The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Interested in buying 2005 German whites? I decided to post my notes from a May 2006 Cellars International trade event at Manhattan's Tribecca Grill, to give you all a first glimpse at what from my vantage point looks to be a better than average year along the Mosel and Rhein. A Southern Season bought a fair number of my favorites from this tasting- it won’t be too difficult to figure out which wines we purchased from the descriptors that follow. So call me if you need wine, (919) 913-1215. But Cellars International wines are pretty widely distributed, so finding any of the following should be pretty simple. Once I’ve tasted a representative sample of offerings from Terry Theise, Vin Divino, Valkenburg and Winesellers Ltd, I’ll post notes on those portfolios as well.
By the way, I find tasting notes shockingly boring to read- dense pseudo analytical paragraphs may be meaningful to the scribbler, but the commonly published babbling brook of superfluous adjectives and arcane olfactory compass points leave this reader in need of a terse double-shot of Hemingway (or grappa), and not generally in the least bit interested in purchasing whichever cask sample was redolent of wisteria blossoms and acacia honey, or whatever. By necessity our task as wine assessors involves a fair degree of extrapolation, and at times associative leaps of faith. But only so much suspension of disbelief can be expected from the sane wine fan, and in many popular wine publications the writers come off as insufferable bores, more manifestations of their own ego than actual people.
Let’s make a bit more of an effort to break out of the wine snob mold in the years ahead, shall we? I’m not saying wine critics should adopt low culture reference points or in any way pretend that wine, which is happily an almost infinitely complex subject with sufficient minutiae and subtle gradations of flavor and character that keep this (prone to ennui) taster consistently fascinated, should consider oversimplifying their field. Just try to write like a human, connected to a temporal sphere not entirely populated by retrospective tastings of 1891 Bonnes Mares, and 13-course dining marathons in Michelin-approved temples of gastronomic excess. I’m fighting hyperbole with hyperbole here, which may not be the most succinct approach. Anyway, on to the show!

P.S. All prices are barely educated guesses, based on NYC wholesale costs.

Von Buhl, poured by the very friendly and helpful Ms. Annette Lanzl

2005 Jazz $17 Hate the name, hate the label. Why are German wineries so bad at marketing? The wine was bottled in February. It was fine. Maybe a bit light for this release. But pleasant, drinkable to be sure.

2005 Von Buhl Armand Kabinett $20 Lovely. Vibrant. Peaches. On the riper side of Kabinett, I’d guess. Always one of by favorites.

2005 Von Buhl Forster Jesuitgarten Spatlese $30 Terrific. Perfect Spatlese weight, lively, harmonious.

2005 Scheurebe Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Scheurebe Spatlese $30 Nice. Lacks the concentration of the Jesuitgarten Riesling, but a pretty wine nonetheless.
Gunderloch Poured by the charming and very patient duo of Charlotte Hess and Stephane Hasselbach

2005 Estate Riesling Trocken $18 Fine. Refreshing. I’m rarely wowed by the dry stuff at German events (unlike the majority of German drinkers, who seem to prefer them).

2005 Jean Baptiste Riesling Kabinett $19 Nice balance.

2005 Diva Riesling Spatlese $21 Fine. Maybe sound is a more apt description. More of that blessed German marketing at work here. Diva, indeed. 45-50 grams per liter of sugar.

2004 Nackenheimer Rothenberg Auslese*** $50 “The ‘3 star’ is Auslese must weight juice, fermented until the yeasts stop working naturally. It is not necessarily bone dry in style.” So says the program for this event. In fact, I find that it is rarely bone dry, but often delicious. The 2004 is unevolved, but interesting. Lots of citrus on the finish. Maybe I will attempt consuming a bottle in 4-5 years. Always living on the edge.

2004 Nackenheimer Rothenberg Auslese $50 Still has a slight unabsorbed sulfur aroma. From 100% botrytitis-afflicted fruit. Intense. Like South Carolina peaches in July. Sweet, persistent finish.

2004 Nackenheim Rothenberg Beerenauslese Stupendously expensive. If you have to ask. . . .Terrific. I imagine one needs to have significant wealth to purely enjoy this. The rest of us will always have our appreciation clouded by pangs of fiscal remorse. Wallet-lighteningly delicious. Put on your smoking jacket, throw another wad of $100 bills onto the fire, and enjoy.

2004 Nackenheim Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese I challenge you to not like this. I also challenge you to drink a whole 375ml bottle. Pretty viscous stuff. Doctor, my insulin. . . .A perfect match for crème brulee, St Agur blue cheese and apricots, Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts. The K’s stand for quality (not racism, as many Yankees supposed.)

Monchhof poured by Robert Eymael

2005 Estate $16 Terrific. That’s all I wrote. My usual wordiness deserted me. It does seem that I liked the wine, although not enough for “terrific” to be followed by an exclamation point. So only declaratively terrific, not exclamatorily terrific. My brow is furrowing. A haze of doubt has obscured my once clear, succinct enjoyment of this Monchhof Qba. Time to move on (three lines ago – ed.)

2005 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett $19 Citrus aromas. Pleasant. Refreshing even. I am damning with faint praise here. On the other hand, should you need a Mosel wine for your German Geology 101 lecture series and discussion group, this is wearing red sandstone and slate on its sleeve. Terroir wine is usually my thing, but this site and winemaker are capable of more.

2005 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese $30 Very fresh. Are these wines too young for my merely human palate to evaluate? Monchhof is an estate I hold in high esteem- older vintages of this Spatlese are the catalyst for some of my fondest German wine drinking memories. But nothing is really hitting me for six today. Sticky wicket. Wicked googly. I promise that when I feel the (unexplainably ubiquitous) urge to make sports-wine metaphors, I will confine them to the game of Cricket. Nothing will get slam-dunked, or do an end zone dance on your palate before spiking the ball into the corner stand at Lambeau. Maybe the occasional Croquet analogy will be permitted. I also require my colleagues don all-white attire before entering the office/tasting room. To misquote Phil Collins, “no Canes jerseys allowed.”

JJ Prum
All the 2004s have SO2 in spades, and even after 5+ hours open were impossible to judge. If there’s one estate where you can buy the wines, stow them away for 5-15 years and be reasonably certain you’ll like what you purchased, it is here. Just don’t attempt to consume them now, or soon.

Boy, am I getting bored. How about we reconvene for the second two-thirds of these notes next week. Or later in the month. Or later. It’s a blog, I’m not running it on GMT. I’ll post it when I feel like it, all part of the loosey goosey world of wine writing. As I tell my minion merchant-army every morning, there’s no such thing as a wine emergency. It helps to add a dash of perspective to the day. Thanks for reading. Time permitting, I also have some notes from a Burgundy tasting that I, along with several others, find fascinating. Bon Voyage!

Next Time: The Wines of Pfeffingen, Wirsching, Heger, Milz, Wegeler, Zilliken, Scloss Liesser, von Hovel, Schafer Froelich, Karthauserhofberg, maybe more. Maybe less, maybe something completely different.


Post a Comment

<< Home