While attending the 2011 spring auction in the Eberbach Abbey (I recently translated my old blog post) I also tasted some of the regular red wines of the range of Hessische Staatsweingüter / Kloster Eberbach in their shop. Prices on location have been included. For comparison, I’ve also included the tasting notes from the auction in this same post.
This tasting of 2009s indicated that this is a very good vintage for Spätburgunder (and it definitely ain’t bad for Riesling), since it is a ripe vintage without having the extreme conditions of 2003. At this time, no Erstes Gewächs or Grosses Gewächs from any producer in VDP was available yet, since they are allowed to be sold starting on 1 September two years after the vintage year.
By the way, all wines produced by the Hessische Staatsweingüter are nowadays (since the 2008 vintage) sealed by screw cap.
So, these are tasting notes taken in late February 2011 (yes, almost three years ago), but I thought I might as well post them before I move on to posting notes from the 2013 edition of the auction.
The simplest 2009 Spätburgunder (“2009 Kloster Eberbach Spätburgunder trocken”, i.e., a QbA trocken without vineyard designation, € 8,80) was already sold out.
2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder trocken
QbA trocken, € 13,80.
In the nose clearly spicy, dark cherries, undergrowth. On the palate slightly fiery, cherries, medium tannins, some bitterness. Impressive for the level (and a good value), but young. 86-87 p.
2009 Kloster Eberbach “Crescentia” Pinot Noir trocken
QbA trocken, € 14,00
Noticeable oak in the nose, chocolate, dark cherries, undergrowth. Slightly sweetish on the palate, some alcoholic fire, dark cherries, good concentration, quite a bit of tannins. Young, a good value. 87-88 p.
Typical German Spätburgunder style, and in my opinion it had been just as good (if not better) with a little less oak. The wines not sold as Spätburgunder under a vineyard designation, but as “Kloster Eberbach Pinot Noir”, tend to have a heavier oak treatment, and I prefer the former part of this producer’s range.
2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Spätlese trocken
In the nose very ripe dark cherries, balanced oak note, undergrowth. Rather big and elegant nose. Great concentration on the palate, dark cherries, quite a bit of tannins, clearly spicy, a tiny bit of sweetness, undergrowth. Young, definitely a good value. 88-89 p.
This one was only marginally less impressive than the corresponding auction version below (Spätlese trocken Goldkapsel), that I scored 89-90 p, and rather similar in style.
Red wines at the auction
2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Frühburgunder trocken (Goldkapsel)
13.5% alcohol, 90 bottles, final price € 31 (€ 25)
Nose with dark and red cherries, noticeably spicy, some oak, a hint of tar – a clearly fruity nose, slightly flowery. Palate with raspberries and dark cherries, good acidity, a hint of sweetness, medium bodied, medium tannins, some oak bitterness. The nose is slightly better than the palate. 86-87 p.
Frühburgunder is in principle an early ripening clone of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) that is sufficiently “well established” to be counted as a separate variety of grape. I can’t really say that I can recognise a different aroma profile in Frühburgunder compared to Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir, so they are not easy to tell apart based on their wines (rather than on ripening date). I haven’t really tasted a Frühburgunder that has come across as truly top class, so either the wines “stop” at a lower level than Spätburgunder does, or it isn’t cultivated in the best sites.
2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Spätlese trocken (Goldkapsel)
14% alcohol, 120 bottles, final price € 40 (€ 32)
Nose with cherries, herbs, mint, spice, undergrowth, slightly flowery, slightly sweetish nose, and typical “German Spätburgunder” notes. The palate is slightly more than medium bodied, with cherries, spice, some alcoholic fire, noticeable but well integrated medium tannins, good acidity, and a long spicy aftertaste. 89-90 p.
This wine was much more “Pinot-serious” than the Frühburgunder. A very good wine, but went higher in price than I had expected. Pleasantly enough the regular non-auction version – 2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Spätlese trocken 2009 – that sold for € 17 was almost as good when I tasted it after the auction (I scored it 88-89 p), showing just how very good the 2009 vintage is! At this time, the top Spätburgunder wines from 2009, at least those sold under the Grosses Gewächs/Erstes Gewächs designation, were still half a year away from being available for sale. (1 September two years after the vintage year for red Grosses Gewächs, one year for white.)
2009 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Auslese trocken Mauerwein (Goldkapsel)
14% alcohol, 48 bottles, final price € 72 (€ 58)
Concentrated nose with ripe dark cherries, slightly sweetish impression, undergrowth, spice, some oak, bitter almond notes; a very serious nose. Palate with sweetish fruit, full-bodied, concentrated cherry aromas, some alcoholic fire, well integrated medium tannins, good acidity; spicy and fiery aftertaste. Impressive concentration, very young, needs time. 90-91 p.
Came across as more alcoholic than the Spätlese trocken, but both are labelled 14%. Definitely an extreme style. This wine is produced from grapes growing on the vines closes to the stone walls of the terraces in Höllenberg, thus the designation “Mauerwein” (Mauer = wall).
1971 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Spätlese
1970s and no “trocken” designation means an off-dry wine, also on the red side. 24 bottles, final price € 100 (€ 80)
Here, there seemed to be a rather substantial bottle variation between the tasting in the morning and the afternoon.
Morning: Nose with decaying leaves, some dungheap and leather, slightly sweetish malt nose. Off-dry on the palate, slightly less than medium bodied, malt, mild spices, some dried red berries, good acidity, not very concentrated aromas. 82-83 p?
Afternoon: More berry notes in both nose and palate, the same mature notes but of a milder version, smoke, the sweetness not as disturbing as in the morning, some mint, felt more balanced. 85-86 p.
These off-dry Spätburgunder wines are really produced in a completely different style than the reds of today, and I don’t think that the old style would find that many enthusiasts today. This wine has peaked quite some time ago, and with this lack of concentration I could only see it go further downhill. The bottle variation is a troubling sign and I recall being more impressed when I tasted this wine some 5-6 years earlier.
1961 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder Cabinet Natur
Natur = no chaptalisation, corresponds a Kabinett or Spätlese of today, but Cabinet means that it is a “reserved wine”, usually for auctioning at this producer’s, much as the “Goldkapsel” of the later vintages. 1 bottle, final price € 600 (€480)
Old Tawny colour. In the nose decaying leaves, dungheap, spice, some malt. Rather similar to the 1971 in the nose, but less sweetish and more intense. The palate is dry and slight fiery, with mint and spice aromas, good acidity and some bitterness. Not much of fruit notes and somewhat thin on the palate, so the alcohol unfortunately comes through a bit much. The nose is the rewarding part of this wine, 83-84 p.
Fascinating to see them open several bottles for tasting, but then only auction one single bottle. This bottle had a difficult cork, but I don’t think that affected too much. I’d like to claim that red Burgundy of this age, in well-kept bottels (as in this case) usually are better that this. But here I’d like to add that a 1953 tasted in 2013 – after this was written – convinced me that they produced far better red wines up until the 1950s. Höllenberg is a really good vineyard and should be able to compete with at least Premier Cru vineyards in Burgundy. I can’t imagine that this wine was as concentrated in its youth as the 2009s from the same producer.
Swedish version here.