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I mistake Oregon Pinot Noir for Spatburgunder

Lou asked me to bring just one bottle to a blind Pinot Noir themed tasting.  The weather was temperate so we started off with 2009 Pichler-Krutzler, Gruner Veltliner, Frauengarten, Wachau while we moved our food, bottles, and glasses outside.  Made by the son-in-law and daughter of F. X. Pichler this bottle has killer aromas that alone warrant opening a bottle.  I guess Gruner can age!

All of the wines were brown bagged save the 1983 Prince Florent de Merode, Corton Clos du Roi.  The cork fell in when Lou stood it up so we tried it out of curiosity.  Proper bottles are probably good.

The first blind wine was certainly of an earlier generation.  Schug Winery was founded in 1980 by Walter Schug who was the founding winemaker at Phelps in the 1970s.  The 1981 Schug Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley is an early example of his efforts which will continue to last for many years thanks to the impressive structure.  It is a bit curious but still a respectable glass of wine.  Much younger and in complete contrast the 2002 Cameron, Clos Electrique offers impressive amounts of sweet, strawberry compote flavors.  This bottle is in peak shape and prime drinking.

In retrospect the 2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru is clearly French with its aromas.  There is a bit of everything but the linear personality restrains the pleasure.  The 2006 Antica Terra, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is in taller bottle but I mistook it for Austrian Spatburgunder due to the plentiful, bright fruit.  It continued to evolve, gaining complexity even on the second night.  Also from Oregon, the 2005 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley is the youngest of all the wines we tasted.  It reminds me of an Oregon Pinot Noir, in my limited experience, and suggest you wait a bit longer in case it relaxes.

Thanks again to Lou for such a fun evening!

2009 Pichler-Krutzler, Gruner Veltliner, Frauengarten, Wachau
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This is 100% Gruner Veltliner from 15-35 year old vines, fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light golden color does not suggest the excellent nose full of textured aromas.  In the mouth there is a focused, almost crisp start with white fruit, chalk, and stones by the middle.  There is a nice amount of acidity in this mature wine.  With air it develops nutty flavors and sports a moderate amount of weight from nuts and fat.  ***(*) Now – 2020.

1983 Prince Florent de Merode, Corton Clos du Roi
Imported by Robert Haas.  The cork fell in when the bottle was stood up leaving a stinky nose but surprisingly round, sweet fruit in the mouth.  Not Rated.

A) 1981 Schug Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
This smells mature with a hint of menthol.  In the mouth is up-front dense fruit flavors followed by a wintergreen freshness and perfumed aftertaste.  What is striking is the whopping structure of drying tannins which seems like a combination of stem inclusion and oak.  On the second night it remains firm with tangy red fruit and of course the structure.  ** Now-2027.

B) 2002 Cameron, Clos Electrique
Alcohol 13.3%.  The nose is quite mature.  In the mouth are quickly building flavors of sweet strawberry compote.  The quantity and quality of fruit is excellent and in great shape.  This is matched by juicy acidity and a little spicy hint in the softer finish.  Good bottle.  ***(*) Now – 2019.

2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru
Imported by Robert Kacher.  Alcohol 12%.  Some sweet aromas, oak, mushrooms, and a touch of earth.  With air there is a wood incense note.  The mouth reveals dark red fruit, watery acidity, and a tight core of black fruit leaving a linear impression.  It eventually sports some grip and a little cola and spice note.  It remains firm.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2) 2006 Antica Terra, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 14.4%.  The darker and younger looking in color.  The interesting, ample nose is very fresh and clean.  In the mouth are gobs of fruit flavors that slowly open to reveal ripe, complex flavors.  Substantial in a way but not heavy at all thanks to the brightness.  The acidity is perfectly balanced.  The flavors persist in the aftertaste.  **** Now – 2027.

3) 2005 St. Innocent, Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 14%.  This is a light grapey red color.  In the mouth are controlled flavors of ripe and perfumed black fruit.  Fine tannins develop by the finish as does a bitter, citrus note.  This tastes the youngest of all the wines and with extended air remains structured compared to the Antica Terra. *** Now – 2025.

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

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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Tasting South African Wines with Lou

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Lou and Aaron

Lou came over last week to taste a selection of South African wines with Jenn and myself.  We usually alternate houses for our mid-week tastings but his situation is a bit chaotic due to his current expansion.  As I recently saw , both his kitchen and dinning room have been relocated into his living room.  An odd sight but quite convenient.  If you think that all we ever do together is drink wine, eat cheese, and eat salami then you are correct.  We both love wine and spend significant amounts of our free time buying, tasting, reading, and writing about wine.  While I now write posts for this blog Lou writes in his journals.

We did not take a group ranking.  The Vilafonte and Boekenhoutskloof were distinctly different from the other four wines so of these two I would rank them:

  1. 2007 Boekenhoutskloof, Syrah
  2. 2006 Vilafonte, Series M

Of the remaining four wines I would place the 2002’s on top.  Lou tried the Camberley on the third night and found it “pretty shot”, shame!

  1. 2002 Camberley, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot
  2. 2002 Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. 2005 Kanonkop, Paul Sauer
  4. 2003 Rudi Schultz, Syrah

The Bottles

The Camberley was purchased from Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar in Cape Town and the remaining wines were purchased from MacArthur’s over the last year or so.  As always the wines were double-decanted then served blind.  The leftovers were split up, injected with Private Preserve, then retasted later.  We started with the Salomon, which I realize is an odd choice, but as Jenn does not like Riesling, I wanted to share the bottle with Lou.  I have listed the wines in the order that we tasted them.

Starter – 2006 Salomon, Riesling Pfaffenberg
This wine is 100% Riesling from vines grown on gneiss and granite.  This wine was a golden color.  It had a honey-like nose that was soft with notes of yeast.  In the mouth there were soft flavors of apple, stones, and a nice mid-palate texture that went with the tree-fruit acidity.  It was balanced. *** Now-2015.

1 – 2006 Vilafonte, Series M
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 14% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The wine was fermented with 50% natural yeast and 50% inoculated then aged for 18 months in French oak barrels.  This stood out with its distinct profile.  The nice mouthfeel was creamy with fruit, minerality, and vanilla notes.  It was refreshing to drink, “mint” according to Lou, with resolved tannins and a creamy finish.  On the second night this modern wine was young in profile with tart and bright fruit, minerals, spicy, and hints of coconuts. ***(*) Now-2017.

2 – 2002 Camberley, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Stellenbosch
Lou purchased this for 90 Rand at Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar in Cape Town.  This wine is a blend of three-quarters Cabernet Sauvignon and one-quarter Merlot.  The fruit was sourced from eight year old vines with the wine aged for 14 months in 60% new French, Russian, and American oak.  It was obvious that this was a mature wine with its medium strength nose of older aromas.  The soft flavors were savory with notes of barrel toast.  Mature with a rich body, this was a well made wine.  On the second night the nose took on mint while the body maintained its plumpness and good texture. *** Now.

3 – 2005 Kanonkop, Paul Sauer, Stellenbosch
The Paul Sauer is a blend of approximately 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Merlot that is aged for 22-26 months in new French oak barrels.  It had the lightest nose of these first three wines.  Though light, it was appealing with dry dusty herbs that contained a Lavender aroma.  In the mouth it had green pepper, the most acidity, and a slight, tannic aftertaste of barrel influences.  It left a chalky impression and was “medicinal” to Jenn.  On the second night it was a bit strange with a prickly introduction followed by spice, an ethereal medicinal midpalate, and some heat.  Definitely out of whack. Not Rated.

4 – 2007 Boekenhoutskloof, Syrah
This was the second distinctive wine.  This wine is 100% Syrah from a specific parcel located on decomposed granite.  The vines were planted in 1993.  The grapes were fermented with natural yeast then aged for 23 months in barrel.  The nose was markedly different with a young Syrah notes and fresh grit that jumps into one’s nose.  Rich in the mouth with red currant, a savory character, and some clean, jammy fruit.  The aftertaste is inky with mint and sweet cream.  On the second night the wine still stood out and had continued to develop over the previous night.  While the nose was simpler the flavors in the mouth continued to change. ***(*) Now-2017.

5 – 2003 Rudi Schultz, Syrah, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Syrah from a single vineyard located on a granite base with coarse sand on gravel and some wet clay.  The grapes were fermented with natural yeast then aged for 20 months in 30% new French oak barrels.  This was simpler in flavor with fresh, red fruit that was smooth in the mouth and delicately mixed with garrigue.  A mature, modern wine with flavors that drop off as the aftertaste is approached.  On the second night, there is a delicate nose of herbs.  The somewhat mature flavors mix with vegetables, “earthy straw flavors” according to Jenn, then the wine thins out becoming simpler with hard blue flavors. * Now.

6 – 2002 Kanonkop, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 22-26 months in new and second-fill French oak barrels.  It started off with a medium-strength dirty nose with a green vein.  In the mouth the initial fruit was youthful then turned older and spicy when it mixed with old perfume.  It felt disjointed.  On the second night Jenn found “kiwi skin nose”, a bit of roast, more astringent red fruit, dry herbs, coarse tannins, and some heat. ** Now.

The Corks