Saturday, August 9, 2008

8/8/08 Proves an Auspicious Date for Intro to German Wine Class

As promised, I'm blogging about the Introduction to German Wine class we had last evening.

It was GREAT! Fantastic enery, fantastic wines. A group of 25 people assembled to hear what I had to say about German wine, and to taste what I had to pour. We had 12 wines, and they showed beautifully, and almost covered the entire story of German wine. I say almost because it is true that I did not have any Weissburgunder or Muller-Thurgau or Scheurebe or Gewurztraminer to show, as I wanted to showcase a number of new 2007 Rieslings that had just arrived.

We started off with a couple of Spatburgunders, one from Heger (2005) and one from Furst (2006). Both showed well, with the Heger giving impressions of dried herbs in Beaujolais, and the Furst showing silky cherry fruit and just lovely texture. Out of the two Spatburgunder, Furst was clearly the more elegant and better of the two, and if I had to choose, I would definitely pay the $10 extra for the lovely Furst. Unfortunately, there was much confusion over the names since Furst was poured second, and people kept saying they liked the first/Furst one, whatever that was!

Next up was a flight of dry whites: 2006 Juliusspital Iphofer Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner Kabinett Trocken, which was a lovely example of a very long German wine name and a naming system that perhaps is undergoing some revision toward the more simple, hopefully, someday, and 2007 Pfeffingen Dry Riesling, a gorgeous wine with a nice, short, Americanized name. The Silvaner was bone dry, but showed a beautiful perfumed nose that many in the group liked. But my favorite of the two was the Pfeffingen Riesling, something I tasted at the Rudi Wiest vintage tasting back in June and loved. For a mere $15.99, this Riesling is a true winner, with a great fruity aroma and a palate that is rich, textured, fruity and dry, all in one. A refreshing lemony goodness pervades this little humble Riesling, and for me, was the value wine of the night.

The next 2 flights were 2007 Kabinetts. The first flight showed two Kabinetts that were on the medium-dry side: 2007 Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett and 2007 Selbach-Oster Estate Riesling Kabinett. Essentially, these are both estate Riesling Kabinetts, the first one, Gunderloch, from the rich, red soils of the Rheinhessen and the second one, Selbach-Oster, from the slatey inclined vineyards of the middle Mosel. Side by side, these two Rieslings showed their terroir very well. The Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste had lovely weight in the mouth, with nectarines dominating on the palate, without excessive sweetness, a focused wine made by the expert winemaking of Fritz Hasselbach. In contrast, the Selbach-Oster displayed zippy acidity in a lighter, very Mosel-characteristic frame, full of mineral and delicate fruit. Two very good wines, also showing the clean character of the vintage 2007.

Next up were two sweeter Kabinetts: 2007 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett and 2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett. Two well-known Mosel producers and their single vineyard Kabinetts. The Monchhof showed a great deal of residual sugar and simply a bright sweet cling peach aspect, a perfect wine for having with some fantastic Thai or Chinese food. Meanwhile, the Fritz Haag, while slightly less sweet in impression, was long and rich on the palate, with fine minerality. Showed side-by-side, I would choose the Fritz Haag Kabinett as the more complex wine, but of course, the Monchhof offers great drinking value!

Then, onto a flight of Spatlese. We had two here, one from 2007 and one from 2006, both from the Mosel. It was 2007 Monchhof Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese and 2006 Milz Trittenheimer Leiterchen Riesling Spatlese. Both single vineyard wines from steep, steep vineyards. Scary is how I described how these vineyards were in their inclines. These two wines showed more the differences between the two vintages than the differences between the two producers and their vineyards. The 2007 Monchhof was clean and fresh and delicious in its own way, without a hint of botrytis, while the 2006 Milz was significantly darker in color, with a nose of honey and dried apricots and a palate to match. The group liked both wines for different reasons, and I agreed. In fact, the botrytised 2006 Milz was maybe a touch more enjoyable as it seemed a bit more complex with that botrytis, but I have been known on more than one occasion to enjoy that 2007 Monchhof Spatlese with it clean yet firm fruit. Both wines came alive and created explosions of ecstacy when the blue cheese was brought out and consumed with glee.

Finally, the Auslese flight. I asked everyone to inject themselves with some insulin, and on we went: 2006 Dr. Thanisch Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Auslese and 2006 Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Auslese. This flight was delicious. The Thanisch showed its middle Mosel goodness that included a great deal of minerality and complexity, while the Wegeler from the Rheingau was big and bold, with rich fruit and body. Again, explosive wines with the blue cheese. We finished the tasting on a very high note.

In all, the tasting was auspicious and no one was unimpressed with the fine wines of Germany. My co-pilot for the evening, Megan Cutler commented that everyone bought something that night, that no one left empty-handed! I'm always happy when sales are good. But not only that, it seemed that everyone was in high spirits, having a good time, enjoying each other's company in the presence of these lovely wines. And that made me a very happy camper.


Samantha Dugan said...

Hey Nancy,
What a detailed re-cap! As you know I got to try those wines before I left last night and they were so tasty and different from one that kind of tasting. People think they know what Rieslings tastes like but there are so many exciting flavors to explore!
So glad to hear it was a good crowd, I did get to hear from a few that had attended, (they were there for our Rose tasting today...die hard non?) and they said they had a great time and learned a lot! Nice work lady.

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