"Almost unbelievably, the 2004 Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Auslese - harvested on the cusp of Trockenbeerenauslese must weight – ratchets up the complexity, richness and depth. Lemon cream, toasted almond, musk, caramelized apricot, malt, mineral salts, honey and a mysterious meatiness figure among the players in this long drama. The sense of layers exhibited by the Eselshaut are extended to jammy, caramelized, dried, and tartly fresh pit fruits, and the finish penetrates even more deeply. There wasn’t much noble botrytis this year, and there are around 600 liters each of the two Riesling Auslesen, wines I don’t doubt will still be revealing awesome new vistas in 20 or more years.
Since the arrival of young Mosel-born Martin Franzen at this great estate so long associated with the wisdom and artistry of Hans-Gunter Schwarz’s 36-year tenure as cellar master, I have been struck by a degree of qualitative continuity and stylistic affinity with the ancient regime that other commentators seem not to have noticed. In a very real sense, the legacy of Schwarz – “activism in the vines, minimalism in the cellar” – has seeped indelibly into the fabric of nearly every top winery in the Pfalz. How then could it be otherwise precisely at Mandelring #25? And although Franzen and a largely new team were forced, to a considerable extent, to rediscover the keys to these vines and sites, they are the same vines and sites so carefully tended, trained and conscientiously replanted over the past decades by the then team of Catoir and Schwarz. In 2004, Franzen has unlocked from them astonishingly numerous and improbably fine vinous treasures such as one has come to associate with the name “Muller-Catoir” in the nearly four decades since a very young Heinrich Catoir inherited this estate and decided to make a statement."