Friday, December 20, 2013

Cercle du Vin


The idea was born one evening on my recent holiday in the Black Forest.
Rebstock owner Karl Hodapp and myself were drinking some wines on his free evening and the conversation included having time to drink wines with a few friends.
I suggested we start something...a group...and I would raid my cellar for the first meeting. It had been planned for the 11th November but 2 days beforehand Karl had been hit by a virus and we had to postpone.
Monday 9th December is now the proposed date.
The idea for the group name arises from something I started in the 80's...drinking great wines with like-minded friends and aquaintances. We are 8 people in all...the rooms are reserved at the Gasthaus...Karl is free to relax and enjoy the wines as the kitchen staff will be there for another private function.

Ten days after the event...here the report.

On Monday 9th December....Volker, Robert,Thorsten and myself set off for Waldulm.
It was a cold but sunny day...and we arrived at 1 pm. Karl greeted us with son Basti....I was told where the wines were...just look at them.





We opened the two Madeira wines...I chose the 1863....opened carefully with my Butler's Friend...cork intakt. Volker was handed the 1864...that's life...he only has a stopper cork to remove.. Both wines looked and smelled good...and were decanted.
Robert...our wine merchant...had made an appointment in Kappelrodeck...to visit a Brennerei...makers of 'fire-water'. We arrived at 2 pm....and were met by a guy who was going to show him round the premises. After 10 minutes listening to him...I excused myself...I knew this was going to be a long process.  I sat in the car...and an hour later!!!...the other 3 emerged...smelling of Schnapps.
Back to the Rebstock...I was down in the restaurant to prepare the other bottles. Karl's wife Sandra Stark was there...she was preparing the table for the evening. The planned other 'private function' of politicians...had been postponed until next day...which meant Karl would be preparing the food after all.
Back upstairs to freshen up...Volker said he could drink a coffee...and a cup of tea for me would be good as well...so down into the Gasthof. We sat there...and the first of Karl's guests...Wolfgang....arrived...and we chatted.
Now...the meeting for all was planned for 5.30- 6 pm...but at 4.15 pm...the other two...Joachim and Robert Stark(Karl's father-in-Law) arrived.
Karl appeared with a bottle of Dom Perignon 2003. I quickly jogged upstairs and told my other two that we were all there...and at 4.30pm ( it was dark outside...so we were allowed to drink...haha)...we were sipping Champagne.



No points for the wines below...a serious meeting of wine lovers...but I just wanted to take it all in.

At 5 pm...we were at the table...and the first wine was tried

1. Bird In Hand Nest Egg 
Chardonnay 2008
Adelaide Hills, Australia
Rich, aromatic smoky oak...nutty palate...zippy wine...creamy...now perfectly balanced. Fine starter wine...



2. F. X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner 
'M' 2003    
Wachau, Austria
I love the aged versions of this wine...recent ones have been 2000/1/2...and this hot vintage version was no exception. Sweet fruit but so finely balanced. No sign of heat...long. Impressed the group.



The food was a Risotto with truffel....delicious.

Risotto

Karl then said he had prepared Pumpkin soup...for the next white wine. I said we had none...but Robert...being Robert...had brought a white Hermitage with him...and good it was.

Pumpkin Soup


Wolfgang & Joachim

Robert & Thorsten
and so to the reds....
3. Chateau Leoville Lascases 1961
St. Julian, Bordeaux
Opened shortly before drinking...and decanted.

This was the only wine that I thought may not be up to par...as I had read varying reports. It was, however, Karl and Volker's birth year. They are holding up slightly better...thank goodness.
The wine was not bad...just a little tired. Cedar wood aroma....dry tobacco...cigar box...all the well known 'ingredients'...but lacking in any power...from such a wonderful vintage



4. Chateau Latour 1966
 Pauillac, Bordeaux
This was to be the saviour...for the Lascases...but on first smell...there was just a trace of an off-odour. It disappeared with swirling...but it had gotten to the wine. You could feel the power and complexity...but we had been unlucky....



The French were to be saved by an Aussie.... 
5. Penfold Grange Hermitage 1982

South Australia
This had by now been in the decanter for 4 hours...and was an instant success with the group. Still dark colour...complex aromas...it could have been a wine from this century...blackberry fruit...well integrated tannins...fully matured but no signs of collapse...and a perfect match with the Rinderbacken (Beef Cheeks)





Rinderbäckchen

No dessert had been planned...as the next wine is not exactly a 'sweetie'6. Moulin Touchais 1959
Anjou, Loire  
An aquired taste for many...but a wine that keeps you involved and grips you to investigate.
Still very lively...with a dry nutty character...some honey...and walnuts...this was a wine that a magazine said belonged to '100 wines to try before you die'   
Certainly a fascinating experience.   





Robert Stark & Volker

Barry & Karl
A solera wine is basically a wine that is 'topped up' in the cask with similar quality...and at some point put into the bottle. Nowadays a Solera Madeira has to be bottled after the 10th time...but back in the days of old...it was bottled at various times...so no way to check how long this had been in the bottle.
The mere thought that these wines started their lives when the American Civil War was taking place...leaves you in awe.

7. Blandy Madeira Solera 

Malmsey 1863
 Madeira, Portugal
Beautiful tawny colour...mahogony...green-gold....sweet tangy aromas of figs and dry fruit...super wine...and as we sat there and tasted...I looked at the group...and I just wanted the world to stand still for a little longer.
I marked this

Points 18.5




 8. Blandy Madeira Solera 
Gran Cama de Lobos 1864    
Madeira, Portugal
Suffered a touch after it's 'older sister'...not quite as 'sweet'...more bitter sweet...figs and dried tobacco.

Points 17.5





In the Kitchen
We had...as a group...been in and out of the kitchen...clearing the tables...and Volker had helped Karl with the food. A truly memorable evening...was called to a halt at 11pm.
The next morning we breakfasted...and by 10 am were ready to leave. As it was another beautiful day...I convinced the guys that we should make a detour before heading home.

Robert & Volker in Disguise

Thorsten the Snowman

Volker in a Mummelsee Hat
We set off to the Black Forest High Road...stopped off at the Mummelsee...where there was snow and some people were skiing. Wonderful views over the countryside...and we set off for home.
The Cercle du Vin...first meeting...will hopefully be the first of many...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Across The Board Germany

As the winter months are with us...red wine is usually the choice...but a case of reds from Bernhard Koch contained a few Chardonnays and a single bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.


Bernhard Koch Sauvignon Blanc
Flemlinger Herrenbuckel Grande Reserve 2012
Pfalz, Germany

Priced at € 16.50...this pleases...and although the property says it is closed...I found it open with a creamy smell of gooseberry as opposed to the rasping style. Mint and lemon also evident...and the palate really well-balanced. No doubt it will be with us a few years...but I for one could not resist it today.
Points 16.5



The property has just received an award from the Wine Guide Gault Millau.
Reason enough to order some Pinot Noir.




Bernhard Koch Pinot Noir
Reserve H.E. 2011
Pfalz, Germany
Tried over a few days(Coravin) this was intriguing.

The first glass showed a cool style...all the ingredients in there...so the glass on day two was given some more air. Aromas of nougat and caramel...and then delicious cherry fruit...the tannins only helping the fruit to the top.
Complex and compelling...delicate and delightful...and the finish told me to leave the toothpaste clean a little longer that evening.
Price € 28,-- and a snip...if that is your price range.

The H.E. stands for the man who advises at the Weingut...Hans Erich Dausch.
Points 17.5...with more potential.



Thomas Seeger Lemberger R 2010
Baden, Germany

Another tried over 3 days...and again...that cool style of a winemaker asking you to work for your pleasure. The wine never really wavers at the moment. 

The smell reminds of bay leaves and juniper berries...gentle spicy fruit...touch of pepper on the palate. Lemberger has it's first home in Germany in the Württemberger area...but as this property is further north in Baden...it seems to be at home here as well. Fans of it's brother in Austria...Blaufränkisch may find it undernourished in comparison...and it will not uproot trees for some...nevertheless...a pleasure to go back to daily.
Points 17




Let's head north to the Ahr...and the 2009's had impressed from this property.


Kreuzberg Spätburgunder Silberberg GG 2011
Ahr, Germany
Musty nose at first....which soon disappeared. Meaty style initially...burnt smoke...the fruit seemed thick and reserved...but red cherries soon placated me...and it developed a delicate sweetness with a trace of the slate character of the area.. How to lose weight in a glass...a wine diat...you could say.
Points 17.25

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pinot Noir Secrets

Whenever I have mentioned to a Mosel grower that he should offer a Spätburgunder...there has been the reply...we have enough work with our Riesling...and that is a worldwide product. Ah yes...I say...but the 'Climate Warming'...good for Pinot Noir in the area. Markus Moloitor has produced 'great' reds over the years...but anything else has been a hidden gem.This property I stumbled on quite by chance...and they still had the 2009 version.



Weingut Lehnert-Veit
Piesporter Falkenberg Spätburgunder Nr. 1 2009
Mosel, Germany.
Quite complex...so any thoughts you may have had that it would be thin and tasteless...evaporate. A plus for my argument!.. Elegant cherry aroma with a touch of plum...enticing. Another plus for me! The tannins are just stroking the palate...they lift the gentle elegant fruit to the fore. Yet another plus for my opinion. 3-0...for me...and at € 23,-- very good value.

now tell me that the Mosel can't make good Spätburgunder.
Points 17

I recently mentione to someone that I was drinking a Swiss red. Not everyone is up to date....so she was surprised that anything above basic quality was available. How wrong she was. The Swiss used to keep their wines to themselves...you maybe got a Chasselas on the list of the Swiss Chain of Restaurants...Möwenpick...but that was your lot.
Things have changed...new talent is appearing all over Switzerland...perhaps influenced by the top property Gantenbein.



Pelizzatti Pinot Noir Barrique 2011
Jenins, Switzerland

The 2010 was more open....so give this one a few months...very fine balance though...lovely spice to it...layers of strawberry fruit...this is very drinkable now thanks to the acidity...but will age nicely...if I can resist it
Points 17.5

The Pfalz in known for it's reds...but the Christman property more for it's
Riesling.

 
Christmann Spätburgunder G.G. Idig 2007
Pfalz, Germany

Very earthy notes...dark cherries...still seems closed...and I only 'zapped' a glass with my Coravin. With some air there were minerals and herbs...so a precautionary marking here...the rest wine in the bottle will be given a good decant next time.
Points 16.75


Monday, November 04, 2013

Chapeau to Chateauneuf-du-Pape


Chateauneuf-du-Pape was a regular 'diat' 30 years ago. If my memory serves me correctly...they were all with an aged colour...a farmyardy smell...and a soft palate. Mind you...I was probably drinking them with some bottle age.
The hype for the 2010 vintage in Chateauneuf-du-Pape persuaded me to buy a few single bottles...and with my Coravin...try them and leave them.
But first...down Memory Lane.


Sat for our evening meal.. my wife mentions...purely by chance...about our many visits to France.

'Remember that pile of bottles?' she asked.
Yes...I did...my wife and I and her brother were stopping over at the Hostellerie Chateau des Fines Roches in Chateauneuf-du-Pape..this is the early 80's
We had visited a couple of properties...but my big wish was to visit Chateau Rayas. Louis Reynaud, an extrovert character, had died in 1978..and the owner at the time of our visit was his son Jacques...no less extrovert I had been told. 'You'll never get in...he'll probably produce a shotgun'...was the general information from the wine trade.
We proceeded to the main square and started to ask directions. Shakes of heads...blank looks...told it all. This was a property that didn't exactly have a PR department.
Next idea...local policeman directing traffic...again...blank look. I thought policeman knew everything! We eventually found someone who 'thought' they knew the direction. We set off...along dusty roads...the heat beating down on the stony vineyards. Suddenly...round a corner...a hand-written sign...arrowing us to turn left. Finally we arrived at a 'derilict' building.
The photo I supply here was not what we saw back then.. My wife and her brother waited in the car...knowing this may have been in vain. I knocked on the battered door. After a short time...I heard footsteps. I waited for the buckshot! The door opened...and there stood Jacques Reynaud...peering at me over his glasses. He inquired what I wanted...and...being prepared...I said I knew a Wine Merchant in England. The name rang a bell with him...they were his agent there...and I quickly followed this with my enthusiasm for his wines. I waited...he turned...and beckoned me in. I turned to the car...gave the thumbs-up..and followed Jacques. The place where he took me was where it all happened...and was a minor chaos. Bottles and equipment all over the place. He said he didn't have any wine open...so I asked if I could buy some bottles of Chateau Rayas. He only had 1978 he said...and he could only let me have 3 bottles. Only!!...I agreed...no point in pushing your luck. He had softened by now...and we did the deal and I said my goodbyes. As I left the house...my brother-in-law had been round the side of the house....and he beckoned me to take a look. Outside of the window to the room where I had been...was a gigantic pile of old used bottles. It was obvious what Jacques did. Whenever a bottle was empty...he threw it out of the window. My brother-in-law helped himself to a couple of really old one and we left...and me still intact. I bragged about my success to anyone who would listen. I got in to Chateau Rayas! The Vintage 1978 was the last for Louis and the first for Jacques. Jacques passed away in 1997.


but enough of this reminiscing... 
Chateau de Vaudieu 2010
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
Forest berry confiture...dark berry feel on the palate...touch of nouget...firm...but approachable tannins...a powerwine and a lot of grape for the money...€ 30,--
Phew...that woke me out of my dreams...
Points 16.75...and a re-taste next day more to my liking as I was prepared...

Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils 'Tradition'
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
Whereas the Vaudieu was a 'thump on the nose'...this was more a 'punch in the stomach'...not half as painful...Again the Confiture...but with fresh cherries and some much needed minerals...spices...liquorice...pastis...milk chocolate. Not quite an iron fist in a velvet glove...which could have been a fitting description instead of my attempts. Excellent value at € 25,--
Points 17.25

A few more to try...and I will give them PLENTY of air...

Jacques's wines were also daunting when young...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coravin



I have a new 'tool'...which hopefully will only be full of plusses for little old me.
When I wrote on a forum that I was thinking of purchasing it...there were replies of...

'Don't you have friends to share a bottle?'
Regular readers of my blog will know I do...but some blog-noted wines you read about...end up in a goulash or something similar. My wife can't drink...and my friends have lives of their own. My daily intake is approximately a half-bottle...and while some wines will improve overnight...with maybe a place in the fridge...it has never been a solution for me. Other 'helpers' never seemed to be the perfect answer.

And so it was...that I bought my 'new friend'.
Only available in the U.S.A....the postal costs were 'evil'...and the customs duty I had to pay in Germany mildly easier. However...it is here with me...the CORAVIN.
This ingenious little device allows you to drink the wine without ever having to open the bottle. The Coravin drives a thin, hollow needle right through the cork in order to pump argon right into the wine (as opposed to oxygen). Argon is an inert gas, and won’t affect the taste of the wine one bit. It will, however, provide pressure for the wine to pour right through that hollow needle without ever allowing oxygen to come in contact with the spirit. When you’re done drinking, simply remove the needle, and the cork will expand to seal that hole you just created, leaving you free to place that bottle back in the cellar for as long as you’d like.

I started out with something simple...

Friday 25 October 2013
Gernot Heinrich Pannobile 2006
Burgenland, Austria

A Cuvee of Zweigelt und Blaufränkisch...gentle sweet cherry fruit...soft vanilla tones...cool...light-footed...trace of oak...juicy and quite fresh for it's age..The tannins are soft...half the bottle was drank...the rest in a few days...
Points 16.25

Next day...

Saturday 26 October 2013
Stodden Neuenahrer Sonnenberg
Spätburgunder 2004
Ahr, Germany

I have never, as yet, become a full-blooded lover of Stodden wines...mainly due to the fact that the younger vintages needed ages to develope. I've heard that they are now more approachable in their youth.
This is the old school style...and has the Stodden markings...earthy...dry tannins...tobacco...wild cherries...
Another half-bottle tasted...and will leave it for a year or two.
Points 16.5

Getting adventurous...I chose two Knipser wines...vintage 2007...and tried them over a couple of days.


Sunday 27 October 2013
Knipser Kirschgarten Spätburgunder 2007
Pfalz, Germany

Still plenty of oak on the nose...a BIG wine...tobaccos...spices...black pepper...red currants....medium thick fruit...warm explosion on the back palate...needs a year or two
Points 17.25...with potential

Monday 28 October 2013
Knipser Großkarlbacher Burgweg 2007
Pfalz, Germany

More open...like a fine Burgundy...very much the attractive sister at the moment.....fascinating aromas of black cherries and forest berries...tannins more integrated that the Kirschgarten....with a sweetish feel to them.
Points 17.5

How about a comparitive tasting of two 2010's?

Tuesday 29 October 2013
Martin Wassmer Castellberg
Pinot Noir 2010

Baden, Germany
Medium thick fruit...but full of elegance...as I know the wine already I gave it some time in the glass to compensate what airing it would have received had it be opened and decanted. Still needs time...and the slightly robust tannins still need taming...the finish is long.
Points 17.5...which is slightly less than when I had a full bottle...with more airing

Tuesday 29 October 2013
Seeger Oberklamm Spätburgunder 2010
Baden, Germany

As the wine poured into the glass...there was a distinct vanilla smell...and compared to the Wassmer...this is softer...cooler...red cherries and strawberry fruit...cinnamon...easy tannins...
Points 17.75


Wednesday 30 October 2013
Of the 6 bottles tested...the three most approachable were again 'dropped' into a glass.
Gernot Heinrich Pannobile 2006....opened 5 days ago
Knipser Großkarlbacher Burgweg 2007
...opened 2 days ago
Seeger Oberklamm Spätburgunder 2010...opened the day before

No deterioration...same notes. It works...
My wife will get used to me taking my glass into the cellar to get refills in the future!

Friday, October 25, 2013

18 Pointers


Good friend Volker and myself...out at a local eatery...a very good reason to pull 2 goodies from the cellar.
Good wines can be predictable...great wines also...but sometimes the surprise makes it great.


Leo Alzinger
Grüner Veltliner Reserve 2009

Wachau, Austria

With this quality you expect the pepper...and instant minerals.
Friend Volker was lost...it smelled exotic...and silky palate...until...after a few guesses...and the wine developed...he headed for the Wachau.
Nobody gets more minerality into his wines than Leo Alzinger. Super nose...pears...golden delicious apples...touch of Botrytis...14.5% A
lcohol which is swept under the carpet... it gives enormous pleasure. A crystallized diamond...slick elegant palate...perfect balance...and a large glass helped it even more. Great stuff
Points 18





The red...the last of six bottles...and the previous one had been corked.

Gantenbein Pinot Noir 2005
Fläsch, Switzerland

An Angus Rump Steak was on the Daily Menu...and I had asked the restaurant owner to give this a couple of hours airing...I mean the wine..not the meat!
The first whiff from the glass had Volker and myself grinning like Cheshire cats ( old saying...so I presume they grin)
Farmyard smell..really perfect now...so well balanced...soft prickly Pinot. I always said this is a food wine...
and I ain't wrong. It just fills the mouth with all that is good in my favourite grape.We both agreed
Points 18



Friday, October 18, 2013

Baden Wines

Time passes...and wines are drunk...notes are made...but just got to sit down and blog them.
Sparse maybe...but at least you get something.

Martin Wassmer Weiser Burgunder
Dottinger Castellberg 2010
Baden, Germany

Delicate flowery nose...perfumed...creamy palate...lively minerals...real nice package...decent oak...spicy...
I could get to like this WB
16.5...but with potential


Martin Wassmer Schlatter Spätburgunder 2009
Baden, Germany

Nose reminded me of rum...where the recent 2007 seemed raw in comparison...this shows rich silky fruit...typical 2009...the balance is perfect...and oak well integrated.
Points 17.25




Huber Spätburgunder Alte Reben 2008
Baden, Germany

Sweetish old vine nose...red fruits...strawberry and redcurrant...hint of marzipan...decent acidity...gained power overnight...all Huber wines are excellent...but the Alte Reben is probably the best value for money
Points 17.25


Seeger Blauer Spätburgunder S 2011
Baden, Germany

Situated in Leimen...Seeger is now a major force in Germany.

This was quite forward...delicate gentle briary tannins...smokey...elegant.
Points 17




Claus Schneider Weiler Schlipf
Spätburgunder CS
Baden, Germany

Notes of cherries...spices...earthy but evolving nicely and showing silky fruit...
fine grained tannins...tobacco...cool and attractively fresh...and a good 'overnighter'
Points 17.25


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chateau de Beaucastel Au Revoir

During my break...I had drank with Herr Hodapp a Chateau de Beaucastel Blanc Vieilles Vignes 2008.
We had been wary of opening because of the time span with this particular wine. They are attractive when young...then nod off for a few years to hibernate. We just about caught it before it slumbered.
We are planning a special wine evening in November at the Rebstock...and I am scouring my celler to decide what we will drink. I had this one in mind...and having 2 bottles...decided to try it now...rather than risk being surprised on the night.
Opened a few hours in advance..

Chateau de Beaucastel Blanc Vieilles Vignes 1995
Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone, France

Amber gold...looks very dicey...and on first whiff the usual slightly oxidated aroma. To be honest...it never really became 'attractive'...more like a diva telling us she was once beautiful. If I had to choose a fruit smell...more like banana...so to the taste. Again...as with the nose...we caught this one a touch too late. Not undrinkable...but the oily texture dominates...and very little 'attractive' fruit. Bottles do seem to vary when I check the internet...but the second bottle in my celler is no longer on the list for November.

Points......................................

 

After The Ball Is Over

While in Waldulm at tbe Rebstock...a couple of days before I was due home...my wife called and I told her about the Wachtel (Quail) and the Spätzle. I asked Karl Hodapp if he could prepare a couple for me...and on leaving...they were packed and placed in the coldest part of the car. Two days later we ate them...and I decided to open a couple of bottles purchased while in Baden.



Franz Keller Chardonnay S 2011
Baden, Germany

Pale green yellow...promised a more lighter style...maricuja nose...surprisingly delicate...some vanilla and a touch of toast...promising...
Points 16


Bimmerle Spätburgunder R 2010
Baden, Germany
Trace of smoke...dark berry aroma...quite full...lovely middle palate...and a trace of vanilla.
This has spent 18 months in new Barrique. Another promising wine to try again in a year.
Points 16.25


and a couple of days later...
Bimmerle Spätburgunder Benedikt 2009
Baden, Germany

Intense dark fruit...Cherries......a serious wine...more cassis than expected...compact tannins...but softly softly...and approachable....had this with smoked salmon!...and it paired well...
Points 16.5

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