Magical is a word that adequately sums up the Koehler-Ruprecht estate in Germany's Pfalz region. The wines bear little resemblance to their neighbors in the Pfalz, nor to those next door in France's Alsace. Though Riesling is the focus here, a super-natural element exists within all of their wines that make them stand out among their contemporaries. These are some of the very most fascinating wines on earth, and it's the extreme hands-off approach here that's largely responsible for that singular quality. Today we take a look at our favorite vintage over the last decade, 2008, along with the gorgeous 2012.
The winemaking has remained about the same since the early 18th century when the domaine was established. Ferments occur completely naturally and spontaneously. Aging takes place in larger old German oak barrels. The vineyards are worked without herbicides, pesticides, or irrigation. The sweet spot of the holdings comes from Kallstadter's famed Saumagen vineyard, which translates to "pig's stomach" due to its shape. The Pfalz as a region is home to an amalgamation of soils, much like its neighbor Alsace just across the border. Here in Saumagen it's limestone that takes center stage and bears the most responsibility for this site's crystalline nature, and peerless transformative abilities in bottle.
Koehler-Ruprecht produces Rieslings dry, off-dry, and sweet, but it's their trocken (dry) bottlings that really hit the mark for us. With age these begin to convert into absolutely mystical wines. Their calling card is a cotton candy note that slowly develops. The protective influence of the Vosges mountains to the west gives the Pfalz the lowest amount of rainfall in Germany. This abundance of sunlight gives ample texture and full-throttle ripeness. Finding wines from the Pfalz that avoid getting a little chunky can be a tall task, Koehler-Ruprecht's dry versions always carry a brilliant mineral streak that's simply mesmerizing in the way it stands up to the golden apple, sweet corn, ginger, and that quintessential cotton candy note.
We were thrilled to receive a trio of 2008's from the domaine. The vintage is a perfect one to illustrate how all these elements balance together, unfolding slowly over time. There is no vintage in the region that captures the filigreed minerality like 2008. The wines are pure, textured, with a laser-cut focus to them.
The different designations like Kabinett and Auslese refer to the ripeness level at picking. Auslese, picked later, will show more weight, and power. While Kabinett will show more delicate and agile. Both wines are fermented completely dry.
The rare Pinot Blanc here also is dry, and shows more creamy and floral notes as compared to the Rieslings. The Pinot Blanc has also developed magnificently in bottle now with a golden hue and really impressive clarity.
2008 Koehler-Ruprecht Pinot Blanc Kabinett Trocken
$23 per bottle.
2008 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Riesling Kabinett Trocken
$28 per bottle.
2008 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Riesling Auslese Trocken
$49 per bottle.
2012 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Riesling Kabinett Trocken
$22 per bottle.