Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Meeting Ernst Loosen

So today was my day off, so I decided to spend part of it trekking up the 405 freeway to that canyon-like area between the hill range that separates L.A. from "The Valley." The reason? To attend a trade tasting given by a distributor called Chambers & Chambers, a company whose rep is very nice and has shown me some nice wines from Domdechant Werner, Langwerth von Simmern, and Dr. Loosen.

The location was the Skirball Center, which I have passed by many times on the freeway and heard about, but never set foot inside. When I arrived, I was glad I came. It was a nice location, great feng shui, a serene feeling to the place, generous underground parking, friendly people working there, a little garden, and a pleasing, chiselled stone courtyard, where I found the tasting room to one side. The tasting room was bustling, and immediately I saw my coworker Bennett who was already tasting away. He showed me that the outside ring of tables were all domestic wines and the inside ring was the imports. It looked like I was going to have an easy time, because 75% of the wines there were domestic, and I didn't have to taste those!

I was here for the German wines, and began tasting through the Domedechant Werner wines. I really liked these, especially the dry wines. I asked the winemaker, who was pouring, if the estate specialized in the dry wines, and she said, no, they did both, but of course the German market preferred the dry, while the export market still preferred the sweet. I love my sweet German wines, but from this estate I seemed to love the dry ones and especially the 2006 Domedechant Werner Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken. The vineyard name escapes me now, but at any rate, this wine was a buy. Captivating nose full of flower petals and stone fruits, it gave way to a palate that was delicately balanced in that special way that a Halbtrocken can be. A really stunning wine.

The second group I tasted were the wines from Langwerth von Simmern. Here, I like the 2006 Langwerth von Simmern Estate Dry and the 2005 Langwerth von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Spatlese. The dry wine here was much more steely than the examples from Domedechant Werner, with a firmer core and less aromatic nose. Very fresh and solid though. The Spatlese is one I have had before and I just love the weight and the lemon curd and that great length that goes on and on.

Finally, I got to the final German station, that of Dr. Loosen. Ernst Loosen himself was there, and I managed to get a photo with him. Seems like a dynamic character, with his long hair and his red scarf, he was eager to talk about Germany and wine and the Pacific Northwest and conservation and Pinot Noir and many other interesting topics. It was fun to spend this much time talking with someone whom I had only heard about or read google notes on. His wines were very nice and interesting, especially a Pinot Noir that was made from 90% German fruit from the Pfalz if I recall correctly, and 10% Oregon fruit. There were also some wines from J.L. Wolf in the Pfalz which were dry and feinherb style, which were nice. But of course, my favorites are the Mosel wines, and I was impressed with the basic 2006 QbA "Dr. L," which I'm not sure I have tasted before. When I commented that this was quite good for a QbA, the Dr. Loosen representative said that it was because it was a Spatlese. I asked, "Does that mean it was not chaptalized?" (In retrospect, of course that means it wasn't, but I was asking for clarification.) He answer, We haven't needed to chaptalize since the 2000 vintage. So there we have it. An inexpensive Spatlese that has been declassified to Qualitatswein.

There weren't any more German wines to taste after this, which was fine because I like tasting 20 wines instead of 200. I did wander over to Michel Rolland's table (where Michel Rolland was not) and tasted some 2005 Bordeaux, which I found all very good.

All in all, a very enjoyable tasting.

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