2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese

The original name of the Fritz Haag winery, the Dusemonder Hof, recalls the original name of the village, which changed to Brauneberg from Dusemond in 1925. Until then, the name Brauneberg applied only to the vine-growing hillside on the opposite banks of the Mosel, on which the world-famous Juffer site is located. The core of the Juffer is marked by an old sundial, which gave the Sonnenuhr parcel its name. With its steep, south-southeast facing slope and stony clay slate soil, the Juffer Sonnenuhr has always ranked among the best white wine vineyards in the world, and is equaled in the Mosel only by Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Bernkasteler Doctor. The Rieslings grown here combine mineral richness of the slate soil with the fruity, elegant expression of high ripeness.

2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese

Medium gold color. The nose is sweet and fresh, with intoxicating aromatic richness, exhibiting generous tropical fruits, pineapple, lemon rind, sweet melon, Asian spice and warm rubber. A silky texture fills the mouth, displaying ethereal weightless, while the mouth-watering acidity perfectly balances the natural sweetness. The wine is rich on the palate, with similar flavors as on the nose. The finish has immense length, preserving the same note of mouth-watering acidity and lingering citrus and tropical fruits flavors. 7.5% alc (92-93/100)

A great Riesling – 2007 Christmann Riesling Konigsbacher Idig Grosses Gewachs

There are a few vineyards in Germany renowned for both outstanding white and red wines. One of the greatest is the 19 ha Idig vineyard near Konigsbach in the Mittelhaardt region at the heart of the Palatinate, which might be likened in this respect to Corton in Burgundy. Also comparable to Corton is the soil at Idig, marked by limestone clay with a high percentage of rocks. Alongside elegant, silky Pinot Noirs, remarkable Rieslings grow here and rank among the richest wines of this variety in Germany.

The modern fame of this location is linked to the Christmann family from Neustadt-Gimmeldingen, which owns about 7 ha at the core of Idig. Steffen Christmann has, for years, created one of Germany’s most impressive dry white wines. Steffen Christmann is new president of the VDP.

Erste Lage is a vineyard site of exceptional quality, classified according to criteria set up by influential wine-grower’s association Verband Deutscher Pradikats und Qualitatsweinguter (VDP). On labels, Erste Lage sites are marked with a grape logo with a “I” next to it. A producer’s best dry wine from an Erste Lage site is called Grosses Gewachs or Erstes Gewachs. Grosses Gewachs translates as “great/top growth”. Off-dry or sweet wines from Erste Lage vineyards display the logo, but they are not called Grosses or Erstes Gewachs. Rheingau has its own Erstes Gewachs classification.

2007 vintage rewarded those growers who waited to pick until October, achieving ripe grapes with cool nights conserving good acidity levels. Very good for Pinot Noir and other reds as well as Riesling. However, dry wines seems to be maturing faster than expected.

2007 Christmann Riesling Konigsbacher Idig Grosses Gewachs Pfalz

Medium gold-coppery color. Developed and complex nose of real intensity, showing a melange of  baroque style aromas of quince marmalade, apricots and melon,  mixed with subtle white truffles, lemon rind, light petrol and plenty of yellow Asian spices. Full bodied, showing depth and richness on the palate, well balanced, a silky texture reminiscent of fine white Burgundy, with mouth-watering acidity and a kaleidoscope of flavors. Long finish, lively, with huge Asian spice flavors in the aftertaste. 13% alc. (93/100)

Who needs pricey high end white Burgundy when we can have such a beautiful wine for decent money ? Had this wine with turbot cooked in a salty crust.

With appetizers I had Serve’s top white wine from the 2010 vintage: Terra Romana Cuvee Amaury a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling aged for 6 months in oak barrels.

2010 Serve Terra Romana Cuvee Amaury

The wine is fresh and exhibits a mix of citrus fruit, well blended oak and spices, with pleasant acidity and a medium spicy, citric finish. There are certain similarities on the flavors profile between the two wine as there is a big portion of Riesling in the Cuvee Amaury, but not with the same amplitude. (85/100)

2006 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese

Wehlener Sonnenuhr is without doubt regarded as one of the best white vineyards in the world. And although many other well-known producers own land here as well, this site is intrinsically linked to the name Joh. Jos. Prum. This wine-grower dynasty can be traced back to the twelfth century.

2006 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese

Although an Auslese is recommended to be approached only after 8-10 years after the vintage, I just could not wait to check out how the wine is. Yellow lemon with green reflections, a very youthful color. There is incredible richness on the nose, with very strong aromas of petrol, warm rubber, pineapple, quince, yellow tropical fruits and Asian spices. Unctuous on the palate, with an oil like viscosity, with rich layers of flavors on the palate, delicate fruit and an outstanding balance between beguiling sweetness and intoxicating, mouth-watering acidity. The finish is long and goes on forever with lingering flavors of lemon confit and honey. With just feather-light alcohol- 8%, there is nothing else that one may claim from such an excellent white wine. Concentrated juice. (93-94/100)

This is a wine that can equally pair foie gras and very sweet desserts. It went extremely well with Christmas cake and other sweet home made cookies, being the highlight of a Christmas meal with family.

Carbonnieux Blanc ’08, Musar ’03 and Cati ’09

We haven’t seen our Greek friends for a long time and I was very excited to learn that we’ll meet them and have dinner together on FRI evening. We dinned at Crowne Plaza’s La Veranda, a place I start to enjoy more and more. The food was pretty good and it seems that pleased all of us. Our friends are really savvy when it comes to what are the best places to eat in town, so I was very content to learn that they did not visit this place lately and to see them enjoying the dishes.

I had my favorite appetizer from La Veranda: Ahi tuna tartar with sesame seeds and avocado that went pretty well with the 2008 Carbonnieux blanc – Champagne remains the ultimate best companion for this dish.  The second course was beef steak with king prawns, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and waxed green beans – I liked the combination of Shitaki-Champignon mushrooms, but the beef was a bit too cooked(I usually like my beef as bloody as possible). The beef was paired by Chateau Musar 2003. For dessert another all time favorite from La Veranda: crumble with quince and plum pulp served next to a Spatlese Riesling from Mosel with 9% alcohol, some residual sugar and plenty of acidity to balance it and give a sense of freshness. The other persons at the table had some sushi rolls made with some type of creamy cheese that was unusual and surprising, but very tasty.

2008 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc Pessac Leognan

Blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, aged for about 12 months in French oak. I previously tasted the 2007 version of the same wine and enjoyed it a lot, so naturally I was very curious to see if the ’08 is as successful. It certainly is.

Medium yellow color with green reflections. Well developed and intense nose, exuberant, with aromas of smoke, honeysuckle, Indian spices, apricots and tropical fruits: pineapple, tangerine and very smart oak.  Medium body, bright acidity, lively palate, with very good freshness and intensity of flavors, the same exuberance as on the nose in a more condensed manner. The finish is medium to long, fresh and spicy. A beauty. (91-92/100)

2003 Chateau Musar Gaston Hochar red Bekka Valley

A legendary producer from Lebanon that I was eager to taste. 14% alc

Ruby red color with garnet reflections and very youthful. Well developed nose with very good intensity, a bit of rust before swirling the wine in the glass, but after that the wine gains completely new dimensions, with aromas of sweet red fruits: bright red and black cherry, red currant, raspberry, lots of spices, earth, licorice and tobacco. Medium plus bodied, with an extremely smooth texture and absolutely no hard edges. The tannins are ripe and well integrated, lively, showing good depth. On the palate: very minty, with flavors of bright red fruits, earth, spices and just a touch of Brett enough to make it interesting and show the Musar barnyard typical signature. Medium plus finish, with lingering flavors and spicy. This has an almost Pinot Noir purity of red fruit aromas and carries a Burgundian character that I find very seducing. I could drink this all day. (92-93/100)

2009 Cati Riesling Spatlese

Yellow lemon color with green reflections. The wine preserves the typical Mosel characteristics, with petrol, apricots and citric fruits. Full bodied, great acidity keeping the residual sugar in good balance, rich on the palate, with a medium finish and good freshness. Always a good choice to pair with a lighter sweet dessert. (88-89/100)

Our friends were delighted with the whites and fancied the red Lebanese wine as well. The red Musar has an extremely good drink-ability.

Wine-dinner by From Grapes to Wine

Last SUN, on November 20, 2011, I organized my first Wine dinner themed: Bordeaux of the ’90s. The place was the cozy and fancy The Vineyard section from Crowne Plaza’s La Veranda restaurant. We were 16 people all together and enjoyed an almost 5 h dinner and 6 courses meal. There were 11 foreign wines scheduled for tasting, plus another 3 Romanians that we served before and after dinner.

I uncorked the wines around 18:00 and I was happy to discover that almost all corks went out in one piece. The most difficult to pull out were the corks of the two oldest wines: 1970 and 1975. However there was no problem to uncork them and no piece of cork managed to fall in the bottle.

The event initially scheduled for 19:30, started around 20:00 when all the people arrived; meanwhile a 2010 Sole Sauvignon Blanc from Recas was served to open up the appetite for what was scheduled to come. An easy drinking wine that served its purpose very well.

The first course of the meal was Tuna Tartare with baby greens and avocado served with two Champagne’s: a white vintage from Moutard and a rose Bollinger NV.

2003 Moutard Cuvee des 6 Cepages Brut Champagne

This is a rather unusual Champagne as it contains all six grapes varieties allowed to be grown in Champagne. Most of the producers use only the three well known Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Moutard uses for this blend also Arbanne, Pinot Blanc and Petit Meslier. These latter three grape varieties are grown only marginally in Champagne and considered to produce a wine of lesser quality. Moutard is a well known producer of spirits and until 2000 its Champagnes lacked raciness and were rather average. But a major shift in quality was made in the early 2000 and the level of quality continues to climb every year ever since. There is even a 100% Arbanne Vieilles Vignes Champagne produced by Moutard which unfortunately I did not taste so far.

2003 was a challenging vintage in Champagne in the face of an unprecedented heat wave during the summer months. The frosts conditions early in the season led to the demise of half of the crop, so the Champagne production from 2003 was severely restricted. The harvest began as early as the last week of August, in a way similar to 2011. As a result, grapes enjoyed exceptional ripeness and fruitiness, but low acidity. Pinot Noir fared better than the Chardonnay.

The 2003 Cuvee des 6 Cepages Brut has a light gold color with microscopical, subdued bubbles. The nose is rich, intense and evolves with aeration, exhibiting complex aromas of biscuit, dough, citric fruits, baked apple and even an interesting old cognac-caramel aroma. In the mouth, this medium plus bodied Champagne is racy, creamy and well focused on the palate, showing good tension and pure flavors. The finish is medium plus long, with a refreshing mix of minerals and citric fruit peel aftertaste. Really good purity of flavors. (92/100)

Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Rose NV

This Champagne was kindly provided by the importer: Cramele Halewood. Bollinger is one of the few producers that uses oak casks during the first fermentation process.

The color is a light pink salmon with smooth bubbles. The nose is more showy and less refined  than the previous Champagne, intense, with sweet aromas of small red fruits, dough, baked apple and sugar cane. It probably has a higher dossage because the taste is fuller, but still creamy on the palate. A medium finish with red fruits in the aftertaste. (88-89/100)

The second course of the meal was Foie-gras terrine with caramelized apple served next to three German Rieslings from the left bank of the Ruwer river, about two kilometres before it joins the Mosel.

1993 Maximin Grunhaus(er) Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett trocken 10% alc

1993 was a small, excellent vintage: lots of Auslesen/botrytis, with near perfect harmony. Wonderful to drink now.

There is a medium gold color. The nose is well developed and youthful, intense, with a strong aroma of petrol, exotic fruits, tangerine, pineapple and wax , a nose with great typicality. Medium bodied, showing a tremendous acidity and lively palate, very youthful, a dry wine, with a medium and fresh finish. The flavors are not very intense in the mouth, but the balance is really good. A good surprise from a simple Kabinett with a real sweet nose and a dry to off dry sensation in the mouth.  (88-89/100)

2002 Maximin Grunhaus(er) Abtsberg Riesling Spatlese 7.5% alc

2002 vintage is a small miracle how the Riesling grapes survived one of the wettest harvests on record to give ripe, succulent, lively wines (mostly Kabinett and Spatlese), and attractive drunk young or mature.

A medium gold color, similar to the 1993. The nose is more reductive, but more elegant, with a lighter aroma of petrol, and with good exotic fruits and honeysuckle. Full bodied, well balanced and showing a really lively palate, with great intensity of flavors. The finish is medium plus long, with racy acidity and lingering flavors. This remains an elegant and delicate wine from the nose to the finish. (91-92/100)

2009 Cati Riesling Spatlese 9% alc

A wine kindly provided by the importer: Winero. The wine comes from the small 2 ha property owned by the same partnership that owns Enira in Bulgaria: Stephan von Neipperg and dr Karl Heintz Hauptmann. 2009 was, as far as I understood, their first vintage produced.

A medium gold color. A Riesling with good typicality, with intense aromas of petrol, exotic and tropical fruits, pineapple, peach, yellow apples and citric fruit. The aromas are more intense than in the 2002 but do not have the same complexity and delicacy. Full bodied, with good acidity, good balance and a medium plus fresh finish. A more rustic wine than the previous, but charming nevertheless. (89/100)

Next course of the meal was Pancetta wrapped Atlantic cod, corn and mushrooms with veal jus vinaigrette. For this dish the chef suggested the oldest wine of the tasting: a 1970 Pomerol.

1970 Chateau Nenin Pomerol

1970 was successful throughout Bordeaux, but St-Emilion and Pomerol produced many of the top wines.

A ruby red color with a brick rim. A completely matured nose, with discreet aromas and very little fruit left, even a bit metallic and dusty. Medium bodied and unfortunately past its best, there is still some acidity left but the wine finishes very quickly and there is virtually no aftertaste. Past its drinking window. Probably tasted in the first 30 minutes of uncorking it, the wine would have fared better. (70-72/100)

The Beef Mignon with potato puree, foie-gras Ravioli, wax beans and veal reduction was served in the company of three wines: a 1990 Saint-Emilion, a 1994 Pauillac and a 1995 Pessac Leognan.

1990 Chateau Pavie Decesse Saint-Emilion

1990 was overall a hotter and drier year than 1989. Sugar levels were close to the highs of 1989. Because of the size of the crop, many conscientious estates practiced green-harvesting in July to reduce the yields. It was also the driest year since 1961. Overall 1990 was an excellent vintage.

The wine has a red garnet, youthful color with surprisingly light signs of aging. The nose is well developed, elegant and maturing, sweet, with good intensity and aromas of smoke, red currant, cedar, red fruits and dry plums, mint and even a light touch of balsamic notes. Medium bodied, lively and youthful in the mouth, well balanced, with appealing juiciness, with ripe tannins and finely balanced, and flavors of tobacco, leather, black tea and red fruit. The finish is fresh and medium plus long, with aromatic black tea and plum in the aftertaste. There is reasonable concentration and length. (91-92/100)

I was talking to a friend some time ago and mentioned him the wines for this tasting and he was convinced that the 1990 Pavie Decesse is a dead wine. I am happy to confirm M. that not only this is not dead, but the wine is really charming and pleased most of the guests.

1994 Chateau Baron de Pichon Longueville Pauillac

In 1994 conditions looked highly promising by early September, and then from September 7 the rain began and continued for most of the month. Fortunately temperatures were fairly cool and there was little rot, but the wet weather did cause some dilution. Growers did not delay the harvest, as the grapes, especially Merlot, were as ripe as they were going to get, and there was nothing to be gained by waiting. The red wines turned out to be dark, quite rich and tannic.

A red garnet, still youthful color. A well developed and Cabernet nose of considerable sweetness, youthful, with good intensity, and aromas of black currant, cedar, tobacco, green vegetables, bay leaf and quite ethereal. Medium bodied, youthful, forward and easy-going, not too extracted,  subtle red fruit and tobacco, round and mellow tannins, but still well structured and balanced. Medium plus finish with a drying black tea like sensation. (91-92/100)

1995 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac Leognan

Some critics declared themselves unimpressed by 1995, but with time it has become clear that this is easily the best vintage since 1990, and the best wines are evolving slowly but impressively. They will be long-lived.

A youthful red garnet color. A well developed nose, a bit more closed than the previous wine, with Cabernet like aromas of green vegetables, black and red currant, mocha and a bit of stinky brett. Medium bodied, with a sweet palate and assertive tannins, youthful, and similar flavors as on the nose. There is a medium plus finish, very minty, with an aromatic black tea aftertaste and chewy tannins. The tannins are still strong and there is plenty of life ahead for this wine. (90-91/100)

I was a little bit nervous about this Smith Haut Lafitte because I already had a bad experience with a corked 1995 ( a couple of weeks ago) and a cooked 1985 almost one year ago. Fortunately this bottle showed well.

The Cheese with beetroot jam dish was served with a 1992 Saint Julien.

1992 Chateau Leoville Las Cases St-Julien

1992: this was the wettest summer in fifty years. Green-harvesting was essential to reduce potentially enormous yields. Rain fell in late August and again on September 20, the day before the harvest was set to begin, and intermittent rain and cool conditions continued for 3 weeks. Rot made selection essential, and muddy conditions hampered estates used to harvesting by machine. Sugar levels were modest in both Merlot and the Cabernets. The quality of the wine was lackluster, with much dilution; the Northern Medoc fared best. This proved a wretched vintage on the Right Bank, where there was widespread rot, although in Pomerol, where picking was under way before the heaviest rains fell, some adequate wines were made.

The 1992 Leoville Las Cases has a red garnet color, still showing youthful. A well developed nose and youthful, with aromas of forest floor, red fruit, sandalwood and green vegetables. Medium bodied, pretty tannic, perhaps too extracted, going for concentration at all costs and ending up rather charmless. The finish is medium plus with red fruit and tobacco. (90/100)

For dessert we had Quince and plum crumble with Vanilla ice-cream and was served in the company of three wines: a 1975 Sauternes, a Romanian sweet wine not yet launched on the Romanian market and a 2007 Stirbey Feteasca Regala Genius Loci, which for me is a classic wine to pair with a crumble dessert. I am a big fan of 2007 Genius Loci but I absolutely love it paired with a tart like dessert.

1975 Chateau Filhot Barsac Sauternes

The year was acclaimed as great, but it became more apparent that many wines had more tannin than fruit. There is great variation from estate to estate. Many of the best wines came from precocious soils, such as Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc and Petrus. In Sauternes an Indian summer permitted the gradual spread of botrytis. The wines are fruity and stylish and still drinking well.

The 1975 Filhot has a deep amber color. The nose is developed but somehow not that expressive. Full bodied, in the mouth the wine is lush,  peachy, with flavors of marmalade, a touch of pepper from alcohol and a tendency to be caramelized. The finish is long and sweet. The acidity is really good and balances very well the natural sweetness, therefore the wine is unctuous without cloying or being sticky on the palate. (92-93/100)

The night finished rather late for a regular SUN evening, but I am glad that we were able to enjoy the food and talk about wines and wine regions. I am also glad that my audience had a lot of good and interesting questions about what we had tonight and it was not just a simple presentation and a monologue from my side. Therefore I would also like to thank my guests for their presence and I am looking forward to taste wines together again.

For more pictures from this event please go here.