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“Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her childhood in Zaragoza where the family was sure to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They used imported American ingredients to prepare the classic dishes of turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and of course, many, many pies.  They did, however, drink Spanish wine with their meal.  Our Spanish bottle of 2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva took several hours to open up.  While it does require a few more years in the cellar, it eventually revealed attractive hard cherry flavors with just the right amount of texture.

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2010 Recaredo, Intens, Rosat Brut Nature Gran Reserva
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is a blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Monastrell. Alcohol 12%.  After a few hours of air, the firm but quickly dissipating bubble made way to dry flavors of hard cherry and cola.  Quite different and certainly rather in need of age, things wrapped up with a textured finish and just a hint of yeast.  **(*) 2018-2025.

I tend to rely on red wine for Thanksgiving and this weekend I tasted through some mature reds.  Lou and I picked up a number of bottles from the Earthquake Cellar which was recently sold off by BP Wine.  The NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties bears no date but the fact that this magnum is in a 2/5 gallon bottle dates the wine to the 1970s at the latest.  I personally believe the wine is from the 1960s for several reasons which places it during a period of fascinating change as detailed in History of Sebastiani Vineyards, 1955-Present.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Sebastiani was a bulk wine operation that produced wine solely for other labels.  Some 90% of this wine was dessert wine such as port, sherry, muscatel, and tokay.  By the early 1970s the transition to selling table wine bottled under the Sebastiani name was completed.  The bulk operation was no more.

The impetus for change developed in the mid 1950s under the control of August Sebastiani.  At the time, the Allied Grape Growers/Petri Group were going to start bottling their own wine at facilities throughout the country.  Gallo, in response, decided to bottle their wine in lightweight bottles so they could ship it across the country.  These two actions put direct competition on Sebastiani which had no choice but to change.  There is also the story that August Sebastiani’s wife Sylvia tasted a “really, really, really good cream sherry” which turned out to be a wine produced by Sebastiani for another label.  Why not bottle such good wine under their own name?

The Sebastiani brand was developed in the 1950s and a very basic bottling machine known as a Fillabelmatic was purchased.  However, the transition away from bulk wine production did not begin in earnest until around 1960.  Throughout the 1960s dessert wines were still produced but various tiers of wines were developed including table and varietal wines.  The varietal wines were not only bottled in 4/5 quart bottles but also in half gallon bottles and apparently magnum bottles.

Our particular bottle of Sebastiani wine clearly predates the conversion to metric wine bottles.  This requirement was passed in 1977 and went into effect in 1979. The basic Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon label from our bottle was used during the 1960s and 1970s.  Bearing the common theme of “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored” this label was used for both non-vintage and vintages wines.  Vintages wines such as 1963 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 9, 1968 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1970 Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve all list “North Coast Counties” with a winery location of “Sonoma Valley, California”.  The 1972 Mountain Burgundy, 1973 Barbera, and 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, Proprietor’s Reserve that was bottled in 1979, all bear “Northern California” as well as the zip code 95476.  This suggests that the non-vintage blend could be from the period of 1963 through 1971.

The cork was solid and the wine itself in sturdy enough shape that it drank fine over three evenings.  It was rather stinky and animale at first but it did clean up.  The fruit was sweet with rounded flavors and no hint of French or American oak.  Instead this time-machine of a wine transported us back to the days of redwood.  The images it conjured might have outpaced the quality of the wine but it was enough to last a glass or two.

As for the other wines, the 1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley slowly responded to air over the course of an evening.  With cherry and wood box flavors it only gave the slightest hint it would not develop any further.  By contrast the 1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley was forward on the nose and in the mouth with plenty of fruit and glycerin.  While clearly modern, it was not a bad drink at all, and in surprisingly strong shape.  The 1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape was in great shape, offering everything you could want from a somewhat rustic Rhone wine which has not yet hit full maturity.

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NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties (2/5 gallon)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was quite earthy at first with animal fur aromas.  Over time the stink faded off to reveal sweet fruit and wood box flavors in the mouth.  The wine softened a touch revealing rounded flavors and gentle old wood that lasted over the next few days.  ** Now but will last for many years.

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1991 Knudsen Erath, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed gentle aromas of earth, cherry, and tobacco.  In the mouth the firm cherry flavors matched the polished wood notes.  This slightly savory wine still sported a rather fine structure.  The flavors thinned out some by the finish where there were some cola-like flavors, watering acidity, and roasted earth.  *** Now but will last.

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1996 Newton, Unfiltered Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was immediately aromatic with round fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors were forward with round black fruit that was almost thick with glycerin.  With air this modern wine showed more minerals, blackness, and some nearly resolved tannins.  ** Now – 2020.

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1999 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a good core of red and black fruit and a pleasing amount of structure that leant towards the not quite rustic personality.  Clearly a good wine in shape for continued development.  *** Now -2022.

There was also a pair of dessert wines.  From the lightest of a group, the bottle of 1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes was youthful, fresh, and rather unevolved which meant it did not tire the palate at all.  A brief taste of the 2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland already reveals an interesting amount of complexity.  It is noticeably richer and thicker so think of it more as a sipping wine to wrap things up.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes
Imported by Luke’s Distribution Co.  Alcohol 14%.  In fine condition, this wine brighter, floral and yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the youthful, floral and orange citrus accented fruit has an appealing level of viscosity.  The level of acidity keeps things fresh and slightly watering through the saline marked finish.  I would cellar this further.   *** Now – 2035.

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2007 Velich Apetlon, Seewinkel Beerenauslese, Burgenland
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Scheurebe, and Riesling that was fermented and aged in oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Already a deep color , aromas of petrol with both fresh and dried apricots step out of the glass. With air hints of black tea develop.  In the mouth, this is a thick wine with viscosity that is noticeable in the finish and aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

Wines from around the world

The wines featured in today’s post also come from my moving backlog.  I am a bit late to the game but in case you have not yet had it, I highly recommend the 2013 Birgit Eichinger, Gruner Veltliner, Wechselberg, Kamptal.  Rich, lively, and textured this wine is all pleasure.  The 2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costieres de Nimes is sourced from 80 year old Carignan vines that offer plenty of concentrated, dense flavors.  The latest 2014 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County is actively opening up.  It should hit its stride this winter so why not watch the evolution?  I was about to pass off on the 2012  Emblem, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley as too soft but with extended air it tensed up.  Good thing I track all new wines over two days.  Enjoy! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine d’Aupilhac, Montpeyroux – $20
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 16% Grenache, and 4% Cinsault that was aged for 20 months in used foudres and barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  Tasted over two days this tart, red and black fruited wine, had roundness, a sweet fruit note, and a developed a dry structure.  It took on a brighter-citric aspect, some pepper, and flavors evocative of a natural wine.  Hmmm.  *(*) Now-2017.

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2009 Cascina Corte, Pirochetta Vecchie Vigne, Dogliani – $23
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The aromas of roast earth made way to tart red then dry black fruit in the mouth. The minerally black fruit was backed by plenty of tannins, a drying finish, and some acidity.  Not quite the balance I prefer.  Will last but why wait.  ** Now.

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2013 Birgit Eichinger, Gruner Veltliner, Wechselberg, Kamptal – $20
Imported by Weygandt Metzler.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The attractive honey-suckle nose was followed by weighty, slight rich fruit right as the wine hit the tongue.  The richness was backed by lively acidity on the tongue as well as a chalk note.  It had a tart, yet ripe middle and plenty of texture.  Very enjoyable.  *** Now-2016.

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2012  Emblem, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $26
Alcohol 14.4%.  In the mouth were powdery black fruit flavors with a touch of chocolate, all of which was bound in approachable tannins with just enough acidity as underlying support.  With air the wine deepened revealing plums with more acidity and structure that showed better tension.  The fruit was blacker as well.  Perhaps it needs a short period in the cellar.  **(*) 2016-2019.

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2014 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County – $20
Alcohol 14.1%.  The mouth brought forth slightly tart white fruit on the sides of the tongue before it turned creamy with a yeast note.  The wine became creamier with air and took on an attractive lemon-citrus flavor in the finish.  It needs a bit of time to settle down but it is obvious it will get there.  **(*) 2016-2017.

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2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costieres de Nimes – $25
Imported by Robert Kacher.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The pungent nose revealed pure, dense fruit that mixed with earthy orange aromas.  In the mouth the fruit was sweet and smooth with very fine chocolate flavor, tannins, and a seamless acidity that does not poke out.  The very fine texture existed in a weighty, almost thick and unctuous wine.  With air this wine showed persistent power, minerally black fruit, and gentle power.  *** Now – 2020.

Basement Bottles from France and Austria

March 27, 2015 2 comments

In case you are wondering if I am trapped beneath my wine fridge, I am not.  I simply ran out of time between re-arranging our entire house so that our hardwood floors could be refinished and doing some quick turnaround research.  Despite my absence of writing I continue to taste wine in our  basement encampment.  And despite this short post I recommend you pick up both the 2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes and 2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich.  The former is a little more serious whereas the later is all fun.  Enjoy! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 35 year old vines on clay and limestone with schist soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in concrete.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was grapey red fruit on the nose that opened up to good, dark fruit aromas.  In the mouth the tangy fruit was up front with acidity on the front of the tongue.  The dry black fruit was matched by attractive, drying tannins on the gums.  There were brighter flavors and salivating acidity in the finish.  With air this wine showed acidity and structure for short term age but maintained levity.  A nice wine.  *** Now-2019.

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2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich  – $12
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of Zweigelt and Gamay which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in both stainless steel and large oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an attractive, light and articulate nose of black fruit with underlying greenhouse aromas.  There was a little more ripeness in the mouth around a core of cherry black fruit.  There was  a slight, ripe tannic structure.  With air the wine took on some weight, cocoa flavors, and a bit of a silky feel.  *** Now-2016.

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Drinking by the Liter

We tried a pair of one Liter bottles over the long holiday period.  First was the 2013 Stift Kloster Neuburg, Grüner Veltliner, Hofkirchner.  The nose was amazing, from the very first glass to the last and this was closely followed by the flavors.  I did not recall the price until I started typing up this post.  At the equivalent of $10 per bottle this is shockingly good for the price.  The wines of Louis-Antoine Luyt continue to offer my favorite new perspective on Chile and the big bottle of 2014 Louis-Antoine Luyt, Pipeño, Portezuelo continues the trend.  It is a fresh, balanced wine that leans towards blue and black fruit with minerals.  There is no hint of unsulphured danger.  The style of the wine and its low alcohol make this a serious, drinking wine that you should also try.  You will be pleased drinking both of these selections, whether it is during the workweek or after you have opened scores of them at a party.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Stift Kloster Neuburg, Grüner Veltliner, Hofkirchner – $13 (1L)
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a killer nose right upon opening.  In the mouth were dry, floral pretty fruit flavors that were driven by acidity on the sides of the tongue.  The wine took on a nice, powdery ripeness to the fruit in the finish.  The shorter aftertaste still managed to offer a lipsticky, ripe lemon hint.  ** Now.

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2014 Louis-Antoine Luyt, Pipeño, Portezuelo – $18 (1L)
Imported by LDM Wines.  This wine is 100% Pais sourced from 150-200 year old vines located on granite and clay..  Alcohol 12%.  The nose bore serious youthful fruit aromas and fresh, floral spices.  In the mouth were blue and black fruit with minerals with a fresh, non-menthol, aspect.  There was a fresh, ripe structure supporting the almost dry flavors.  The wine wrapped up with a hint of tart, black fruit.  There might be some short-term development but why wait? This wine offers good, solid, pretty fun!  ** (almost ***) Now.

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Tasting Old Wines with Darryl and Nancy at Blue Grass Tavern

February 11, 2014 2 comments
Baltimore, Maryland, skyline and waterfront. Detroit Publishing Co. 1910-1915. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Baltimore, Maryland, skyline and waterfront. Detroit Publishing Co. 1910-1915. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On a snowy evening Phil and I drove up to Baltimore to taste several flights of wine.  Darryl and Nancy were hosting an evening of old wine at the Blue Grass Tavern.  Their contributions and those of the other attendees were beckoning.  There were both familiar faces, including Jeffrey Snow, and several new ones.  We sat in the intimate back room which glowed  inside and allowed views of the coating of snow which was still falling as we sat down.  The dinner was a satisfying meat fest which was punctuated at the end by plates of cheese and an incredible amount of dessert.

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To start with 1990 Moet et Chandon, Dom Perignon was great not only because the bottle was in top form but also because it was the second youngest wine of the evening.  We tasted through a number of wines at a reasonable pace and I never felt rushed nor short on my own pours.  The most physically satisfying flight was that of the 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape.  There great wines came from excellent cellars so the provenance showed.  If you have not yet drunk mature Chateauneuf du Pape then make every effort to do so.  I also really enjoyed the old Barolo flight.  There was nothing dried out or difficult about these wines, they really do develop for an incredible amount of time.  They were subtle in a way that when I tasted through the mixed French flight I kept wishing I was drinking the Barolo instead.

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1990 Moet et Chandon, Cuvee Dom Perignon, Champagne
Alcohol 12.9%.  This was opened right before serving.  There was a light toasty nose which was initially subtle before it blossomed with air to reveal mature white wine aromas and riper fruit.  In the mouth there was a fresh and crisp start carried by very fine bubbles that turned into a soft, lovely mousse of mature yellow fruit.  There was a chewy finish and long textured aftertaste which haunted my mouth.  This wine was in great shape and really was evocative of mature white Burgundy.

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1983 Staatsweingut, Rauenthaler, Baiken, Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
Imported by Atlanta Wholesale Wine.  Alcohol 10%.  There was a killer nose with a little petrol.  The wine opened up quickly in the mouth bringing on petrol and riper fruit.  There was seamless acidity, drier flavors towards the finish and a hint of tartness.  The palate was not quite up to the  nose but still a very fine wine.

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1983 Kirchmayr, Solist, Traminer Spatlese, Neusiedlersee 
Imported by Domaine Select Wines.  Alcohol 12%.  This was very aromatic, rather Gewurztraminer like.  It provided a ripe, round mouthfeel with a woodsy mineral note.  It still had some sweetness, a racy hint,  and with air, a mellow personality.

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The Barolo flight had been decanted such that they had about four hours or so of air before dinner.  The 1962 Cappellano was bottled by Giovanni Troglia who was a wine merchant in Turin.  Darryl reported the oddly shaped bottle was sealed with a glass top fused with metal to the bottle.  So he had to delicately pry away before gaining access to the cork.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellana label scanned by Darryl Priest.

1962 Cappellano label scanned by Darryl Priest.

I thought the 1967 Francesco Rinaldi the darkest and freshest of the three.  This impression was not only due to it being the youngest of the trio rather, as Mannie Berk (Rare Wine Co.) pointed out to me, it was aged in demijohn.  Indeed in Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1991) they write that Luciano Rinaldi “keeps some of his Barolo in these 9- and 14-gallon (34- and 54-liter) jugs for ten years or more.  The wine is decanted off its sediment into bottles or magnums before being put on sale.”  At the time of their visit there was still 1967 in demijohn.  This was practice was common in the old days of Barolo so perhaps this younger vintage was the most traditional of the three.  Michael Garner and Paul Merritt note in Barolo: Tar and Roses (1990) that it was the old practice to transfer wine from botte to damigiana for maturation.  However, the deep frost of 1929 wiped out vast stocks of these glass demijohns providing incentive to shift aging methods.  The 1958 Giacomo Borgogno showed more mature with earthy and ethereal flavors.  I thought an interesting contrast.  The 1962 Cappellano with its funky bottle quickly took on a nose of pure cumin with funky flavors in the mouth.  It reacted a bit to the air, putting on more flesh, and provided a third unique Barolo experience.  In the end a very satisfying flight.

1958 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli, Red Capsule, Barolo Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Acquired from a Private Collection and auctioned by Acker Merrall & Conduit, November 2013.  There was a strong, earthy nose with a hint of band-aid.  In the mouth were fresh, earthy flavors of black and red fruit.  The acidity was there, perhaps a hint of banana, followed by more piercing flavors in the finish and a haunting aftertaste.

1962 Cappellano, Barolo
Giovanni Troglia bottling.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a funky nose which cleaned up to be a pure aroma of cumin.  The funk followed in the mouth where the wine was dry.  It reacted well with air, became a touch savory and fleshed out.  An interesting wine.

1967 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Acquired from a private collection by Chambers Street Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was very dark and the darkest of all three in the flight.  The nose was initially subtle then became more aromatic.  There was tangy red fruit in the mouth, lots of pleasing grip, and acidity which was very present.  It still had tannins, was a little dry, and puckering towards the end.  It remained very fresh and engaging.

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This was a mixed flight and a little underwhelming given the old Barolo and 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape flights it was sandwiched between.  There was a connection in that the Ausone and the Francesco Rinaldi were of the same vintage.  This vintage of Ausone came from the period when the vines were becoming increasingly older as there had been no replanting since 1950.  Both the Ausone and Montrose were fermented in old wooden vats.  I preferred the Montrose which was fresher.  To have mature Trousseau from Arbois was probably a first for many.  This particular bottle of 1988 Camille Loye came from a small parcel imported by Crush.  While it was not a wine I would want to drink an entire bottle of, it was enjoyable, and not near decline.  Finally, the Nicolas Potel was young with an interesting flavor but the powerful tannins were still too obvious.

1967 Chateau Ausone, Saint-Emilion
Imported by DKDJ Imports.  Acquired from a private collection.  There was a nose of beef stock and perhaps a hint of a sweet note.  There were flavors of black and red fruit in the focused start.  It had watering acidity, ripe spices, minerals, and a structure that still had tannic grip in the finish.  Ultimately, it was on its decline in life.  It did not seem to get better with air.

1970 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Alexis Lichine & Co.  There was a curious nose which was both fresh and animale.  There was levity in the mouth, a greenhouse hint, and a young core.  It was a good wine that did not show the level of evolution that the Ausone did.

1988 Camille Loye, Cuvee St Paul, Arbois Rouge
Imported by Vineyard Road.  There were flavors of red cranberry, citrus pith, and fresh acidity.  It was an interesting wine, in fine shape, and I can see why one person said  an “orange red wine” and another “curious”.

1999 Nicolas Potel, Latricieres-Chambertin, Grand Cru
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by C’est Vin.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was very fresh.  There was a little earth to the flavors, a ripe note and an interesting flavor profile.  There was a lot of unevolved oak which showed in the powerful and very fine tannins in the finish.  This wine packed a punch at the end.  Clearly the youngest tasting bottle of the even.

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We almost had a quartet of 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape but the Rayas, Pignan was badly corked.  Still, the remaining three bottles were excellent.  The Charvin had been double-decanted ahead of time so it probably had two hours of air before it was poured. The other wines were opened just minutes before and not decanted.  While this difference should be noted there is no denying the Charvin was a great wine.  This vintage represents the first produced by Laurent Charvin for all of the wines had been previously sold off.  It remained excellent to the end.  I also really liked the Pegau which can be so satisfying to smell and to drink.  This bottle came from a good cellar and even with some air kept a youthful nature.  The Beaucastel may have been more polarizing and not with the same depth of flavor but I very much enjoyed it.  That three different wines could be so satisfying was evidenced by how quiet the table became.

1990 Domaine Charvin, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were aromas of tobacco and red fruit that stood out of the glass.  In the mouth were lovely flavors that were a little savory and sappy with cherry and Kirsch notes.  The wine had weight and purity.  Despite the maturity the flavors had a ripe, dense core.  A real treat.

1990 Rayas, Pignan, Chateauneuf du Pape
Acquired from a private collection by Acker Merrall & Conduit Internet.  An off bottle.

1990 Domaine du Pegau, Cuvee Reservee, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Hand Picked Selections.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was great complexity in the familial nose but the flavors were young.  There was a good mixture of spices and fruit which was black red.  The chewy tannins made way to youthful weight, sweet fruit and sweet spices.  It had a spicy structure in the finish and a long aftertaste that took on ripe notes.

1990 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was very aromatic.  The flavors were expansive in the mouth but did not develop the weight or presence as the Charvin.  Some ripe fruit developed, an animale flavor, and the structure was more present.

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Unfortunately, the 1991 QBA was not worth drinking.  The 1995 Beerenauslese had an explosive entry into the mouth with an engaging mixture of black tea flavors.

1991 Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grunhauser, Herrenberg QBA, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer – (375 mL)
Alcohol 10.9%.  The nose was oxidative with a hint of apples and apricots followed by beef stock.  There were apple flavors, tart-like fruit but in the end dried out.  No.

1995 Carl von Schubert, Maximin Grunhauser, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer – (375 mL)
Imported by Robert Chadderdon Selections.  Alcohol 6.5%.  There was a ripe nose of apples and apricots.  The wine had a lively burst into the mouth with not-quite bracing acidity.  The complex flavors blended in tea notes and maintained texture on the tongue followed by a tartness in the aftertaste.

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The Baumard was curious in that it was rather clean and almost primary.  Perhaps it needed more air or years in the cellar.  I believe some people continued to work this wine in their glass so perhaps they have a better opinion.  There is not much Terrantez any more on Madeira so the Cossart Gordon bottle was a treat to taste.  It was opened right before tasting and had great aromatics and powerful flavors.  It was a bottle I would be curious to track for a few weeks.

1989 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
Imported by Classic Wine Imports.  Acquired from a private collection by Acker Merrall & Conduit Internet.  The nose was sweet and sweaty but remained youthful and tight.  In the mouth the sweetness over powered the acidity at first, it was in there but bound tight.  Remarkably unevolved.

1977 Cossart Gordon, Terrantez, Madeira
Imported by Premium Ports & Madeiras.  Alcohol 20%.  There was a very aromatic and gorgeous nose.  In the mouth were powerful flavors of salty and rich orange-red fruit.  It had subtle weight.

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Austrian Wine – Diversity in Red

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I was fortunate to attend the Austrian Red Wine seminar presented by Wein Burgenland at Cork Tasting Room in Washington, DC this past October.    The event was organized by Stephanie Artner, Austrian Trade Commission, and Constance Chamberlain, Wine & Co.  Christian Zechmeister, Managing Director of Wein Burgenland, led us through the formal part of the tasting of which I was able to taste the Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, and Burgenland Blends flights.  My published tasting notes are only peppered with red wines from Austria so to taste 17 wines and like so many of them, made for a memorable experience.  My favorite wines included both those with more mineral and fruitier natures.  I was certainly not surprised to prefer those with less obvious oak influences but was surprised by enjoying the small inclusion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  All of these wines should be available in the Washington, DC area so be sure to ask for those which sound appealing.

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Blaufrankisch Flight

This was an interesting start for me.  The 2009 Prieler, Leithaberg is on the other side of the lake from the 2010 Paul Achs, Blaufrankisch Edelgrund.  Thus the slate soils of the Prieler clearly came through in the wine.  The 2009 Weninger, Blaufrankisch Hochacker is from fruit located on heavy loam soils with plenty of nutrients and water absorbing capability.  The mountains are high enough to keep the cold air away.  Perhaps this made it a mouthfilling wine.  The 2009 Jalits, Eisenberg Reserve, Eisenberg is from fruit located on the red soils of Eisenberg.  This 500 ha area has heavy loam soils with a high iron content.  I believe this is revealed in the mineral flavor and structure of the wine.

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2010 Paul Achs, Blaufrankisch Edelgrund, Burgenland – $35
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a gentle nose of ripe, sweet, perfume.  In the mouth were firm black and red fruit flavors, a hint of pepper, and integrated lively acidity.  It had a lighter body with pepper and a greenhouse note.  Brighter.

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2009 Prieler, Leithaberg – $58
Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 20 months in large barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.    There was black fruit and a hint of smoke on the nose.  In the mouth were more flavors of black fruit, minerals, and a creamy feel.  This was nicely put together with more minerals in the aftertaste.  Nice.

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2009 Weninger, Blaufrankisch Hochacker, Mittelburgenland – $28
Imported by Circo Vino.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 16 months in large barrels.  Imported by Circo Vino.  In the mouth there were sweet spices at first followed by black fruit.  The wine had a slight texture and was more mouthfilling.  The fruit was slight tart compared to the riper fruit on the nose.  There were grapey tannins in the finish.

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2009 Jalits, Eisenberg Reserve, Eisenberg, Burgenland – $30
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch which was aged 12 months in small barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a more subtle nose.  In the mouth were red fruit, a touch fruiter than others, with black mineral flavors that mixed well with the tannins.  This showed more structure and grip.  It should evolve well.

St. Laurent Flight

St. Laurent produces low yields and is hard to grow.  The 2010 Pittnauer, St. Laurent Rosenberg is sourced from sandy soils and produced a light wine.  The 2011 Steindorfer, St. Laurent Reserve is produced using fruit from the same area but is a more modern style.  I think that should appeal broadly but for my preference I would cellar it so the oak is absorbed.  The Pinot Noir pair was interesting.  The 2009 Umathum, Pinot Noir Joiser Terrassen played it close with more mineral notes.  The 2009 Juris, Pinot Noir Reserve is sourced from soils of sandy loam and some limestone.  This produced a more aromatic and weightier wine that should age well.

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2010 Pittnauer, St. Laurent Rosenberg, Burgenland – $55
Imported by Magellan Wine Imports and Savio Soares Selections.  This wine is 100% St. Laurent.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was more vegetal with black fruit and vintage perfume.  In the mouth the tart red fruit is quite filling.  There was moderately ripe cherry fruit, tangy on the tongue tip, moderate structure, and tart to almost-puckering acidity.  The tannins were a little more obvious.

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2011 Steindorfer, St. Laurent Reserve, Burgenland – $30
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines.  This wine is 100% St. Laurent which was aged for 14 months in barrique.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a richer nose of dark red berries.  There was richer, bigger flavors with minerals and racy grip. The wine turned bluer with a vanilla sweet note in the finish. There was very well balanced with obvious oak influence.  This was very approachable but should age well.  The acidity was less overt.

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2009 Umathum, Pinot Noir Joiser Terrassen, Burgenland – $45
Imported by Winemonger.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a more subtle nose.  In the mouth were flavors of tart, black fruit.  The wine had concentration and picked up grip towards the finish.  This was finely made with finesse but it plays it close right now.  There were minerals towards the finish with a sweet mixture of minerals and spices in the finish.

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2009 Juris, Pinot Noir Reserve, Burgenland – $46
Imported by Blue Danube Wine Company.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was lifted with ripe red and blue berries, perhaps a touch of smoke.  In the mouth there was a ripe start then sweet-tart flavors came out with tang in the finish.  There was a drying structure.  The dense blue and black fruit built weight and concentration.  This should age well.

Burgenland Blends Flight

This was a fun flight.  The first two wines were a blend of indigenous varieties with the third wine a blend of international varieties.  The 2008 Gesellmann, Op Eximium proved to be a well priced example showing attractive bottle-aged flavors.  From the same vintage the 2008 Gernot Heinrich, Pannobile showed younger berry fruit.  The 2009 Leo Hillinger, Hill 1 incorporates both Syrah and Merlot.  The later of which might seem surprising but there are sandy soils near the lake not unlike St. Emilion in Bordeaux.

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2008 Gesellmann, Op Eximium, Burgenland – $27
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of Blaufrankisch, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a little wood box on the nose with red fruit, sweet spices, and a spearmint hint.  This was mouthfilling with sweet wood box making it taste of some bottle age.  There was a fine grained texture with black fruit in the finish.  Then the wine turned redder with a fresh aftertaste.  Acidity is there.  A good, solid wine.

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2008 Gernot Heinrich, Pannobile, Burgenland – $55
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 63% Zweigelt, 35% Blaufrankisch, and 2% St. Laurent.  Alcohol 13%.  There was younger fruit on the nose with red aromas, and an underlying dark note.  In the mouth the wine was a bit sappy with red fruit that mixed with complex flavors.  The mixed red berries were slightly ripe, with some tartness coming through.  There were ripe tannins.

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2009 Leo Hillinger, Hill 1, Burgenland – $65
Imported by Wittauer c/o Select Wines. This wine is a blend of 40% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufrankisch, 20% Syrah, and 10% Merlot.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a dense nose of meaty, red and black fruit.  In the mouth were grapey fruit flavors with a little spearmint.  The wine slowly filled the mouth with more tannins and grip in the finish.  There was some roundness which matched the ripe tannins which was a little spicy.  This is set up for age.

Wine Bar Flight

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After the seminar we all mingled and were free to taste from the wine bar.  As I had to leave I quickly tasted through the majority of the wines.  The 2009 Matthias Peck by Scheiblhofer, Zweigelt Andau proved to be a strong value.  Though four years apart in vintage the 2011 Netzl, Anna-Christina and 2007 Pockl, Rosso E Nero nicely show off the use of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

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2009 Matthias Peck by Scheiblhofer, Zweigelt Andau, Burgenland – $14
Imported by Monika Caha Selections.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were cool blue and black fruit flavors, wood box, grippy ripe tannins, and concentration.  Nice.

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2011 Hannes Reeh, Zweigelt Unplugged, Burgenland – $30
Imported by A. I. Selections.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was redder fruit, tart flavors, and a drying structure.  The acidity was there.  There were young red and black flavors in the finish.  Needs time.

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2009 Moric, Moric Reserve, Burgenland – $54
Imported by Winemonger.  This wine is 100% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 13%.  There were tart and tangy flavors of black fruit.  The tannins were unobtrusive.  The flavors became redder towards the finish.  This tastes young in terms of evolution.

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2011 Netzl, Anna-Christina, –
Imported by Select Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Zweigelt, 20% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14%.  There was nice concentration to the black fruit.  There was seamless integration of the acidity, fruit, and very fine grained tannins.  There was good fruit and a fine future for this wine.

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2007 Pockl, Rosso E Nero – $50
Imported by Monika Caha Selection.  This wine is a blend of 50% Zweigelt, 20% Blaufrankisch, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This showed some mature aromas, cedar, and creamy fruit on the nose.  There were similar but haunting flavors in the mouth.  The red fruit integrated with the acidity.  The black mineral flavors came out before the drying tannins.  The aftertaste brought more minerals.  This is a youngful wine that should age well.  Nice.

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2008 Anita & Hans Nittnaus, Pannobile – $36
Imported by Frederick Wildman & sons.  This wine is a blend of 60% Zweigelt and 40% Blaufrankisch.  Alcohol 13%.  There was tart, young fruit which was less evolved.  The red fruit mixed with acidity and a drying structure of citric tannins.

Christmas Claret with Lou

December 23, 2013 2 comments

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This past weekend we gathered at Lou’s house for what is meant to be an annual Christmas tasting…with dinner.  We had decided on Bordeaux ahead of time but in the hours preceding we focused in on the 1983 and 1989 vintages.  The red wines were double-decanted such that they had two hours of air prior to tasting.  We began with charcuterie, an old family crab dish, and a bottle of NV Duval-Leroy, Brut.  Lou and I agreed that it nicely revealed bottle age which made it quite integrated and with subdued bubbles, very easy to drink.  I am not entirely sure what the 2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit is made out of. Apparently Pinot Blanc.  Regardless this self-professed “natural wine” was aromatic and very complex on the nose.  The balance of acidity and skin-contact flavors was quite attractive.

We moved down to the cellar to taste through the red wines.  The 1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien was purchased over 7 years ago from MacArthur Beverages.  This was opened as a curiosity and surprisingly, the nose was quite deep and earthy.  Most people liked this bottle.  The nose was its strong point for the flavors came up a bit short.  For me the 1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc had a nose strong in old-school perfume but the flavors remained firm.  It should continued to live for some time but I do not see it improving.  The 1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien was a perfect example of mature Bordeaux with a fill at the bottom of the neck.  From the beginning the nose was aromatic and deep.  In the mouth were fresh fruit, good acidity, and expansive flavors.  Completely mature but  in no way past its prime.  The 1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol was quite good by the end of the evening when it opened to show black fruit and minerals.  I wonder if it could develop further.  Unfortunately the 1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc was a somewhat flawed bottle.  If you got beyond the musty nose there were veiled flavors of good fruit.  Normal bottles must actually be quite good.

Right before leaving I had a quick glass of 2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes from half bottle.  Lou had picked this up during one of his trips to the UK.  The wine is produced by Chateau Suduiraut using estate fruit.  I thought it already showed an attractive maturity which made it a satisfying drink.

NV Duval-Leroy, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Duval-Leroy Importers.  This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose revealed biscuit, dark yellow fruit, and some toast.  There were good, frothy bubbles at first which quickly dissipated.  The flavors were fresh before the wine became still.  It tasted as if it had some bottle age.  There were dried herbs and toast in the finish.  There was acidity at first then it returned in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2016.

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2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine was slightly cloudy with a light golden yellow color.  The nose was very aromatic with Christmas spices, clove, orange peeling, mulling spices, and floral notes.  In the mouth the crisp acidity was immediately noticeable follow by weight from skin contact.  The wine then became light in flavor with laser acidity and focus to the flavors.  Really nice wine.  **** Now-2016.

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1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light was was quite inviting with earthy aromas of blue and red berries.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the black and red fruit then a slightly firm middle followed by a wood note.  The finish was shorter in flavor.  The acidity was present throughout.  The nose was the best part *** at first but overall ** Now-2018.

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1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-13%.  The nose consistently revealed old-school perfume, it did not give up much fruit.  In the mouth the wine was firmer in flavor with black fruit, prominent acidity, and the sense that this will be long-lived.  ** Now-2024.

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1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
Imported by N & T Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There was a good nose with light to medium strength aromas of deep berries and roasted meat.  In the mouth were tangy berry flavors at first then fresher fruit.  The flavors were gently mouth filling and balanced by good, lively acidity.  It became higher-toned with powdery fruit.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2018.

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1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a low-lying, serious nose.  In the mouth the black fruit tasted fresh and dense.  There was a tangy middle with a cedar note developing by the finish.  It had minerals, good complexity, and was developing well.  With air there was a gentle cedar note, soft finish, and both minerals and a fresh touch of earth in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2020.

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1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was affected by some TCA and was musty but there was fruit underneath.  In the mouth were muted but dense black and red fruit with good acidity and mouthfeel.  It tasted unevolved, muted, and unfortunately a little rough in the finish.  Completely drinkable.  ** Now-2023.

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2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes
This wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc which was aged for 16 months in 10% new and 90% used oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  No formal note but a nice wine, tasting mature already with thickness and spices.  Why wait?  *** Now-2018.

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Three Recent Drinks From Austria, Serbia, and Spain

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I recommend you try the first two wines featured in today’s post.  The 2007 Vina Budimir, Triada, Zupa is a good introduction to the grape Prokupac.  The extended aging has left a very approachable wine with the flavors of black fruit and cherries mixed with a wood note.  It is slightly different in flavor profile but should appeal to many.  The 2011 Terra Personas, Somsis, Tinto Joven, Montsant is all about berry smacking flavor.  One bottle that I tasted on the second night revealed a serious aspect that makes me wonder if this will be even better in the new year. The 2011 Franz & Christine Netzl, Carnuntum Cuvee was a decent drink with outgoing flavors and notes of stone.  It certainly lends an Austrian perspective to things but I would rather drink the less expensive Somsis.   These wines were all purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Vina Budimir, Triada, Zupa – $19
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Prokupac sourced from vines planted in 1935 which was fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts then aged four years in large French and Serbian oak casks.  Alcohol 12.8%.  The nose revealed black floral fruit.  In the mouth were slightly creamy flavors of black fruit.  There was a drying structure of tannins then slightly different flavors which met a wood note.  The wine initially revealed some mature flavors but became youthful with air.  There was a little cherry in the aftertaste.  Drinking well now.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Terra Personas, Somsis, Tinto Joven, Montsant – $13
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of Carinena, Grenacha, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The good nose was a mixture of berries and ripe orange.  The mouth follows the nose with fresh yet weighty berry smacking flavor.  There was black fruit with a minor structure, lovely fruit, a little spice, and citric tannins in the gently structured finish.  **(*) Now-2016.

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2011 Franz & Christine Netzl, Carnuntum Cuvee, Carnuntum – $15
A KW Selection imported by Select Wines.  This wine is a blend of 40% Zweigelt, 40% Blaufrankisch, and 20% Merlot sourced from 11 year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation, and some aging in big oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had standup flavors of red and black fruit, finely ripe stones, and almost metallic acidity.  ** Now-2015.

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A Surprise Amongst the Lovely Wines at Little Saigon

October 3, 2013 1 comment
David and Phil outside Little Saigon.

David and Phil outside Little Saigon.

Seven of us recently gathered for a wine dinner at Little Saigon down in Falls Church at the suggestion of David.  Given the list of attendees David, Roland, Darryl, Nancy, Jeff, and Phil it came as no surprise to see many excellent bottles of wine.  What did surprise me was how a bottle of wine from 1991 originally described by Robert Parker as “a competent, correct wine in what was a dreadful vintage.  It is spicy and weedy…78 pts” became one of my favorite wines of the night.  More on this wine later.  Roland has been eating at Little Saigon in for a very long time.  After following his suggestion to bring bottles of German, Alsatian, Rhone, or Burgundy wine it was easy enough to leave the ordering of the food in his hands.

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Roland tried to manage successive waves of food since his typical waiter was absent.  We ate such dishes as crispy shrimp wonton and vegetable spring rolls to fried chicken wings with garlic and crisp salted calamari.  A plate of gigantic prawns gave no hint of what was to come.  The pace increased to a frenzy as the kitchen prepared everything else at once.  A whole rockfish with greens came out.  This was quickly followed by dishes of seared pork, quail, and pan-seared steak cubes.  It sounds like a crazy meal but in the end it was not.  Roland avoided spicy dishes so I never once thought there was a clash between food and wine.  In retrospect I believe the dinner would have been incomplete without so many dishes.

We sat at a large round table with a large lazy-susan in the middle.  We brought boxes of our own stems and there were even decanters as well.  Corkscrews and an Ah-So, a very nice Le Crueset model Jeff recently picked up in France, opened those bottles which had not been double-decanted.  I suspect the lazy-Susan is typically used for food but we used it to hold our wine bottles.  Both the dumpling sauce and the highly-coveted thin sauce resided here as well.  The latter of which, the kitchen released only one bowl at a time.   Perhaps it is like balsamic vinegar.  The small platters of food were relegated to the table until the Sterno and rockfish arrived which were of a size requiring the lazy-Susan.

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The 2008 De Conti, Anthologia Blanc offered an interesting start being a generous white wine from Bergerac.  I thought the 2006 Prager, Riesling,  Federspiel , Steinriegl and the 2008 Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich good in the beginning but ultimately a bit soft in the middle for my preference.  In the form of a new producer for me, the 2004 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Spätlese, Winkeler Jesuitengarten provided my second favorite white wine of the night.  It balanced mature flavors with verve and a seductive mouthfeel.  Next came a pair of wines from Dönnhoff.  The 2001 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Norheimer Kirschheck was more mature, earthier, good but not exciting.  This could be due to the 2002 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle which shined through everything else.  While I thought the 2004 Weingut Spreitzer was good but the 2002 Dönnhoff was a league ahead.

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We then turned to the red wines.  Darryl had been holding back on opening the 1991 Domaine du Pégaü, Réservée assuming it would not last once opened.  The bottle was in great shape as was the cork which was not even stained on the sides.  It started off with a less attractive nose of medicine and band aids but this eventually blew off and the wine came alive after an hour of air.  It was my second favorite red wine of the night being a lovely, mature Chateauneuf du Pape.  Darryl quickly checked that he purchased this bottle last year for $29 from Cellar Raiders.  Certainly the best buy of the evening.  Next up was the 1997 Paolo Scavino, Bric dël Firsc which turned out to be a mess so I dumped it.  The 1998 Domaine Santa Duc, Prestige des Haute Garrigues  still had plenty of fresh fruit but was not in the same class as the 1991 Pegau.  The 1998 Tardieu Laurent, Gigondas  exhibited too much wood and while not bad, was just not interesting to drink.

We moved on to a pair of Chateauneuf du Pape from the hot 2003 vintage.  These were polarizing for some.  I actually enjoyed the 2003 Le Vieux Donjon which I spent time drinking with my food instead of thinking about it.  I did not like the 2003 Pierre Usseglio et Fils, Cuvee du mon Aïeul for most of the evening.  It was a sizeable wine with a significant prune and raisin component that I do not like very much.  At Phil’s suggestion I tried the wine again at the end of the evening.  It had changed to become clean, pure, and not so powerful.  I am curious to hear other people experience with this wine.  The last wine was my favorite red wine of the evening.  The 2004 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage had been decanted many hours before dinner.  I do not know what a mature Chave, Hermitage tastes like but the impeccable balance, sense of purity, and long finish lead me to believe this has a wonderful future ahead.

I was recovering from a sinus infection so please excuse the brief impressions below.

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2008 De Conti, Anthologia Blanc, Bergerac
Imported by Elite Wines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a golden yellow.  The nose was complex with candy and passion fruit aromas.  In the mouth were rich flavors and fine textured wood notes.  It was mildly unctuous with its ripe lemon flavors, integrated acidity, and minerals.  Distinctive. ***

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2006 Prager, Riesling,  Federspiel , Steinriegl, Wachau
Imported by Vin Divino.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The wine started with textured, acidity driven flavors then it fell off to reveal a softer midpalate.  It tasted like it was maturing.  There was a minerally bit which mixed with some outgoing flavors. **

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2008 Willi Schaefer, Riesling Kabinett, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel
Imported by Michael Skurnik.  Alcohol 7.5%.  There was a lot of initial texture with some on the tongue tip before minerally softness came out. **

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2004 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Spätlese, Winkeler Jesuitengarten, Rheingau
A Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  Alcohol 7.7%.  This wine had a rocking start followed by a creamy, tropical middle.  There was a little petrol and expansive oily flavors.  A beautiful wine which maintained its attractive mouthfeel. ***

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2001 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Norheimer Kirschheck, Nahe
Alcohol 9.0%.  The color was a golden yellow.  The soft nose bore an earthier hint.  In the mouth the wine had plenty of mature notes.  Perhaps drinking at its best. ***

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2002 Dönnhoff, Riesling Spätlese, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Nahe
Imported by Premier Cru.  Alcohol 8.5%.  The color was slightly golden yellow.  This was a lively, acidity driven wine with a lithe start, persistent flavors, and acidity which was spot on.  Good mouthfeel.  Plenty of life ahead but hard to resist now. ****

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1991 Domaine du Pégaü, Réservée, Châteauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium to dark garnet.  It was aromatic from the beginning with aromas that stepped a bit out of the glass.  The flavors were mature but in great shape, initially revealing a medical note and leaner flavors.  After an hour it fleshed out to become very enjoyable and savory with black fruit, minerals, and a little savory bit.  Still has life left. ****

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1997 Paolo Scavino, Bric dël Firsc, Barolo
Imported by Vin Divino.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was almost brown garnet.  The nose was minty fresh and finely articulated.  In the mouth were lean flavors, minty with a spine of acidity driving it through.  This was followed by heat and roughness through the finish.  Kind of a mess.

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1998 Domaine Santa Duc, Prestige des Haute Garrigues, Gigondas
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  Alcohol 15%.  There was a good nose followed by flavors of dark fruit, a little cedar box.  The ripe fruit was still fresh with good depth and length with ripe tannins and good acidity.  There was a leather note.  Will last longer. ***

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1998 Tardieu Laurent, Gigondas
Alcohol 14.5%.  There were flavors of dark, firm fruit with steely acidity wrapped around a firm, drying, spicy tannic core.  It developed a haunting, dark earthy note.  It remained rugged with wood notes in the aftertaste. **

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2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Châteauneuf du Pape
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  The redder nose made way to approachable flavors of red and black fruit despite the firm, ripe tannins.  ***

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2003 Pierre Usseglio et Fils, Cuvee du mon Aïeul, Châteauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Cinsault and Syrah sourced from very old vines.  It was raised in epoxy-lined tanks and some oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose bore pruned and raisin fruit.  In the mouth this was a blue fruit bomb with extract and raisin notes.  The flavors built even bigger with lots of fine tannins in a structure that hit the back of the throat.  Dense.  Revisited at the end of the evening it had become more approachable with clean blue and black fruit. **(*)

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2004 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14%.  The fine nose was of clean fruit.  In the mouth were roundish flavors with a little earth and leather accenting the tart and cool, red fruit.  There was salivating acidity in this well-knit wine with truly lovely red fruit. Precise and clean with impeccable balance and understated power which made for a long, engaging finish. ****(*)

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Pleasing Red Wine from Germany and Austria

I started tasting this trio of wines with a glass of the 2008 Gernot Heinrich, Zweigelt.  Jenn had picked the first wine and in pouring my glass, commented that it was good.  It was and though maturing it was in a younger state than the 2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent we recently tasted with Lou.  You may read about that wine in Tasting Austrian and Italian Wines With Lou.  It drank best on the first night when the fruit, mature notes, and acidity had good tension.  It softened out on the second night, when I would give it **, so I recommend you remove the glass stopper then share the entire bottle with friends.  The 2010 Sepp Moser, Zweigelt Hedwighof is young with more pepper notes, tannins, and dryer flavors.  I would personally recommend waiting to drink this until the New Year but the perfumed fruit and potpourri flavors are compelling now.  Having run out of Austrian wines I opened the 2007 Weingut Knipser, Gaudenz.  Wow, what a surprise!  The maturity immediately reminded me of a hypothetical Bordeaux blend.  I see no reason to hold back on this wine, just decant it for an hour or two.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Weingut Knipser, Gaudenz, Pfalz – $20
Imported by Magellan Wine Imports.  This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder mixed with other red varietals.  It was aged in older barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  The initially sharper nose rounded out with air to reveal small red berries and mature aromas.  In the mouth there was a mixture of red cherry fruit and underlying mature flavors.  There were wood box flavors, citric red fruit, and some apparent structure.  The wine was almost like a cool Pinot Noir and Bordeaux blend.  The wine develops over a couple of air with gentle ripe flavors on the tongue and lips, along with acidity in the back of the throat.  *** Now-2016.

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2008 Gernot Heinrich, Zweigelt, Burgenland – $16
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt sourced from vines planted in 1985 at the Heideboden vineyard at 430-500 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, and was aged for 6-8 months in French and Slavonian oak vats and barriques.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The light nose was of mixed red and black fruit, eventually turn towards ripe cranberry and strawberry.  Good aromas.  In the mouth there were good, focused flavors, some density which was coupled with the acidity.  The flavors were a touch tart and juicy in the finish.  The tannins were mostly resolved but there was a touch of soft structure and maybe a mature hint. Best on first night. *** Now-2014.

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2010 Sepp Moser, Zweigelt Hedwighof, Neusiedlersee – $18
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt sourced from the Hedwighof vineyard.  The fruit was destemmed then both fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%  The nose was subtle with perfumed pepper aromas gently surrounding blue fruit.  In the mouth there were peppery red and black fruit, a little ripeness towards the front before taking on a dry nature.  Then the ripe red became a touch perfumed, moving on to potpourri flavors in the finish.  There were fine, drying tannins and young flavors in the back of the mouth.  **(*) 2014-2016.

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