The 1990’s was a standout decade for German wines. Where previously we were lucky to find 2 or 3 vintages out of every decade where all of the variables came together to make really good wines, the 1990’s had at least 8 quality years. Lucky us! Here was a chance for me to revisit 2 of the wines. It can be such a thrilling experience to taste how wines like this can change with years of bottle age.
1993 Zilliken Spatlese “Saarburger Rausch”–I have been a huge fan of superstar German winemaker Hanno Zilliken & his wines. I remember how taken I was with his 1993 offerings way back when. I thought they were some of my favorites from Germany that year. Upon release, his 1993’s were so tight fisted & UN-showy, but still displayed great minerality, filigree & fine tuned, masterful balance with lots of tartaric (ripe) acidity. I bought the Kabinett & Spatlese that vintage, because I thought they way over delivered for the dollar. The wine’s once apparent sweetness has now completely changed to a more tactile creaminess, which is actually not really so noticeable because of the racy, scintillating acidity & completely riveting minerality which is now totally in the wine’s forefront. I, in fact, think most tasters would think this is a medium dry to dry wine today, because of the tactile change from the years of bottle age. This wine is another reminder that true wine lovers just need to be more patient & allow Zilliken’s wines to age in order to better see its true core & innate complexities like this. I am more of a believer now than ever.
1996 Fritz Haag Gold Kapsule Auslese “Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr”–In the early months 1996 was looking to be a challenging vintage, but things seem to change as the growing season progressed, especially in the last couple of months & there were therefore some really good wines to be had. Of the wines I tasted, I specifically zeroed in on those from Fritz Haag, especially the those of the Auslese quality level. I still vividly remember how really impressed I was with Fritz Haag’s 1996 wines upon release. They were rounder than the 1995’s & more elegant & refined than the rich, prolific 1997’s. I felt they would be so captivating & glorious with bottle age AND at a younger age than the 95’s & 97’s. Having the 1996 now is having a wine still WAY too shamefully young & has been much slower to resolve & develop than I had expected. Yes, this baby has a long time more to go. Although the nose proudly shows the pedigree & breathtaking nobility of this vineyard in the hands of legendary Wilhelm Haag, the core, structure & residual sugar still needs much more time so it can really strut its stuff.
On another note–
2002 Fritz Haag Gold Kapsule Auslese “Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr”–I was so looking forward to trying this wine. We popped open a bottle, because we had an opportunity to buy some more & wanted to check it out first. When the 2002’s were released, Fritz Haag was at the top of my list. Back then, however, I actually preferred the 2001’s, but thought the ’02’s would be well worth cellaring for the long term. With first whiff, I was flabbergasted. Despite being 14 years old, this 2002 was merely an infant–so undeveloped & primary. Still, this wine is certainly one to be reckoned with in the distant future, as it effortlessly combines resounding fruit, mega-intensity, unreal physiological maturity, profound depth, structure & pedigree…..kind of like a top notch 1961 Bordeaux First Growth was like in its youth. I will definitely be trying to get some more.