Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Rudi Wiest Selections Christmas Party - or How Well German Riesling Pairs with Rack of Lamb

T'was the Thursday two weeks before Christmas that the Rudi Wiest Selections company hosted its annual party for the team down in Carlsbad. This is the second year that I have attended, and was greeted with very good wine and very good food.

I started off with a 2007 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg First Growth Riesling - a rich dry Riesling that tasted terrific, weighty, full-flavored - a great wine to start with that had body and depth, without being too high in acidity for the first wine of the night.

Then came a stream of hors d'oeuvres including some duck on spoons, seared foie gras on toasted brioche, lobster mac & cheese, Kobe beef sliders, and some other wonderful munchies that took the edge off the hunger, and went great with the wines.

Two sparkling wines got opened, the 2004 Raumland Marie-Luise Brut, a 100% Pinot Noir blanc de noirs Champagne-method sparkling wine that was light in body and refreshing, and a 2000 Von Buhl Pechstein Brut, another Champagne method 100% Pinot Noir sparkler that was more earthy and richer in flavor, darker in color, reflecting the soil of the area (colored sandstone) and the older vintage.

Rudi then opened a new wine, which I believe I tasted before in Germany earlier this year, the 2007 Furst Chardonnay - this is a Chardonnay vinified and aged in new oak, which has a bold flavor that Chardonnay and even white Burgundy lovers would love - the wine is very focused and bright, with good acidity showing through the toasty oak. This is a pricey Chardonnay but would be worth the money for true Chardonnay aficianados, and who knows? There may be a market for German Chardonnay.

But after this, I went back to Riesling once again, and found one I might have enjoyed the most of the evening - well, of the dry Rieslings anyway - 2005 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Auslese Trocken - a terrific, minerally, juicy, succulent dry Riesling with a special je-ne-sais-quoi that isn't found in most other Rieslings - a finesse and deliciousness found at this estate.

We had some delicious fare that was served without a knife, because the meats were so fork tender..... some filet of beef wrapped in proscuitto atop creamy polenta, along with a goat cheese-stuffed zucchini blossom - very fancy! Not a dish I can easily replicate at home... but would like to - especially that super creamy, super flavorful polenta! Way to make cornmeal grits taste good!

With the delicious savory beef, there were several fantastic German Pinot Noirs to choose from. My favorite was this 2003 Rebholz Spatburgunder Spatlese Trocken which was rich, bold, and beautiful. Much richer than the 2004 of this same wine, which is much lighter and earthier... this 2003 had a great deal of concentration and fruit and I really enjoyed it!

Other great Pinot Noirs that were opened included the 2005 Becker Kammerberg Spatburgunder Grosses Gewachs, a top-end Pinot Noir from the Kammerberg vineyard ("Chamber Hill") that goes for over $100.... this was Johan's favorite of the Pinot Noirs, I think. I liked it too, but of course I knew I would, so while I liked it, I wasn't surprised at all by its greatness.

I believe the 2005 Kunstler Pinot Noir from the Rheingau pictured below was also opened, but I didn't taste it on this occasioin, though on other occasions I have enjoyed it. I did taste the 2004 Rebholz Muschelkalk Spatburgunder, which was concentrated in a different way from the 2003 Rebholz Spatburgunder Spatlese Trocken, perhaps less fruity and more concentrated in other ways..... it was more savory, perhaps.

Another Pinot Noir that got opened and tasted was the 2007 Schnaitmann Junge Reben ("young vines") Spatburgunder which was very young and bright (plenty of acidity), with great structure, perfect for pairing with rich food (duck would have been perfect) but since it was being passed around with the 2005 Becker Kammerberg, most people seemed to go with the richer, beefier, heftier Becker wine.... but I did like the Schnaitmann.

All the Pinot Noirs went well with the filet, giving me plenty of proof that German Pinot Noirs are not too light for beef!

Our next course was rack of lamb, one of my favorite meats of all! The lamb was done perfectly, not too well done, but not too rare either. And it was served with crispy fresh fries, nicely salted. On the side, there were some carmelized red onion, and also a dollup of honey, which Johan wondered why it was there. I didn't wonder, though I didn't really eat it either...

I did, however, enjoy this lamb dish with 1989 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spatlese. How terrific was that, drinking a 20 year old Zilliken Spatlese with lamb? I don't know why I went for this initially - perhaps I wanted something to refresh my palate after trying 4 or 5 Spatburgunder, and when I put the wine in my mouth, I couldn't go back to the reds quite yet - and when I paired it with the lamb, it just worked. Perhaps that's what the chef was going for with putting the honey beside the lamb chops - instead of taking the honey, I had the old Riesling, and the two were very complementary. The Zilliken was beautiful - fresh, youthful in a slightly aged way, like someone you would know who is not young and silly but youthful and smart. Yes, that's how this 1989 Zilliken was!

Finally, we had a very cute red velvet cupcake with a gingerbread man on top, and that was a nice ending to a very fantastic meal. With it, I did try the 2005 Schafer-Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Auslese, which was clean, pure, and deliciously sweet without being overly so.

All in all, a good time, a great wine and food party, and a great affirmation that I work for a top-notch importer whose wines I still do love after all.