Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Ramblings Of A Straw Widower

My wife went away for a long weekend..a friend had a birthday. That means I am a Strohwitwer...(the translation roughly means a grass widower..temporary solo period). So..what do I do?...well.. I plan my eating and drinking....
Day 1
A sub-title may have been a 'tale of 2 corks'
An Italian restaurant I hadn't visited for a while....Ambiente Italiano. I wanted to drink Spätburgunder so it was BYO ( no..not Barry You Oaf...but..Bring Your Own)..which is no problem for owner Riccardo. I ordered the menu..and the bott
le was opened.
Meyer-Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert
Spätburgunder 1999

Ahr, Germany
The cork here was almost dry..no moisture..which maybe should have been a pre-warning. One of my favourite properties...and an excellent vintage...BUT..unfortunately the wine was not up to it..methinks a bad bottle...musty..dirty rag..a few swirls..nada....I would love to know if it is a one-off.
Now..tell the truth..in my position..what would you do about what to drink..ah..but you forget..here sits a man who has seen, heard..and tried..to drink it all. On leaving home..I had put a 'reserve' bottle in the bag. See.....preparation saves the day.
Köhler-Ruprecht 'Philippi' 'RR' Spätburgunder 1998
Pfalz, Germany
Bernd Philippi is an individualist....not everything turns out right that he releases...BUT...when it does work..his wines are a revelation. His Riesling both 'R' and 'RR' and not to be missed...as are also his Spätburgunder. He releases them when he thinks they are ready...
Here the cork was fully moist..and difficult to extract. This is lighter in colour than the 1999 tasted a few months again..and it also a more delicate example. Sweet strawberries spring from the glass..a gentle rippling flavour..mineral and tobacco..it slowly opened up...but remained a layed-back lady...nice earthiness..more than any other area in German..the Pfalz displays it's 't
erroir'..a pleasure to drink
Points 17.5
Photos of the 3 courses with German description...this is a wine blog!!!...Foodies can use the Translator....
Capesante con Fagioli Zolfini e Crostini al Lardo
Gebratene Jakobsmuscheln mit Zolfini-Bohnen
und gerösteten Brotwürfeln mit "Lardo di Colonnata"

Tortelloni ripieni di Pesce con Gamberetti e Dragongello
Hausgemachte Tortelloni gefüllt mit Edelfischen, Garnelen
und Estragon-Jus

Sella di Cinghiale con Bietola e Crocchette di Porro
Wildschweinrücken in Mangoldmantel, Lauchkroketten
und Preiselbeeren



Day 2
Volker & Steffi..on hearing of my dilemma..invited me to their house for some food...all excellent as usual...a mix of Chinese and Provence...there were a few bottles of Dr Crusius wines..a Weissburgunder 2008 and the Frühburgunder 2007...both perfect with the food...and always reliable.
I had brought along a bottle....to see if the Meyer-Näkel 1999 the night before was a one-off. This is the next one down in quality at this property.
Meyer-Näkel Spätburgunder 'S' 1999
Ahr, Germany
A burnt..dark toast smell...the oak has completely disappeared...cherry fruit..trace of raspberry?...still spicy and slightly peppery..and a smooth mouthful of fully mature Spätburgunder. Now...should I risk another bottle of the Pfarrwingert?
Points 17

Day 3
And so to another restaurant...Jägerhof... where I can take some wine along. As a thank you to Volker & Steffi..this was my treat.
I decided on a Riesling to accompany the 'amuse geule' & the first course.
Querbach Oestrich Doosberg 'Erstes Gewächs' Riesling trocken 2005
Rheingau, Germany
Stainless cap closure....The first impression is the 'Restsüß'....not a bottle you could take alone maybe..but between three of us...and with the food it was fine.
Concentrated..intense aroma of ripe fruit..typical of the vintage...peaches..on to taste..and after the first shock..this is more 'Spätlese' trocken..and the sweetness left on the lips..lies nicely in the mouth and the Riesling awakens the palate...it's a wine that wants to be liked...and maybe needs a year or two to remove it's sweet baby fat?
Points 16


I had brought along 2 reds....both from Spain..and I suppose one could call them 'cult' wines.
Both opened 2 hours before tasting.
Roda 1 Reserva 1996
Rioja, Spain
Milky colour...leathery aroma..spicy intensity...pepper and herbs....hiding something...opened up to show fresh mushrooms.. a powerful wine with a hard fruit..very minerally..ripe tannins...interesting to taste...but still seems a little awkward. Will time help..or will it start to dry out?
Points 17






Finca Dofi 1998
Priorat, Spain
Made by the 'superstar' in Priorat..Alvaro Palacios. The mix is of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot..and a few others thrown in.
Clear colour....purple red...velvet aroma...cassis of the Cabernet..some liquorice...the palate showed fresh, lively acidity...tannins rounded..a soft marzipan fruit evolved...complex...a delicious wine..and depending on your taste..about right to drink.
Points 17.75

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Catena's Malbec

The grapes for this Malbec come from a select block of Catena's more than 60 year-old Angélica vineyard. Named after Nicolás Catena's mother, the vineyard is Catena's premier Malbec vineyard. The soil and climate of the Angélica vineyard are ideal for growing Malbec. The 1997 was the first vintage of this wine.....and is only released in certain years..The wine is aged for 12 months in 100% new French oak.
Catena Alta Malbec Angelica Vineyard 1997
Mendoza, Argentina
Some wine countries scare me out of buying.......OK..there are exceptions....but after 30 years of divulging the stuff...I search for the reserved beauty..not the buxom lass. Argentinian wines I have tried occasionally...and have found a few 'Fruit-Bombs'. The name Catena helped me decide to purchase this 12 year old Malbec. If the best property couldn't convince me..what could? Deep, ruby red colour...dusty nose at first..then blackberry fruit..spices...cool...a blind tasting would have pointed me to Bordeaux maybe..Pauillac..or maybe better..St.Estéphe...this is down to the dry, earthiness..that's not to say this is fruitless..far from it..rich 'liquid' plums comes to mind...dry tobacco..intense and concentrated..at 12-years old this has 'velvety' tannins...and some 'hot drink' flavours..couldn't decide on coffee or chocolate...the 14% would have worried most 'lasses'..but this elegant 'dame' carries it of beautifully...certainly the best Malbec I have tasted..and definitely the best wine from Argentina.
Points 17.5

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An 'Early' Burgunder

Stodden Recher Herrenberg Frühburgunder 2006
Ahr, Germany
The photo you see was of the first bottle I opened...which was corked. The merchant was imformed..and another bottle followed 'tout suite'. Now...Stodden and myself havn't really hit it off yet....those I tried young were that..too young...and older ones are not readily available.
This was recommended to me....a Frühburgunder..which to nearly everyone..when tasted blind...is just like BIG brother Herr Spät! This spends 16 months in new small oak barrels...the first impression is of wild strawberries...a fruity spiciness follows..even peppery..good juice..this is very French in style..south Burgundy springs to mind.....grainy easy tannins...dried smoke...plums...petals...and while easy to drink...a couple of years will do it good. The rest tasted next day had held up well..and showed a pleasant taste of cooked red berries.
Points 17

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Birthday Burgunders

As I had a birthday..I decided to hold a comparative tasting of 2006 Spätburgunder wines from Germany...all from the 2006 Vintage. They are 60 years younger than the birthday boy (which should make it easy to calculate my age..although nowadays TOO many folk need a gadget to add up....whatever happened to that organ between the ears?).....anyway..your 49-year old Blogger chose 4 different areas...the wines from the lower to middle price range..and..by a strange coincident (it had to be..my Birthday always falls at the same time)..Lyle, a fellow blogger had been at a tasting..where the 1st and last flights had been excellent..but he had been disappointed by the middle flight of a range of Germany wines. My 4 would have wiped the floor with them. There are some excellent wines and values for this type of Spätburgunder..but, of course, they are not available to those across the waters.
As a starter with Calamares and Gambas...a real gem of an Sauvignon Blanc.
Kuhn Sauvignon Blanc
Mandelpfad trocken 2007

Pfalz, Germany
Green fruit aroma..and some Kiwi..and almons..a trace of gooseberry..but 'my type'...I am not a lover of the overdone type of Sauvignon Blanc....as it opened..it became intense..sweet melons and ended with a lingering finish..this was very good..and at € 12,--..a real snip
Points 17.25

Except for a few growers..Rheinhessen was never really known for good wines..but that is all changing. The property Kühling-Gillot is one of the up & coming ones..founded in it's prese& Gabi Kühling..and since 2002..has been run by daughter Caroline..along with her husband Hans Oliver Spanier..

Kühling-Gillot Spätburgunder trocken 2006
Rheinhessen, Germany
Pale colour..cool..elegant smell of soft marzipan..enticing red fruits...agreeable burnt smoke..as it opened..there was cream..ripe fruits...not a BIG wine..this costs € 10,--
and it's worth every cent...a great start to the tasting
Points 16.5

Jacob Duijn used to be a 'sommelier'..he worked for the top cook Eckart Witzigmann in Munich..and he is from Holland..and was rated highly in Baden...but the recent vintages 2004 & 2005 were maybe not up to standard. However, with 2006, everything seems to be back in order. Duijn produces only Pinot Noir..and they all spend time in new oak barrels.
Duijn Alsenhof
Spätburgunder trocken 2006

Baden, Germany
Good red colour..more serious..
aroma of raspberry fruit..bitter almonds..
mushrooms..earthy..smoke..
nicely integrated oak..

this needed a little time in the glass..
then showed character and depth.
Points 16.75

The wines from Rudolf Fürst do make it abroad...his top wines are available..but highly priced. His 'R' Spät & Frühburgunder wines are not to be missed...but I chose his 'simpler' Centgrafenberg...of which the 2006 was better that 2005.

Fürst Spätburgunder Centgrafenberg 2006

Franken, Germany
Centgrafenberg’s success derives from its limestone soil (similar to parts of Burgundy) and its south-facing slopes, enabling the vines to soak up the maximum heat from Franken’s hot, dry summers. Always intriguiging comparing areas like this..Franken..of course.. has another style..and this was aged in mostly French oak..40% of which is new..for 16 months..soft spices..and the appeal of marzipan and sour cherry..fine balance and freshness..elegant..
Points 17

The final wine is a Grosses Gewächs (First Growth)...and from the property we started with..book-ends to a fascinating evening.
Kuhn Mandelberg Spätburgunder 2006
Pfalz, Germany
At € 25,--and the most expensive wine of the flight..but here is real class...perfect..just perfect...medium deep colour...thick fruit on the nose..dark berries..cream..and this followed onto the palate..a light peppery touch..perfect balance....mmmm....tasty.
Points 17.75


Back home...my youngest daughter presented me with a 'birthday cake'...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Is A Bargain?

What is a bargain? A pair of socks at 99 cent...a piece of cake from the bakery that should have been sold yesterday? It's all relative. Are blondes prettier than brunettes...is a Mercedes better than a BMW? It's all in the eyes of the beholder. A yacht that is worth $2 million purchased for $1.9 million could be seen as a bargain! As to wine...it does not mean that you got the cheapest wine even cheaper. Where is this leading to...I've no idea!..oh yes..hang on.. I do tend to wander..but it is sometimes needed to make it clear to my blog readers...Here is the point! When did you last purchase a 12-year old red Burgundy at € 22,--? I don't mean when it is young..then wait 12 years..today..now.....well.. I did...! The story is..I was buying a mixed case..and saw a Girardin wine..1997..but was told it was sold out. The merchant said he had another..I could have it for the same price. Hmmm. I thought..if it's dead..then I am on a loser..but the adventurer in me (wine idiot) swayed my judgement..and here we are....
Vincent Girardin Santenay
Clos des Mouches 1997

Burgundy, France

No obvious sign of ageing...intense fruit driven nose....it got better after 30 minutes and enticed you back for more...the palate showed medium strawberry fruit..juicy and nicely spiced..a delicious mouthful..plummy, rich...sweet character. ..can't remember having a Santenay of this quality..no risk no pain I thought.. I had been rewarded..and I loved the comment on the invoice.....'Glückwunsch zu Ihren Schnäppchen' Congratulations on your Bargain!
Points 17.5

A Pfälzer Terroir 1

Let's give the property it's correct name..Ökonomierat Rebholz...which is a mouthful in any language. Hansjörg Rebholz has continued what grandfather and father started..and for over 10 years now..has produced wines of the highest quality. In their youth the wines are maybe not rounded and a little 'spiky'..and with this in mind..he releases some of them later...









Rebholz Im Sonnenchein Spätburgunder R Spätlese trocken 2001

Pfalz, Germany
A 'Grosses Gewächs'....dusty nose on opening...but the style Rebholz produces is not going to spring from the glass...glazed-cherry..cinnamon....layed-back..elegant..milk chocolate..vanilla..this creeps up on you.....again..dusty..slightly earthy on the palate..still fresh..down to the acidity evident.. a light sour touch...a 'terroir' wine...maybe a touch too dry from the oak...
Points 17

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Knipser's Gold

Knipser Chardonnay ****
Auslese 2003 trocken Barrique

Pfalz, Germany
I recently had the Riesling Auslese 2003..which has been around a while..the Chardonnay was only released in May 2008. It's always great to have an 'exciting' wine....and the main reason here is that this is not like the most Chardonnays. Gold in colour...with a gorgeous mild honey smell..soft toasty..and a touch of grapefruit....the oak only hovers......so...onto the palate..this is 'spriteley'..no lip-smearing oak..perfect balance..ripe, sweet fruit..and..what really impresses..minerals galore. What makes this so different..and it is meant as a compliment..this is a Chardonnay made in a Riesling style..does that help to understand what I mean?...a good finish...and you have a wine to enjoy now..but it will hold nicely for 3-4 years.
Points 17.75

Friday, March 13, 2009

Horses For Courses

When you have guests who like wine..but don't want to think too much about what's in the glass...then I always take a step back..and serve something fairly simple..that won't 'hurt' anyone.
I had a couple of reds that had been in the cellar a while..mainly because I didn't want to try them on my own.
Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier 2007
Vins de Pays D'Oc, France
This won first prize in a German Magazine..Best Viognier..and one can see why...
Classic Viognier nose..peach & pear..exotic...the nose suggests a touch of oak...a small portion of the grapes see the inside of French Barrique. Lively on the palate..a head turner and a crowd pleaser...medium weighted..no great length...but at around € 9,-- ...a real bargain
Points 16






Sunshine Bay Pinot Noir 2004
Marlborough, New Zealand
Screw cap....this spends 10 months in used oak barrells...dusty nose..not very dominant..it's main attributes start when you taste..sweet cherry..nice mix of acidity and fruit...ready now...easy drinking..and again..fairly priced at € 13,--
Points 14.5

Vita Nova Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Santa Maria, California, U.S.A.
A winery formed by Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Bob Lindquist of Qupe, Steve Arcriono, and Doug Margerum......I last tried it a few years ago..and it seemed overdone with jammy fruit..no balance..it's OK now..soft & chewy..with ripe fruit..quite thick..even porty...but not for me.....thank goodness Jim Clendenden makes wonderful Pinot Noir.
Points 15

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shum Shing Man

After the previous 2 Rieslings..the last bottle of this 2003 seemed the natural finish for the noble trio... Knipser just makes very good wine..and he has just been voted the 'Grower Of The Year 2009 ' by Gault Millau. Not only are his Riesling tops..he now has plots of Merlot & Syrah...as well as his excellent Spätburgunder..and he even has a fine Chardonnay & some Grauburgunder.
The oriental gentleman is Shum Shing Man...who has been with us a long time. He is 'pflegeleicht' (easy to look after)..and likes his Riesling..it goes well with his diet!

Knipser Riesling Auslese Trocken
Halbstück 2003

Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
This is the best Riesling Knipser produces...and costs ONLY € 15,--. According to Gault Millau..the 2004 is worth 94 points!!!
Yellow-gold colour...classic ripe nose..nuts with citrus fruit aromas..clear..ripe fruit.....with a mouth-watering juicy acidity..which worried me not..as it is wrapped up with the Restsüße..touch of smoke..and a definite grapefruit flavour. Knipser releases his wines when they are ready to drink..and at this price / quality ratio..should be snapped up.
Points 17.5

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Riesling & Cushions

The first wine was part of a mixed case or 2007 Rieslings...I had not forgotten it....just sometimes when I want a Riesling my stomach tells me it doesn't want too much acidity....maybe that is why I chose soft cushions as background...
Dönnhoff does nothing simple..but this is his 'basic' Riesling from the best Vintage for yonks.
Dönnhoff Riesling 2007
Nahe, Germany
A soft 'plop' as the cork left the bottle...and the wine showed a slight prickle...and me..not a Prosecco lover...
A gentle firm pear aroma..fresh and minerally...herbs and a touch of citrus...light & easy.....and the acidity..which is nicely integrated..it just me this time..bad luck on the wine..
Points 15
As so it was that I went into the cellar again..I needed a meatier version..my stomach tells me..and I listen...


Hirsch Gaisberg Riesling 2005
Kamptal, Austria
Naturally..a different 'kettle of fish' here...my 'stuff'..petroleum...yellow-gold colour...smokey....this is classy Riesling...spices..mineral fragrance..medium bodied...but the wine is 'dry'..as I like it...crunchy maybe describes it better...perfect with lightly spiced Indian food.
Points 17.25

Monday, March 09, 2009

Benjamin Button Wine

The new Brad Pitt film.....'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'...without saying too much..is about someone born old who gets younger. Strange that this wine followed a viewing...
Finca Sandoval 2003
Manchuela, Spain
A mix of Syrah 84%, Monastrell 9% & Bobal 7%
Deep colour with purple tinges..legs galore....a lovely ripple of sweet raspberry exhudes from the glass...enticing....as it developed..cigar-box Bordeaux-like..then ground pepper.. and some liquorice....on the palate..quite smooth..layers of fruit..and seems almost ready.....but after an hour..the velvety tannins seemed to become more aggressive..so after half a bottle..I decided a 24-hour wait was on the cards..and the next day the wine was very port-like..slightly harsh....so..as I said.. a Benjamin Button of a wine..first impression..points 17.5.
but on reflection..only
Points 17

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Parker Points & Pinot Plums

I drink in the evenings..dinner is around 7pm...and as usually happens..I wander into the cellar between 5pm & 6pm.
This gives you spontanuity....but some wines need more time maybe. However, as I am a lone drinker..the answer is to re-cork and taste a day later. Maybe I should change the system...now let me see..that Chateau Lafite needs decanting for Easter..and the Taylor Port 1966 will need airing for Xmas day.....

Pazo de Monterrey 2007

Galicia, Monterrey, Spain
Down towards the border from Portugal..made from 65% Treixadura & 35% Godella....this easy drinking pale-coloured..green-tinged wine has a clear structure. Stone fruits throughout..some lively acidity and peach notes. Good..but not worth 90 points from Mr.Parker(or one of his assistants). It held up in the bottle for 4 days..when I tried it again..and at the price it costs..about € 11..would make a perfect house wine in a restaurant.
Points 15.5




Knab Endinger Engelsberg
Spätburgunder *** 2006

Baden, Germany
This is the 3rd bottle of a 6-pack I purchased..and was one of the winners of this year's Pinot Cup. It's first attempt to please me did not succeed.that was down to the food. The 2nd showed better..but with this bottle I can see what the wine is trying to tell me. LEAVE ME ALONE YOU DUMMMY!!!!. He is half right..or half wrong if you want to win the argument. It is showing more of itself now. A reserved smell of sour-cherry..the palate giving you a dollop of juicy, dusty fruit. It needs air..and the potential is now showing..tannins are gentle(we men need the gentle touch)...finely balanced...touch of cream...AND...even better next day.....
Points 17.25 with more to come


Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir,
Bien Nacido 2005
Historic Vineyards Collection
California, U.S.A.
A terroir wine...you can feel it in the glass. Cinnamon and cloves stream upwards...and various spice mixtures..intense dark fruits..thick tannins..but approachable ..a mix of rich fruit that reminded me of sliced marzipan. A wine that keep you focused...with new happenings by the minute...and although drinkable..will benefit from 5 years in your cellar. Drank again the next day...another step up the ladder.
Points 17.75

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wine, Food & Friends

An invite for dinner at the house of Volker & Steffi.. Volker is a very good cook..in the 'south of
France' style..fresh ingredients...the use of herbs..and a love of food.
The plan....Volker would supply a white wine starter...and Robert would bring a red.
I was asked to bring along a white and a red.
Only the supplier knew the wine..the others had to guess...

Eichholz Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Jenins, Graubünden, Switzerland
I had last tried this 5 months ago..and was impressed. Man..this HAS improved.
My first guess was Loire..may a top Sancerre....then I remembered the style and thought of the Eichholz. How it has changed!!! Lychees and melons on the nose. VERY exotic..but undoubtably Sauvignon Blanc. A lovely juicy...prickly flavour on the tongue..and a soft smokey finish. The first course had a touch of spice..and this married beautifully with the wine.
Points 17.5
As always..there is friendly banter when we meet..and as is the nature of the animal..I generally give more than I get..but the white wine meant I got some stick...hah..I will live it down.
Dagueneau Pur Sang 1995
Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France
Something different was my thought as searched my cellar...I had last tried this over 5 years ago..and it
needed time. I checked the net for notes..and 95% were very positive. The bottle was opened and tried....first impression..oxidised....then it developed various aromas..but still that unattractive smell of 'bad Sherry'.
To be fair..it tried hard to appeal...but no-one at the table was convinced..and the bottle was left ...and I had to take all the jokes like...'How deep in the cellar did you go?'. A strange development..and I couldn't check with the grower..as he tragically passed away a few months ago.
Points...............................




St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006

Oregon, U.S.A.
Guessing wines is sometimes easy...but if the owner of this bottle (Robert) thinks you are getting close..watch what you say. Pinot Noir I thought..and New World..and without thinking I said California. No..was the answer..which is correct..
I know..there are other areas in the U.S.A....so perhaps I should have waited for the reply..'which area'?..next time Robert..next time. Anyway..how was the wine?
Lots of marzipan..dark sweet fruit..spices..soft tobacco(pipe)..raspberries?...the wine is fruit driven...fleshy... There are wines with 14.5 % alcohol that hit your head..and others..like this one...that are so well made..you just never notice it. Ready...and a real pleasure now...but could be laid down for 5 years..but why would you? It is concentrated and quite complex and earns
Points 17.75
While down in my cellar..I decided that it was about time to open 'The Gaja'..I say 'THE' as it is the only one I have!!! I don't remember what it cost me when purchased..but it costs a whole lot more now....ah..but good friends are worth it. The only 'downside' of everyone bringing bottles and blind tasting is...the order the wines are to be served. The Shea was a gem..and the Barolo maybe suffered...
Gaja Barolo Sperss 1989
Piedmont, Italy
The longest cork I have seen for ages...Medium colour with brown rim...complex nose..it developed in the glass..I had decided to give it a short decant. Cherry and marzipan..soft chewy tannins...roses..very true to it's area...some menthol..perfectly put together..and long. Drink it now....by itself..on it's own...ah..how hindsight is a blessing.
Points 17.5

Due to the Pur Sang remaining in the bottle...Volker disappeared into his cellar..
Roda 1 Reserva 2004
Rioja, Spain
Velvet glove of a wine...30 year-old vines..and it shows...this is 100% Tempranillo..dark coloured..cherries and vanilla..and violets..lovely weight on the palate..the 14.5% alcohol is nowhere to be seen ...dark fruits..minerals..and very drinkable. You hear about this wine needing years....and its down to personal tastes..but I'd happily drink this daily........any offers?
Points 17.75

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