Pfalz Riesling 2016 · Juni 2018

by David Schildknecht

2016 STEINBUCKEL GG Riesling: “Despite finishing with near-absolute dryness, this still manages to weigh in below 13% alcohol. The nose is almost ominously quiet – a striking contrast to that of this year’s Mandelpfad – featuring at best mere hints of sea breeze and quarry dust. But like that Mandelpfad, this Steinbuckel features a meaty, saline savor – here reminiscent of oyster liquor – that sets the salivary glands palpitating. Accompanying that on a silken-textured palate are brightly juicy, zesty lime and a sense of chalk suffusion, both perpetuated on a memorably long, vibrant finish. If Riesling as a delivery device for minerals is your thing, then don’t miss this one!” 93 Punkte

2016 MANDELPFAD GG Riesling: “A gorgeous nose displays ripe white peach, red raspberry and lime, bittersweetly and pungently garlanded in iris. Silken in feel but animatingly bright and tangy, this finishes with incisively invigorating notes of oregano and cress, along with a shimmering sense of chalky, stony suffusion and deeply mouthwatering, clam-stock-like saline savor.” 93 Punkte

2016 Halbstück Riesling: “Once again, fermentation and aging in the 600-liter casks for which it is named have by no means precluded an abundance of animatingly bright primary juiciness – here of apple and lime – or a savory mineral dimension, in this instance a mouthwateringly saline, richly herbal and meaty suggestion of raw oyster. There is only an entirely unobtrusive, lanolin-like hint from the barrels, whose use may indeed have contributed to the silken feel and sense of stuffing on the palate. Incisive notes of fresh cress add to the invigoration and a malt-like undertone to the richness of a performance already so polished and impressive at this point that I’m left thinking it’s almost a shame that this bottling won’t be released until 2020. (In principle, though, I salute the Knipsers for their desire to include Riesling in their extensive collection of wines that aren’t released for three or more years after harvest.)” 92 Punkte

2016 Chardonnay***: “This “three-star” offering originates in the Knipsers’ “Im Grossen Garten” vineyard. Fresh lime and apple mingle with bittersweet scents of irises on the nose of a Chardonnay that smells as though it might be Riesling. It comes to the palate subtly and flatteringly creamy but with no lack of animating freshness and primary juiciness. Flavors of freshly milled wheat segue into suggestions of chalk dust that persist on a soothingly yet stimulatingly lingering finish. “This is going to be a Chardonnay for drinking in wintertime,” remarked Werner Knipser, suggesting that further richness will emerge with a little additional time in bottle. I’ve had some lovely examples of 5- to 7-year-old Knipser Chardonnay (truth be told, I can’t think of another German address where I’m panting to taste the Chardonnay), so I may be underestimating the aging potential of this wine, which I last tasted shortly before its August 2017 bottling.” (90-91) Punkte

2016 Marsanne: „Having noted that the Knipsers once again demonstrated the outstanding potential of yet another Northern Rhône variety in their vineyards, this year there is a distinctive difference: a portion of Marsanne from healthy but extremely ripe grapes, raised in tank, turned out unabashedly sweet. “That’s just how it ended up,” related Werner Knipser, “but had it fermented all the way, it would have gone over 15% alcohol. Sometimes the yeasts are more intelligent than the cellarmaster,” he added with a wink. I tasted this just ahead of its planned August 2017 bottling, but don’t yet know under what additional name it may be bottled. Heady honeysuckle and lily perfume mingle with scents of lychee, quince and passion fruit. The palate impression is even more luscious than that of this year’s dry, barrel-raised version (which was blended with Viognier) and the feel is seductively silken. The lingering finish manages to relegate unapologetic sweetness to a supportive role. Given that this wine is unprecedented, I must fall back on sheer intuition in attempting to predict its ageworthiness.” 90-91 Punkte

2016 KIRSCHGARTEN GG Weißburgunder: “Fresh apple, pungent corn shoot and an unexpected hint of passion fruit on the nose reprise on a subtly silken palate of generous juiciness, and an animating squeeze of zesty fresh lime and suggestions of chalk suffusion follow into the long, bright finish.” 90 Punkte

2015 BURGWEG GG Spätburgunder: “Meaty, savory and saline aspects of Pinot Noir have been prominent in recent Knipser offerings from this site, and are present also in this instance. But the dominant impressions in 2016 are of fruits and flowers. A heady, sweet perfume reminiscent of gardenia mingles with high-toned almond extract and scents of ripe dark cherry and purple plum. Luscious cherry and plum fruit is accompanied on a polished, incipiently satiny palate by inner-mouth floral perfume, while brown spices and piquant fruit pits serve for further allure en route to a clear, vivaciously juicy, mouthwateringly salt-tinged finish. “We never had such quality before,” opined Werner Knipser, “but then, the presence of millerandage with lots of tiny seedless berries was extreme this year, especially on this site” - a circumstance he associates not just with this wine’s intense fruit but also with its pronounced florality. (It was tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling.)  (92-93) Punkte

2015 RdP Spätburgunder: „The Knipser Pinot Noir “Reserve du Patron” reflects an internal sélection massale from the estate’s oldest vines (of German clonal origin) as well as a Burgundian sélection massale obtained from a well-reputed pépiniériste. In each case, explained Werner Knipser, selection favored vines with tiny berries and a proclivity to millerandage. Tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling but three years ahead of release, this shows a bit more resinous influence of new oak than do the other Knipser 2015s tasted alongside. That said, there is compelling depth of flavor – lusciously concentrated black raspberry and cassis, alluring brown spices, and mouthwatering salted beef marrow – as well as an incipient silkiness of texture that belies any presence of wood tannins. The lingering finish deliciously illustrates how richness and sense of stuffing are compatible with freshness of fruit and animation.” (92-93) Punkte

2015 MANDELPFAD GG Spätburgunder: „While multiple Knipser parcels feature Dijon clones from an official set of 1993 test plantings, this Mandelpfad reflects clones from Baden planted three years later. Sea breeze salinity and alkalinity, red meat savor, umami-rich mushroom stock and earthy suggestions of beet feature on an intriguing nose and mouthwateringly complex palate. Overt fruit character remains in the background, but is attractively dark-berry and stimulatingly seedy. The sense of tannin here is obvious but not obtrusive, and doesn’t preclude an impression of incipient velvetiness. Suggestion of salted rare beef juiciness and rich beef marrow set the salivary glands pumping. (It was tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling.)” (91-92) Punkte

2015 KIRSCHGARTEN GG Spätburgunder: „Smoky black tea, dried mushrooms and saline smoked meat aromas set the stage for a smoky, saline, umami-rich palate performance. But it isn’t as though this wants for fruit; on the contrary, blackberry and dark cherry on the nose translate into lusciously juicy palate presence. The tannins are fine-grained. And abundance of juicy dark berry as well as of glycerol, along with seed-crunching invigoration and mouthwatering salinity, all render this Pinot not just approachable but already downright irresistible. While sharing that wine’s impressive sheer persistence, this Kirschgarten is marginally less seductive than the corresponding Burgweg Im Grossen Garten bottling, a circumstance that Werner Knipser traces to the vines in this site having experienced much less millerandage and thus harboring fewer tiny seedless berries. As for a tendency of some recent Kirschgarten Pinots to be rather strongly marked by oak – something that Volker Knipser once suggested to me reflected a site-specific sensitivity rather than any difference in élevage – wood is on this occasion happily relegated to a stealthy supportive role, its aromas and flavors virtually undetectable. (This was tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling.)” (91-92) Punkte

2015 Spätburgunder Réserve: “This reflects a selection in the Kapellenberg from the estate’s oldest and best-performing Pinot vines (representing German clones). It was tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling and three years before its release. This seems to be another instance of the phenomenon on which Werner Knipser remarked in tasting this year’s Burgweg bottling – namely, an abundance of millerandage translating into floral perfume as well as luscious fruit. Scents of violet and cassis rise seductively from the glass. There is an impressive sense of cut and precision on the palate, which, however, by no means precludes incipient silkiness. Rich dark berry fruit is reinforced by prominent glycerol, covering over the abundant but fine-grained tannins and leading to an impressively sustained finish that already manages to soothe as well as to stimulate. Here is an excellent example of concentration consistent with animation and refinement.” (91-92) Punkte

2015 Kalkmergel Spätburgunder: “A scent of buddleia mingles with that of ripe dark cherry, anticipating the inner-mouth florality and crunchy, piquantly pit-tinged fresh cherry that ensue on a polished palate. Subtle salinity lends saliva-inducement to a generously juicy, focused and impressively persistent finish. (This was tasted assembled from tank, shortly before its August 2017 bottling.)”  (90-91) Punkte



Weingut Knipser
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Weingut Knipser
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