009
The fruit is also exotic on this nose but it seems very fresh and not confected in the slightest. Again there is a creamy minerality here and the overall effect of this is to make it seem deeply charming. The palate is nervy and racy with lots of fresh fruit and an exciting thrill of acidity. Well balanced once again, although this wine has a more ‘tits out for the boys’ character than the Kabinett.
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Scheurebe Spatlese Mandelring 2009
This has mam-loads of exotic fruit on the nose: grapefruit, mango and passion fruit I’d say. Yet, once again, there is a definite restraint which keeps it from being too over-whelming, confected or generally unpleasant. As I taste this I find myself really impressed by the acid levels which, even with all that exotic fruit, make this seem like a very carefully constructed, pretty little wine of complete delight. I also find myself wondering if Scheurebe should be as complex as this as the grape is usually made into sugar-tastic confections of absolute tedium.
Rieslaner Spatlese Herzog 2009
Compared to the last few wines this nose seems a tad understated. There is some nice, fresh citrus fruit and a slightly rough earthiness, but subdued definitely seems the character here. Wow, what a palate! There is star-bright, stomach-scalding acidity which is a perfect foil for the lovely sweetness. It really is quite sweet for a Spatlese, but that acidity is just flabbergasting; I’ll need my anti-acid tablets when I leave this tasting but experiencing the vibrant edginess of this wine makes the pain worth tolerating. I’m moved.
Scheurebe Auslese Mandelring 2008
The grapefruit character on the nose of this would rival a large tanker full of perfectly ripe and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice as the closest thing to the Platonic ideal of grapefruit you are likely to encounter. There is also a definite rhubarb aroma to this nose along with a pure expression of minerality; these characters I really rather like. Cripes, this is very sweet but once again that acidity we love so much keeps the harmony fine and the palate charged with an exhilarating nervous tension. The complexity is not lacking, with a finish showing the myriad characters of this wine for quite an impressive period of time. A gripping, stimulating drink that even the most boring sweet wine-phobes would happily neck with big grins slapped across their visages.