Top Zinfandel, thrilling Mosel Riesling and sweet but tired Alsace Pinot Gris

Ridge have long been a favourite producer of Zinfandel, the wines have always been harmonious and age surprisingly well for entities of such scale. I enjoyed this greatly as far as wines in a voluptuous style go.

Willi Schaefer rarely fails to disappoint and this was an effort engorged with livid, sophisticated class. Very ripe for a Spatlese, certainly, but its balance nibbled my aesthetic sensibilities in a deeply pleasing manner.

Even VT Pinot Gris doesn’t age – good to drink this bottle now as it is most certainly on the train to ‘Shagged-out wine-ville’.

Geyserville 2005, Ridge

Geyserville 2005, Ridge

Lawks! When I sniff this for the very first time I feel it has strong nasal anaesthetic characters; it seems quite a bruiser. Hmmm… oddly it seems more languidly demure and far less daunting on subsequent nasal encounters. There is a lot of very ripe bramble action here and it is just great that this fruit-resplendent set of aromas do not stray into the realm of jam. Exceedingly ripe the fruit may be but it has something distinctly complex about it; there is more to the nose than simply being lion-hearted. I’m rather taken with the palate that seethes with delicious fruit complimented by a tenacious tannic structure and positively vivacious acid levels. Its scale does not concern me in the slightest as its harmony exhilarates and galvanizes me to extract every nuance from its pleasingly stylish and god-damn sophisticated personality. It is not displaying much in the way of mature characters, very youthful in fact, but past experience with Geyserville has shown they age and develop for 10-15 years with deft nonchalance. This effectuates pleasure with total ease so I am, once again, completely contented to be drinking a bottle of Ridge wine.

Riesling Spatlese Graacher Domprobst 2005, Willi Schaefer

Riesling Spatlese Graacher Domprobst 2005, Willi Schaefer

As I smell this I get the feeling that it is a tiny bit closed up. However, such are the extrovert delights on this nose to say this is closed up makes me think it would have been louder than one of my shirts when it throbbed with youthful baby-fat. The lime fruit is delicious and ripe and I love that slate minerality, man, smelling this colours me florid hues of enthusiasm. There is a totally exhilarating extravagance to the palate: focussed, direct citrus fruit so intense it would put one of my margaritas to shame with acidity so powerful it is etching its signature on my teeth all bundled up into a tight ball of compelling energy. Extravagant it may be but there is nothing dodgy about its harmony – great fruit, fine acid and succulent sweetness are working to create a totally balanced whole. The refinement this shows is abso-tmesis-lutely spot on for Mosel Riesling of the very highest quality. Hilarious fun as this is to drink now I feel I will be coming back to my remaining bottles in about 5 years when it will be blossoming once again but this time as a fully mature wine. Speaking as a fully mature person I can see many advantages to that state.

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Sommerberg Vendanges Tardives 2006, Domaine Albert Boxler

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Sommerberg Vendanges Tardives 2006, Domaine Albert Boxler

There is a lot of peaches and cream Botrytis action going on here but it also has shades of slightly rotten fruit; getting a bit old if you ask me. At least it is not over-whelmed by the slightly chemically character that can be distracting on VTs and its minerality is rather winning. But it does smell like it is waving goodbye. The palate is attractive, the ripe fruit and distinct sweetness kept lively by a pleasing foil of acidity, but again I am struck by its advanced stage of maturity. I’ve long been of the opinion that Pinot Gris doesn’t age gracefully, and it is very kind of M. Boxler to back me up on this with this bottle. We should have necked this last year.


3 Comments

  • Ian Black wrote:

    David – I think it was Tom Stevenson who described 2006 as “the year of the mushroom”. Sounds like some of the pourriture here was ignoble!

    I’m always interested to learn of how Alsace PG’s mature. Some people think they dip a bit then recover as they mature on further, and I tend to agree, though there are so many counter-examples as to render this entire observation pointless. But I have had some lovely 20 and 30 year old VT’s and the (very) occasional SGN.

  • David Strange wrote:

    Hello Ian,

    Oh the wine was fine and clean as a whistle last year, rot was not the problem with it, more that it was in terminal decline well down the road toward the end of its life.

    I feel I mis-spent my youth trying to age Alsace Pinot Gris; I loved them young but almost every bottle I stuck in the cellar for five years or thereabouts would become filth ridden and fruitless, losing any attractive characters it once had. So many fine wines I just pissed away by putting them in the cellar… Live and learn, I suppose.

    Of course the mega-sweet botrytis action wines of the ZH SGN idiom will hang around pretty much forever, but they are very different wines to this. Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced that there is a point to keeping even wines of that style: do they really improve with age? Not radically if at all in my experience.

    I am strongly of the opinion that Alsace Pinot Gris is a wine style capable of delivering lovely vinous pleasure, its just a wine you should drink young. No one is sniffy about Alsace Muscat’s lack of age-ability, why do we ask it of Pinot Gris.

    Of course, filthy Italian Pinot Grigio has an even shorter lifespan but does not even merit mentioning in the same paragraph as the real kit I am talking about, so I won’t.

    Cheers for dropping by the site.

  • Ian Black wrote:

    Ah, right, my mistake about the rapid collapse – sorry about that. Just reading your note makes me realise that I am assuming that the sweeter manifestations mature in the same sort of way as the – well, less sweet. (Finding a dry PG outside Messrs. Trimbach’s range is an uphill task.) But of course they may not. Maybe a whole rethink of planet Pinot Gris is in order for me. I shall raid the cellar this weekend – I know I have a 2005 GC PG form André Rieffel somewhere. Better get stuck in!



  • Historical larks

  • My Twitter feed