The second magnum we popped open on New Year’s Day was a bit of an unlucky pick, unable to impress next to the other bottles we drank that evening. But a few days later it showed a completely different character and proved to be an amazing wine.
But first things first. As the first magnum bottle, the Blauer Silvaner by Zehnthof Luckert, this one was on sale in an online wine shop, which made it particularly interesting. It is also my first encounter with the Holger Koch estate, a winery located on the outskirts of the Kaiserstuhl wine-growing-area in Baden. The estate is specialized in Burgundian varietals such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot blanc, the latter being called “Weissburgunder” in Germany.
The 3 star (***) Weissburgunder represents the top Pinot Blanc of Holger Koch, stemming from very old “selection massale” plants that are carrying small berries which apparently prove to be more intense in taste. This one matured 7 months on the lees in new 500 litre barrels. I was expecting classic Burgundian expression with some oak.
But somehow, I didn’t expect the barrel-notes too be that intense after 4 years of bottle aging. And maybe they weren’t. But next to the very fresh, non-barrel aged Rieslings and the Silvaner we opened at the same time, the oak just appaered too strong. It felt like being knocked out by a heavy butter-like perfume that also made the wine seem somewhat “artificial”. If, like me, you’re not a huge fan of the oaked style in general, you’ll have a clear reaction to this wine by now. And that evening, most had a reaction and continued drinking the other wines. We agreed that this is rather a food-wine, needing the right pairing to convince.
Luckily, the wine’s story continued, as we tried it over the next few days. Obviously this is another advantage with bigger bottles.
The air did the wine good. It still had some oak in the nose which showed sweet butter- and vanilla-like aromatics, but there was also much more fruit, with fresh green apples. On the palate, the wine impressed with a superb feel. There’s a compelling creaminess that brings lots of elegance, but also a crisp acidity and a fresh and fruity green apple touch. Everything’s smooth and harmonious. Hints of smoky minerals add a mysterious tone and of course: depth. Finish is unmistakably with a butterscotch and oak edge again, so that all in all, the wine somehow feels in between Burgundy and California, and it is a long and satisfying one as well.
But as time goes by, probably after a week in the open bottle, the wine becomes more and more appealing, and at the same time seeming immune against oxidation. Freshness even gets accentuated more and more and the mineral touch intensifies. At one point you’d forget it is oaked. And suddenly you feel this could be a Meursault – it actually reminds me the Meursault from Boisson-Vadot we had over Christmas, but in a smoother, more civilized fashion. It also becomes clear, that the wine can remain a few more years in the cellar, without impairment.
So in the end, I was really impressed with a wine that I nearly turned down at the beginning. I would recommend this to any lover of white Burgundies, Meursaults or the wines of Chassagne. One has to like the oaky style but this only matters if you don’t give it enough air. I’d really recommend to drink this over a week out of the open bottle (Of course, put the cork back on, or vacuum it over night). This will certainly not remain my last taste of Holger Koch‘s wines; hopefully I’ll soon have an occasion to try his other wines.
PS: At about 35 Euro for this magnum bottle, I would also qualify it as a superb bargain.