Wow, lots of great stuff to read about the amazing life of Robert Mondavi, who died yesterday at the age of 94. I had read some things about this man's life, but I am not intimately knowledgeable about the details as many who love wine are, but I am fascinated with the stories. The passion and the dedication to California fine wine, before there was California fine wine - now that is foresight and trail-blazing at its best! I love stories like that.
Now, back to Auslese. Last evening we hosted an event with only a mere 9 present to taste the wonderful category of German wine known as Riesling Auslese. We featured 10 wines, 9 from the Mosel, and only 1 from the Rheingau.
Our first flight included 2 from the Monchhof winery in Urzig - the 2006 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten and the 2006 Monchhof Erdener Pralat. Both wines showed well, but the Erdener Pralat won hands down in terms of elegance and complexity. The Wurzgarten was nice also, but more fruit-driven, with tons of tropical notes - pineapple-type ripeness filling the glass and lots of sweetness on the palate. The Pralat, on the other hand, had a balance of minerality and restrained fruit, and much more focus and precision.
The second flight was also from Robert Eymael, in conjuction with Hans Leo Christoffel - 2003 JJ Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese* and 2002 JJ Christoffel Erdener Pralat Auslese**. Both wines showed development, but the 2003 showed more petrol on the nose and on the palate, with savory notes of slate along with still-present fruit and sweetness. The 2002 was fresher, with brighter acidity and just a hint of petrol on the palate. Both wines were very nice overall, and showed the development of these wines with some age. They certainly made better food wines than the 2006 Ausleses.
The third flight consisted of JJ Prum: 2006 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich and JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr. The Graacher was much more open for business, filling the glass with rich aroma of yeast/beer and underlying white peach fruit and slate. The Wehlener was more closed and had a more sulfury aroma, even though I explained that this is likely not due to a higher sulfur addition to the wine, but more due to prolonged lees contact. I thought the wines were solid and quite fantastic, especially the Graacher showing so well, but members of the audience were less impressed, and at this juncture, more folks were impressed with the Pralat from the first flight than they were with the more highly celebrated JJ Prums. Shrug! And yes, everyone discussed that JJ Prums are more for aging than drinking at this embryonic age...
The fourth flight consisted of two very big wines from Reinhold Haart: 2006 Reinhold Haart Wintricher Oligsberger and 2006 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropchen. Both wines are Erste Lage (First Growth) wines and they were huge, showing tons of tropical fruit and red fruits on the nose and palate, ripe, dripping yellow peaches. The Piesporter showed somewhat better than the Oligsberger, and would have been my choice if I were to buy one of the two.
The final flight pitted one big boy from the Mosel against the lone Rheingau Auslese: 2006 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr and 2006 Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg. Let's say first that the Wegeler was a disappointment. Perhaps I should have put this wine earlier in the line-up, but given that it was a Rheingau, I thought final place should be best - I was somewhat wrong. It was not as bold and firm as it could have been - instead it was merely sweet and fluffy and fruity. One tasting member commented that this is not Wegeler's best property - the Wegeler Mosel's Berkasteler Doctor Auslese would have been a better choice. I agree. I did try to purchase the 2006 Wegeler Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese but the importer was out of this wine at the time. Alas, I will have to try to order it again.
Now, the Fritz Haag Auslese - that was excellent, and perhaps arguably, the wine of the night. It showed power and elegance all in one - so different from the other wines - so much depth and length and fruit and minerals - it had everything. Sure, at this point I was all sweeted out, but I could still appreciate the greatness of this wine. Fantastic.
So if I were to rate the 10 Ausleses from best to poorest performing last night it would be in this order:
1. 2006 Fritz Haag BJS
2. 2006 Monchhof EP
3. 2006 Reinhold Haart PG
4. 2006 JJ Prum GH
5. 2006 Reinhold Haart WO
6. 2002 JJ Christoffel ET
7. 2003 JJ Christoffel UW
8. 2006 JJ Prum WS
9. 2006 Monchhof UW
10. 2006 Wegeler RBS