Saturday, September 26, 2009

In the Glass: An 1974 Bacchus Kabinett from the Pfalz, Germany

Picture: Old Barrel of the Winzergenossenschaft Kallstadt

We had a bottle of

1974 Kallstadter Steinacker
Bacchus Kabinett
Winzergenossenschaft Kallstadt, Kallstadt Pfalz/Germany

This was an unusual wine. Bacchus is one of the new breeds of grape varietals that were created in the 1960s and 1970s in Germany; it was released for general cultivation in 1972. Thus, the 1974 we had, was one of the first, if not the first vintage of this wine and the winemaker was probably still experimenting with the new grape. The Bacchus grape is Silvaner crossed with Riesling and this animal again crossed with Mueller-Thurgau. It is a large yielder that tends to produce fruity wines with a distinctive bouquet. It has no high requirements for sites it can be planted and ripens early.

The producer of our wine was the wine-coopeative of Kallstadt/Pflaz. This is an old one, founded in 1902. There are more than 200 wine-cooperatives in Germany currently, which account for about 1/3 of the wine production.

The wine did not disappoint us. In fact we were pleasantly surprised. The winemaker has done a good job. The wine was dark-yellow in the glass. Despite the age, there was not even a hint of a sherry tone, but a light tone of honey on the nose. The finish was long, although Bacchus is a grape that is low in acidity. There was still a fair amount of sweetness. As a Kabinett, the wine was not chaptalized so the body came all from the sugar in the grapes at harvest. I guess, the sweetness was produced by adding “Suessreserve” and not stopping the fermentation (see my posting of August 24, 2009).

The Bacchus grape hasn’t been a great success story. Since its peak in the 1990s, the grape has been on the decline to the extent that the Winzergenossenschaft Kallstadt, for example, no longer produces Bacchus wines today. Instead, I found on their price list Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines, which are well known further south in France and which were definitely not in the portfolio of the Winzergenossenschaft when I bought the Bacchus wine about 30 years ago with my wife Annette and my parents.

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