Saturday, February 27, 2010

Back from Deutschland - a mini vintage report on 2009 German wines

Hi folks, I'm back from Germany... tasting the wonderful 2009 vintage.

The 2009 vintage was pretty fun to taste - very expressive at this early stage... more "ready-to-drink" at this early point than the 2008s were last year this time.

2009 in Germany differs from 2008 - 2008 was a high acid vintage, while 2009, the wines are more ripe and powerful, with high must weights and good physiological ripeness. The vintage has been compared to 2005 for Germany.

Those who liked Germany's 2005 and 2007 vintages will like the 2009s a lot. There's good balance in a wines, plus good stuffing in the middle. Both dry and fruity wines are good, with lots of healthy (non-botrytised) grapes harvested through a dry harvest season.

My favorite collections this year were:

Zilliken - for outstandingly bright and focused Saar Rieslings

Schafer-Frohlich - for spontaneous yeast-fermented laser-beam precision Nahe Rieslings

Von Hovel - for simply delicious and juicy and minerally Saar Rieslings

Dr. F. Weins-Prum - for classic middle Mosel Rieslings

Schloss Lieser - for terroir-driven spontaneous-yeast fermented Mosel Rieslings

Friedrich Becker - for outstanding Pinot Noir from the Pfalz that gets better ever year

Joh. Jos. Prum - the 2009s were incredibly easy to taste, given that these wines usually take a lot of time to come out - all spontaneous yeast-fermented

But truly, all the estates we visited had terrific wines from the 2009 collection - there wasn't a bad one in the bunch, just differences in style..

New this year: it seems a lot of estates are moving to the three tiered classification for their wines: First group is their Estate Riesling, or Gutsriesling; Second tier is the Village wines (like French village wines); and the Highest tier is the Grosses Gewachs or Grand Cru or First Growth level.

So for instance, Zilliken makes an Estate Riesling, their basic Riesling, then they make a Saarburger Riesling, made from fruit harvested in several vineyards in the Saarburg area, then finally, they make a Grosses Gewachs wine from their top vineyard, the Saarburger Rausch. Other estates are doing this also - for example, Fritz Haag will do a Fritz Haag Estate Riesling, a Brauneberg Riesling Kabinett, and their Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr wines will all be their Grosses Gewachs wine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nancy's weekend to celebrate the Olympics in Canada, Chinese New Year, and sweet, sweet love

A lot to pack into this weekend, as I make room in my mind to get ready to leave the continent to a much, much colder, snowier place. But to be honest, the weekend has been great, and I've enjoyed all the festivities.

The first thing was the Olympics, which are held in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. Since I couldn't be there, Johan and I watched all three hours of the opening ceremony on television. It's a first for me - I've never watched the Olympics opening ceremony in its entirety before. I would have liked to have watched the Beijing opening ceremonies from a couple of years ago, but I only caught the tail end of it when one of the athletes lit the torch while performing the gymnastic feat of simulated running while suspended in mid-air. I recall that being pretty cool. Perhaps one of these days, I'll get a copy of that Olympics opening ceremony and watch it in full.

But I did watch the Vancouver one from beginning to end, and it was pretty great. I enjoyed how the First Nations were featured as important people in Canada, and in particular, in the west coast where Vancouver is now situated. It reminds me of when I went to school, and learned all about Canada's aboriginal people, their culture, and its importance in the history of Canada. The dances and speeches put on by several of the First Nations were impressive, showing their elaborate hand-made ceremonial dress.

I also enjoyed the following shows put on by many Canadian celebrities, in particular, K.D. Lang, who sang so beautifully and eloquently, it was haunting. It was also good to see a couple other singers I admire, Bryan Adams and Sara McLaughlin.

Speaking of celebrities, one of the Olympic flag-bearers, I believe, was Nancy Greene, a Canadian skier, and her appearance put a smile to my lips, as I always remember that my father told me I was named after her.

All in all, a great show, one that made me proud to be a Canadian, and of course, a little sad that I am not there (though I am not far away).

Fast forward to today - Chinese New Year's Eve. Growing up, this is a huge holiday with tons of unique foods and dishes especially to ring out the old year and ring in the new. Both my grandmother and my mother would cook about 20 dishes each, and start a week or two in advance preparing things for the celebration which would be an eating festival spanning several days. Besides eating, there is of course the gathering of family, the visiting of relatives, the giving and receiving of red envelopes stuffed with fresh, crisp notes newly issued from the bank.

Again, a bit of sadness as I'm not with my family celebrating, but I did manage to prepare something Chinese to dine on with the hubby as he watched a hockey game (seems like the Kings are winning this one, so that's good). I prepared a chicken dish that is like Coq au Vin, but without the vin, and instead is slightly braised with soy sauce and cooked together with Chinese mushrooms and other wonderful, flavorsome things which I will refer to as Chinese truffles, because that's how earthy and delicious I think these things are. I butchered a whole chicken from scratch for this recipe, and it was pretty awesome.

Tomorrow: Valentine's Day. On the menu: Champagne - oh yes - 2000 Camille Saves from Bouzy (better not be corked!!! I mean it!) and Thomas Keller's butter poached lobster recipe - 2 lobsters will meet a hot water bath that will turn them red, but they won't be boiled, just slightly warmed enough to let me unbutton their jackets and take them out of their shells... then the meat will be poached in a butter sauce made from warm water and butter, heated ever so gently, not fried, but gently poached..... and that will be dinner for two. Wonderful.

I'll end with this: May you all have the Valentines Day of your dreams...... and GO CANADA!!!!! MAY GOLD BE YOUR COLOUR, BAYBEE! (The "u" in colour added for emphasis)

Monday, February 8, 2010

How I'll be spending my birthday this year

I've got my Germany trip itinerary now, and it looks like I'll be spending my birthday in the Mosel. Four estates in one day (a Sunday, no less!), starting out at Schloss Lieser, then visiting Monchhof, then the double whammie of Dr. F. Weins-Prum and Joh. Jos. Prum. Ending off with dinner at Manfred Prum's house, where I have dined two times before.

I let Rudi know that it will be my birthday that day. I hope to taste my birth year vintage of a Riesling or two. I know that back in 2007, my first trip, I did get to taste a '71 Reinhold Haart from Theo Haart and it was pretty amazing.

I also look forward to celebrating with my husband and friends after I return from the Cold Place.

And here's today's Haiku:

9 wins in a row
Can the Kings make it 10 t'night?
Winning is fun, eh?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Haiku #4

ATM Machine
Wished me a happy birthday
Quirky, but not bad!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Haiku #3

Day after the rains
Gulls bathe in lakes formed in sand
I run in cool breeze

German wine notes - mostly 2008s

So last evening, I had the pleasure of being a part of Randy's Intro to German wines class at The Wine Country. He opened some pretty terrific wines, and they showed beautifully. And did I mention that each and every wine was a Rudi Wiest import? Randy is SUPER loyal to the Rudi wines, even more than I am, so of course I had to be there!

Randy had a really great line-up of wines, starting off with 5 varieties that were not Riesling, followed by an 08 Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese from the same producer, same vineyard, the famous J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr, and finally three flights, the first, 2 Kabinetts, the second, 2 Spatleses, and the third, 2 Ausleses.

Here is their story:

2007 Becker Pinot Noir - Great. This wine showed very, very well this evening. No wondering I've been selling it like hotcakes to restaurants, wine bars, and stores. Aromatic on the nose, expressive black cherry; on the palate, rich while still being clean. Not heavy but plenty of Pinot flavor.

2008 Wirsching Estate Silvaner - Great. Refreshing, bright, dry, and crisp, this flavorful white wine was very appealing and made you want to drink a glass or two.

2006 Heger Pinot Gris - Good. Much richer wine next to the Silvaner - darker in color, more concentrated, a more Chardonnay-type of wine, has a barrel-fermented quality to it, was likely fermented/aged in old oak barrels.

2007 Gunderloch Gewurztraminer - Good. Floral on the nose, lots of flower petals. On the palate, just off-dry, spicy, like a Gewurz should be.

2008 Pfeffingen Scheurebe - Outstanding. Crisp and sweet, full of guava and pink grapefruit, nice acidity balancing the residual sugar. Very tasty and addictive wine. I liked it much more than the Gewurz. Thank you Dr. Scheu!

2008 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett - Good. I was surprised that Randy wanted to open three 2008 JJ Prums, as these wines usually don't show well in youth, but Randy was interested in tasted them. As expected, this Kabinett was stinky on the nose, but it didn't smell like sulfur so much as blue cheese and yeast. On the palate, dry-ish, high acid, fresh.

2008 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonneuhr Riesling Spatlese - Good. Superior to the Kabinett in quality - more weight, more fruit, less stinkiness on the nose. Very clean on the palate, great balance.

2008 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - Stunning. Outstanding. Gorgeous, clean fruit nose, no stink at all. On the palate, you take a sip and you cannot stop. This wine was shockingly delicious, with full, expressive clean non-boytritized fruit, crystalline and pure, weighty without being overly sweet. This is an Auslese for true Riesling lovers. Not shockingly, this wine was sold out in the stores and sold out at the importers, though I will try to bring in a case for Randy if he wants it in a couple of months!

2008 Von Buhl "Armand" Riesling Kabinett - Good. It was hard for me to come back to earth after the most excellent JJ Prum Auslese. But here we were back to a flight of Kabinetts. The Armand showed well, with good acidity and bright fruit. A very good wine for that price point (under $20 retail)

2008 Kunstler Reichstal Riesling Kabinett - Good. I was still struggling with coming down from that Auslese. This single vineyard Kunstler Kabinett is always a winner, with its fleshy, generous core, its majestic Rheingau stature. This wine next to the Armand seemed to show less acidity, but I think this is just the Kunstler style - drinks like a Spatlese.

2008 Von Hovel Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese - Great. I love Spatlese. This one was no exeption, but it wasn't one's usual Spatlese - this was definitely full of minerality and acidity. Pronounced slate and rocky flavors, along with sharp acidity put this wine in this renowned Saar vineyard. Made it a more serious Spatlese than many others. A wine geek's wine.

2008 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese - Great. When does Fritz Haag estate not make a great wine? This wine contrasted with the Von Hovel, showing its charming, softer Mosel qualities. More sweet fruit, acidity that is more rounded, fruit that is brilliantly peachy.

2008 Wegeler Geisenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Auslese - Stunning and outstanding! Wow. I didn't expect this, as I don't drink Wegeler that much. This Auslese was pure, crystal clear, free of botrytis, and absolutely pure pleasure to drink. Concentrated without being too much so, this was I believe my wine of the night. Well, it is a toss-up between the JJ Prum Auslese and this Wegeler Auslese. Perhaps I was also very surprised that these two Ausleses were so enjoyable to me - I thought myself more of a Spatlese person, believing that Auslese can be too sweet for regular drinking. But these two weren't. Maybe because they are from 2008 and have such great acidity; and maybe previous vintages, 2007, 2006 and 2006, the Spatleses were Auslese in disguise. Don't know. Just know that this 08 Wegeler Auslese from the Rheingau was terrific.

2008 Von Buhl Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese - Good. I'm sure the wine was great, but after the Wegeler, I couldn't appreciate it on its own merits. The Ungeheuer was a monster, as its name suggests. Full of boytritis, rich, concentrated, unctuous, palate-coating. If I was just having this on its own with a plate of 2 or 3 different blue cheeses, I'd be happy happy. This wine comes in 375 ml (half bottles) which is perfect, because it packs quite the punch (flavor-wise, not alcohol).

So there it was! Some great German wines.... people loved them.... as did I. Thank you Randy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Today's Haiku

Rain, weather I love
Great German wine class today
At The Wine Country

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Daily Haiku

I'm going to try to write a Haiku poem each day, reflecting my day. When I am out of town, I will write them in my notebook, and come back here to the blog and share them, along with the date they were originally written.

Here's today's:

Spent time with sister
Who was in from out of town
Gave her bottle Heitz