Winzerhof Stahl, Scheurebe "Damaszenerstahl", 2009
After more than one year of rambling across the homely green landscape of german wine, there are still a great many places the Wine Rambler has hardly even begun to go. Among them, the many white grapes outside the Riesling-Silvaner-Pinot triangle: One, the ubiquitous, but not-quite-so-banal Müller-Thurgau, we will investigate in some detail in the coming weeks. Another omission is Scheurebe. Scheurebe like this one here, made by Christian Stahl, one of the most interesting and ambitious young vintners of Franken:
Scheurebe ("Scheu's grape",) which was created as a cross between Riesling and an unknown (!) wild variety in 1916, is classified among the "aromatic grapes" in german wine lore (as if that weren't what all winemaking is about), as opposed to the more "neutral", but "nobler" and more terroir-driven varietals like Riesling and Silvaner. It can produce fantastic sweet wines and, when dry, is often pointlessly hailed as Germany's answer to Sauvignon Blanc (Germany's answer to Sauvignon Blanc, as many winemakers in the Pfalz have demonstrated, is Sauvignon Blanc), as it can bring grassy flavours, gooseberry, cassis, as well as some serious grapefruit thunder. Is it any use knowing this beforehand as Stahl's take on the grape is bubbling into the glass?
Well, let's start with the bubbling: This wine is obviously still a baby, with yeasty flavours blurring the nice hints of citrus and currants that are obviously there. It is also unmistakeably a franconian baby, with a powerful herbal and earthy character. Quite creamy and with serious substance, this wine does not quite manage to bring out the crisp, outgoing fruit that I would have liked to find.
It is perfectly possible that this will evolve aromatically once it has shed some of its baby fat, and that its awkward yeastiness will turn into mineral complexity. It is also certain that we should have given it more time to breathe, rather than give it the pop-and-pour-treatment. But there you are, a decent, solid beginning on which other Scheureben here at the Wine Rambler will certainly be able to build.