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

2015 – A Year in Wine

2015 has been an exciting, delicious and intense year.
Let´s have a brief look back with some of our most memorable tasting experiences:

IMG_2609The wine year 2015 started fantastic as we had the pleasure to taste
1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild in early January.
Indeed, the wine was pure perfection and met our highest expectations: First very dark and even grim with aromatics of leather, earth, barnyard and autumn leaves with only little baking powder sweetness, but opening up with time and air. Dark berries and cherry fruit, herbs of all kind, pencil lead, tobacco, florals and coffee packed in a healthy, yet smooth and silky textured, finely structured wine with all components in place. Perfect harmony without any edges, great enjoyment, length and complexity. While I can´t imagine this wine getting any better, there are no doubts about its magnificient future potential.

IMG_1968It´s no secret that we´re huge fans of Dunn Vineyards.
Over the last year we tasted, as always, many bottles of Randy and Mike´s wine. Among the many beautiful bottles, the 1987 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon stuck in our minds and is my wine of the year! Shining velvety colored. Fine red fruit of cherries, berries and little strawberry on the nose with filigree, multi-layered aromatics, beyond fruit, with beautiful sweet vanilla, cloves, dark chocolate, leather, almond paste, cinnamon, lovage and the coolness of freshly-cut herbs. Velvet, smooth and intense on the palate with dark berries, leather, little earth, hints of coffee and fresh spiciness of fennel. Finest tannins and acidity round up the perfectly structured, harmonious and elegant package of presence, density, length and finesse. Intense, yet delicate, ultimately complex and sophisticated wine that was best during its first two hours in the decanter. A timeless classic!

IMG_3006Another winery that went with us through the year was Chateau Magdelaine. We tasted many vintages and have never been disappointed. Especially the wines from the period between 1964 and 1982 showed exceptionally.
Here´s a note from a legendary evening when tasting 1982 and 1970 side by side:
This bottle of 1982 was more youthful and even tight compared to the bottle we had a few months ago. Full of dark and ripe fruits, tobacco, leather, florals (violets) and fine sweetness. Present, harmonious and of great flavor-depth, delicate acidity, dusty tannins and lots of juice. Finishes long with dark fruit and spicy minerality. Great wine of complexity, charm and pure joy. 1970 needed some time to open up beautifully. Fresh aromatics of red fruits, florals, spices, autumn leaf and tobacco. Relatively lightweight on the palate, but vital, complex and intriguing. Still fruit-driven with some herbs, earth and truffles. Good finish with peppery spiciness, cedar and fresh fruit. Perfectly balanced, fresh and multi-layered wine of sophistication.

IMG_3753ÄAmong the many great Burgundies we tasted,
Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier 1998 Musigny certainly stood out.
A rare and special wine starting with the whole spectrum of red fruits – mostly red cherry and strawberry. Fine perfume, earthy notes, fresh herbs, licorice spiciness and chalky minerality join the party. Later with notes of sweetness and cookies. Intriguing while constantly evolving and best after 2+ hours in the decanter. Light-weight and elegant, but very present on the palate with pure fruit, little herbal spiciness, earthy notes, autumn leaves and minerality. Fine acidity and delicate, yet present tannins prove youth and potential. An ultimately complex and fine wine where elegance and drive meet like in no other terroir. Showing the greatness of Musigny with purity, finesse and fascination.

IMG_9169Tasting with Bruno Rolland at Chateau Leoville Las Cases (09/2015).

Definitely among my highlights of the year is our extensive visit at Chateau Leoville Las Cases in Saint Julien and tasting many back vintages as well as 2014 from barrel with winemaker Bruno Rolland.
On other occasions we also tasted 1982, 86, 88, 89 and 1990, but the best Leoville Las Cases in 2015 to me was the 1975, which we tasted multiple times as well. This was the best bottle:

Dark velvet, dense and brilliant colored with fine and sophisticated aromatics of berries, sweet cherries and little plum. Shows light and fresh with pinewood, mint and dried herbs, iron and dark nuances of earth, tobacco and leather. Inviting sweetnees of pastries. Medium-bodied, silky and very alive on the palate. Finishes long with licorice and herbal spiciness, precise and of gentle power. An elegant, vital and complex wine that is excellent now, but good for many years, due to solid, yet approachable, tannins and present acidity. A perfect bottle and, by the way, the best (out of three) we had from this wine over the last year. One of the stars from a vintage that favored Pauillac and Saint Julien.

IMG_3060I´m looking forward to 2016 with WineCellarTV as well as to many exciting tasting experiences with the MunichWineClub.

Enjoy the holidays, be safe and see you next year!

Cheers,
Thomas

WineCellarTV

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.

IMG_2951

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.

IMG_2942

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.

IMG_2694
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.

IMG_2739

Tasting Pomerol and Saint Emilion

We hosted a ‘Pomerol & St. Emilion’ tasting for Munich Wine Club recently (Sept. 25th 2015).
Here are my notes on the wines tasted:

2012 Chateau Figeac is an elegant, cool and deep wine. Full of youth, dark cherries and freshness without showing any green characters or oak presence. With this vintage Michel Rolland was involved for the first time in the winemaking (blending process), and the wine ended up with a high percentage of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% of Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc which provides some Left Bank Style not uncommon for Chateau Figeac. Still tightly packed, but present, perfectly balanced and of good future potential. Beautiful minerality!

2011 Chateau Magdelaine shows more open and juicy. Dark, red and ripe fruit and green herbs. Quite jammy and opulent. Something one wouldn´t expect when considering the vintage characteristics of 2011. Very approachable with dusty tannins, ripeness and medium-length. Nice, but lacking density and fascination.

IMG_2352

2002 Chateau Lafleur shines of dark, fresh fruit with blackberry, plums and cassis. Dark chocolate, little earthy minerality, florals (violets!), green pepper and traces of green herbs. A magnificent wine from an off-vintage! Sophisticated, delicate and complex, yet very present and even youthful. Filigree structured with nice, juicy flesh on the bone and perfect length. While relatively lean and not as expressive as Lafleur typically is, the wine is perfectly harmonious and intriguing.

2002 Les Pensées de Lafleur is clearly behind his big brother – much simpler, more open and less fascinating. Medium complex and enjoyable with its jammy, dark fruit, leather, present oak and acidity.
This is critic on a high level, of course. I mean it´s all relative and this was in the same flight as Chateau Lafleur. We tasted the wines blind and it was good to see that all tasters were able to distinguish clearly between the first and second wine in the end. Still, Les Pensées de Lafleur is a delicious wine.

2001 Chateau La Conseillante delivers a perfect example for the quality produced in Pomerol in 2001. Great concentration, perfect structure and endless depth. This clearly plays on the dark side with cassis, plum and dark chocolate, espresso, dried herbs and caramel while showing incredible freshness and depth. Great now, but just starting to uplift. Keep this for many years.

One of the wines of the evening definitely was the 2000 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus for me. What a nose of red berries and ripe cherries, chocolate, herbs and kitchen vegetables, tobacco and meat. Harmonious, beautifully integrated and probably at its best already! Smooth, quietly present and charming on the palate. Good length. A memorable wine and good example for the feminine La Fleur-Petrus style, which was clearly supported by the low acidity outcome of the 2000 vintage.

1990 Chateau de Sales was clearly past its prime and showed clear signs of age – especially on the nose with coffee, leather, malt and jammy ripeness. Yet, alive on the palate with little freshness and present acidity, but the pieces just didn´t fit. I had this wine several times before and it was never great, but always better than this bottle.

1990 Chateau L`Enclos was the obvious winner of our 1990 flight. Fine sweetness, ripeness and fresh spiciness of mint and eucalypt create a beautiful aromatic play. Quite simple on the palate, but balanced and alive. Medium complexity, decent drive and length. It has seen better days, but is still nice to drink.

1988 Clos Fourtet appears wild and rough with loud and intriguing aromatics of leather, forest floor, tobacco, black olives, sweetness and red fruits (plums and black cherries). Due to the lack of flesh and depth, it doesn´t keep up to the high expectations on the palate. Some dark fruit, iron, little iodine and decent length with peppery spiciness. Rough, yet fascinating, wine.

1988 Chateau Cheval Blanc. Expectations were high about this wine. When opened before the tasting, it showed quite expressive with present fruit, sweetness and no visible faults, but when poured two hours later the wine was clearly flawed. Totally shut down, short and dull. We observed the development over three more hours, but had no luck. A pity.

1979 Chateau L`Evangile helped to forget the faulty Cheval Blanc. Exceptional, multilayered nose of black tea, some barnyard, tobacco leaf, forest floor, autumn, leather, fine, red fruit and more. The wine good rid of its fat and shines elegantly, healthy structured with a backbone of dusty tannins and fine, vital acidity. I´ve tasted this wine five times over the last year. When I tasted it exactly a year ago I wrote: “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.” That was also true for this bottle.

1979 Chateau Beausejour was not able to keep up with the L`Evangile. The wine showed very ripe and dark with toffee, fruit in rum, espresso and nice saltiness. Present acidity survived the loss of flesh over the years. Still decent!

1971 Chateau Chateau L`Enlos attracted interest with extraordinary aromatics of fine, red fruit, orange zest, iron, tea and traces of smokiness. Still juicy and sweet on the palate. Grippy tannins and dancing acidity not in perfect harmony. Beautiful old Pomerol of fascination, complexity and deliciousness.

IMG_2381

Old school Saint Emilion greatness closed our tasting: 1955 Chateau Pavie supposedly from a time before Chateau Pavie reached the greatness it has today, but this wine showed greatness indeed!
Dark, brillant and youthfully colored and full of freshness. Sour cherries, plums, herbal spiciness, lots of tobacco and earthiness. Some tea and freshness of orange zest and eucalypt. Fresh and present on the palate with length and drive. I´m sure this wine is still beautiful in the far future. By the way, I don´t think they used any new oak when making this wine back in the day.

IMG_2382

Keller Abtserde Vertical 2013 – 2006

IMG_2606Ä

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.

IMG_2595

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

IMG_0183Ä

  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.

IMG_0190