Before we get back to my favorite German wine-growing region in the next few weeks, let’s take a little detour to Franconia. The May winery has been around since 1998, which somehow feels much less long ago than it actually is. After all, it’s already been a quarter of a century. A little less long ago is the conversion to organically certified viticulture, which was in 2015. There are also other grape varieties in the assortment, but the focus is on Silvaner and Pinot Noir and I read in an interview with the VDP that it is also the goal to radically put this focus on 80% Silvaner and 20% Pinot Noir. So it was obvious to try exactly these two grape varieties. We drink a bottle of Silvaner Retzstadt Der Schäfer from 2021 and a bottle of Pinot Noir Retzstadt Langenberg from 2020. The Langenberg is classified by the VDP as Erste Lage. Der Schäfer is a vineyard in the Langenberg directly north above Retzstadt. The vines here face south on a steep slope and stand on shell limestone. The Silvaner is fermented open spontaneously in wood and then matures in a new double piece barrel that holds 2400 liters. After drawing off the full lees, the Silvaner is further aged on the fine lees in used wood. The Pinot Noir from the Langenberg also grows on shell limestone. It is aged for 15 months in barrique with a tenth of new wood. The lack of tree bark in the picture is due to the screw cap on both bottles. This is probably going to make the traditionalist unhappy, but I think it’s pretty nice.
We start with the Silvaner. It first smells discreetly of some yellow fruit and hay. There’s more of a sense of creaminess to the nose than dedicated aromas. It’s neither offensive nor intrusive, but still dense and quite intense in its own way. You get that feeling much more clearly after the first sip. This seems very young, it is, and one may like to accuse me of having been too impatient here again, but we’ll just give the wine three evenings and then it’ll be fine. Already this is dense on the tongue and full of texture and substance, so that you want to start chewing on it. And you can chew for minutes, as long as that lingers.
Overnight, the wood becomes more prominent on the nose and the fruit becomes more exotic. Somehow reminiscent of papaya or this stuff with the white pulp. At least from the mouthfeel, because unlike wine, the stuff with the white pulp usually tastes like almost nothing. The better half mumbles softly pitahaya. Just what I said. But the development in the nose is not so important, because the mouthfeel and the structure are still nothing but amazing.
As promised, however, a small remainder then actually makes it into a third evening. The wine becomes even more intense in the nose, even more exotic in the fruit and develops even more harmony and balance. It will certainly age beautifully. But I do not care, because this is already really fun and we all know: That’s kind of all that matters.
The Pinot Noir has wood, spice and cherry on the nose. And here, too, the fruit is more in the second row for now. There is a little something shrubby, scrubby in the nose, which is a bit reminiscent of currant stems or seeds. There’s a little bit of unruliness to the wine and some spice as well. Then in the mouth there is a good load of juiciness from the fresh acidity. It does have length, but compared to the Silvaner, which you can chew on forever, the Pinot Noir is clearly getting the short end of the stick right now. Literally. With air comes more and more fruit and the shrubby recedes and it becomes a tad fresher.
Overnight, not so much happens. This actually remains exactly as we remembered it from the first evening. And again, thanks to the number of bottles open at the same time, a small residue makes it into the third evening. The unruliness has completely evaporated, the tannin has softened, the fruit has darkened and become a tiny bit warmer. Of course, without losing the freshness. So if you prefer to drink harmony, you can have this. You just have to wait two days. I personally like the plus of tension of the first two evenings more.