You have never heard the name 'Scharzhofberg' before? Well, take a pen (or a keyboard) and write it down. Scharzhofberg is the name of a German vineyard, located near the Saar river (close to the Mosel). There are of course many vineyards in Germany, but Scharzhofberg has an excellent reputation and may be one of the most expensive bits of real estate in German winemaking - if you could buy land there, as producers jealously guard every square meter they own. Land rarely changes hands there, but the Van Volxem estate is lucky enough to own a small part of the 28 hectare vineyard. So let's have a look at what they can do with it, shall we?
First of all a few words about the vineyard. Unusually, it is not directly adjacent to the river, but a little removed, with a cooler climate that lets the grapes ripen more slowly. The vineyard has slate soils, which means it drains quickly (lost of rain there) and warms quickly too. While it is cooler overall, the layout of the vineyard helps to preserve warmth. Because of the conditions, grapes from the Scharzhofberg may not always reach the highest levels of ripeness (as measured in the sugar content of grape juice), but are said to have lots of finesse and elegance.
But now, the 2008 Van Volxem. The colour is that of straw with a shimmer of green. The nose, well, the nose. It was actually very very reserved, not keen to share very much at all. You had to be very quiet for it to share its secrets. Or do the right thing and put the wine in a decanter (or wait a few more years perhaps before you open a bottle).
After waiting a day, it started to open up. The bouquet was still not over-boarding with fruit, but very sophisticated and sharp. You get stone fruit and grapefruit, also lime/citrus and green apple that just ooze delicate yet fresh acidity, spicy menthol and a fantastic, almost earthy minerality, with hints of speck. The bouquet is by no means in your face, rather it is cool and sharp. Think of Daniel Craig as James Bond carrying the H&K UMP on the poster for 'Quantum of Solace', just made out of fruit and menthol steel with petrol coating.
On the tongue racy acidity that just goes on and on, until over the course of a long finish smooth peach comes out again. A nice blend of fruit and herbs with a hint of smoke. While being elegant, it has more oomph than you would expect from its 12% alcohol content. This is a sharp, a no-nosense wine that takes no prisoners. Elegant and not heavy, but very focussed. Like a deadly rapier. The mineral is salty but also menthol-herbal with petrol.
I feel I have opened this wine a little too early - it has lots of potential. Even so, it already is, well, fucking awesome.
* Scharzhofberg photo by Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd's photostream, licensed BY-SA, Creative Commons 2.0