Wine Saves Life – 1991 Astheimer Karthäuser Riesling Kabinett Feinherb – Gebiets-Winzergenossenschaft Franken
Finally, I had a reasonable opportunity to open another bottle from the Wine Saves Life package that I ordered in December….and I was not disappointed!
This time it was a Riesling from Franken (in English known as Franconia) from 1991, and it was in the traditional “Bocksbeutel” bottle used almost exclusively in Franken. Although an interesting shape – and undeniably traditional and, therefore, appealing to me on a romantic level – this kind of bottle is a bit of a pain to store. Traditional wine racks obviously won’t do the job.
Franken is a region rightly best-known for its Silvaner, but Riesling is, like nearly everywhere in Germany, also an important grape there. Results are quite different than in famous Riesling zones like the Mosel, Rheinhessen or the Pfalz, however, with more mineral character and less fruit.
Well, the name is a mouthful: Gebiets-Winzergenossenschaft Franken. Translated directly: Franconian Regional Wine-Growers Cooperative. The cooperative was founded in 1959 and still exists; in fact, it is one of the largest in Germany (which is really saying something) with over 2200 growers and nearly 1300 hectares of vineyard producing fruit for its wines. Wisely, the powers that be have chosen to abbreviate the name of the cooperative simply to “GWF” these days.
Part of the Prädikatswein classification system, this Kabinett was made from grapes from a vineyard called Astheimer Karthäuser, found along the river Main at the foot pf the Vogelsburg. Feel free to check back at the vineyard naming system I’ve described previously. The soils are Muschelkalk, which is a kind of fossil-bearing limestone laid down in the Triassic period and found predominantly in parts of central Germany, Austria, and some of the Grand Cru sites of Alsace. Interestingly, the GWF appears not to make Riesling from this vineyard anymore; the only wine I could find from them these days is Müller-Thurgau. I wonder if that should tell me something.
As with all the wines from the Wine Saves Life package, the labels are a bit worse for wear. Happily, the cork was in a much better state of health than the one from the last bottle I opened, and the wine was truly surprising.
The Tasting Note
After pulling the cork and pouring out a sample BEFORE serving it to my guests, I was very surprised to see that the colour was still very light, bright lemon. If I had seen it and not known, I certainly would not have thought the wine was already 26 years old.
The nose, too, was surprisingly youthful, with only the slightest hint of nutty oxidative aroma and caramel – but some lovely quince and apricot.
More dried apricot and some honey on the palate, some decent minerality, very restrained acidity and virtually no sweetness at all – hardly surprising with so many years, even if the wine was originally off-dry. Quite delicate, all in all. Sure, the finish wasn’t impressive and the overall impression was of a well-made if simple wine, but the fact that it maintains some youthful delicacy, colour and character after all this time speaks volumes – and it was made at a wine cooperative, which generally aren’t famous for their age-worthy wines. Well done, I say.
The One-Line Takeaway
A pleasant, well-made and light Riesling that defies its age.