Friday, December 31, 2010

The Roda To Success

Yes...it is a play on words...The Road To Success. All those who did not get it...lie down in a dark room for 3 days until all your faculties return ( I blame Xmas) and no wine. Those who understood (was really not difficult) read on...and buy this if you see it...fairly priced and good value. The top wine from this estate, Roda 1...or we could say the Boulevard one...is a real goodie...but this 'Street' version is fairly priced and good value. That's all the 'Road' jokes...here the tasting notes...


Roda Reserva 2004
Rioja, Spain

A top vintage in Spain...and practically all win
es I have tasted have had that touch of 'something extra'. This is a modern Rioja...which is OK with me...someone who remembers the 'old-style well. There is a gentle whiff of vanilla behind the red-fruit you detect on the nose...smoky....constantly enticing. The palate is quite complex and appealing...there are some ripe tannins...and lively acidity...all put together very well indeed. This Cuvèe, from 81% Tempranillo, 14% Graciano, & 5% Garnacha with 50% new oak for 16 months, has enough character of it's own. I enjoyed it...and the two other bottles will be left to mature for a couple of years.
Points 17.25

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Three Day Wines

Three wines...3 countries...three grapes....tasted over...you guessed it...three days!
Pittnauer St. Laurent Alte Reben 1998
Burgenland, Austria
Having enjoyed the Pinot Noir 2001 I decided to risk an earlier vintage from this estate...albeit from another red they produce. As recently as 1998 the wines of Gerhard and Brigitte Pittnauer were lodged in a small cellar under the family house in Gols. But since the new winery was built in time for the 2001 vintage they have not looked back. The domaine which counted 6 hectares in 1998 now totals 22 hectares with an impressive range of new wines. Gerhard has resisted the temptation to produce a bit of everything, as so many of his colleagues do, and he is almost exclusively a red wine producer, concentrating on St Laurent, Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. New oak is used, though perhaps a little less than previously.
After the big build-up...not much to say really...not much fruit left on the nose...and the palate was tannin-free...but also very dry and it had waved goodbye a few years ago. Luckily I had prepared another bottle in case of the above showing poorly.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2006
Waipara Valley, New Zealand

Fellow Blogger Edward had recently tried the 2007 and had not been over enthusiastic. The first thing to say about the wine is...it is a 'maverick' compared to many others tried from New Zealand.
Rate is as a red wine or as a Pinot Noir style? The nose surprises with racy red fruit...cherry...trace of polish...not exactly your sexy Pinot. Tannins are fine-grained...savoury fruit but the wine is not rounded. This has sharp corners...and not sure where it is going. Does it need age?...maybe...but I can only concur with Ed...hard work at the moment.
Points 16.25


Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Aconcagua, Chile

I can understand people liking this wine. That's not to say I didn't. I 'grew up' on Bordeaux...which was Cabernet Sauvignon with a dry earthiness usually.... The New World changed all that and blockbusters were suddenly everywhere. I suppose this is in between the styles...and the strong cassis nose is very appealing. There are biting tannins...and sweet blackcurrant fruit. Spicy cloves...and some chocolate. Firm but approachable. A good choice for a restaurant list...but I needed some nuances...just a touch too up-front for my liking.
Points 16.25

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Scrooge

Christmas is, and was as a child, a two-three day event for me. I can identify with Scrooge when it starts to take over at the end of November! Xmas trees on sale before you have finished your Easter eggs! This year it falls on a weekend...and in Germany (not England...who add Monday & Tuesday) Monday is a working day...so no reason to over-buy food...but most people do...maybe they know something I don't...a third world war or a major famine...must be a reason. Who eats it all? My wife likes her tree though and it was decorated on the Wednesday before...and on Christmas Eve I received a present from her. What do you buy a man who has nothing to drink? Wine of course!


Lignier-Michelot Clos de la Roche
Grand Cru 2006

Burgundy, France




Sine Qua Non
Raven Series(Syrah) 2006
California, U.S.A.



Fürst Spätburgunder R Hunsrück
Großes Gewächs 2007

Franken, Germany


We have had PLENTY of snow...which makes everyone oohh and aahh...unless you have a business that has to send drivers out with ice on the roads and that wants no flight cancellations at the airport. You are getting to understand the Scrooge feeling by now. My wife decorates everything she can find...the garden, the hallway...and I have to admit (Scrooge weakening here) that it does look lovely.
Scrooge never received any wine...maybe that was a
Dickens' mistake.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Work Schnaitmann

An array of bottles stand in the cellar...purchased over the past 6 weeks...
Schnaitmann Fellbacher Lämmler

Großes Gewächs Lemberger 2008

Württemberg, Germany

Perfume rather than aroma or bouquet...delicate whiff...with an hour in glass still very reserved...but my wife passed by and said 'Hen-Farm'...which describes it well...and for lover's of farm descriptions(
Romanee-Conti is best when it smells of farmyard)...it fits just nicely. It has a dusty character...and a hefty dose of acidity. The fruit is intense and is masked by some firm but rounded tannins. Big style...and a lot bigger than previous vintages which could be approached younger. After my long break it was hard work at first and the wine changes it's shape and size over 2 days...an ugly duckling which should become a swan one day. Peppery still next day...any perfume now a port-like aroma...trace of cocoa...and still brawny and tight. I'm back drinking...and there are great pleasures awaiting me...but this was more work than pleasure. Leave for 3-4 years
Points 17...more in the future

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flammkuchen, Schnitzel & Wine From The Pfalz

Close family and kids (one of which is my god-child) visited...and we went out to a local eatery...Schaab-Louis...a wine Bistro...where we had some great
Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambee)...with it's wafer thin dough and three different coverings. Delicious.




The wine list is not as adventurous as it could be...but people usually order by the glass or drink beer...my guess is there are very few wine-freaks who visit.
The white we chose...
Kaßner-Simon Freinsheimer Oschelskopf Chardonnay Spätlese 2008
Pfalz, Germany

Clean....safe...some minerals...and a fair price in a restaurant...€ 23,--
Points 14



They also serve some very good Schnitzel and freshly fried Pommes Frites. Very down-to-earth food.
I took the bottle of red along and paid the corkage.


Gies-Düppel is in it's 4th Generation.
The present day owner is Volker Gies having taken over the reins in 1998.

This is another from my list of not tried as yet...red wines...
Reasonable prices are also a plus at this property. This one cost € 19,--
Gies-Düppel Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Spätburgunder trocken 2008
Pfalz, Germany
Almonds and marzipan make for a real treat on the nose. Wimbledon Strawberries on a dry day...without the cream. That is generally the style of Spätburgunder in the Pfalz.
As it opened it showed concentrated fruit...and some substance. Just the right amount of tannic grip. I was hoping for just this...and it did not let me down. Ripe sweetness and very very drinkable now.
Points 17.25

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back In Business

FIVE WEEKS & FOUR DAYS...the time between the last sip of wine and the first sip of this one.
I was given the OK by the doctor the day before and was going to wait until Saturday when we were going out with friends.
I decided I needed something from 'my' cellar...and so the half-bottle seemed perfect....don't want to overdo it!
Eating has been strange at times...my wife offering the usual good stuff...which is usually a reason for choosing a wine to match.
Over the long period...I have got used to not thinking about it...and the food tasted good...but for someone who has been into this game for 35 years....................

IT AIN'T BEEN EASY! However...I am justly proud of myself. That is the longest period without anything vinious for as long as I can remember. Even when I had a cold...10 days was probably the limit.
It gave the body organs a rest and proved I could never be an alcoholic...but I knew that...I know when to stop.
BUT....I am back...and raring to go. Maybe the operation in the nose will be a plus when smelling the stuff! I'll be sniffing like a dog on heat if I am not careful!


Ziereisen Rhini Pinot Noir 2004
Baden, Germany
I guess it was the mini-shock of having the red liquid in the mouth...surprisingly juicy...red berry fruit...fiery...but that may have been my palate. Filled out in the glass...needed an hour more...but it was gone...I was like a first-timer in love making....but I will learn to slow down again.
A good starter though to get me back on the wine trail...and the food was delicious...Pasta, Veal Meat Balls and Fresh Mushrooms...with a Cognac and Coconut Sauce..and I added a touch of Yellow Curry.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Daniel

A friend was going to get married and asked where we could have lunch after the ceremony...just the four of us.
I asked a 'wine-merchant' in our town. Wine Merchant being that he had a loft and kept his wine there...which I think he bought & sold but never told the state. It was where I could buy wines not readily available. Anyway...he said I should go to a restaurant in Oppenheim. The owner was French and when he realized I loved wine...he would be very happy.
The marriage was on Friday 20th January 1978 at 11 am and a couple of days beforehand I called the restaurant...the owner answering with a French accent. I inquired about a table being free at 12.00 and he asked me to wait a minute. He returned to the phone to say they could accommodate us. After the marriage was completed at the Register Office...we set off to Restaurant 'Zum Schwann' in Oppenheim...arriving at midday. Set in the old town...cobbled streets...the building had been around for a long time...and looked just right.
We entered the restaurant. No one was to be seen...and just as we thought that we were at the wrong place....a bouncing flamboyant guy appeared. 'I am Daniel' he said...and showed us to our table. The restaurant was empty...maybe the other customers would arrive soon we thought...he had had to check if there was a table free when I called. Upfront...before we go on...no one else arrived all day. No matter...he brought the menu and...of course...the wine-list. As we wanted a white to toast the marriage I quickly ran over the list and saw what was a 'find' that was being talked about at the time...from the South of France...Chateau Miraval 1975 from the Provence.
I mentioned the fact and that we would try a bottle. His eyes lit up....'You love wine?' Any ice that was there...had been broken. The wine came and we settled down to choose the food. We ordered...and Daniel Faulhaber...of Alsace in France...excused himself...he would be in the kitchen from time to time during our stay. You see...he was the owner, cook, waiter & bottle washer.
The food was lovely...very French...down to earth. I ordered 2 reds...a Clos Vougeot 1969 from Clerget being given the 'Tastevin' addition to the label. The second wine was the 'Mouton-Rothschild' of Provence at the time...Chateau Vignelaure 1970...full of rich blackcurrant fruit...both wines were consumed with the meal.
At around 2pm we sat there...relaxing...the four of us as I said...and Daniel appeared again to ask the Bridegroom and myself if we wanted to visit his wine cellar. The Bride said Ok...she would chat to my wife for the time we were away (if only she had known). Daniel led us down into the old cellars situated under the streets of Oppenheim. These were real cellars...and had little alcoves where a few odd bottles rested. Daniel plucked a bottle from one corner and proceeded to open it. It turned out to be a Chateau Lafite 1973...not a great vintage...but perfect in 1978. He had brought wine glasses with him...and we stood drinking the wine...which was cellar temperature...and we shivered at first...but quickly warmed to our task. The bottle finished...Daniel opened a second...Gloria...a favourite Chateau of mine at the time...from a very fine vintage...1959.

Daniel left us for a few minutes to go upstairs to the restaurant. My wife told us afterwards that he popped his head round the door and said to my wife 'Eva...please go into the kitchen and stir my 'Ummer Suppe' (Hummer Suppe...Lobster Soup) and then disappeared. He rejoined us to finish off the second bottle...we chatted...he showed us more bottles and we finally went upstairs at around 4 pm. Now remember...our two friends had just married...so the Bridegroom was given a stern look when we returned. We were peckish...so we ordered cheese and a half bottle of Chateau Gaffeliere 1966. We finally left at 6 pm....with the newly wed bride not exactly impressed by her new husband spending so much time away from her on their first day. My wife and I smiled about it later...and the conclusion to this part of the story is that they divorced a few years later.
But this is about Daniel...our new friend Daniel. He dressed in a way you were never sure which side of the fence he was on...and we never really knew his sexual tendencies...red AND white were my guesses. I remember he always wore coloured sport-like shoes...red, yellow, green..never a 'normal' pair.
Our next visit a few months later was with my brother and a girl friend of my wife...both having no idea about wine. This time it was evening and the restaurant was full.
I chose 2 Bordeaux...from the fine 66 Vintage 'Fourcas-Hosten' and 'Ducru-Beaucaillou'. Our meal finished...the other guests eating...Daniel grabbed my arm and said' Let's go choose a wine'. Down the stairs and into a corner we had missed last time. I pulled away a few cobwebs and saw two!!! bottles of a Chateau Leoville-Barton 1871. Bottled in England and re-corked a year earlier.Now...right up to the 60's the British bought Burgundy and Bordeaux and bottled themselves. I nodded...and said...very nice Daniel...and was heading back upstairs when he grabbed one bottle and said ' We'll drink this tonight'. Now...even at this early stage of my 'wine' career I was thrilled to have something this old to try...BUT...our two guests upstairs didn't know the difference between Bordeaux & Burgundy. Keep it until next time I suggested....but Daniel wanted to drink it with me this night. So...upstairs we went...the wine was uncorked...crumbling...but still fairly intact...and the wine decanted. Daniel had joined us...much to the slight annoyance of a few other guests...who were used to him being around their table. Ah yes...but they were not REAL wine lovers he said...and Daniel & I were on the same wavelength. The wine was perfect...no age...complete..and I tried not to give the 'swiggers' too much. My wife said she could not appreciate it...so the bottle was shared between the four of us. The oldest bottle I have ever had...and so early in my wine education. I sat there in a slight trance...Daniel smiled...disappeared...and returned with ANOTHER bottle. This one a little younger...Chateau Petrus..at 8 years old...a baby. I don't remember much after that. We got home somehow...I certainly didn't drive!
We invited Daniel to our home a few times...my wife cooked...I opened some very fine bottles...it was never boring. He always had a story...or a quote...and spoke of his father asking him as a child to identify a wine...and getting a clip to his ear if he got it wrong! As I said...Daniel was never boring...a fact that went to a point where you could almost shout out loud. Once...my wife cooked...I opened the two planned reds at 7 pm...and we waited for our guest to arrive....and waited. No mobiles/ cell phones in those days...we presumed at 10 pm that he was not coming. I had to get up early next day...so went to bed. My wife told me next day Daniel had arrived at 10.30...and had a few glasses of the opened wine...had chatted with her until 1am...said to say Hi to me..and had left.
We never saw him for a couple of years...only heard he had left the Restaurant in Oppenheim. He 'reappeared' suddenly...saying he had a Bistro in the old town of Mainz. We visited a couple of times...he was the life & soul of the party...everyone knew him. As quickly as he had returned...he was gone again. His lifestyle at the time...his love for the 'exotic'...maybe a touch of helpful ingredients...made us think he had met an early end. We never heard from or about him again...but his story is often told. An unforgettable character.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wine Press-Ups

The recovery time after the 'nose' operation (and no....not cosmetic...the doctor said they couldn't improve on the original) was taking longer than I expected.
What did I expect....well...as I came out of the anesthetic I asked when I could play soccer, drink wine and work. The doctor said that was typical.
Private patients/self employed people ask when they can work. The rest want to know how long he would write them a sick note for.
He gave me one for 2 weeks and I was told to rest....5 hours later I was in my office.
Soccer has been a no-no....and every two days I return to the surgery for clean-outs (hope you are not eating when reading this).
Every time I ask...when can I drink some wine?
He said one time...hmmm...maybe a small glass...and I told him to forget it...I would wait until he gave me the 'all-clear'.
It's now almost 3 weeks...and the last visit gave me hope that the next one will be accompanied by a thumbs-up.
If I had know how long it would be...I would maybe have found it more difficult....but it has been told me with every visit....maybe next time etc.
It reminded me of a time in the 60's where I used to train for Karate. Twice a week we had training and the Black Belt was a hard task-master.
One evening he said we would do 20 roll push ups. Sounded easy we all thought...we were top fit. Off we went...20 done...then he said...'Hold It There'...
and we waited with out-stretched arms to be relieved. ''Another 20' came the order. Up and down we went...and again waited as we reached 40. In vain....
'Another 20' and on reaching 60 'Another 20' and on reaching 80 'Another 20' You don't argue with a Black Belt!!!
The reason it reminded me of the forbidden wine was that if the Black Belt had told us to do 100 we would have most likely refused.
Would I have refused the operation if the doctor had told me no wine for 3 weeks? Probably not...
It is the longest I can remember not having the vinious stuff to enjoy. Even having a cold usually means a 7- 10 days break.
I can eat a bar of chocolate once I start...but have reduced it to almost nothing over the past few years. The last 3 weeks it has occaisonally been my 'drug'....energy-booster says my wife...so I readily accepted.
I haven't decided what will be the first wine when I get the green light...but you will soon know.

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