Muller-Catoir

Now firmly in control at the helm here is the most likable human being you could ever meet – Martin Franzen. But from 1962 to 2002 this estate employed a man who would become the seminal cellarmaster of his era. Hans-Günter Schwarz’s are the shoulders upon which an entire generation of German vintners stands. And during that time, Müller-Catoir was widely regarded as the best estate in the Pfalz. I myself felt they were the best estate in all of Germany.

Schwarz is warm and avuncular and unpretentious, and so he was widely beloved. Anyone who had to fill his shoes started at a serious disadvantage. All the more reason to admire not only what Martin Franzen has done, but the sang froid with which he did it. He’s about the most agreeable guy you’d ever want to meet, and the students and stagiaires he hosts at the winery are in awe of his knowledge and helpfulness.

The chattering classes talk about how the wines have changed. They say that the Mosel-born Franzen makes them to emulate the cooler style of that more northerly region. They are indeed less overt than many of their peers in the Pfalz, because this vintner is most interested in overtone, nuance and penumbra, and he chooses not to make the fleshpots that would get him “high scores.”

GMC173 Generic

Producer website

Available Wines

Müller-Catoir 2014 Haardt Muskateller trocken

If this isn’t one of the 2-3 greatest dry Muscats on earth, I’ll eat my hat. What can one say after 15-20 consecutive masterly bottlings of this great wine? As always, basil oil and mint, but this year is riper and richer than usual; lots of thrust if slightly less cut than a vintage like ’13, though a jolt of spice pierces through the richness. Absurdly long and adamant.  ~Terry Theise

Müller-Catoir 2015 Gimmeldinger Riesling Kabinett

I love that they’re making “sweet” wines from the “GG” vineyard. Not many others would. It’s softer-seeming, with a deeper register, more of a demi-glace; lychee; an emphatic complex wine in every way; the acidity is softer but there’s a tart edge of wild-plum standing in its place.

Müller-Catoir 2015 Gimmeldinger Riesling Kabinett

Fantastic complex aroma, grain and green and pêche-de-vigne; the palate is maniacally zippy and spicy; verbena and wintergreen; sweet grain, a racy Kabinett.

Müller-Catoir 2015 Gimmeldinger Riesling Kabinett

Fantastic complex aroma, grain and green and pêche-de-vigne; the palate is maniacally zippy and spicy; verbena and wintergreen; sweet grain, a racy Kabinett.

Müller-Catoir 2015 Gimmeldinger Schlossel Rieslaner Spätlese

Great Rieslaner can leave you lost for words, as this one did. And you need a lot of words to even start describing a wine as intricate and profound as this. Let’s say power, mentholated brilliance, elegance, seems drier than its brothers among the Rieslings, and super-salty on the back palate. Rieslaner is a crossing bred in Franken, presumably to create a grape which would give Silvaner expression in Franken soils and bring Riesling acidity and frost-resistance along. It does seem to make the best Franken wines and good to stunning wine anyplace else it’s grown. Which isn’t often, unfortunately. Other growers report its acidity is obstreperous in unripe years, but  Hans-Günter Schwarz loved it for just that reason. I find it an innately fine variety, which gives more acid than Riesling of similar ripeness. Its inherent varietal flavor is lime-grass and berry rather than apple or peach. It can produce the most singular great wine on earth, the only great wine of its type. But make no mistake, this is “supernally” great wine; nothing else even comes close. Rieslaner is more widely planted than one might suspect, though little of it is bottled as is. Many growers have it planted as a kind of secret-weapon to be blended with Riesling! Even five percent Rieslaner will galvanize a decently good Riesling, or so I am told, by someone who would never himself do such a thing…