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 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 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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)


No dessert had been 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 was bottled at various 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 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 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...