I went to a marvelous tasting at USQ Wines in NYC last week. The superlative wines of Enderle & Moll were poured, and Stephen Bitterolf led. I’m already sort of in the tank for Enderle & Moll, and the tasting just confirmed what I already knew - the wines are f*cking spectacular and singular. 2014 was a tough vintage in Baden but they still managed to make great wines - a Buntsandstein, from sandstone, that’s the most flamboyant, fruity, floral 11.5% ABV wine you’ll ever see, and an even better Muschelkalk from limestone that’s not as sexy, but has remarkable chalky depth. Nevertheless, 2013 was a better vintage, and the 2013 Liason - basically a second wine - blew me away. It sold out at the tasting before I could get my paws on a bottle. I walked home with merely a spectacular Grauburgunder.
So lets start with that Grauburgunder, because it was great at the tasting and great a few nights later at home. To be fair, it starts with a touch of acetaldehyde, but that is a minor - and perhaps its only - flaw, as this builds with fabulous peppery, pinot grigio fruit, an unctuous, leesy texture married to deep lemon fruit and tons and tons of pepper. This is the sort of wine you always dreamed that Pinot Grigio should be but it never is. My wife was starry-eyed over this. Stupendous QPR - it’s like $25.
Then tonight, after a few emails back and forth with the good folks at Grapes, revisiting the 2013 Liason. How they get so much red pinot fruit into such a light colored, light bodied wine is impossible to understand. This doesn’t taste like burgundy and it is not trying to be burgundian, but it is the purest expression of pinot I’ve had since a great bottle of Angerville Champans; perhaps the best way to understand this bottle is that it is a cross between that and a bottle of Overnoy. It is light as a feather, fragrant like frankincense. There’s some stem here - but not too much - and some oak here (only used barrels, but the wine is light so it shows) but just the right amount. It is fabulous, singular pinot and it is $33. Holy shit.
I’m pretty sure this is the best Pinot producer in the world outside of Burgundy, and one of the most exciting producers in the world period. I am completely besotted.
One thing I’d warn - these are VERY light wines. There are saignee roses that are darker and deeper. It’s all about the juxtaposition of concentration with such light body. But these aren’t green or mean, just light. It’s hard to describe - that’s why I reference Overnoy, because the best Overnoys have that same character. It’s not burgundy and it’s not CA PN.
David, what are your thoughts, or those of others at the tasting, on drinking windows for these? I would love to find a source for more. I have a few bottles and most recently opened a '13 Liaison… so pure.
Fass regularly offers them, priced well. I think the last offering was just a couple months ago, so it might be a while till the next one. Signing up for the mailing list is the only way to buy from Lyle.
2014 Enderle & Moll Grauburgunder- Germany, Baden (2/8/2016)
This is one of the most exciting wines I have had in ages and so totally in my wheelhouse for what I want out of this category that I could stand to have a keg of this on tap in my kitchen. I am tempted to rate this 100/100 as I literally cannot imagine it being more perfect or more satisfying, and am just coming (slightly) more down to earth on account of the fact that I will admit that even the greatest skin contact white wine ever made is maybe not at the level of the 1945 Romanee-Conti. That said, this is the greatest skin contact white wine ever made. It’s what they all should be. The level of freshness just knocks your socks off. It’s like a Super Bowl Gatorade dunk for the palate. The fruit flavors are succulent and unabashedly delicious - lots of peach, some melon, and unidentified other stuff contributing to the type of tropical refreshment that would make you want to put this in a mai tai glass with a little umbrella in it, and with a texture as sharp and acute as an icicle. The hue at the moment is a luminous salmon - even the color is enticing. It is not “orange wine.” My complaint with many skin contact whites is that they pick up their depth and intrigue at the expense of freshness and drinkability. But here there is no tradeoff. This has the freshness of a dozen oysters and the drinkability is off the charts. Guzzling it is more like it. (98 pts.)
2013 Enderle & Moll Pinot Noir Buntsandstein- Germany, Baden (5/12/2015)
My oh my oh my. Let me first try to describe this as objectively as I can before I start babbling in tongues about why it’s awesome. So, okay, we’ll start with the color, which is somewhere between a rosé and a pale red. That’s as good a portent as any for what you get when you taste it, which is this ethereal, gossamer, lacy thing that would probably flutter to the earth even slower than a feather if it were a solid object. It has a sense of freshness and light without being overtly fruity, i.e. it features the freshness and essential perfume of the fruit without the sweetness or fat. It has a minerally element too, subtle (though everything about this is subtle) but clearly reminiscent of gravelly rock pulverized to an ultrafine powder (everything about this is ultrafine). The word “finesse” is a cliché, ditto for “ethereal,” but ultimately that’s what’s so awesome about this. I have had a lot of disappointing German pinot noir, even from highly regarded producers, and they never turn out to be what you think German pinot noir ought to be (i.e., as clear and pure and transparent as riesling, with all that cool-climate lightness). Somehow some of them turn out to be big fat Sonoma pinot lookalikes, which I will never understand. This is not like that. I am really at a loss to think of anything from anywhere to compare this to that so effortlessly pulls off such a vivid personality out of material so fine it only barely seems to have a corporeal existence, and not a flaw or seam to be seen in the way it is all put together. I can think of a Jura that was in the ballpark (the '08 Chais des Vieux Bourg) and the weight and physical presence bring to mind something like Coteaux Champenois or the Dirty & Rowdy reds, but as far as I am concerned this is sui generis. There are aspects that bring to mind all sorts of things but it really needs its own frame of reference. It is profound but not in the same way that grand cru Burgundy is profound; it’s a brilliant soloist, not a symphony, almost minimalist in its simplicity and tranquility, best paired with your favorite easy chair and some quiet moments. (97 pts.)
This actually came up. I have no idea. Part of me feels like this are almost like great roses, and you want to drink them young to capture the gorgeous pinot fruit, but I’m one of those folks who has had good experience with middle-aged Pinot Noir rose, and if those can age this can too. So . Certainly the Muschelkalk is the one most likely to age, I’ve now had the 2013 and 2014 of it and it has the most depth and length of the lineup, and less youthful flamboyance.
David - your reaction to the pinot reminds me of how i felt the first time i tried Truchot, specifically your description of its weight/concentration/color. if only the price points and availability were similar.