Forgeurac - Engelsfelsen 2019

We fight our way through the wax capsule of a bottle of Forgeurac Engelsfelsen 2019 Pinot Noir and are more than rewarded for the effort.

In Germany, there is a saying that May is supposed to bring everything new. But what’s not new is the stubbornness of the wax capsule on this bottle of wine. I had forgotten just how large and impenetrable the red lump on the bottles can be. Compared to the bottle Walis two years ago, there has been absolutely no change. More of a struggle than a bottle opening. Simply pulling doesn’t work, scoring all around works somewhat okay. At least I didn’t slip. And the cork puller is still alive, but I don’t want to have to find out how many more of these capsules are in there before the rivets give in. Forgeurac is definitely leading the race for the toughest capsule on the bottle. Only Madame Flöck’s bottles could match that a few years ago. But since I haven’t had those in my glass for a while, I don’t know if it’s still like that. Also unchanged is the fact that Uwe Lange and Marco Pfliehinger make wine from various vineyards in southern Germany, north of Karlsruhe, in an old forge. The vines for this wine grow a good distance further south in the Bühlertal in the Engelsfelsen vineyard. Here, on the extremely steep slope, the vines are planted on small, unconsolidated terraces, and even the German Wikipedia deems the location relevant enough to warrant an article (with picture). Viticulture under these conditions obviously entails a lot of manual labor, similar to steep slope cultivation in the Mosel region. One truly understands how steep it is here when standing on the mountain oneself. The grapes for this bottle were spontaneously fermented in small wooden vats and then aged in used wooden barrels. The wine is subsequently bottled without fining and filtration, with minimal sulfur, under the wax capsule.

The wine compensates for the effort of opening it right from the first moments. It smells wonderfully spicy, with light ethereal notes and herbs. It’s aromatic, fruity, but at the same time, it’s robust and smoky with a lot of structure. It’s reminiscent of those wooden disks one puts in the closet against moths and smoky cherries. The wine is complex, refined, yet truly intense and really fresh. There’s acidity on the tongue, tension, juiciness, fruit, and tannin reminiscent of cherry pits.

A day later, the fruit takes a step back. There’s more structure now, black tea and the small wooden disks. What fruit remains seems much darker and more austere than on the first evening. The wine is completely dry, it seems that not a gram of sugar could have survived fermentation. Analytically, I don’t really know. The tannin doesn’t scratch, it complements everything else. And with the acidity and juiciness, you drink through the glass sip by sip. The depth and complexity don’t change that. It’s somehow straightforward, unobtrusive, yet completely captivating. The Anglo-Saxon might call it effortless, which somehow sounds nicer than its german equivalent “mühelos”. Which is too close to simple for me, and there’s nothing simple about it here. Perhaps some words sound nicer in a non-native language though, because the connection to them is different. Whatever it is, it’s the opposite of taxing, it picks me up and carries me away, it totally draws me in and at the same time works extremely well with a simple bread and sausage.

Once again, I wonder what another day of air would do to the wine. And once again, curiosity pays off. It gets a real comfort nose, smooth, almost sweet in the fruit now and even more ethereal. Everything has come much closer together, it’s become much harder to tease apart in the nose. When drinking, it’s somewhere between fruit juice and dried plums, practically without tannin now, with a few cola bottles from Haribo and smoke. It is, or rather, now it was, my only bottle. And if you also own one and are patient, I think I would wait another one or two years. Or you give the wine, like us, more than one evening to develop. Then you’ll be richly rewarded for the struggle with the capsule.

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