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An Array of German Wines

December 12, 2018 Leave a comment

My two plans for childcare did not materialize so I had less than the duration of a birthday party to taste through an untold number of German Rieslings. There was naturally Champagne and as we met up at Q by Peter Chang, a constantly refreshed supply of Sezchuan dishes. There were bags packed with bottles and even one guest brought an entire cooler of wine. I knew I would not taste through everything but I also knew I made the right decision to try.

Of the Riesling I managed to taste, there were many solid bottles with just a few duds.  Standouts include the 1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen which is the oldest wine of the evening.  It is in fine shape.  Lighter in weight, more floral and a fresher spectrum of flavors than the 1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen tasted a year ago.  An interesting comparison.  Both the 2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer and 2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel are spot on.  Both have energy from the acidity with the Adam richer and the Schaefer chalkier.  You might develop a preference but I love the difference.  Exciting wines to taste.  Finally, the 2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau is unctuous, mature, and racy.  I tasted this straight from the bottle right before I left and wished I could have drunk more.

Thanks to everyone for their generosity.  I know I missed several other wines but it was purely by accident.

Champagne

NV Bourgeois-Diaz, ‘RS, Champagne Rose de Saignee
Imported by Selection Massale. Batch RS14, Disgorged 21/11/17. A cranberry color. Fresh on the nose as if smelling from the vat. The cranberry juice aroma has hints of apple mulling spice. It eventually smells more like apple pie. In the mouth is piercing acidity, spiced flavors, and a very dry personality. Killer nose so the dryness is a bit of a surprise.  Of strong personality but not for everyone.  Drink now while the aromas are preserved.  ***(*) Now.

2008 Henriot, Champagne Brut Millésimé Rosé
Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 12%. A fine vein of bubbles, yet strong acidity and toast, with watering acidity. This is pleasantly chalky with a clean finish. A youthful vintage but is building ripe, bottle-aged flavors with good body. ***(*) Now – 2023.

1996 Dom Perignon, Champagne P2
Finely scented. Strong acidity carries a mature, dry note. Very dry, clean, and light in fruit so opting more towards mineral.  Fresh, capable of long life, and for my taste, in need of further age. ***(*) 2023-2038.

1996 Philipponnat, Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses
Fine stuff! Biscuit on the nose with fresh, crisp mouthfeel, with bottle-age flavors.  In mid-life. **** Now – 2028.

Riesling

1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines. Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 13%. The Don Stott Cellar. A light golden straw. Rounded body with flavors of green floral and tea convey the freshness of the bottle. A light to mid-weight wine it is supple with an old-school flavor and not quite leather finish. There is a gentle edge from nearly eight decades of age but in no way is this a challenge to drink.  Holds up well in the glass. **** Now but will last.

1961 Langenbach & Co, Zeller Schwarze Katz, Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by Milton S. Kronheim. Toast! Not Rated.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile, Alsace
Imported by Atherton Wine Imports. Alcohol 13%. A light straw color. Floral, greenhouse notes with some maturity. Very dry, tart and light with white fruit flavors on a razor edge. Elegant. *** Now – Whenever?

1981 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Sang Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 8%. A maturing edge with sour white berries, focus, and a bit of lively acidity. Not too interesting.  * Drink Up.

2012 Willi Schaefer, Himmelreich GG, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12%. Zip in the start with textured, white fruit, lemons, and a tooty-fruity flavored finish.  Not my favorite style.  *** Now – 2028.

2012 Thomas Haag, Schloss Lieser, Jufer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7%. A medium straw color. Mid-weight with ripe yellow flavors that drape over the tongue. The lower acidity seemingly adds more weight to the yellow fruit.  Good intensity of flavor but not the most verve.  *** Now – 2028. 

2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Shipped by J & H Selbach. A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 7.5%. A medium yellow gold color. Lovely. Textured acidity exists with ripe fruit in energetic balance. There is supple, seductive weight. Richer than the subsequent bottle of Willi Schaefer.  **** Now – 2038.

2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel
Imported by Wine Cellars. Lovely with even finer texture to the zippy acidity driven flavor. An attractive start becomes drier through the finish. A lovely wine, beautiful acidity, with chalky finish .**** Now – 2038

2006 Dönnhoff, Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by Julienne Importing. Unctuous, not as lively as it is honied with hints of tea spice and suggestions of ripe tannins on the gum. It is flavorful with a developing tart, citrus note. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2001 Dönnhoff, Norheimer Kirschkeck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Turning amber. Rounder and drier in the mouth with herbs, minerals, and honey. A long finish. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2005 Weingut Max Ferd. Richeter, Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. Black tea mixes with weighty flavors and moderate acidity. There is a mineral vein.  *** Now – 2023.

2007 Fritz Haag, Braunenberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Finely articulated acidity, sweet and soft, with just enough texture. The ripe fruit even takes on some stones. A good sweet wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2004 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Braunberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. A similar flavor profile and density as the Fritz Haag. It is almost oily and racy which I like very much. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2017 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Lars Carlberg Selection. Imported by Williams Corner Wine. Alcohol 7%. Very pale in color. An elegant, floral nose, delicate and fine. In the mouth delicate floral flavors. This is a clean wine with a fine acidic edge though slightly short in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau
Imported by Premier Cru. Alcohol 8%. Unctuous and mature with a sweet tea note, racy vein, and quickly building complexity.  Lovely.  **** Now – 2038.

Red

2005 La Pousse d’Or, Pommard 1er Cru Les Jarollieres
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Decanted into a metal jug which seems to have afflicted the wine.  Not Rated.

A tasting of 2015 German Riesling with a few bottles of Champagne

A generous friend hosted a small group to taste through an even larger number of German Riesling bottles.  The focus was largely on 2015 German Riesling with an additional flight of 2008 Riesling Spätlese and several bottles of bubbles throughout.

The 2015 vintage is excellent allowing for the generally high quality of the wines we tasted from both new and established producers.  On the young side, the 2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen is in need of some age.  It is dry, matching the stone flavor with good tension from acidity.  The 2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau offers fruit and ripeness, making it a good wine right now but it will also benefit from age.  Real beauty is found in the 2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe.  I found it crisp yet with flesh and fruit.  I really liked the 2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel which is powerful and perfumed with great presence in the mouth.  Offering all of the desired components, the 2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel is the best choice for drinking now.  I was sure to revisit it a few times.

Of the trio of 2008 Spätlese, there was a fun pairing of 2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black and gold capsule.  My current preference is for the black capsule which has vibrant acidity and a chalky finish.  The gold capsule offers yellow, honied, complex fruit. but this richness is not matched by the acidity.  They are on different maturity curves and for now, the black capsule is more exciting.  The 2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese brings forth thoughts of gold, honey, and petrol.  Lovely stuff!

Of the other wines the pair of NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut and NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut deserve mention.  Both of these wines are fermented in used oak barrels with indigenous yeast then spend another year or so in oak.  The Les Roises vineyard contains 60 year old vines on soils rich in clay whereas Les Pierrieres contains 35 year old vines on chalky soils.  Our two bottles are Lot 10 being disgorged in 2014.  Les Roises offers more berries, complexity, and some earth.  It is the broader of the pair and is so perfectly drinkable right now.  Les Pierrieres is drier and firm.  While it did improve with air, it really needs further time in the cellar.

Many thanks to our host for sharing all of these excellent bottles of wine.

Starters

2013 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cuvee Brut, Seneca Lakes
Alcohol 12%.  Disgorged February 2017.  A very light straw color.  Slight robust white fruit on the nose.  A moderate mousse with chalk flavors and grip exist in this refreshing wine.  Solid with a creamy mousse in the end.  ** Now but will last.

NV Etienne Calsac, L’echappee Belle, Champagne Extra Brut
Imported by Paris Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir.  Bottled May 2012.  Disgorged October 2015.  More yellow with a light straw color.  Aromatic with a toast note.  Robust bubbles move towards a yeasty mousse.  Medium bodied in the middle with some fat in the racy finish.  Tastes Mature.  *** Now.

2015 German Riesling

2015 Rita & Rudolf Trossen, Lay Pur’us, Riesling, Mosel
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented in wooden tanks with indigenous yeasts over a period of 8 months.  Aged for 8 months.  No additions.  Alcohol 12%.  A honey tinged gold color.  Some sweetness on the nose.  Surprisingly sour in the mouth with apple orchard flavors before becoming quite dry with a streak of acidity.  Reminds me of a lambic. Weird. * Now.

2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau
Imported by Bonhomie Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  A pale straw with yellow color.  Some petrol on the nose.  In the mouth this is lively yet there is ripe fruit from the start.  Good texture and tannins on the gums.  Good wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from vines on volcanic soils in and around Schlossbockelheim.  Alcohol 12%.  A very light straw white color.  Grapefruit and peach fruit on the nose.  In the mouth this is a beautiful wine with crisp acidity and floral accented fruit.  It fleshes out with warmth showing a juicy fruit style and some fat.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Wagner Stempel, Siefersheim Riesling vom Porphyr, Rheinhessen
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A razor sharp wine with tense acidity.  There is a chalk undertone matching the citrus pithe left on the gums.  There is a lot of presence with this wine which finally shows more fruit in the end mixing with a petrol note and an interesting, garrigue-like flavor.  *** Now – 2033.

2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 11%.  An interesting wine.  Powerful in the start but in the middle, dried florals, lemon citrus fruit, and stones.  The finish is perfumed and the aftertaste leaves great presence.  Nice wine.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Dr. Nägler, Rüdesheim Bischofsberg Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Rheingau
Imported by Winesellers.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Modest texture with a fruitier start, ripe middle, and simple finish.  A bit too simple.  ** Now.

2015 Weiser-Kunsteler, Trabener Gaispfad Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
Imported by Vom Boden.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Almost piercing acidity with hints of sweet tea flavor.  The watering acidity lasts through the end where there is clearly defined flavor of black tea and lemon citrus.  ** Now but will last for ages.

2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel
Imported by Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Aromatic.  Very ripe fruit in the mouth soon takes on acidity and flint.  This is hands down an attractive combination of fruit, stone, texture, and acidity.  Drink well right now.  **** Now – 2023.

2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen
Imported by Petit Pois Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Close knit with fine texture and certainly tension from the acidity.  Stones and a drier nature come out by the middle with flavors of white and yellow, fruit then eventually baking spices.  Needs some time. *** 2020-2030.

A pair of Ulysse Collin Champagne

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged March 2014.  Gentle fruit on the nose with some earth.  In the mouth are berries and already a good amount of complexity.  So drinkable.  **** Now why wait?

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged November 2014.  Berry like with a gentle yeast flavor and firm bubbles.  Drier with fine, ethereal and powdery fruit. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 German Riesling Spätlese

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  A green of green-yellow straw.  A fresh start with vibrant acidity throughout along with some residual sugar sweetness.  It becomes dry and chalky in the finish where it ends with good effect.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe gold capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  Gold with a hint of green. Richer with flavors of yellow, honied fruit.  Not the same level of acidity but the fruit is more complex, the honied sweetness is attractive, and there is more density. *** Now – 2023.

2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese
D. Sokolin Co. Imported by Wine Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The most golden of the trio.  Petrol on the nose with seductive flavors of honey and baking spices.  The aftertaste leaves a note of honey. **** Now.

One red wine

2005 Lillian, California Syrah
Alcohol 15.6%.  Inky and racy, a wine turned up to 110%. Hard to drink and not my style. * Now but will last.

Dessert

1988 von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 375 mL
Imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7.5%.  Long in the tooth. Not Rated.

A tasting of Rioja from the great 1964 Vintage

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment


The 1964 vintage in Rioja, considered the greatest of the 20th century, was not met with any fanfare in America nor in England.  It was not because the top wines, only bottled in the 1970s and released as late as 1980, were unavailable to taste.  Throughout the 1960s Rioja was still viewed as the best wine of Spain but it was the opinion, as expressed by Ronald Avery, that in the hierarchy of wines Rioja was equivalent to “a decent little claret”.  As such Rioja only received attention as an alternative inexpensive wine.

This was not always the case.  Between the World Wars the Bodegas Paternina Rioja Riserva cost as much as Chateau Lafite in America.  When Bordeaux prices soared in America during the early 1970s, attention turned back to Rioja.  Still viewed as the “less sophisticated cousin of Bordeaux” low prices meant the wines of Rioja became imported in increasingly larger quantities.  In 1976, nearly three dozen Rioja producers hired a public relations firm in America.  Success must have been achieved for the next year Frank J. Prial wrote in The New York Times that “Red Rioja Wine Is Excellent”.

There was widespread coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Rioja vintage.  Decanter magazine found it a vintage to drink soon with some wines tired but the best wines are “still fruity and intense”.  I decided to host my own tasting based on my positive experience with several different bottles shared by Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co.,  and my recent CVNE Viña Real and Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva from 1976-1964 tasting.  This past weekend I gathered a group to explore nine different wines from seven different producers.  This is no small feat for there were just over two dozen producers who bottled the 1964 vintage.

We departed from our usual Champagne start to one of very old German wines.  At the CVNE tasting, the Rieslingfeier event and scarcity of old vintages was of topic which prompted one very generous guest to share three 100+ year old wines as well as a bottle from the 1964 vintage.  This unprecedented vertical of the vintages 1964, 1915, 1905, and 1898 are all Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese from Weingut Franz Karl Schmitt.

These four bottles were purchased at the Sotheby’s auction of the Don Stott cellar.  Our generous guest has drunk wine with Don Stott so with knowledge of the cellar and the uniqueness of the opportunity, the wines were acquired.

Weingut Franz Karl Schmitt was founded in 1549 and has been in family possession ever since those days.  It was in 1900 that Franz-Karl Schmitt, grandfather of the current owner, produced the first trockenbeerenauslese in Rheinhessen from the Flaschenhahl vineyard in Hipping.  The four bottles we tasted bear variations in name: Franz Karl Schmitt, Hermann Franz Schmitt, and Hermannshof.  They are all from the same winery bearing new labels and corks.  The later marked with Herrmannshof Neuverkorkt 1998.

The label on the oldest bottle from 1898 does not indicate the grape.  Nierstein is home to Sylvaner and in 1910 only 15% of it was planted with Riesling.  It is possible this is a blend of Riesling and Sylvaner which echoes a comment Michael Broadbent made about the 1921 Niersteiner Hermannshof TBA.  I should also point out this bottle is a Cabinetwein indicating a special wine historically kept in a separate part of the cellar.

The wines were served one at a time out of purposefully procured small wine glasses.  This gave us the collective opportunity to taste the wines within minutes of the bottle being opened and individually decide if we wanted to keep the wine around any longer.

All of the wines are in much better shape than I expected.  The 1898 Franz Karl Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese Cabinetwein, Rheinhessen  with honied aromas and medium body, quickly recalibrated my expectations.  There is pure pleasure here.  Delicacy came in the form of the 1905 Hermann Franz Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen which did soon fade to reveal piercing acidity in the finish.  The 1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen is unequivocally great from the nose to the pure marmalade flavors, minerals, and unctuous, glycerin filled body.  At 102 years of age, the higher residual sugar and acidity will ensure many more years of pleasure.  In fact, the dregs of the bottle drank well at the end of the evening.

With respect to the three oldest bottles, vintage variation aside, there is a sense of continuity in flavor from herbs and apricots.  In returning to the wines I was left with the feeling that the 1898 and 1905 were made using similar methods whereas the 1915 was made by a different hand.  However, vintages do matter which accounts for the unctuous 1915 and round, racy 1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr Und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen.  These wines deserve a closer historical look so I will write a follow up post in the near future.

We cleansed our palates with the textured NV Grands Comptoirs Champenois, Champagne Brut Comte de Vic.  This is a late 1980s to early 1990s release with fully mature flavors, yeast, and never-ending texture.  I found it best on the second night, once again highlighting that a non-vintage Champagne may deserve careful aging.

Fate finally caught up with me for four of our 1964 Rioja bottles were affected by TCA leaving five to be enjoyed.  All of these wines were double-decanted before being served in flights of three.  The most surprising wine is the 1964 Campo Viejo, Rioja which is the basic wine made just one year after the founding of the winery.  In fact Campo Viejo switched facilities in 1965.  This wine still reveals ripe fruit mixed with spices made possible by the comparatively short time spent in oak.

My favorites include the 1964 Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Gran Reserva, the 1964 Gomez Cruzado, Honorable, Rioja Gran Reserva , and the 1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty, Rioja.  Incredibly, the Monte Real appears to still be developing due to youthful focus.  The Gomez Cruzado never lost all of its bottle stink but in the mouth it is crisp with wood notes and certainly a wine to try again.  I found the Montecillo, the only all Tempranillo wine we tasted, the roundest.

These particular wines show the success achieved with Tempranillo based blends based on old, dry-farmed, bush vines raised with the traditional method of long oak aging.  This method of winemaking developed in the 19th century based on Bordeaux techniques and adopted to what was best for Rioja.   They are not fragile when exposed to air and all have a good spine of acidity which allows them live on.  The tasting also reminds us that there are no guarantees with old bottles.

Please find my tasting notes below.  You will notice a larger than usual number of dinner wine notes at the end.  The Madeira collector Bob Stern, whom I first met several years ago, was in town and able to join.  He has taken his passion one step further and is now importing Madeira from H. M. Borges. Thus he could present an array of samples for us to taste.

I could not have organized this tasting without Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., offering me his precious bottles of Rioja.  I must also thank our generous guest who, in sharing his German wines, ensured a once in a lifetime experience to taste three German wines older than one century.


A German Start

1898 Franz Karl Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese Cabinetwein, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.  Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  A very clear, tawny amber color.  The nose is touched by boytrtis with honied aromas, fresh herbs, and tea.  The flavors are drier than expected, of medium body, and of sharp yet focused acidity.  The body speaks of remarkable condition as tangy, lemon citrus flavors come out in the middle, all of it persisting through the long finish.  ***(*) Now.

1905 Hermann Franz Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.  Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.   Recorked in 1998. New labels.  A very clear, lighter tawny amber with a touch more yellow.  There is a botrytis touch as well but this is the most delicate wine of the quartet of old Germans.  It too is dry with fresh and bright acidity, herbs, and a savory, short finish.  It dries out quicker revealing piercing acidity in the end. ** Now.

1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.   Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  The darkest being tawny in color.  This still smells great.  In the mouth it is unctuous and mineral infused with plenty of forward body.  Flavors of apricot and peach mix with orange marmalade.  This is a good wine with round, glycerin body.  **** Now – 2027.

1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr Und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.   Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  Of yellow straw the color is the lightest and the nose the most subtle.  One is not prepared for the much sweeter and rounded flavors in this unctuous wine.  There is still ripe fruit, fine tea notes, and a racy character. **** Now – 2027.


Palate Cleansing Champagne

NV Grands Comptoirs Champenois, Champagne Brut Comte de Vic
Imported by The RareWine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  A very clear amber color.  It is best on the second day. There are very fine, strong bubbles which quickly form a mousse that adds ripe texture to the start.  Flavors of ripe white then yellow fruit mix with yeast and mature notes.  With air ripe spices come out in the watering finish. ***(*) Now but will last.


1964 Rioja

1964 Bilbainas, Clarete Fino, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1901 by Santiago Ugarte, the son of a wine negociant, during the Rioja phylloxera epidemic.  The main winery was built at Barrio de la Estacion in Haro.  This wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo and 35% Garnacha that spent 9-10 years in American oak barrels.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Bilbainas, Vendimia Especial, Rioja Reserva 
One of the top wines this wine is a blend of70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha sourced from the Zaco vineyard.  It spent 18 months in large wooden vats then 6-8 (or 9-10) years in American oak barrels.  This is a bright wine with tart red fruit and a grippy nature.  The wine is still youthful but the leather notes speak of age.  *** Now but will last.

1964 Bilbainas, Vina Pomal, Rioja Reserva Especial 
This label has existed for over 100 years and always featured fruit from the Vina Pomal vineyard between the Ebro and Tiron rivers.  Apparently Winston Church drank it regularly.  It is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo, Graciano, and Viura.  It spent 1 year in tank followed by 6-7 years in American oak barriques.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Campo Viejo, Rioja 
Founded in 1963, Camp Viejo moved from Rioja Baja to an industrial part of Logrono in 1965.  The Crianza is typically a blend of mostly 80% Tempranillo followed by 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano.  It spent 18 months in large vats followed by 30 months in American oak barriques.  A fine nose makes way to a fruity start that is still ripe and flavored by spices in the finish.  The relatively short aging in wood results in this wine having the most fruit out of all tasted.  Perhaps not the most complex flavors the wine is, nevertheless, a fine drink with finely textured, ripe flavors.  *** Now – 2022.

1964 Franco-Espanolas, Excelsos, Rioja Gran Reserva 
Bodegas Franco-Espanolas history begins in 1890 when Frederick Anglade Saurat came to Logrono from Bordeaux.  Once his vineyards were in full production he founded the Bodegas, with Spanish capital, in 1901.  The Excelsos is the top gran reserve released only in the best vintages.  This rare wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo that spent 18 months in large wooden vats and 6-7 years in American oak barrels.  It was released in 1980.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Gomez Cruzado, Honorable, Rioja Gran Reserva 
Founded in 1886.  This is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo and Graciano.  This is fermented and raised in large wooden vats for 24 months followed by aging for 5 years in old American oak barrels.  It was bottled in 1972.  Quite stinky at first then a transition to an attractive funk.  However it is clean in the mouth where there are very lively flavors, crisp fruit, and wood shavings.  A delight in the mouth.  If I am picky, the finish is a little short.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty, Rioja 
Founded in 1870, Bodegas Montecillo is one of the oldest firms in Rioja. The Vina Monty is the top wine.  Produced solely from Tempranillo it spent 6 to 12 months in large wooden vats then 48 months in American oak barrels.  The 1964 vintage was produced at the old winery pre-dating the Osborne acquisition of 1973.  A good nose of fruit and mixed herbs.  There is round, red fruit, bright acidity, and a fine wood note. ***(*) Now – 2022.

1964 Frederico  Paternina, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1898, Frederico Paternina owns no vineyards. This is a blend of 70% Tempranillo with 30% Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano.   This Gran Reserva spent up to six years in American oak barrels and other volumes.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1890.  A blend of mostly 70% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha, 2% Graciano, and 3% Viura and Malvasia.  It spent 12 to 18 months in large wooden tanks then aged for 4.5 to 6 years in American oak casks and other sizes.  Part of the fruit underwent carbonic maceration.  A touch musty at first but cleans up to reveal aromas of broth.  The bright flavors of cranberry are fresh and grippy.  The wine is driven by acidity.  This is the most youthful wine of them all, still focused and on the upslope of development. ***(*) Now – 2025.


Dinner Wines

1970 LAN, Lanciano Rioja
Founded in 1970. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo that spent 18 months in tank and 2 years in American oak casks.  Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Quite comforting with a combination of wood box notes, mature yet freshly delivered red fruit, and garrigue.  The flavors become meaty with air.  There is moderate weight and though the tannins are largely resolved a bit of structure comes out in the finish.  ***(*) Now but will last.

1978 Torres, Gran Coronas, Penedes Reserva
Imported by Chateau & Estates.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in American oak casks.  It was bottled in 1980. Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a tart, assertive start that is infused with some funk.  The wine soon becomes weightier with prominent acidity, green pepper notes, and tons of grip.  Quite fun to drink.  *** Now but will last.

2007 Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  Alcohol 15%. This lively red wine is bright in flavor and poised for many years of development.  I particularly like the fine mixture of Christmas spices which add complexity to the red fruit. A real treat, I wish I had tasted it some more. **** Now – 2027.

NV Rare Wine Co, Henriques & Henriques Imperial Reserve Malmsey
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This Madeira is a blend of old stocks of Malmsey from Henriques & Henriques. Mannie created the blend with John Cossart shortly before he passed away. It was released in honor of John Cossart in 2008.  Alcohol 20%.  There are pungent aromas of orange marmalade.  In the mouth is a rounded, dense start followed by powerful pungent flavors and racy residual sugar.  Supporting this is acidity to match.  The wine is incensed with Christmas spices. I imagine this will slowly develop for a few more decades.  ****.

1990 H. M. Borges, Sercial
Imported by Next Chapter Wines & Spirits.  Alcohol 20%.  An amber-tawny color.  Slightly pungent on the nose it is off to a round start that immediately unleashes piercing acidity.  There is lovely body weight which adds tension to this acidity driven wine.  Complexity comes from baking spices.  ****.

NV H. M. Borges, 15 year old Verdelho
Imported by Next Chapter Wines & Spirits.  Alcohol 19%.  There is a low-lying, deep nose.  In the mouth are taut orange citrus flavor and round body with piercing, laser sharp acidity.  Sweet and tense.  Good future potential.  ***.

2005 H. M. Borges, Tina Negra Colheita
Alcohol 20%.  Bottled in 2017. A very good, deep nose.  A racy, weighty start brings ripe flavors and sweetness in this round, tense wine.  A cherry middle makes way to a sweeter finish.  Good stuff. ***(*).

1998 H.M. Borges, Malmsey Colheita
This wine was aged in casks for over 8 years.  Bottled in 2006/7. Alcohol 19%.  A touch of satisfying pungency on the nose.  In this mouth this is a powerful wine with fruit, nuts, and piercing acidity. ***.

1995 H. M. Borges, Bual Colheita
This wine was aged in oak casks for at least 5 years.  Alcohol 19%.  A pungent, piercing nose.  In the mouth are spicy flavors delivered as a tense core.  Notes of evergreen and Christmas spices add complexity before the textured finish. ***(*).

Good white wine in tall bottles

November 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Both the peanut gallery and I know that good white wine comes in tall bottles.  For those with patience and cellars, you must age some bottles of the 2013 Weingut Keller, Riesling Trocken, von der Fels, Rheinhessen.  Made using fruit sourced from younger vines located in top vineyards this wine offered up lush aromas.  The wine shows all the right components and balance in the mouth but is currently in a young, closed state.  While the Keller ages you should drink the 2013 Weiser-Kuenstler, Riesling (Feinherb),  Mosel. The ripe fruit is very lively, delivered with good texture, and noticeable acidity.  There is a lot going on here and at only 10% alcohol, you can see the bottle to the end or drink it unmarred over the work week.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Weingut Keller, Riesling Trocken, von der Fels, Rheinhessen – $36
Imported by vom Boden.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light, yellow straw.  The light nose revealed lush aromas of floral fruit.  The wine begins with lively fruit in the mouth that dissipate into white and yellow fruit mixed with chalk notes.  This young wine has a clean profile, some tartness on the sides of the tongue, and a floral finish.  It remained somewhat closed so I would cellar it for the short-term.  ***(*) 2016-2026+.

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2013 Weiser-Kuenstler, Riesling (Feinherb),  Mosel – $25
Imported by vom Boden.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from old, ungrafted vines which was raised in stainless steel.  Alcohol 10%.  There were lively flavors of ripe and tart yellow lemon fruit.  The clean fruit remained lively on the tongue with firmer, drier flavors in the finish, acidity noticeable on the back of the throat, and a long textured aftertaste.  *** Now – 2016.

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A Few Thanksgiving Wines

December 2, 2013 1 comment

Mr. Bloodgood’s Flock of White Holland Turkeys. Image from Herbert Myrick’s Turkeys and how to grow them. 1899.

For the Thanksgiving holiday we managed to drink through German Riesling, mature Bordeaux, Oregon Pinot Noir, and a Tawny Port.  Not all in one day, of course, but over several days.  The 2012 Weingut Keller, Riesling Trocken is a recent arrival at MacArthur Beverages.  With pink grapefruit flavors, minerals, and great nerve this is an exciting wine to drink.  It has a lot of personality for the price.  We bought the 1989 Chateau Sociando-Mallet some time ago from MacArthur Beverages, on the order of a decade.  The bottom of the cork was firmly seated in the bottle so despite my Ah-So and Le Creuset worm I still managed to break the cork.  You might recall we recently enjoyed a bottle of 2000 Chateau Phelan Segur which came from a questionable cellar.  When two bottles became available from a good cellar I jumped on them.  Having two bottles was reason alone to open one up. The shorter cork offered less resistance and came out simply with the Ah-So.  Both Bordeaux wines were enjoyed over a period of ten hours.  The 1989 Chateau Sociando-Mallet never really opened up and only slightly faded over the period.  Had there been a bit more fruit I would have enjoyed it more in the mouth but it was certainly an enjoyable drink and as Jenn commented, the nose was of an old wine, and attractive at that.  I imagine this wine will last for some time but I do not see it improving.  The 1990 Chateau Phelan Segur is still on the up-slope and unfolds over several hours.  I really enjoy the earthy, mixed berry aromas and flavors.  The price was crazy good.

The Prize Bronze Turkey bred by Sherman Hartwell. Image from Herbert Myrick’s Turkeys and how to grow them. 1899.

The 2012 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Reserve was being poured at the store the day before Thanksgiving.  The 2012 Sineann, Pinot Noir, Resonance may have rocked but it also highlighted how good the Patricia Green is.  It is a varying blend from different parcels, so perhaps no terroir here but it is tasty stuff for a cold evening by the fire.  I would buy several bottles then hold them for a few months.  The fall and winter are our typical seasons for drinking port. The NV Wine & Soul, 10 Years Old Tawny is a new bottle for us.  It is a field blend from old vineyards which are foot-trodden then raised in 50+ year old Portuguese Chestnut containers.  The bottle is finished with a traditional long cork but a short cork is included for stoppering after it is opened.  This is a fresh, young Tawny Port with impeccable balance.  It is less nutty than other ports.

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2012 Weingut Keller, Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen – $20
Alcohol 12%.  There were flavors of pink grapefruit and minerals which had great nerve from acidity.  The acidity was focused at the start with the wine taking on drying, spices and textures towards the finish where more minerals came out.  Young and lively.  *** Now-2024.

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1989 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc –
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 12.5%  There was a mature nose, learner in aroma with black cherry and wood notes.  In the mouth were dense flavors of black cherry, firm acidity, and old textured tannins in the finish.  The finish was fresh with some ripe spices and tannins.  The old, tasty wood structure was appealing.  ** Now-2018.

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1990 Chateau Phelan Segur, Saint-Estephe – $40
Alcohol 13%.  The interesting nose bore earthy, mixed berries.  In the mouth were slowly expanding flavors of black cherry which took on an earthy note.  There were minerals and nice expansion in the middle followed good integration of some weighty tannins and acidity.  There was grip in the aftertaste where the acidity returned.  The wine left impressions of nice, earthy, mineral flavors.  ***(*) Now-2024.

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2012 Patricia Green Cellars, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Willamette Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged in 5% new oak.  Alcohol 13.5%. The nose bore standout aromas of Pinot Noir berry fruit.  In the mouth were younger fruit flavors, some spices, and depth.  With air the flavors leaned brighter with red fruit and acidity and a good aftertaste.  It has complexity and grapey depth, almost ripasso like.  With air this builds weight in the finish.  *** 2014-2019.

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NV Wine & Soul, 10 Years Old Tawny – $45
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a field blend of over 30 varieties sourced from vineyards planted between 1950 and 1970 on soils of schist at 1155 feet.  Bottled in 2011.  Alcohol 19.5%.  This was a fruit driven tawny which remained fresh in flavor.  There was some weight to the wine before black fruit, minerals, and good acidity came out.  There was a tangy finish with notes of orange peel.  This seamless wine has a glycerine infused body with fresh and complex flavors that are less nutty than other Tawny Ports.  **** Now-2029.

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Italian Wines With Lou

Lou and I managed to squeeze in an evening tasting and dinner before we both headed off on vacation.  As the sole German wine was past prime we ended up only drinking Italian red wines.  I though the 2000 La Spinetta, La Pin a serious wine but not yet open from its long slumber.   The 2004 Tenuta Grillo, Pecoranera was a bit stinky on the nose and animale in the mouth.  I thought it a young wine but in showing better on the first, rather than the second night, it perhaps needs more bottle time.  Or perhaps this was just an under performing bottle.  The 2005 Poggio Bonelli, Poggiassai was the most forward of the four red wines.  It was not the most complex of wines but it made for a satisfying, affordable Super-Tuscan wine which had benefited from some bottle age.  Lastly, the 2009 Vigneti de Marchi, Proprieta Sperino, Uvaggio was my favorite of the four.  The beautifully floral nose was followed by good fruit making it a wine to drink now and one I recommend you try.

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2002 Weingut Merz, Ockenheimer Laberstall, Auslese, Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen –
Past prime.

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2000 La Spinetta, La Pin, Monferrato Rosso – $40
A Marc De Grazia selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  This wine is a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera which undergoes malolactic fermentation in oak followed by aging for 16-18 months.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The nose was of fresh herbs then with air took on subtle mulled berries.  In the mouth the red and black fruit rode on density.  There was some tooty fruity flavors to the good fruit of the finish.  Over two nights the wine still played it close.  **(*) 2015-2023.

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2004 Tenuta Grillo, Pecoranera, Vino Rosso – $28
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  This wine is a blend of Dolcetto, Barbera, and Merlot.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine was a medium ruby with grapey hints.  The nose was a little stinky at first.  In the mouth there were drier flavors, astringent, a bit of animale, then red fruit followed by black fruit.  The wine had a firm start and maintained astringency.  There were dry tannins in the finish with an earthy note right before a hint of Pilsner in the aftertaste.  Rather young and I think best on the first night.  * Now.

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2005 Poggio Bonelli, Poggiassai, Tuscany – $24
Imported by International Cellars LLC. This wine is a blend of mostly Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 16-18 months in small French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a fruitier, dark nose then some tobacco with hints of maturity.  The nose remained fruit forward.  In the mouth were darker and dry flavors, which were almost tart red. There was some wood box and dried herbs.  The drying tannins stuck to the lips and teeth as a little fresh herbs came out.  This was a solid wine with a little blue fruited freshness.  *** Now-2020.

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2009 Vigneti de Marchi, Proprieta Sperino, Uvaggio, Coste della Sesia Rosso – $31
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 65% Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina, and 15% Croatina. Alcohol 13%.  The nose was delicate and beautiful with floral aromas, violets, and underlying fruit.  There was a little more acidity on the tongue with good, red fruit and a little dryness.  This was a nice wine for the short-term.  *** Now-2015.

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The 2011 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society

March 25, 2013 2 comments

Lou and I ended our week by attending the 2011 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society, DC Chapter. Long-time member David Wendler organized the tasting which was tutored by Phil Bernstein of MacArthur Beverages. It was hosted by Marilyn at the National Harbor Club Room.  For this tasting Phil and David picked 10 different wines from the 2011 vintage which were arranged in five flights of two. All of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages. There were three bottles of each wine and Dave made sure to open the bottles ahead of time so that they could breathe. As a special treat James Wright of Wine Monger provided three bottles of Gut Hermannsberg Grosses Gewächs to start off the tasting. This year’s vintage tasting was quite large with some 46 or 47 people in attendance. I saw familiar faces from the 2010 Vintage Tasting along with those of Annette and Christian Schiller (www.schiller-wine.blogspot.com), Jace, and Chris Bublitz.  Be sure to check out my post on The 2010 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society.

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Phil has been tutoring the annual Vintage Tasting since the 2008 vintage.  He feels that 2011 is a generally riper vintage with a little lower acidity.  Of the last four vintages he finds it most similar to 2009.  Going further back in time 1983 or 1971 may be mentioned but 1971 produced many more Trockenbeerenauslese.  Please find Phil’s comments at the beginning of each flight after which appear my tasting notes.

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Flight #1 – Gut Hermannsberg

James Wright provided a bottle each of these three wines when he read about the 2011 Vintage Tasting. Having just met James and tasted the Estate Riesling and Schlossböckelheimer Riesling I imagined we were in for a treat.  For background information on the estate please read my post  A Vineyard Born of a Copper Mine.  Given that there were four dozen of us, David only poured small amounts for those who were interested and asked for these to be shared amongst two people. We started with the Bastei GG and Kupfergrube GG. The Bastei GG is produced from a 1.2 hectares site on volcanic soils at the foot of the Rotenfel mountain face. Bathed in sunlight this rock face stores a large amount of heat which continues to warm the vineyard through the evening. The Kupfergrube GG is sourced from the old terraced copper mine site. This was the youngest and most backward of the three. Its volcanic foundation and slate soils show through on the nose. Lastly the Hermannsberg GG is from a monopole providing gorgeous acidity. Despite the tiny pours the differences of these three vineyard sites clearly shown through. They deserve to be revisited. For more information please check out James’ das Terzett post on Wine Monger.  Phil found these three wines to be very young and in retrospect they should have been decanted.  But this was not too surprising as the pair he tasted previously were drinking very well after four days.  These wines might have originally been labeled as Auselse Trocken for they come from very ripe fruit which was fermented dry, hence the higher alcohol levels.  These dry wines are extremely popular in Germany so much so that Christian Schiller says you may typically find at most one sweet wine on a Berlin restaurant wine list.

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2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Traiser Bastei Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was captivating with more ripe floral aromas and sweet spices. In the mouth there was focused weight before the flavors became creamier in texture. There was some ripeness to the fruit, integrated acidity, and a mouth which follows the nose. Really quite nice.

2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. There was an initial musky complex nose with stone note then it tightened up with air. The aromas are evocated of the indigenous fermentation. In the mouth there was brighter, tighter fruit, perhaps tighter as it progressed, tart acidity, and apple like flavors in the finish. Clearly in need of age.

2011 Gut Hermannsberg, Niederhauser Hermannsberg Grosses Gewächs, Nahe
Imported by Wine Monger. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was floral with a subtle perfume and sweet spice. There was white fruit in the mouth with focused acidity before the flavors expanded in the mouth. There was vibrant acidity on the tongue and a slate like finish.

Flight #2 – Scheurebe

It has been some time since Sheurebe has been featured at a Vintage Tasting. Phil is a big fan of this grape which is a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner.  He finds they age interesting because it does not change much.  The Gysler was quite tasty, surely the most unusual whereas the Kruger-Rumpf showed more Riesling-like flavors.

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2011 Gysler, Scheurebe Halbtrocken, Rheinhessen – $15 (1 Liter)
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 11.5%. The nose was aromatic with herbs then became somewhat tight. The flavors were vibrant on the tongue then sweet sage and fruit came out. The flavors of fresh herbs continued as the wine took on some glycerine. Unique!

2011 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spätlese, Nahe
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 8.5%. This had a brighter nose which played it close. There was lively fruit in the mouth with ripe spices and a little vibrancy on the tongue. There were more sweet spices and herbs in the finish which had drier flavors and stone-like notes.

Flight #3 – The Most Expensive Wine Tonight is a Kabinett

The Dönnhoff was made is a fruitier style which made it the most accessible of the two.  It was quite attractive.  The Egon Müller, Scharzhofberger is from very steep vineyards with a cool climate.  It is a wine to take your time with, this bottle had been opened some six to seven hours ahead of time and had barely budged.  So perhaps it is best to stick it in the cellar.  To Phil this is what a classic Kabinett should taste like.

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2011 Dönnhoff, Riesling Estate Qba, Nahe – $19
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. The nose bore riper fruit which was more forward. In the mouth the riper fruit was up front with plenty of vibrant acidity to match. It was a little racy, drier towards the finish, and notes of dry stones.

2011 Egon Müller, Scharzhofberger Kabinett, Mosel – $55
Alcohol 10%. The nose was tight with a little petrol. The mouth followed the nose but remained very tight, structured, and young. There was white fruit followed by a little ripe berries in the finish. The aftertaste brought citrus and dried stones. This has a long, fine life ahead.

Flight #4 – Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich

This was an interesting pair of wines to taste because people often assume a Spätlese will taste more sweeter than a Kabinett.  But this is not the case.  The fruit is certainly riper but what Phil found is that the Spätlese had more texture and richness without tasting much sweeter.  These are more cerebral wines which do an excellent job of reflecting the vineyard.  On being asked what to drink these with, someone in the audience responded, “Friends!”

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2011 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $25
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. There was a light nose of white fruit and something else. In the mouth the flavors had a particular delicacy which went with cinnamon spice and some vibrant acidity. The fruit was pure and clean. The lifted finish was followed by sweet spices in the aftertaste.

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2011 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel – $35
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. This bore a darker nose. There was more weight in the mouth to the white fruit. Again weight, a little watering acidity in the end, and overall more intensity. It became a bit tart in the aftertaste.

Flight #5 –  Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck

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Another interesting pair of wines to taste from a producer who has grown in prominence over the last decade. The Gold Capsule was produced from a selected lot chosen based on the must. The fruit is sourced from a particular area of the vineyard with deeper more particulate soils.  This is not done with every vintage but as this lot was tasting significantly different it was bottled separately.  Phil found this wine riper and richer than the Willi Schaeffer pair and for him, the Nahe provides the best of both worlds.  I must admit I really like the Gold Capsule.

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2011 Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling Spätlese, Nahe – $32
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The nose mixed aromas of grass, herbs, and white fruit. There was good, weighty fruit in the mouth which were dense and vibrant on the tongue. It took on white fruit and citrus flavors which became drier towards the finish. It was softer at first then enlivened by citric acidity in the aftertaste.

2011 Schäfer Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling Spätlese, Gold Capsule, Nahe – $44
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. This nose was a little yeasty from the fermentation. The flavors were more intense at first with dried herbs, dried fruit, and an earthy nose which mixed with sweet Mandarin oranges. It showed more acidity in the finish followed by a long aftertaste of sweet spices. This flavors had good persistence which will surely help this wine age for some time.

Flight #6 – Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr

For Phil the best wines to age are Auslese and above.  While you may age a Kabinett or Spätlese they lose the energy which  makes them so attractive in youth.  These may be a little more opulent that Willi Schaefer but they are well made, can be a little austere, and age very well.

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2011 Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel – $37
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The tight nose bore some fermentation aromas. In the mouth there were good, weighty ripe fruit and sweet spice flavors. The wine was a little chewy with vibrant acidity and midpalate weight. The flavors stood up in this balanced wine which is structured for age.

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2011 Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel – $55
Imported by Rudi Wiest. Alcohol 7.5%. The nose was of light fruit and ripe white floral aromas. There was a riper, vibrant burst of fruit at first. The flavors softened up a bit but there was balanced with a little citric acidity. The aftertaste brought tropical and floral notes.

David and Phil

David and Phil