Juliusspital, Würzburger Stein, Silvaner Großes Gewächs, 2008

Juliusspital, Würzburger Stein, Silvaner Großes Gewächs, 2008

Large wineries owned by immensely land-rich historic trusts are a typical feature of the franconian wine scene, especially in Würzburg. As these go back to charitable - or not so charitable - institutions founded in the late middle ages or the 16th century, they have had some time to accumulate land, assets and reputation. By running wineries alongside hospitals (that's where the "spital"-part comes from), nursing homes and real estate operations, they preserve a forgotten model of business, social services and agriculture whose usefulness must have seemd self-evident to citizens in many premodern cities.

Often, though, the very size of these outfits is their greatest liability, as it's hard to whip large bureaucratic structures into cutting edge motivation, wait for exactly the right time to harvest or take that extra bit of care sorting grapes.

But in 2008, the venerable old Juliusspital must have done something right. If the reviewers and wine guides are right, they have left all the rest of franconia way behind this year. Hard to stay objective about this Großes Gewächs, then, but a full wine rambler committee was in attendance, and this means dedicated and incorruptible reporting:

Pale straw colour, unremarkable so far. Smells of the purest, freshes, ripest green apples ever. Deep, man, deep. Tastes of ripe apples and pears, with a gripping, quicksilver acidity rarely found in silvaners, and a bone dry, slightly smoky, penetrating minerality (fittingly, the vineyard name translates simply as "stone").

This sleek mineral beast is without a doubt the pinnacle of the wine ramblers silvaner exploration and coverage so far. It evaporated out of the glasses so darn fast, there was hardly any left for the curried scallops with apple sauce.