James Suckling 98
"Although the intensity of this very youthful dry rieslings bouquet knocks you back in your seat, the ripe white-peach, tangerine and passion-fruit aromas are accompanied by a slew of delicate, floral notes. Tightly focused with diamond brightness on the concentrated yet sleek palate, this ends in a finish of breathtaking purity. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold."
Soil: Haardt sandstone
Age of Vines: 14-41 years
Elevage: Cool fermentation in Stainless Steel
Alcohol: 13.0 %
Acidity: 8.1 g/l
Residual sugar: 2.3 g/l
Family-owned since 1774, Mller-Catoir is now owned by Philipp David Catoir, the 9thgeneration. Philipp David works alongside Martin Franzen, who is responsible for both vineyards and cellar. Martin originally comes from the Mosel, bringing experience as head of operations at Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe and at Gut Nagelsforst in Baden. Franzen joined the winery in 2002, taking over from legendary winemaker Hans-Gnther Schwarz, who made Catoir a household name in Germany and abroad. Hans-Gnther had a reputation as a great and friendly mentor to two generations of some of the best winemakers in Germany, Austria, and Alsace. Martin has continued this tradition and has become one of the most respected winemakers in Germany.
This is also one of the most beautiful wineries in Germany: a sandstone manor house, built in the 1890s, into the hillside in the village of Haardt. The beautiful estate overlooks some of the very finest vineyards in the Pfalz, in the villages of Haardt, Gimmeldingen, Mussbach and now Neustadt, where Catoir has started a new project in 2018, focusing on Pinot Noir, a variety that Martin feels will play a more important role as weather patterns change. Riesling is the main focus at Catoir and in the ripe vintages of the last decade, excellent dry wines as well as traditional prdikatswein are produced from excellent vineyard sites, including the monopole site Brgergarten Im Breumel, a protected clos and Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) site inside of the Haardter Brgergarten Erste Lage (Premier Cru). In addition to Riesling, Franzen has a deft hand with aromatic varieties. Often a range of estate quality, village level, and Erste Lagen Scheurebe and Muskateller are produced here; they are the finest examples of these varieties produced anywhere. Rieslaner is also a specialty here, and Martin makes outstanding sweet wines from this rare variety.
This area of the Pfalz is quiet and feels far away from the lively tourist town of Deidesheim. A majority of the holdings of the estate are on the hillsides, the most prized sections of vineyards sloping south and east. The diversity of soils are the basis for the different bottlings and single vineyards here, which range from red to yellow sandstone, loess and loam to shell limestone and gravel. The geologic diversity along with the variation of vineyard elevation and steepness allows for multiple styles to be produced at the highest level.
to show most clearly the differences between sites and different levels of quality, Mller-Catoir adopted a more holistic philosophy in the vineyards, beginning organic conversion in 2012 and completed their first certified organic vintage in 2015. When asked about the difference that he feels organic viticulture has made, , Martin says that he finds the wines have a deeper saltiness, a more mineral element, and more complexity. In the cellar, the approach is generally very hands-off, but the treatment of the fruit changes slightly vintage, by vintage. Minimal handling, spontaneous fermentations, mostly in stainless steel and long contact with the lees are the hallmarks of the style at this address. Every wine produced here is 100% estate grown and the treatment of each vineyard is the same, regardless of hierarchy.
Muller-catoirView all from Muller-catoir
Family owned since 1774 with 9 generations tending the vines, the winery is now run by Philipp David Catoir. Martin Franzen, hailing from the Mosel, with experience as head of operations at Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe and Gut Nagelsforst in Baden, took over winemaking responsibility from Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2002. In an effort to showcase terroir and varietal character, Müller-Catoir has adopted the following philosophy of winegrowing: "Vines were grown by natural methods with organic fertilization, permanent green cutting that gets more and more radical every summer, and ever-greater selective harvesting with hand-picking of grapes for even the most "basic" kabinett wine – all these measures cannot help but produce only a small yield of wines with a mineral note, a filigree acidity structure and exotic fruit aromas." The estate began an organic conversion in 2007 and completed their first organic vintage in 2009. The vineyards in Haardt are composed of primary rock (urgestein) and sandstone, with an increasing proportion of gravel lower on the slopes. Vineyards of Gimmeldingen contain more loess and sand, while the vineyards of Mussbach are the most gravelly. Müller-Catoir also bottles several "micro parcels"; one of which, the Breumel in den Mauern, is a monopole inside the Burgergarten which was first planted 700 years ago, and is also one of the oldest vineyards in the Pfalz.
Müller-Catoir was a pioneer of reductive winemaking in Germany. The estate implements a gentle crush, a long skin contact, slow gentle pressing, and then ferments at warmer than customary fermentation temperatures in stainless steel. The wine is racked only once and very late. Müller-Catoir produces wines of outstanding transparency and density and remains emblematic of Riesling at its most sophisticated.