Last night I was very happy to host a fellow wine blogger (Torsten from Winerambler) and my old chum ‘The Kid’ Peter for a Riesling and Pinot Noir-themed tasting. We drank copiously and terribly well. The wines were served blind which heightened our critical faculties. Even the English wine was good (immensely unbelievable as that sounds).
Classic Cuvee 2003, Nyetimber
Wow, this smells like proper fizz and it is English, I’m staggered. It has pronounced mushroomy and toasty characters. Wow, its not immediately horrible and vapid. There is plenty of ripe fruit on the nose, which edges toward being very slightly over-mature, but that is 2003 for you, even in Blighty it seems. There is a reasonable degree of class to this; it may not be the most riotously complex of sparkling wine noses but there is more than enough to keep the fizz-lover interested. And it is an English wine that doesn’t smell thin and insipid, my mind is spinning! The mousse seems reasonably refined and there is some tasty fruit on the palate. I like its acidity, pretty well balanced and certainly keeping this fresh. The finish is remarkably long, with a pleasing array of vibrant fruit characters persisting. This is properly good sparkler. Hell’s bells, I just said the extraordinarily improbable statement that an English wine is properly good; are there no certainties left in the world?
Riesling Spatlese Piesporter Goldtropfchen 2003, Reinhold Haart
A tits-out nose of gloriously sun-ripened fruit; this is distinctly exotic but still unmistakably Mosel Riesling. Its pineapple/grapefruit characters could suggest this is a Scheurebe, but it seems more like very ripe Riesling. Not over-ripe, but attractively voluptuous. The palate is a little short on acidity, but it has completely lovely fruit and an appealing sweetness. There is some prominent minerality showing here as well, and it is quite stylish, this was grown in a top vineyard. This is one of the best examples of 2003 German Riesling I’ve had, it is pretty balanced, has well-defined fruit and a quite grown-up vineyard character. Good stuff, thanks Torsten.
Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg ‘D’ Vendanges Tardives 2005, Albert Boxler
This nose has real VT character, candied fruit and manifest power. It is also incredibly mineral but this character shows itself with a lot of finesse. It is almost surprising that a wine this big can display such elegant and beautiful minerality. It is a wonderful nose that would tweak the lewd bits of any lover of fine things. The palate also has late harvest power, but as it commits frankly debauched acts in your mouth the balance is never less than faultless. Its acidity is searing and stomach slashing (ouch, ouch, ooooowwww… I’ll need the Gaviscon soon enough), there are dumper-truck loads of candied citrus fruit and the minerality is spell-binding. It is not the scale or power that make me love this wine, and I love it oh so much, it is the harmony and panache which so many Alsace VTs just don’t seem to manage. My last bottle of this tremendously fine wine, alas.
Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru 2006, Comte Armand
Now this smells like proper Burgundy, it has inviting dark fruit and a powerful earthiness. There is some power to this nose, but it is not in any way overblown or overly focussed on muscle. This is the nose of Pinot from the correct place, alright; there is charm, class and complexity on show. The palate also has power and a rather rigorous tannic structure, it is a tad on the tough side but has more than enough dark, ripe fruit to keep the balance satisfactory. This makes me think that the clout this wine has is quite finely honed and I think it would be a good wine to age. When trying this blind I thought this was a good Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru, which shows it has some pretentions to style and quality. I should have got this right. I love Comte Armand wines and have tried far too many so I feel I could recognise the winemakers finger-prints all over it. It is a sad day when I cannot spot Comte Armand wines, when the label was revealed I felt a smidgen of exasperation at my failure.
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru les Suchots 2006, Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot
This smells breathtakingly beautiful. Its pure expression of complex, exotic fruit really warps my mind to its way of thinking, and this nose thinks it wants to mesmerise and captivate. Sure there is a good mineral character, but that enthralling fruit is what does it for me, an enchanting expression of Vosne. Oh bums, after that nose I feel a tad disappointed by the palate. The tannins have more than a suggestion of being significantly daunting and together with its far from reserved acidity they make the palate seem somewhat stiff and demanding. There is a lot of fruit there as well, and it is charm-tastic, lovely-licious fruit, but it is not quite in balance with the brutalist tannic structure. Its powerful earthiness is very convincing and really persists on what is a very long and multifaceted finish. There are many things to like about this wine, but ultimately it just falls a bit short of the mark.
Pinot Noir ‘Sangreal’ 2006, By Farr
There is more than a suggestion of stemminess on this nose, along with serious earthy power and plenty of really scrumptious fruit. Authentic complexity is present and I am rather compelled; if this was not one of my offerings I’d say after smelling this it was a genuinely good offering from the Cote de Nuits. The palate bursts with lots more of that scrumptious fruit which sits in appetizing harmony with a finely-wrought tannic structure and succulent acidity. That stemmy character is also present on the palate and I feel this, along with its intense earthiness, really add to the complexity. This is the best Australian Pinot Noir I’ve had since the brilliant and refined Mac Forbes wines. Top stuff, Mr Farr.
Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr 1997, Fritz Haag
By all that is evil and malevolent this nose is stunning. It has definite traces of maturity, but the fruit is pulsing with excitement and vivacity. Super citrus action which you know is going to taste luminously lively. The powerful slate character is also persuades me that this is a wine of stylish class and refined sophistication. Yeah, this is a penetratingly compelling nose and no messing around. It tastes staggeringly acidic, but lovely, animated, energetic acidity which just makes makes my drool flow and draws me in to drink more and more. The slate minerality shows multifarious levels of captivating character which meld intricately with the acidity and enchanting, exquisite fruit to produce an utterly brilliant, breathtaking buccal experience. The enthralling harmony of this salaciously complex and indecently elegant wine blows my mind in an outlandish maelstrom of aesthetic ecstasy. We are lucky when we get to drink wines this good; I feel lucky. But then I also feel absolutely deserving and unreservedly worthy of such delights. Hooray for Riesling, Pinot Noir and all who love them!