The first of August was the fourteenth anniversary of my organ Elitistreview – that is a long time! This organ is older than my cat and older than most of the wines I own! The cat is getting slower and gets randomly confused; I hope I last long enough without getting randomly confused too often too report on those youthful wines over the next fourteen years and, dare I say it (dare, dare!), beyond, in whatever form Elitistreview takes by then.
My organ is quite popular, I get a few hundred visitors on an average day, and posts do not appear too infrequently to stop people coming back to look for more abuse and general swearing about wine – two-thirds of the visitors to Elitistreview have been at least once before. Thank you for visiting so often, kind readers!
Why was this post not published on the first? There have been some problems having a wine of quality to mark the anniversary.
The Editor and I started off by popping a bottle of Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2016. It was corked.
Then we tried a bottle of Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Lenton Brae. God it was boring! I have had few wines as piss boring as that. There was a bit of fruit, bit of wood and a bit of tannin, and that was it. The wine was so lacking dimension that if you looked at it from the wrong angle it disappeared. It was dreary, pedestrian, simple and so very dull. I hate being bored by wines, it was staggeringly mundane. It was so miserable to drink, you’d have to try hard to be offended by it, and that offends me! The existentialist in me wanted to sob with the pointlessness of being alive, it was so bleeding boring!
Next we had a bottle of Ryan Riesling 2017 from Escarpment. I would hate to say anything negative about one of Larry McKenna’s wines since I have been buying and enjoying them all my adult life. Moreover, he is a truly lovely fellow – would not say “Boo!” to a goose. The problem is this wine was quite disgusting. Not instantly projectile vomiting-disgusting but still bloody awful. It tasted like weak hydrochloric acid solution with a drop of lime juice in it and a spray of insecticide into the bottle. Riesling with very little flavour is impressively bad but when those flavours are horrible you have really got to applaud the man for fucking over a varietal that in other hands makes the best white wines in the world. The only thing it excelled at was how close it got to the wrong end of the fine wine-to-rancid piss spectrum without being legally required to have a biohazard warning sticker.
Finally, I dived into one of the cases gifted by my wonderful friend Keith Prothero (who has been so kind in donating so many good wines to the Elitistreview Tasting Pile) and found something good enough to review for Elitistreview’s anniversary. Thank you, Keith!
Riesling Pechstein ‘Grand Cru’ 2009, Dr Bürklin-Wolf
This has the luxuriantly ripe nose of a warm vintage Pfalz wine. The fruit in here is high quality, but the nose is not amazingly complex. This is more of a weighty charmer of a wine than an elegant angel dancing on the top of the bottle.
It is 13% and it smells like there is going to be some residual sugar rather than be harshly dry. Good. I like balance and harmony. There is a hint of baked apple on the nose which suggests to me this is reaching time to drink.
Bürklin-Wolf wines have a reputation amongst some as the best, traditional estate of the Pfalz, making solid wines that will hang around forever. I have usually found they are quite nice up to about a decade, then quite rapidly fall into crapulence. This seems to follow that pattern.
The first German wine I ever purchased was a Bürklin-Wolf – it seemed nice but nothing special. I get a bit of that feeling about this wine just from the nose. Good fruit, yes; harmonious, yes; amazing complexity, not really.
But that fruit does smell high quality and I want to taste this. Yeah, good fruit in this wine, but not made with incredible skill. As I said above, harmonious, but not pulsing with involute depths to discover.
It has good balance between the powerful fruit character, the warmth of the alcohol and the hint of residual sugar that has been allowed to remain and just shows itself after a decade of ageing. It is certainly a good wine. Just not one of the world’s best wines.
There is good length, but again no kaleidoscope of complex flavours swirl around your palate as you swallow it. Acidity is a tiny shade low, but a 2009 Pfalz wine of this type is always going to be made from very rich grapes that might have had a little bit of the zip ripened out of them.
This strikes me as quite a typical Dr Bürklin-Wolf wine: it is good, made from quality fruit with a degree of character from the vineyard. However, it is ultimately lacking a shade of complexity and will not age for as long as one would hope for a wine purporting to be a prestige bottling.
Do not get me wrong, this is a great, easy drink for a warm summer’s day. But if one is striving for brilliance in the Pfalz then one should be heading for Müller-Catoir.
With regard to hydrochloric acid, it tastes of vomit.
Congratulations Davy and thanks for the service you give to lovers of fine wine. You are fairly unique amongst bloggers in giving a totally unbiased opinion
Hope you carry on for many more years
I always try and tell it like it is. There’s no point in having wine writing if it is always uncritically positive. If you are going to be useful you have to be down on bad things.
I should have put this in the article, but Elitistreview has been through so near brushes with death, it is usually been you that’s saved it, Keith. You have my eternal gratitude for that and I hope anyone who likes Elitistreview realises you are a significant reason for is continuing existence. Thank you!
Wot Keith sez. Definitely. Elitist review is, by a distance, my favourite (and most reliable) wine site.
Tom, you are terribly kind! Thank you! Although all the bad neural connections in my mind say you didn’t specify in what manner Elitistreview is reliable, I say bollocks to crushingly low self-esteem and I’m touched that you think my sweary musings have any degree of consistency at all! Mano thanks!