2013 Gysler Silvaner Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen, Germany
12 hectares, 8,000 cases annually, certified biodynamic
Notes from the importer: Gysler’s history in Weinheim dates to 1450, with record of winemaking dating to 1750. The windy, cool microclimate of Weinheim, and its red soil dominated by Rotliegend sandstone, allow Gysler to ply a quite unique expression of Riesling from his 12 hectares, in a region planted to many lesser varieties and hybrids.
When Alexander Gysler took the helm from his father abrubtly, changes were made in the vineyard, including the reversal of the plantings of experimental crossings, instead focusing the estate by increased plantings of classic varieties such as Riesling and Sylvaner. Next came Biodynamic conversion and certification by Demeter in 2008, with the intention of helping to reverse the reputation of Rheinhessen wines as high-yielding, overly sweet ‘plonk.’ Fruit is hand harvested, which is rare in the Rheinhessen, and composting and cover cropping have become integral to the health of the estate’s vines – every second row is planted with flowers & herbs. In 2005, Gysler began bottling his wines in only 2 quality levels, estate and S-class, eschewing the pradikät system that portends quality is based predominantly on ripeness. Other changes include employing whole cluster pressing, spontaneous fermentations in stainless steel, eliminating fining and racking, gross lees contact right up until bottling, and abandoning the use of süssreserve. “2008 was the first vintage we did absolutely no handling of the juice,” says Alex Gysler.
And Terry Theise on the wine: Now 100% estate-bottled (Demeter!), and this is a crisp, fine and charming vintage of this perennial value, showing a curious length. Among the best vintages of a wine I’ve known for nearly thirty years(!).
2012 Chateau de Jouclary, Cabardès Rouge
Robert & Pascal Gianesini farm in the Cabardès AOC, on the southernmost outcropping of the Massif Central in south central France. It’s influenced by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; AOC laws mandate that a minimum of 40% of the varieties must be “atlantique”: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc and 40% “mediterranean”: Syrah or Grenache.
The 2012 Jouclary rouge is a whole lotta wine for not a whole lotta money. This vintage appears to have more Cab Franc than the 2011, and that is especially apparent on the nose; it’s got tobacco leaf and hints of underbrush mingling with vibrant fruit, earthy complexity, delicate acidity, and a long, lingering finish to boot. It’s a winner!
2013 Domaine Philémon, Gaillac Rouge, Jurançon Noir
Domaine Philémon is a 20 hectare estate located in Villeneuve-sur-Vere, a small village on the Vere river in between Albi and Cordes in the northeast quadrant of the Gaillac appellation. The Vieules family have had a vineyard in Villeneuve since 1804. Today the vineyard is run by Mathieu Vieules who grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportions. All of his land is farmed organically with the vineyard being certified in 2013. Mathieu Vieules has twenty hectares of vines in production along the Cordes plateau on south facing slopes with a calcerous soil. They are planted almost entirely to the traditional Gaillac grape varieties: Loin de L’oeil, Mauzac and Muscadelle for the whites, and Braucol (Fer Servadou), Duras and Jurancon Noir for the reds. A good proportion of the vines are more than fifty years old. The vines are trained in the gobelet fashion meaning that they are head pruned and yields are kept exceedingly low; 40 hl/h for the whites and 30hl/h for the reds. The harvest is done entirely by hand.
After a few years of tasting Jurançon Noir from tank and begging Mathieu Vieules to bottle it separately, he finally agreed in 2013. The grapes are hand harvested and put into the cement fermentation tank in whole clusters for a semi-carbonic fermentation with indigenous yeasts. The Jurançon Noir is an old variety local to the southwest of France. According to Jancis Robinson, it is a cross between Folle Blanche and Cot (Malbec). To produce quality wine this vigourous variety must be severely pruned and then it will produce dark, spicy and slightly bitter wine that is 11% alc, when fully ripe. The bottles are sealed with a crown cap.