On a short tour through the Palatinate a few months ago, we made a detour to Ilbesheim to visit the Kranz winery on our way back. Amongst some other wines, a vertical box of four Rieslings from the Ilbesheim Westerberg - classified by the VDP as a Erste Lage - landed in the boot. The box would have been available also with four Grosses Gewächs, but I always find it especially exciting to have a closer look at the cheaper wines of a winery. Moreover, we hoped that these wines are already more mature than their counterparts from the Grosse Lage. So this time there are four Rieslings from the years 2014 to 2017 in the glass.
Let’s start with 2014: Buttery on the nose, you immediately notice the maturity of the wine, yellow, rather crumbly apple is also present. In the mouth, however, one can definitely still feel freshness, a lot of mineral structure on the palate and on the tongue, anything but tired. With air, the ripeness becomes clearer, the fruit smells boiled down, in addition there is a very soft feeling of wood, minimal smoke. The acidity is now perfectly integrated into the wood-fruit play. Overripe peach, everything is soft. There is no more sharp acidity in the wine, everything fits together, deep, complex. Butter crumble on apple pie with caramel. Pretty cool.
The second day the wine is just as soft as at the end of the first evening. Dark yellow fruits dominate, minimal firn, almost some scotch in the nose. The wood, the smoky note, the very ripe fruit, the creaminess, there is a lot to taste.
The 2015 on the other hand has clearly more fruit. The nose leans into exotic fruit, honeydew melon, citrus in the mouth. There is less minerality on the tongue. The wine gains momentum more slowly than the other vintages. Despite only one year less on the bottle, it feels much younger than the wine from 2014. The acidity is much fresher, the wood appears more reserved. Somehow something is missing at the moment. Either the wine needed more tension or more maturity on this evening, so it hovers somewhere in between and can’t quite keep up.
On the second evening still hardly any wood. The citrus fruit is now accompanied by fresh green apple. It becomes much clearer how much younger the wine feels than the one year older counterpart. Straight, with a nice acidity and an interesting minerality, it is however quite fun.
The vintage 2016 starts reservedly, but then really gets going. In the mouth very juicy, racy acidity, which together with the wood occupies the tongue for a long time. Really very long. In direct comparison surely the longest reverberation. There is citrus fruit, herbs in the nose that also show in the mouth, smoke on the palate, grapefruit and a minerality that keeps the tension up. This makes you want to smell into the glass again with every sip and start all over again. The two years more time of the 14 could be really exciting.
Also on the second day it gets going straight away. Keeps the tension, has corners and edges, wilder than the other vintages without losing depth. The grapefruit from the nose of the first evening is now also clearly perceptible on the palate. This is fun!
Unfortunately the bottle from 2017 has a little quirk. Not much, but a touch of wet cardboard resonates. This is drinkable, can be shaken away with a lot of patience and the wine is then ok, but it lacks the depth and complexity of the other vintages and also in the nose is much less pronounced. The wine appears fragile, falls off against the others and therefore runs out of competition. A pity.
The other three bottles all show a great length and especially the 2014 shows how beautifully the bottles can mature even below the Grosses Gewächs of a winery and how much fun some time in the bottle can bring. The most exciting wine, however, comes from 2016 and on the third evening it shows what it’s made of, has even increased in minerality and certainly has a great future ahead of it.