By The Glass
Germany's '06 vintage gets high marks
LAST MAY, I debated what wine selections would best commemorate the birth of my son, Zachary.
Immediately, I looked to German wines. Through the generosity of friends, I have been fortunate enough to taste wines from various producers spanning vintages including '53, '59, '64, '71, '76 and '83. German wines have always been favorites of mine and have the amazing potential to be extremely long-lived. I couldn't wait to see what 2006 had to offer.
Just a few hours shy of Zachary's first birthday April 26, I received the 2006 German Vintage Report via e-mail. Talk about perfect timing! I dove into the report and in 20 minutes formulated a plan of action.
German winemakers compare the 2006 vintage favorably to the classic 1976 vintage. Some might discuss the finer points of structure, acidity and ripeness; but what was crystal clear to me was the aging potential of these great wines.
The finest estates continue to put forth great, quality wines -- and 2006 was no exception. Unlike the 2005 vintage, which showed amazing balance, the 2006 seemed riper and less wound-up. Of the many stellar producers, there are two I've already committed to purchase, price unseen.
THE TIMELESS, classic wines of Manfred Prüm of the superlative Joh. Jos. Prüm estate, one of the Mosel region's most noble, are a "must-have" for collectors. His 2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese is rich and elegant -- framed with mineral notes. Prüm's Graacher Himmelreich Auslese is vibrant with signature spices. Very few producers can match the quality from this fine estate.
The name Fritz Haag may not be as well known as Prüm to the general wine-drinking population, but make no mistake ... their wines are second to none. Managed by the masterful Wilhelm Haag and his son Oliver, the estate has turned out an exceptional 2006 vintage. Where other estates struggle to make the lighter, elegant QBA's and kabinetts (which I love to drink), the Haags manage to do it with seeming ease. In addition, their Gold-Kapsule-Auslese from Brauneberger-Juffer-Sonnenuhr is always magnificent.
Other German estates I'm keeping an eye on:
» Schloss Lieser Estate, with none other than Thomas Haag (Fritz Haag's son) at the helm.
» The wines of Dr. F. Weins-Prüm, guided by Bert Selbach are a stellar value, nearly rivaling the elegance of the Prüm estate.
» Hanno Zilliken, with his pure and powerful mineral and lace-styled rieslings, are always riveting.
» Fritz Hasselbach from Gunderloch crafts such velvety textured wines.
» The wines of Helmut Dönnhoff in the Nahe region are the epitome of greatness.
» Josef Leitz and Franz Künstler in the Rheingau are two fabulous candidates.
As these wines begin to slowly emerge in the marketplace, the best are sure to go fast. I can't think of any other region where estates have had the incredible fortune of consistently producing such high quality vintages -- six years and counting!
In Vinos Veritas!
Kevin Toyama is a sommelier at the Halekulani and an advanced certificate holder from the Court of Master Sommeliers. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org