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Posts Tagged ‘Nahe’

Pinot Noir from Irancy and Nahe

April 30, 2018 1 comment

The 2011 William Charriat, Irancy surprised me.  A bit herbal and firm upon opening, this wine really came into its own on the second night.  Initially released at five years of age, the Irancy wines of William Charriat are regarded for their ability to develop over a long time.  Traditionally made, the 2011 vintage shows best on the second night.  It is an interesting, highly drinkable wine.  The 2014 Weingut Sinss, Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe is also good.  Aromatic, fresh, and while perfect for the warmer temperatures, it is also capable of aging for several years.  Grab these two wines if you want unique expressions of Pinot Noir.  They are available at Weygandt Wines.

2011 William Charriat, Irancy
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir that sees no new oak.  Alcohol 13%.  Initially, a rather herbal and vintage perfume infused nose.  With air the herbal quality recedes some.  On the second night there is some thickness to the flavors and structure intertwined with minerality.  Subtle flavors of black fruit come out becoming more interesting due to texture and fat.  It all wraps up with fresh lift.  *** Now – 2028.

2014 Weingut Sinss, Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light, cranberry-red color speaks of the lifted, varietal nose.  In the mouth are tart cranberry, citrus, and red fruit flavors with an acidity driven start and a bit of a mineral finish.  There is an edge or tension from the acidity that when coupled with the modest tannins, will see this wine through several years of age.  With further air the wine takes on more mineral flavors.  A pleasing wine for the summer.  *** Now – 2022.

David Bloch’s new and old world favorites

David Bloch returns from a hiatus in writing, though not tasting, to list his favorite Champagnes and both New and Old World white and red wines.

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Top 10 Champagnes

Vintage:

1996 Moët & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon
1998 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz
2004 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil
2004 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
2006 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne

Non-Vintage:

Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve
Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Brut Blanc de Blancs
Camille Savès Grand Cru Brut Carte Blanche Bouzy
Varnier-Fanniere Grand Cru Cuvée St-Denis
G. H. Mumm & Cie Crémant de Cramant

Top 10 Reds

Old World Reds:

1993 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
1994 Château Latour
1995 Château Troplong Mondot
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano
1997 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal
1998 Vieux Château Certan
1999 Jean Raphet et Fils Clos Vougeot Cuvée Unique
1999 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis

New World Red:

2002 Dominus

Top 10 Whites

2001 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese
2004 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg
2005 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck GK Riesling Spätlese
2006 Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette
2006 Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Hochrain
2007 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Trocken Großes Gewächs
2007 Vatan Sancerre Clos La Néore
2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs
2009 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
2010 Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin En Remilly

Sweet Wines

1990 Château Climens
1996 Château d’Yquem
2001 Château Rieussec
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume
2002 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Auslese Goldkapsel

Outstanding Bottles of Giacosa and Conterno

December 2, 2016 Leave a comment

At the end of October I was fortunate to attend an Italian tasting largely focused in on the wines of Bruno Giacosa and Giacomo Conterno.  No tasting of Barolo should be without a mature example and this one began with a very fine 1967 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo.  Double-decanted midday it continued to slowly develop in the glass.  I can only write that I love the aroma and flavor of this type of wine.  Also with attractive maturity, the 1978 Carlo Boffa & Figli, Barbaresco Riserva Vigna Vitalotti is meatier and earthier but leaves the impression of being tired.

The youthful white-labeled pair of 1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Gallina di Neive and 1997 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive did not prepare me for the outstanding red-labels.  At 20 years of age the 1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Asili is beginning to move past its youthful stage.  It is a powerful, intense wine which never takes away from the beautiful flavors.  Younger in age and profile, the 2001 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja promises a great future.  There are primary aromas and flavors right now but everything is in place for slow development.

Completely different in nature the 1997 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino, with moderate concentration and complexity, acted as a segway to the outstanding 2000 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino.  This is a highly refined, ethereally flavored wine which fills the mouth.  With air it fleshes out to provide seamless pleasure.  What a tasting!

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1980 Stony Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  Looks like a copper-orange wine.  There is a complex nose which is a touch maderized.  In the mouth is focused, driven flavors that are quite lively and even sport some body but the wine is clearly not correct.  Not Rated.

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2010 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes
Imported by Wilson Daniels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The flint aromas make the nose stand out.  In the mouth the precise, lemon fruit mixes with flint and smoke.  This is a persistent, tart wine with lime flavors and a long, finely textured finish. Impressive now.  **** Now – 2026.

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2005 Domaine des Croix, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
A Becky Wasserman selection imported by Wine Cellars LTD. Alcohol 13.5%.  The subtle nose is a touch earthy and lactic.  A significantly rounder body is backed by glycerin.  Flavors of lemon and lime take on subtle baking spices.  It improves with air, filling the mouth with flavors and the sensation of an oily, luxurious body. ***(*) Now – 2021.

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2010 Lucien Le Moine, Corton Blanc Grand Cru
Imported by Barrel One Selections.  This is aromatic with sweet fruit and floral spices.  The tart start is focused yet offers weight.  It is almost puckering with a wood hint, floral flavors throughout, and smoke in the finish.  It is almost spicy. **** Now – 2026.

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2005 Etienne Sauzet, Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  A slight darker color hints at the inevitable.  Shame!

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1967 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo
Imported by suitcase.  The nose is subtly smokey.  In the mouth are lively, fresh flavors that are initially linear and focused but expand by the finish.  There is bottle aged complexity as this wine is beyond fruit.  I like the blend of old leather and weighty, animale flavors that develop with air. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1978 Carlo Boffa & Figli, Barbaresco Riserva Vigna Vitalotti
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  The meaty nose is good and opens up a bit with air.  In the mouth this is grippy with tart red fruit, and an animale nature.  It builds subtle ripeness but is ultimately leaner and not as flavorful.  *** Now.

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1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Gallina di Neive
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 14%.  The fruitier nose is attractive with complex bitters-like aroma.  This grippy wine starts with dry tannins and  young fruit but it has very attractive grip, long taste, and a haunting personality. ***(*) Now-2031.

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1997 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 13.5%.  The darker nose is more subtle.  This is a rounder wine with less acidity and tannins, despite its youthful flavor.  It shows more balance at this time.  The complex red and black fruit are supported by some firm, underlying structure. ***(*) Now – 2026.

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2001 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja
Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 14%.  The aromas step out of the glass, primarily exuding violets.  This is very young in the mouth, powerful with very fine tannins.  A core of blackberry fruit comes out.  This clearly has a strong future ahead. ****(*) Now – 2036

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1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Asili
Imported by Premier Cru. Alcohol 14%.  The nose is concentrated and strong with fruity aromas of licorice.  The rounded start is powerful with intense structure and fine, grippy tannins.  The flavor, though, is undeniably beautify with density, and some bacon fat.  The liquidity of the wine is bound with the acidity. ****(*) Now – 2031.

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1997 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14%.  The flavors are of lighter berries and almost roast earth.  The wine remains firm with fine, strong tannins.  There is structure to last but the flavor concentration does not seem to be there. **** Now – 2026.

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2000 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino
Imported by Vieux Vins. Alcohol 14%.  The young grapey nose makes way to a smooth entry of mouth filling, black, ethereal flavors.  The power of this wine builds with time becoming fleshier too.  Lovely and very classy. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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2012 Donnhoff, Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Eiswein, Nahe
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports. Alcohol 7.5%.  This, bright, electric wine is noticeable for its residual sugar and almost effervescent sensation on the tongue.  The spices soon mix with sweet grapefruit and sugar.  Young and a bit hard to drink at this stage. **** 2026-2046.

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2002 Alois Kracher, Scheurebe Trockenbeeren Auslese #6 Zwischen den Seen, Neusiedlersee
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports. Alcohol 8.5%.  Like liquid amber, this aromatic wine is lovely with an apricot hint that is more fresh than dried.  It adds baking spices and cinnamon.  Weighty with good integration of sweetness.  **** Now – 2026.

Anniversary drinks at Fleurie in Charlottesville

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

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Jenn and I celebrated our latest wedding anniversary by spending a family weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The one person I happen to know there is Erin Barbour Scala (Thinking-Drinking).  We previous met in New York City during her days as sommelier at Public NYC followed by The Musket Room.  Having had diverse and fantastic wines with her before I knew there was no other choice than to dine at Fleurie restaurant where both she and her husband are now based.  As Wine Director, Erin’s wine list focuses in on France and Virginia but she is far too curious to neglect the rest of the world as was evidenced by her selections that night.  We were greeted to glasses of NV Rolet, Crement de Jura for ourselves and locally made sparkling grape juice for our daughter.  The Rolet was great by itself, accessible with a nice balance of yeast and fruit.  It left me thirsty for more wine.

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I select the wines we drink at home on a daily basis so it is nice to step away from making any choices.  We gave no direction to Erin as to what we felt like drinking or avoiding.  With Coravin in hand Erin proceeded to pour a utterly fun variety of wines.  To go with our shrimp risotto with carrots and shellfish sauce she poured the 2009 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes.  It was utterly satisfying and drank spot-on with its balance of maturity, fruit, and supportive toast.  Jenn’s herb crusted halibut was joined by the 2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling trocken Grosses Gewächs, Nahe.  The glass was incredibly and persistently aromatic with herbs, stones, and some petrol with great balance in the mouth.  Great stuff! For my venison Erin poured two different red wines.  The 2011 Avennia, Sestina, Columbia Valley is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc blend with fruit sourced from the Bacchus and Red Willow vineyards.  It was forward and complex with darker, racy fruit that was hard to resist.  Avennia was only launched in 2010 so if this second vintage is an example of their other wines this is a new name to follow.  My second red wine was completely different being the 2010 Cambridge Road, Dovetail, Martinborough.  As Erin pointed out this field blend of mostly Pinot Noir with Syrah is not such an oddity given the affinity for these varieties to perform in cooler climates.  Its oscillation between Pinot Noir and Syrah aromas was rather intriguing.

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With our trio of desserts and petit fours came the King Family Vineyards, Loreley, Monticello. This pure Petit Manseng wine was made in the vin de paille style.  She poured this wine because it shares the same name as our daughter.  It was a touching end to our meal.  If you are in the Charlottesville area or need a break from the city I strongly recommend you dine at Fleurie.  Due to the Coravin you can drink almost anything on the list by the glass.  With a large order of wines soon to be added there will be even more reasons to stop by.

Hanging Out In Lou’s Tasting Room

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

This past Sunday afternoon Lou and I gathered in his tasting room just outside of his wine cellar.  There was no particular theme for the afternoon but I did think the mini-flight of 2002 Auslese would be good fun for him.  So I brown bagged those three half-bottles.  We started with the 2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling Dry to acclimate our palates.  Lou had recently enjoyed a glass while dining out so a bottle naturally found its way into his cellar.  This was a well-made distinctive Riesling.  I lost the battle drawing the cork from the 2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese.  I had to dig it out with the screw and after clearing a passage for the wine a large chunk of cork remained impossibly bonded to the inside of the neck, it had never budged despite my heavy-handed approach.  The wine itself was full of cider flavor showing old notes beyond full maturity that were a little off-putting for me.  Much better and in retrospect clearly Scheurebe (or should I write not Riesling) was the 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese.  Lively, viscous, complex, and still on the upslope.  Definitely worth buying.  The 2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese was really good too.  There was a tension between youth and maturity with Lou particularly liking the tart finish.  This was less overt the the Scheurebe, taking more time to open up and actually drank well on the second night.

Our switch to red wine was foiled by a badly corked half-bottle of 1998 Brigaldara, Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico.  Shame.  Fortunately the 2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch was coming into its own in the decanter.  It always sported a great nose but at first the flavors were a touch austere but this perfectly matched the black fruit and drying tannins.  Jenn and I tried it again several hours later when it had come together by taking on a little flesh and a racy quality.  I think this should be cellared more.  What I particularly liked about all of the wines we tried is that they each presented aromas and flavors I do not encounter on a daily basis.  Curious wines for a Sunday afternoon!

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2012 Hermann, J. Wiemer, Riesling, Dry, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 12%.  There was moderate, lively ripeness to the flavors with notes of stones.  Clearly new world it remained lively on the tongue.  There were chalk notes and a refreshing aftertaste.  On its own the touch of sweetness to the fruit is evident as well as grapefruit notes.  ** Now-2015.

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2002 Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese, Nahe – $25 (375 mL)
Imported by Chapin Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The color was a medium amber.  The nose bore older aromas, cider, and hints of plain oldness.  In the mouth there were definite flavors of apple cider.  Due to less viscosity and residual sugar the acidity showed better.  Rather advanced and not too exciting.  * Now.

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2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Mandelring, Scheurebe Auslese, Pflaz – $29 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 9%.  The color was a medium to dark lively yellow.  There was a good nose of peach and nectarine with fresh aromas.  In the mouth were stone fruits marmalade, viscosity, and some grip.  The acidity was balanced and integrated.  Towards the finish the wine became fresh with levity, complexity and gentleness.  On the second night there was a bit more apricot note, good weight, and a touch of salty flavor.  This is drinking well nose.  ****  Now-2024.

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2002 Weingut Ed. Weegmüller, Haardter Herzog, Riesling Auslese, Pfalz – $28 (375 mL)
Imported by Terry Theise.  Alcohol 8%.  This was amber in color and actually the darkness.  There was a very aromatic nose of marmalade.  In the mouth there was brighter acidity, a little wood note, and mature flavors.  It still had some freshness of youth.  There was some residual sugar with good viscosity.  It was tart in the finish with a tangy aftertaste.  A nice wine.  **** Now-2020.

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2005 Pax, Syrah, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley
Alcohol 14.9%.  There was a good nose with fresh smoke aromas.  The wine had a salty entry with pencil lead mixing with black fruit and drying tannins.  It was a little austere at first but I thought this matched the black fruit and tannins.  There was a core of dried herbs and a little liquor heat in the finish.  With air the stones and watering acidity was matched by more flesh and a racy component.  ***(*) Now-2020.

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Drinks in Seattle with Lou

November 15, 2013 1 comment

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I received a text message from Lou three days before my flight to Seattle stating he would be in Seattle the same time I would be.  Not only were we on the same flight out but we were seated in the same row.  I typically spend my free time in Seattle researching or writing posts for this blog.  But with Lou around, I shifted my research from online archives to wine bars and restaurants.

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I returned to my hotel mid-afternoon on the first day.  Most places were not yet open so we walked from downtown, underneath the convention center to bar ferd’nand.  We weren’t quite sure what to drink so in entertaining discrete glasses of wine we sampled the 2011 Weingut Schellmann, Gumpoldskirchen.  This was an interesting blend of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, certainly more weight and fruit than I expected, but perhaps from being near the end of the bottle it lacked verve from acidity.  I suspect it is worth trying from a complete bottle. We then tried a tasted from a fresh bottle of some French Chenin Blanc, but it was all apples and acidity.  Clearly if the wines by the glass selection was not satisfying, choosing from the Bottle Shop would be.  We walked in circles a few times, eventually focusing in on a bottle of Bordeaux.

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2006 Chateau La Confession, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The first glass revealed not-quite rich weight of blue fruit, young in profile but softening.  After an hour of air there was black fruit flavors which were dense but not inky.  The dense mouthfeel continued into the really nice finish and aftertaste with flavors of stones.  The Cabernet Franc really shown through.  This bottle was entering its second phase with the acidity playing the lead over some ripe tannins.  This could be better with additional decanting or aging.  ***/***(*) Now-2025.

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We met up with Julia and Clark on our second night for dinner at The Whale Wins.  The wines of Kermit Lynch and Louis/Dressner are heavily featured here.  That is a good thing.  While we waited for our table we consumed a bottle of the 2011 Punta Crena, Vigneto Reine, Mataossu, Colline Savonesi which is imported by Kermit Lynch.  Apparently Mataossu was quite popular in the 19th century but today only three producers make wine from it.  It is claimed that only Punta Crena has true Mataossu with the other vines actually Lumassina.

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Our first red wine of the evening was the 2011 Louis Claude Desvignes, La Voute Saint-Vincent, Morgon imported by Louis/Dressner.   It was young but lovely with good young fruit, minerals, and nice structure for short-term aging.  This fruit for this wine is sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age.  It showed!

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We wrapped up the evening with the 2012 Occhipinti, SP68 Rosso, Sicily.  This Nero d’Avola and Frappato blend had a rocking nose from the start.  The nose was a little more generous than the mouth so perhaps half a year in the cellar will be a benefit.  Still, it was seamless and approachable.

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I have always found the architecture of Seattle interesting for its old decrepit houses, renovated historic buildings, and constant new construction.  I like the old moss spotted houses with their paint peeling off.  This result of weathering and neglect exhibits the age of the house beyond its design alone.  I remember how the houses pictured above were still occupied not too long ago.  The wine stores of Seattle do not have the depth of vintages found in Washington, DC, New York, or San Francisco.  However, a few restaurants do, so for our final night, we dined at The Wild Ginger where could drink from the reserve wine list.  I believe we tacitly agreed to start with a German Riesling though Alsace was a possibility.  Our first choice from Kerpen could not be located.  Apparently the previous two weekends had been spent shifting cases from the storage facility to the working cellar at the restaurant.  Our sommelier instead returned with a wine from Schlossgut Diel.  Implications must have been in the air for he proceeded to open the wine without discussing alternatives.  We could have sent it back but it was a really good wine.  For the red wine, in my mind, it was a toss up between drinking from the Rhone or the west coast.  The Rhone wines can be fabulously priced but there is a draw to drinking older, local vintages.  Our second sommelier had recently come from working at an Italian restaurant.  Being comfortable with the Italian portion of the list (and perhaps not wanting to leave it) he suggested 2001 Barolo.  Lou recently read an article in Decanter about the forward nature of the vintage.  These reasons led us to drink a Manzone Barolo, certainly one of the last regions we expected to explore that evening.

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1997 Schlossgut Diel, Dorsheimer Goldloch Riesling, Nahe
A Terry Theise Selection.  Alcohol 10%.  There was an aromatic nose from the start with dusty notes, underlying apple aromas with hints of petrol and complexity.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit at first, with richer flavors expanding with grippy, crisp acidity.  The finish was drier with a little ripe spices.  There was a core of youthful flavor and body but this was so easy to drink now.  A lovely wine.  **** Now-2023.

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2001 Manzone, Perno, Santo Stefano, Barolo
A Marc deGrazia Selection imported by Elliot Bay Distributors.  Alcohol 14.5%  The nose was almost minty fresh at first with roses and tobacco.  The flavors were firm but good with red and black fruit followed by lots of acidity towards the finish.  The finish had tangy, citric tannins followed by a little darker flavor where it became a touch rough.  A modern wine.  The attractive nose remained more advanced than in the mouth so I would cellar this further.   *** Now-2028.

My final taste of the week was the COR Cellars Malbec.  COR has some good wines but this Malbec from a warm vintage was outright intense! This is a one glass per night type of wine.

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2009 COR Cellars, Malbec, Columbia Valley – $23
Alcohol 15.1%.  This remained a dense, almost viscous wine with extract, black fruit, and a savory tilt.  There was a meaty finish followed by a little heat and roughness in the aftertaste.  This was an intense, concentrated wine with a wall of flavor persisting through the spicy finish.  ** Now-2018.

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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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