2005 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr *** Riesling Auslese

SKU #1321107 97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 If readers are getting the impression that this is the year of Schlossberg, they may well be right, but there is another block-picked but yet richer and more botrytized “three star” 2005 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese*** to consider. The scents and flavors of vanilla, nougat, butter cream, apple jelly, and honey here are themselves practically mouth-filling. Then one sips, and an incredibly dense, bright, concentrate of fruit and nut essences emerges, profoundly layered, coated with honey, vanilla cream, malt, brown spices, and honey, yet never losing a fresh-fruited core, and absolutely clear, pure, refined, and free from any blemish or roughness. It might be only once in a lifetime that a vintner can pick such a wine right off the vine, without selection, opines Johannes Selbach. The finish positively reverberates in its multiple registers against walls of slate. Three or four decades will not be an unrealistic estimate of this wine's longevity. Incidentally, this year's amazing collection of Selbach-Oster Auslesen – which, as readers can see, is replete with outstanding values – was in most instances bottled in 375 ml. as well as in 750 ml. bottles. (DS)  (2/2007)

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- While the rest of the world has often misappropriated the name--Welchriesling, Riesling Italico, Gray Riesling and Emerald Riesling are all names applied to varieties that are NOT Riesling--this exceptional German varietal has managed to maintain its identity. Perhaps its biggest claims to fame are its intoxicating perfume, often described as having honeyed stone fruit, herb, apple and citrus notes, and its incredible longevity - the wines lasting for decades. Aged Rieslings often take on a distinctive and alluring Petrol-like aroma. Within Germany, the grape seems to do best in the warming slate soils of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Other German regions that turn out great Rieslings include Pfalz, Rheingau and Nahe. German Rieslings are made in a range of ripeness levels. The top wines are assigned Prädikat levels to describe their ripeness at harvest. These are: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese. Riesling has also achieved acclaim in France's Alsace, the only region in that country where the grape is officially permitted. Alsatian Rieslings are typically dry and wonderfully aromatic. Austrian Riesling is also steadily gaining praise and fine Riesling is also produced in Italy's Alto-Adige and Friuli, in Slovenia and much of Central and Eastern Europe. In the New World its stronghold is Australia, where it does best in the Eden and Clare Valleys. It is also planted in smaller amounts in New Zealand. In the US, winemakers are eschewing the syrupy sweet versions of the 1970s and 1980s, instead making elegant and balanced wines in both California and Washington State.


- Thanks to a recent string of excellent vintages and to the reemergence of Germany onto the international wine writing scene, this is a country that's hot, hot, hot! Germany is divided into 13 wine Region and produces a very wide variety of wine styles, from incredibly high-acid, dry wines to some of the sweetest, most unctuous concoctions on the planet and even a few surprisingly hearty reds. Most of the highest-quality wines are grown on steep banks along the rivers in these Region. Small vineyards are still mostly hand tended and picked, due to the difficult nature of mechanization on these slopes. White wine production accounts for nearly 80% of the total with Riesling being the most important varietal, though Muller-Thurgau is still more widely planted. Click for a list of bestselling items from Germany.