First impressions of Krug´s latest Grande Cuvée

Krug Grande Cuvée – 167ème Édition

Expressive and fresh aromas of ripe yellow fruits, citrus, floral layers, almonds, brioche, honey, chalky elements and delicate spiciness in a rich, but elegant and vital champagne. Fresh and long on the palate with finest bubbles, good acidity and round texture. A blend of 191 wines from 13 different years with the youngest coming from 2011 and the oldest wines from 1995. Immensely complex and, as always, in a way paradox by being focused and fine at the time as being ample and rich. Wonderful expression of champagne created of 47% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay & 17% Meunier.

After Krug x Fish last year, this year Pepper is the single ingredient in the focus of pairing possibilities with Krug Champagne.
See the entire video and discover the exciting new idea and concept of Krug x Pepper here.

 

Tasting Pomerol and Saint Emilion again.

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For the second time we tasted some of the best from Saint Emilion and Pomerol with Munich Wine Club. We chose to check on some great vintages and classics as well as on some good, sort of under the radar, vintages.
In seven, vintage-specific flights we compared a total of 15 wines from the different appellations in a blind tasting setting.

1998 was, after 1990, probably the best vintage in the 90´s with wines of boldness, power as well as structure.
Chateau Le Gay
appeared dark and deep with aromas of blackberry, vanilla sweetness, some minty freshness and earthy characters. Beautiful and juicy on the palate with fine, yet present tannins and a long finish.
Ripeness, opulence and substance in a classic Pomerol. 1998 Chateau Gazin showed less substance and depth than the Chateau Le Gay with red fruits of raspberry and red currant, some plums, tobacco, present green notes and licorice spiciness. Still tight and a little edgy, while lacking density and juice. Honestly, I´m not sure what the future will bring for this wine.

Chateau L’ Evangile and Chateau La Conseillante represented the distinct styles of their Chateau´s perfectly with a dark, concentrated and rather robust 1994 Chateau L‘ Evangile on the one side and a fine, almost feminine and harmonious 1994 Chateau La Conseillante on the other. Both wines characterize the ripeness of the 1994 vintage that was challenged by rains before and during harvest. With aromas of dark, black fruits, florals (violets), dried herbs, leather and forest floor 1994 L´Evangile showed vital and robust on the nose, while it remained harmonious, present and a little dirty on the palate. Dark fruit, earthy layers and spiciness- especially on the long finish- create a delicious and exciting package. In this condition, the wine holds for 5+ years easily. 1994 Chateau La Conseillante has a bouquet of fine, red and dark fruits, perfume, florals, delicate green layers and some lactic notes. While the wine is very elegant on the nose, it´s immensely present and young on the palate. With brittle tannins, fine acidity and depth it has everything necessary to evolve for another decade. Beautiful, long finish with tons of dark fruits and peppery spiciness.

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1990 Chateau Lafleur presented itself elegant, almost quiet, but immensely complex with aromas of cherry, dried herbs, plum, green tea, tobacco, ethereal layers, hints of Port and fine sweetness. Pure power and substance in perfect balance on the palate. Very fruit-driven, even mineral and sweet with fine, but dense tannins and filigree acidity. Endless finish. Monumental and hedonistic while sophisticated and young. Is this one expression of a perfect wine? Absolutely.
1990 Chateau Certan de May took the hard challenge to compete with this legend. And, while being lengths behind, it still surprised us! A very complete wine showing all the ripeness and structure you would expect from a beautiful 1990 Pomerol. Expressive aromas of dark fruit, herbal spiciness, little oak and delicious sweetness. Harmonious and full of substance on the palate with dark fruit and more herbal spiciness. Delicious, compact and at its best now!

1988 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus was opulent, concentrated and a little rustic with black fruits, tobacco, leather and herbal spiciness. Great smoothness, even charm, and depth on the palate. Cool with character and a dark, punchy finish with drive. 1988 Chateau Certan Giraud was on a par with the La Fleur-Petrus and similar to the bottle we had last year with aromas of blackcurrant, tobacco, fresh, green herbs and distinct notes of iron. A little tighter and leaner than the La Fleur-Petrus, but of good balance, harmony and precision. Good stuff!

After having many outstanding 1985s over the last months, we had great expectations regarding tonight´s 1985 flight, but the wines couldn´t fully meet our expectations. 1985 Chateau Beausejour came with sweet fruit, hints of tobacco, dried fruits, fresh herbs and notes pastry. Unfortunately the palate was dominated by present acidity and lacking substance. Obviously past its prime, but still nice to drink with red fruits and herbal notes. Drink now!
1985 Chateau Troplong Mondot lost most of its charm and showed only very little sweetness, but lots of caramel, mushrooms, coffee ground and some herbal freshness. Lacking harmony and balance, it´s very dark, oxidative and bumpy on the palate with very little sweetness of remaining fruit. Certainly a weak bottle.

1979 is a Right Bank vintage I like very much. There are still many fine, smoothly textured wines with vibrant acidity around- recent examples were an amazingly fascinating 1979 Chateau Magdelaine and a stunning 1979 Chateau L`Evangile. Today´s bottle of 1979 Chateau Magdelaine didn´t perform and slightly oxidative notes gave proof that this was not a perfect bottle. Very dark on the nose with little black fruit, olives, ground coffee, dark chocolate and raisins. Light-weight and fine on the palate with nice acidity and length. Lacking substance. Good thing we had three bottles in this flight- and the other two were really shining bright! 1979 Vieux Chateau Certan came in strong with fine, but fresh aromas of dark fruits (blackberry and cherries), mixed herbs, vegetable layers, hay and peppery spiciness. Precise, elegant and fresh on the palate. Great depth and drive! 1979 Clos Fourtet appears with tons of fresh fruit as well. Aromas of red and black currant, little citrus, delicate spiciness, earthy characteristics, little leather, iron and herbaceous notes. Balanced, focused and elegant on the palate where vibrant acidity gives live. Nice finish of red fruits, freshness and iron. Textbook 1979 Right Bank.

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As expected, or at least hoped, was the 1971 Chateau Cheval Blanc another highlight of the tasting.
From this vintage of richness and opulence with good acidity many of the top wines are still shining today- and so did the Cheval Blanc with ethereal freshness, fine, sweet red-berry fruit, delicate spiciness, tobacco, iron and little truffle. Very fine, elegant and intriguing! Cool and elegant with finest sweetness on the palate. Finished very long with a cool and spicy punch. Fantastic wine!
1971 Canon la Gaffeliere came in second in this flight, but showed great as well with dark sweetness, herbaceous notes, licorice, earth, pencil lead, caramel, little honey and traces of smoke. Very round and balanced on the palate with fully integrated tannins and fine sweetness. Decent length.

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Riesling from Germany, Austria and Alsace

In a comprehensive tasting with Munich Wine Club last Saturday we tasted many of the best wines made from the Riesling grape back to 1976.

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Dönnhoff´s 2015 Oberhäuser Brücke Spätlese, from heavy, loamy soils and primary rock right on the banks of the Nahe river on the opposite side of the winery, showed very fruit-driven, ripe and open with tons of yellow fruits (stone fruit, citrus, mango and pineapple) and little herbal fresh- and spiciness. I´m curious to see these wines in 10+ years time.
The weathered slate soils with rocky parts, embedded iron and clay created a distinct Scharzhofberger Riesling in 2001. Even though this wasn´t a perfect bottle, Egon Müller´s 2001 Scharzhofberger Spätlese showed the typical fresh and intensive herbal characters and citrus notes with present, vibrant and salty minerality.
A clean, concentrated and structured wine.

Knoll´s Schütt is always among my personal favorites from the Wachau, because it´s more focused and pure and not as ripe and bold as many other vineyards. Good to see the 2012 shining strong with citrus (zest), concentrated yellow fruit, herbal freshness, notes of ginger and minerality. Bold and ripe on the palate with present alcohol and sufficient substance and fruit. Powerful and long with focus.
The fourth wine of the evening was already a serious highlight of the night!
Wittmann´s ‘La Borne’ comes from heavy limestone soils with chalk, which always create wines of elegance, coolness and fresh fruit. 2011 La Borne perfectly fits this profile. Elegant and almost reluctant aromas of little yellow fruit, fresh herbs, perfume and white florals, but powerful, dense and full of drive on the palate with substance, great depth, focus and length. Fantastic vibrant and salty minerality. Keep this wine 10+ years.

Wittmann 2007 Brunnenhäuschen is powerful and ripe with aromas of stone fruit, yellow apples, caramel, exotic spices and smoky minerality. Deep, dark and vibrant on the palate. Immense potential!
F.X. Pichler 2006 Unendlich. I remember tasting exceptional examples of this wine – like the magnificient 2002 or the deep, exciting and vibrant 2005, but the 2006 was a bit over the top for me. As in 2005 from 100% Loibenberg fruit, the 2006 is incredibly bold and driven by present alcohol. Still, great structure, depth and complex aromatics. Keep.

Schäfer-Fröhlich´s 2005 Felsenberg directly showed the distinct Schäfer-Fröhlich fingerprint of smoky minerality and notes of spontaneous fermentation (!). The volcanic soils created a wild, still young and vibrant wine of drive and focus.
Especially compared to the Schäfer-Fröhlich, Ökonomierat Rebholz 2005 Kastanienbusch is quiet, feminine and well-behaved with fine, yellow fruits, a lot of perfume and florals. Drinking nicely, but lacking character and depth.

Heymann-Löwenstein 2004 Uhlen Blaufüßer Lay comes with stone fruit, lemon, dried grass and herbal spiciness. Very clean, yet powerful and long. A fresh, fruit-driven and harmonious wine of density and drinking pleasure.
But Keller´s 2003 Morstein appeared to be on a level above with ripe stone fruit, orange zest, oriental spices, fresh herbs, pepper and dark minerality. Deep and dark on the palate with decent length. Maybe lacking some acidity and drive to be exceptional, but fascinating and still young.

In Bürklin-Wolf´s 2002 Hohenmorgen high ripeness and fine acidity combine.
A strong wine of ripe stone fruit, dried herbs, some orange zest, little honey and lactic notes. All in all more bold than elegant, but in perfect harmony.
Prager 1998 Ried Klaus Smaragd was among the stars of the night with precision, purity and perfection. Fresh aromas of citrus, mix of green herbs, traces of petrol, little moss and delicate minerality.
Fine and alive on the palate with great length and laser-like focus.
A masterpiece!

While Trimbach´s 1993 Frederic Emile was oxidized, its big brother was singing: Trimbach 1991 Clos Ste Hune showed citrus, petrol, fresh herbs, traces of honey and wild minerality. Present, vibrant and complex on the palate with a solid structure of acidity and extract, yet an elegant Clos Ste Hune of sophistication.

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J.J. Prüm 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese wasn´t able to hide its origin. Which meant showing, on the one hand, the distinct dark and earthy nuances of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, but, on the other hand, also the characteristics of an exceptionally hot 2003 vintage. Thereby, the wine was very ripe, expressive and lacked finesse and vitality. Still super-youthful, I´m curious to see the development over the next decades.

Von Schubert 1998 Abtsberg Auslese Nr.215 on the contrary was amazingly good!
Fresh, precise and complex with aromas of citrus and exotic fruits, fresh herbs, fir trees, traces of petrol and delicate, salty minerality. In perfect harmony, this wine drinks deliciously and is pure sophistication at the same time. So pure and clean.

Gillot 1976 Oppenheimer Sackträger TBA finished our tasting with ripe, stone fruit, coffee, caramel, honey and dark spiciness. A young power package of ripeness, sweetness and substance. Still endless potential.

Spätburgunder vs. Pinot Noir

pinotvsspaetÄ                                                                                                                                                                                                               Approach: We compared 12 Pinot Noirs in a blind tasting to evaluate quality, find differences and see whether we were able to distinguish between Spätburgunder (Germany) and Pinot Noir (Burgundy). Therefore, we poured flights of two and compared, by that, always one with the other:

Kesseler – Spätburgunder Höllenberg 1993
From the slate, quartzite soils of one of Germany´s oldest sites for reds comes this Spätburgunder. It approaches you with distinct aromatics of decent oak and light fruit of cherries and some strawberries. Elegant and smooth on the tongue. Nothing exciting, but harmonious, elegant and still of little freshness. Very drinkable, but lacking depth and complexity. Good length though (89 pts.).

Louis Trapet – Gevrey-Chambertin 2001
It was a wet, cool and cloudy year in Burgundy. This Gevrey-Chambertin started off quite funky with wine gum and burned rubber, but settled after a while with fine, light-red fruit, coolness and freshness of herbs and earthy notes. Darker on the palate, but of grippy tannins and little, austere greenness. After a recently tasted amazing 2006, this was certainly not a perfect bottle (90pts.)

 

Fürst – Spätburgunder Centgrafenberg 2003 Elegant, but relatively ripe wine with dark fruits, mixed herbs, toasty oak and citrus freshness. Lactic notes. Nevertheless, vibrant on the palate with dark drive. A little diluted esp. when considering the 2003 vintage characteristics (90pts.)

Bouchard Pere et Fils – Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1999
Deep, dark red in the glass and full of fresh, dark-red fruit (black cherries), prunes, earth, black tea and herbs. Approachable and medium complex, yet robust wine of concentration drive and extract (92pts.)

 

Huber – Spätburgunder Reserve 2001
The rocky shell-limestone soils of the Bienenberg vineyard created fresh, quite youthful and complex wine of sour cherry, red berries, tobacco sweetness, leather and little peppery spiciness. Present acidity and little green tannins.
Showing real potential, yet already drinking beautifully (92pts.)

Domaine de L’Arlot – Nuit St. Georges 1er Cru les Forets 2003
Concentrated and muscular, but balanced wine of ripe black fruits, creamy sweetness, prune, little tobacco, autumn forest and some florals. Smoothly textured, even juicy with present alcohol, integrated tannins and fine acidity. Quite a powerhouse lacking refinement (90pts.)

 

Knipser – Spätburgunder Kirschgarten 2003
grows on soils of loam and chalk. The wine is dense, deep and complex full of ripe black cherries and blackberries, dried herbs, some road tar and oak. Smooth, but present on the palate with fine acidity and integrated tannins. Textbook 2003, elegant and relatively ripe, yet a real surprise (94pts.)!

Confuron-Cotetidot – Vosne Romanée 1er Cru, Les Suchots 2003
Nice fruit forward, burned rupper, licorice on the nose. Expressive, even wild aromatics. Weakly structured and bumpy on the palate. Something went wrong with this one. The weakest wine of the night (84pts.)

 

Rebholz  – Spätburgunder Im Sonnenschein R 2000
2000 was a very wet and difficult vintage and you were able to find the typical vintage characteristics in this wine: Mild as a dove with aromatics of ripe, dark fruit, violets, almonds, present oak and warm spices. Broad without substance and past its prime (86pts.).

Nicolas Potel  – Latricieres Chambertin Grand Cru 2004
Aromatics of dark berries and black cherries, earthy notes, mushrooms and herbal freshness in a precise, youthful and complex wine from infertile soils south of Chambertin. Youthfully structured with only very little ladybug greenness.
Great length and freshness. Maybe lacking some flesh (94pts.)

 

Keller  – Spätburgunder Bürgel 2002
The 2002 vintage provided high ripeness levels and fine acidity. Klaus-Peter Keller´s Bürgel shows clean with beautiful fruit of dark berries and black cherries with little sweetness, intriguing minerality and herbal spiciness and curry aromas. Among the best wines of the night with density, complexity and perfect balance (95pts.)      

Jean Jacques Confuron – Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 1996
J.J. Confuron owns 0,52 ha in the Clos de Vougeot vineyard in the area considered best (close to the Chateau).The 96 shines of red fruits, raspberry and even gooseberry, figs, forest floor and minerality. It´s beautifully precise and vibrant with present acidity, few remaining tannins and freshness on the palate. Finishes long and focused with darkest fruit, leather and anise spiciness. Still a little tight, but elegant, complex and fascinating wine. Wine of the night (96pts.)

 

Results: It is (often) very easy to pick out the German Spätburgunder due to its distinct aromatics of light, red fruit, present oak and less substance. Nevertheless, the overall quality in Germany is very good. Especially when considering that the making of serious Pinot Noir of finesse is a relatively new trend in many regions of Germany.
Even though some Spätburgunder were able to wine their duels, all tasters agreed that the Burgundian wines delivered more fascination, depth, excitement and character.
And don´t forget that the wines tasted from Germany represent the pinnacle of Spätburgunder at the moment while the wines from Burgundy in this tasting were about average.

It´s still comparing apples and oranges, but the uplift in quality of German Pinot Noir over the last years is promising. Wines of recent vintages underline this development. Therefore, I can only recommend keeping an open eye for these light reds from Germany.

Photo by @weinfurore

Germany´s 2014 Riesling Revisited

When visiting many of the German top estates in March this year, the youthful 2014 wines showed elegant with low alcohol levels, juicy acidity and creaminess. Some were already delicious in their youth and definitely less challenging that the robust wines from 2013. Especially the Großen Gewächse from the Nahe and Rheinhessen region impressed with harmony, balance and elegance. Without lacking future potential, the wines had great finesse and fascination. They were rather quiet and aesthetic than baroque and opulent.

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Last week I had the chance to taste 19 of those wines next to each other blindly and, thereby, was able to compare, recheck and verify my early impressions of the 2014 Riesling vintage in Germany.
Here are my tasting notes and ratings:

  1. Battenfeld-Spanier 2014 Frauenberg
    Elegant aromatics of stone fruit and citrus, some herbal spiciness and traces of ripeness. Very balanced and harmonious with precision, decent drive and fine minerality. (91)
  2. Battenfeld-Spanier 2014 Schwarzer Herrgott
    Ripe fruit of apples and stone fruit with delicate, chalky minerality and freshness. Very present, almost opulent, on the palate with dancing acidity, cool depth, herbal spiciness and a lot of fruit. Perfect length with drive. (92)
  3. Kühling-Gillot 2014 Pettenthal
    Dynamic, powerful and exciting aromatics of tropical fruit and smokiness. Some red fruit. Bold and intense on the palate with exotic flavors, spiciness and salty minerality. Finishes long. Beautiful wine that fascinates with a great play of juiciness and vibrant minerality. Fantastic! (94)
  4. Wechsler 2014 Kirchspiel
    Intriguing nose of citrus and stone fruit, (smoked) onion and lighter fuel. Fine sweetness. Precise with substance and grip. First vibrant, then rather astringent in the mouth with a lot of fruit and tension. (93)
    By the way, this wine isn´t classified as GG (Großes Gewächs) since Katharina Wechsler is not a member of the VDP.
  5. Wittmann 2014 Morstein
    Very reluctant at first with fine fruit and minty freshness. Really needs time to open up in the glass (and mostly in the cellar). Very dense and compact, yet harmonious and balanced on the palate with great length, focus and saltiness. A quiet monster of structure, concentration and potential. (95)
  6. Dönnhoff 2014 Felsenberg
    Aromatics of ripe, yellow fruits and cool, freshly-cut herbs. Fine notes of butter. Elegant, but really open and inviting. Juicy and dense on the palate with juiciness of fruit, delicate, vibrant minerality. Perfect structure and length with matching sweetness, acidity and character. Surprisingly open and ready with all its pieces in place and, thereby, a great joy to drink already. (96)
  7. Gut Hermannsberg 2014 Hermannsberg
    Citrus and stone fruit, cabbage, almonds and traces of smoky minerality characterize the nose. Lean and a little bumpy and unsettled on the palate. Time will tell… (89)
  8. Joh. Bapt. Schäfer 2014 Pittermännchen
    Driven by freshness of citrus and green herbs. Fine minerality. Tight and precise with citrus, herbs (woodruff!) and saltiness. Dynamic and long. (91)IMG_2950
  9. Schäfer-Fröhlich 2014 Felsenberg
    Distinct Schäfer-Fröhlich with dominant notes of spontaneous fermentation and aromatics of stone fruit, delicate minerality and smokiness. Beautiful fruit and little juiciness on the palate. Some dustiness and sweetness show through a robust, crumbly structure of pure tension. Exciting and wild, but very pure wine! (94)
  10. Schäfer-Fröhlich 2014 Felseneck
    Another highlight from Tim Fröhlich and quite similar to the Felsenberg, but less expressive, more gracefully built and darker! Minerality forward with some stone fruit, herbs and bacon. Dynamic, salty and of perfect structure. Laser-like precision, immense length with citrus freshness, fine juiciness and herbal spiciness. (95)
  11. Clemens Busch 2014 Marienburg Fahrlay
    Quiet aromatics of tropical fruit and peach, some florals and herbs. Fine and elegant, but paltry and broad. Lacking drive and length. (88)
  12. Heymann-Löwenstein 2014 Uhlen Blaufüßer Lay
    Reductive at first. Unusual aromatics of iodine, bacon and pure smokiness. With some ripe peach only little fruit is present. Vibrant, cool and full of herbal spiciness shows the wine on the palate. This is no wine for inexperienced winelovers, because it is really challenging – and nevertheless fascinating. (92)
  13. Van Volxem 2014 Altenberg
    This Riesling shows its drive right from the beginning with smoky minerality and yellow fruit. A little blunt and rather opulent without being really loud. Present ripeness (of botrytis), some lime and little saltiness. Unfortunately lacking density and, most of all drive. Finishes brittle. (87)
  14. Leitz 2014 Schlossberg
    The only Riesling from the Rheingau really performed with sappy tropical fruit and red fruits. Cacao, licorice and some sweetness join the vital, yet delicate and sophisticated aromatics. Mouthcoating with yellow fruits, herbs and orange zest. Finishes very long with precision and vital acidity. A powerful and very approachable wine of finesse. (94)
  15. Bürklin-Wolf 2014 Ungeheuer
    Fine fruit, delicate herbs (sage!) and cool minerality. Little sweetness. Elegant and smoothly structured with proper density and grip. Elegant Bürklin-Wolf needing time. (91)
  16. Georg Mosbacher 2014 Ungeheuer
    Powerful aromatics of ripe stone fruit, some lime and even traces of red fruit. Very straight on the palate while not lacking vibrancy and substance. Vital, yet harmonious wine with delicate minerality and fresh fruits of gooseberry and lime. At the moment, the greater, more fascinating expression of the Ungeheuer. (93)
  17. Philipp Kuhn 2014 Saumagen
    Aromatically dominated by minerality. The fruit needed some time to show with grapefruit and peach. Yet, rather one-dimensional. Puristic, cool and full of salty minerality and vital acidity, this wine finishes long and firm. (92)
  18. Rebholz 2014 Kastanienbusch
    Funky, expressive aromatics of tropical fruits, sweet woodruff, green pepper and candy. Clean, yet rather broad, on the palate with tropical fruit and freshness. This wine improved the most over the time of the tasting as the loud aromatics decreased and more structure and precision showed. (89)
  19. Von Winning 2014 Grainhübel
    Another expressive wine of ripe, tropical fruit, butter, freshness and florals (violets). Herbs, mostly chamomile, and fine fruit dictate the palate. Relatively bold, robustly structured and complex. Good length. (90)

Germany´s 2014 dry Rieslings are elegant, harmonious and almost homogeneously of great quality.
The stars certainly come from Rheinhessen and the Nahe region, where the wines show character, drive and future potential, 2014 is generally a vintage for short- to medium-term drinking. The best wines will last for decades.

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Comprehensive Bordeaux – Surprises and Usual Suspects

IMG_2709Last week we hosted a ‘Comprehensive Bordeaux’ Tasting for MunichWineClub to show all facets of the region,
from dry whites, over dry reds, of course, to the sweet whites of Sauternes.
Here are the tasting notes:

We kicked-off with a fresh, steely and precise 2012 L´Abeille de Fieuzal blanc from Pessac-Leognan.
Inviting aromatics of citrus, florals and grapefruit. Smooth and ripe, yet fresh and focused.
Good length of minty freshness and spiciness.
2011 Chateau de Sales and Chateau Le Boscq followed.
Chateau Le Boscq with 55% CS, 40% M and 5% Petit Verdot showed typically dark and rustic with earth, black fruits and spices. Thanks to the 2011 vintage characteristics, this wine was already quite approachable. Medium-bodied, while lacking juice and density.
2011 Chateau de Sales came with red fruit, oaky aromatics, plums and autumn leaf. Rather lean on the palate with fine, but harsh tannins and present acidity. Otherwise driven by fruit and decent length. Give it another 3- 5 years.
From then on, starting with 2009, we looked at supposedly strong vintages only.
2009 Clos René is surprisingly light, even powerless. Red fruit, plums and dried herbs on the nose. On the palate with grippy tannins plums and dark spiciness. Simple, yet nice wine with about 10% of Malbec in the blend.
Now to the first real highlight: 2009 Chateau Batailley showed beautifully at this early drinking stage. Notes of ripe, black fruit and pure, fine sweetness. Earth, leather, black olives and tobacco. Intriguing and exciting. Soft and round in the mouth, but still healthy structured and full of potential. Finishes long with black fruit and peppery spiciness. Distinct Pauillac and very attractive!
2000 Domaine de Chevalier was the wine of the evening. It´s really incredible how beautiful 2000 Bordeaux is already showing after 15 years. Elegant, fine and multi-faceted on the nose with light, yet ripe, red fruit, delicate earthiness, florals, herbal spiciness, iron, some smoked bacon and cedar. Really sophisticated with subtle sweetness.
Medium-bodied, elegant and present. Flavor-intense, but quiet. Long finish full of fruit and herbal spiciness.
Fantastic and in line with the other 2000s we have tasted recently as Pontet Canet, Beychevelle, Lynch-Bages and La Fleur-Petrus. The vintage is really opening up and reaching its (first level) of maturity without getting tired.

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Both following 1989s were good, but not great. 1989 Chateau Haut-Bages had a fine, ripe nose of red fruits, vanilla, graphite, road tar, tobacco and herbal freshness, but was a little weak on the palate. Present acidity without sufficient flesh and concentration. Had this wine twice over the last year and it showed much better each time.
1989 Chateau Cantemerle was a little stronger. Inviting nose of complexity and elegance with black berries, florals, some green tea and oak. More harmonious and alive on the palate than the Haut-Bages Liberal, but still past its prime. Good finish with little smokiness and herbal spiciness. Still a very charming wine.
1988 Chateau Certan-Giraud showed what great terroir is able to do. Black, ripe fruits, green tea, tons of (fresh) herbs and some traces of iron in a silky textured wine of great depth and precision. Fantastic wine driven by tertiary characteristics but still full of impact, presence and great finesse.
Cassis, smoky notes, tobacco, earth and forest floor describe the nose of our 1986 Chateau Haut-Marbuzet. Hardly any fruit left, but still alive. Solid structured, rather robust and edgy on the palate.
1982 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal was next and poured blind. This wasn´t a perfect bottle and, due to that, this wine had hardly anything to do with the perfect 1982 Haut-Bages-Liberal I had in November 2014. Today´s bottle showed very matured, not unpleasant, but lacking complexity, concentration and length. However, aromatically nice with sweet, red fruits, some dried herbs, earth and pencil lead.
1995 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey was the perfect refresher at the end of the tasting.
Well, it was more than that by showing everything what great Sauternes can do:
Freshness, sweetness, spiciness, structure and immense complexity.
Aromatics of tropical fruits and citrus freshness. Little honey, orange zest and petrol plus tons of herbal spiciness (ginger and saffron!). Very alive on the palate. Fresh, vibrant and weightless. Sweetness, Acidity and alcohol in perfect balance.
With only hints of botrytis, this wine finishes very long with a lot fruit and spiciness. An exceptional wine and great value for money. Drink or keep.

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Keller Abtserde Vertical 2013 – 2006

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Located in Germany´s Rheinhessen region just east of the Morstein vineyard, Abtserde probably defines the best parcels of the Brunnenhäuschen vineyard, where, due to higher altitude, the average growing season is slightly longer than in the surrounding area. Marly clay soils with a lot of limestone and, in parts, embedded iron create intense Rieslings of juiciness and chalky minerality.
It´s been a while since Klaus-Peter Keller created the first wine from these parcels back in 2006.
Therefore, it´s about time to take a closer look and to discuss Abtserde typicity:

Abtserde 2013 is wild, dynamic and punchy. Reluctant aromatics of green herbs, ethereal freshness, flintstone spiciness and yellow as well as tropical fruit. Powerful and mouthfilling on the palate. Present, deep and long with clear, precise drive, racy acidity and salty minerality. An exceptional Abtserde of endless power and potential.

2012 shows more delicate and fine with smooth juicyness.
Harmonious with clear fruit (apricot!), apple tart and orange zest. Yet, baroque with obvious ripeness, the wine is perfectly balanced, harmonious and joyful. Evaporates very fast 🙂

First signs of evolution with little firn and fine petrol can be found in 2011.
Showing typical characteristics of the warm 2011 vintage. Ripe stone fruit, honey, wax and blood orange as well as dark fruit of red currant and raspberry. Freshly-cut herbs and decent spicyness provide vitality and tension. Already approachable and full of drinking pleasure. Solidly build with fine acidity and tons of fruit promising a bright future.
Great combination of refinement and ripeness.

Intensity instead of lushness is the result of the coolness of 2010.
The wine ist fresh, crystal-clear and cool with citrus, lime, fresh herbs and delicate floral nuances. Wet stone, salty minerality and present acidity create a wine full of tension and presence on the palate. Youthful and harmonious, elegant and complex. A rather quiet wine of depth, facination and great potential.Fine but intense.

Abtserde 2009 is a sleeping beauty at the moment.
In spite of the ripe expression of the 2009 vintage, the wine shows quiet and shy, compact and closed – hardly any ripeness or substance. Cool chalkiness, little orange zest, fresh herbs (eucalypt) and phenolic layers dominate. Only hints of creamyness and lacking drive and length. Keep!

Abtserde 2008 marches to a different drum
with dark, earthy nuances, green pepper, moss, (unripe) walnut and raisins. Whipped cream and little red fruit come along. Though the wine´s showing power, freshness and length, it´s the most dissonant in this tasting. A little bumpy and little drive. When tasting this wine on a different occasion in March it showed similar. Thus, the bottle wasn´t flawed.
2008 is just a little different Abtserde.

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Abtserde 2007 shines brightest!
Light as a feather, super-fine, youthful, full of tension and dynamics. Pure minerality, delicate sweetness, citrus, oranges and raspberry in a perfect wine! Creamy and mouthfilling around a robust structure of harmoniously integrated acidity and substance. Vital and long with herbal and peppery spiciness. Sophisticated greatness in a delicate wine of fascination, drinking pleasure and sheer endless potential.

Our tasting closes with Keller´s first Abtserde from 2006 – a vintage generally under the radar and hardly valued.
But the Abtserde is singing! It becomes obvious that there was a distinct Abtserde characteristic right from the start. With characteristics that all wine (except 2008) have in common:
Immense presence and complexity with density, chalky minerality, flintstone and traces of orange zest. This can already be seen in the 2006 bottling. Stone fruit and red currant, delicate (white) florals, some petrol, almond and little iodine in a juicy and solid package with noticeable acidity. A wine of perfect balance still on its way up.

Keller`s Abtserde is among the very best dry Rieslings on earth. Period.

Historical Rioja from 1982 back to 1928

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  1. La Rioja Alta 1982 Gran Reserva 904
    Open, very approachable and creamy wine.
    Relatively light-weight with distinctive oxidative character and fine acidity. Beautiful filligree, yet dark sweetness, fruit in rum, leather, some road tar, raisins and dried herbs. Lacking midpalate density and length.
    Still nice but- typical for the vintage- poorly structured and to be consumed now.
  2. Contino 1981 Reserva
    Distinct 1981 Rioja, solid structured, youthful and very present wine. Aromatically on the dark side with dark chocolate, tar, pencil lead and blackberries. Freshly-cut herbs join in. Precise freshness, complexity and depth show on palate. Harmonious, yet exciting with good length and grip.
    Strong with great future potential, but beautiful to drink.
  3. Cartoixa Scala Dei 1975 Priorat
    A pirat from Priorat sneaked in with brilliant darkness, density and robustness.
    Black fruits, hot asphalt, some iron and dried herbs. Solid structured with vital tannins and wild acidity.
    Lacking sophistication and harmony- more bone than flesh. Still cool!
  4. Marqués de Riscal 1968 Reserva
    Elegant, velvety and nicely matured wine of meaty sweetness and red fruits. Harmoniously packed with present acidity and fine tannins. Definitely not a perfect bottle, still nice, but a little short and easy.IMG_0191
  5. CVNE 1970 Corona Blanco
    Restraint aromatics of honey, little sweetness, fine herbs and hay. Filligree residual sweetness and intriguing freshness in a silky textured package of tropical fruit and a entertaining play of sweet and tart.
    Vital, easy-drinking and refreshing. Pretty nice!
  6. Paternina 1964 Monte Haro Blanco
    Concentrated, sweet and juicy wine of tropical fruit, banana, honey, cheese and resin. Distinct traces of petrol and firn. Fresh, beautiful and complex.
  7. CVNE 1964 4° Ano Blanco
    Fresh, light-weight and perfectly balanced wine with present cedary oak. Focused, fresh and delicate sweetness comes with fine herbs. While light as feather, this wine shows perfect density, complexity and presence. Great!
  8. Federico Paternina 1964 Blanco Seco
    Unfortunately this wine suffered TCA.
  9. Glorioso 1955 Reserva Especial
    Another one flawed :/IMG_0164
  10. Berberana 1952 Cosecha Especial
    Quiet, elegant and mature nose of cherries, plums, sweet vanilla, oak, licorice and leather. Some black tea, herbs and mushroom. Beautiful and fascinating to drink with intriguing depth, mild acidity and integrated tannins.
    Delicious and exciting with good length, persistence and potential.
  11. Berberana 1952 Gran Reserva
    Berberana´s Gran Reserva shows more rustic and robust than the Cosecha Especial. Black and dark fruit, tobacco, exotic spices, wood and tea leaf. Matured, but very much alive; flavor- and structure-wise.
    Medium-bodied, harmonious with nice sweetness.
  12. Martinez Lacuesta 1928 Reserva Especial
    Corked as well :/IMG_0176
  13. Federico Paternina 1928 Gran Reserva
    All´s well that ends well. Very healthy, youthful and vibrant wine with delicate, excellent freshness and present, yet fine and dancing acidity. Grip, darkness and drive with aromatics of fresh and dried herbs, little fruit in rum, road tar and pencil lead. More than memorable wine that seems to be ignoring its actual age.

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Fascination of Bordeaux

Bordeaux never loses its greatness and fascination-
a fact recently proved in a beautiful tasting of old wines I hosted and, furthermore, underlined in following events over the last weekend.

IMG_3814Here are my brief notes on the wines tasted:

2011 Chateau Le Boscq – Juicy, youthful with dark fruit of spicy cassis, cedar and earth.
Still a little green and bumpy on the finish.

2009 Chateau Gaudin – Ripe and powerful wine with tons of fruit. Typical 2009 Pauillac.
Masculin, deep, concentrated and perfectly structured. Already approachable, balanced and beautiful to drink.

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1995 Chateau ´d Armailhac – Tight, focused and a little dusty. Decent (light) red fruit and first tertiary characteristics.
Pencil lead, dark chocolate and herbal spiciness. Charming, but still young.

1997 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal – Healthy structured clean and focused wine with edgy tannins and fine acidity.
Black Berries and some Cherries, Leather and Dark Chocolate. Nice, but not amazing.

1989 Chateau Certan Giraud – A little closed, but intriguingly complex and fresh. Silky texture of great depth and precision. Black, ripe fruits, green tea, tons of (fresh) herbs. A gentle wine of impact, presence and great finesse. Fantastic!

1988 Chateau Clos Fourtet – This one´s also just starting to open up. More tight than juicy. Cool, fresh and red fruit.
Fresh herbs, peppery spiciness. Another highlight!

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1986 Haut-Bages Liberal – Unfortunately this wine was corked.

1979 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Sadly this was corked as well :/

1976 Chateau Haut Batailley – Obviously over its peak, but still beautiful. Light-weight, elegant and almost Burgundian.
In a quiet way, fine and multi-faceted. Red berries, even gooseberry, road tar, anise and spiciness.

1976 Vieux Chateau Certan – In the beginning a little boisterous, then more and more precise and even polished. Harmonious, bone-dry and focused. Still a lot of fruit and freshness (!). Especially in contrast to the 1976 Haut Batailley, a brightly shining star and example for the success of the left bank in 1976 vintage. Black, ripe fruit, power and spiciness. Excellent!

1970 Chateau Montrose – Ripe, powerful and- for a Montrose- surprisingly open, soft and smooth at this “early” stage.
Deep, dark core of ripe, black and candied fruit, pepper, coffee and cigar box. Very good length, complexity and surprise!

1970 Chateau Beychevelle – Still strong, finely-spun and filigree wine. Black currant and more dark fruit, green pepper, delicate spiciness, distinct coal and earth. A wine that whispers in all languages. Truly remarkable, fascinating and simply amazing. Wine of the evening!

1982 Chateau Phelan Segur – Full-bodied, present and now peaking wine. Typical 1982 that still shows a lot of fruit and sweetness. Ripe and bold fruit, pencil shavings, forest floor, tobacco, some leather and a mix of herbs.
Attractive, generous and long, but maybe lacking excitement and fascination.
Well, don´t get me wrong, this is a beautiful wine J

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1982 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal – Another legendary 1982, but this one is more focused, deep and complex.
Black and dark core of fruit, pencil lead, earth and dried herbs. Perfectly structured with dancing acidity and fine tannins, thereby, with some future ahead. Distinct Pauillac and one of the best Haut-Bages Liberal I ever had.

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1995 Chateau Haut Bailly (from Magnum) – Harmonious, very approachable and fruit-driven crowd pleaser.
Red fruit, fresh herbs and some coconut in a silky, juicy textured package with distinct, fine minerality. Beautiful now!

1989 Chateau Giscours (from Magnum) – Youthful, dense and distinct Giscours!
Animalistic and balsamic aromatics with cassis, tobacco and earth joining in. Fresh and deep on the palate.
Great complexity, finesse and excitement. Fantastic wine of detail, amazing density, length  and a fascinating development over the time of drinking!

1979 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (from Magnum)- And another star: Ripe, red and black fruit, fresh mint and herbs of all kind. Intriguing! Very alive on the palate, with present acidity and fine tannins. Red fruit, some green bitterness, leather, chocolate. A vibrant wine of freshness and substance.

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1977 Chateau Lafite – Dark ruby with delicate light-red fruits, chocolate and an intriguing mix of herbs and spices.
Laurel, nutmeg, vegetables and parsley. Some dark spiciness comes with freshness of eucalypt and cedar.
Super-fine, elegant and delicate aromatics. Truly fascinating!
Medium-bodied, healthy structured and of substance. Long finish with harmony and a great play of spiciness, sweet and tart. Gentle, complex, and quiet wine of balance, fascination and harmony!

1977 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Dark-red, purple. Candied fruit, leather and dark chocolate in a generally darker and more robust wine (compared to the Lafite). “Raisiny” traces of oxidation, but still nice.
Fully integrated tannins, vital acidity and decent depth. Distinct traces of iron, earth and herbs on the palate.
Good finish with capacity, spiciness and dark earth.

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Tasting Note: 1979 Chateau L` Evangile

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  1. Introduction:
    With 22 hectares (54 acres) under vine  Chateau L` Evangile is located in the southeastern part of the Pomerol plateau where surface gravel mixes with sandy clay soil over a sub-soil rich of embedded iron.
    The typical varietals Merlot (~80%) and Cabernet Franc  (~20%) are grown.
    While the Medoc struggled to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon at proper ripeness, 1979 certainly was a “right bank vintage” with ripe Merlot and some good Cabernet Franc resulting in lovely rich textured wines in St. Emilion and, especially, Pomerol.
    Our 1979 Chateau L´ Evangile is in perfect shape (high fill & healthy cork). No decanting.
  2. Appearance:
    Dark-red, Ruby. Vital and brilliant, yet little transparent.
  3. Nose:
    Intense aromatics right from the start with a lot of Tobacco Leaf, Forrest Floor, Leather, Black Tea, and Animalistic Notes. After a while, Fine, Light-Red Berries took over. Black Currant, Black Cherries and Fruit in Rum. Elegant, sophisticated and multi-faceted with Decent Freshness of Mint and Fir Needles. Sweet Vanilla, Cedary Wood, some Bitterness of Orange Zest, and traces of Vegetables. Fantastic development over three to four hours of drinking with harmony, great complexity and surprise!
  4. Taste:
    Integrated Ripe and Dark Fruit on the palate. Berries and Black Cherry. Orange Zest.
    Elegant, silky, and even light, but powerful and very present with tons of Dark Chocolate, Leather and (mostly) Tobacco Leaf and Dried Herbs. Hints of Vanilla Sweetness. Healthy structured with a backbone of dusty tannins and fine, alive acidity. Perfect Finish with finest Dark fruit, little Licorice and an intriguing play of sweet and tart. Amazingly harmonious, complex and truly fascinating!
  5. Opinion:
    Balance, harmony and finesse in an exceptional wine, where sophistication and elegance meet power and presence. Continuously evolving and, by that, showing detail and endless complexity.
    A memorable drinking experience!