Knipser is the name of a wine making family from the Pfalz region of Germany who keep impressing us with their polished and tasty wines. They are widely known for their expertise in ageing wine in barrique barrels - red wine, of course, but also white. The other day when I was cooking tarragon cream chicken I felt the time had come to open their premier 2003 Chardonnay, a wine that was only released to market after several years of maturing in the Knipser cellars.
What I was expecting, of course, was a substantial (14% ABV and barrique), creamy wine with the first signs of age. What I was hoping for was that it also kept a hint of freshness to go along with the food.
What I found was a wine whose intense citrus-gold colour was more than a match for the beauty of the bottle - a design that is quite different from the usual Knipser label and colour scheme, by the way.
The nose was an intriguing mix of honey melon, citrus, really dusty mineral, wax, herbs and caramelised lime, plus smoky notes. It was smooth and deep, yet at the same time also had great freshness - not sharp, but polished.
On the tongue the Chardonnay managed to keep an impressive balance between creaminess and freshness. A good body, clear structure and refreshing acidity are brought together by a buttery creaminess with nutty elements and fine minerality. The finish too was both creamy and fresh; it coated the whole mouth with buttery 'Behaglichkeit' ('snugness' perhaps?) while still being lively. The wine felt much younger than its age would indicate.
This Auslese-quality wine is to me the perfect example of a marriage between creamy/full-body and light/refreshing. I don't think I will ever again be able to say something about bad application of barrique ageing to white wine without thinking of the Knipser Chardonnay as an example of how well it can be done. My compliments to the Knipsers!