I firmly believe that drinking an impressive wine is a celebration in itself. Combined with a special occasion, like the anniversary of a dear friend, we have the x-ray of a perfect event. Last evening I had a lovely dinner with my good friend Dan, celebrating his birthday at a restaurant in Piata Operei – Trattoria Roma. Dan is a wine lover as well, so the meal was accompanied by two amazing wines: Aalto PS 2006 and Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel Riesling 2008. We had a very tasty three course meal together with the two wines we brought in.
I am an advocate of pairing wine with food and I also try to have at least two wines with my meal when time allows. Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying you should drink 2 entire bottles. Alcohol consumption should be treated responsibly, but having 2 glasses of wine, each from each bottle, is more than enough to have a memorable dinner.
Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel Riesling 2008
Franz Hirtzberger, top Wachau producer with 20ha, is one of the seminal figures in a new generation of Austrian winemakers. His winery, located above the village of Spitz, lies on the Danube at the western end of Wachau. 2008 was a nerve racking vintage that could produce outstanding results in the hands of the most careful producers. Protracted cool and rainy spells in Oct and Nov made harvesting very difficult in Lower Austria and in the Burgenland, but in the southern regions, the autumn was more clement.
I have mentioned in a previous review of another Riesling the wines classification in Austria and you can read them here. Federspiel (named after a falconry device) is allowed 11.5% to 12.5% alcohol, roughly equivalent to Kabinett.
The wine has a clear gold color and an oily appearance in the glass. The nose shows flavors of honey, minerals, already discreet petrol aromas, white flowers and pears. In the mouth the wine is medium to full body with pears, green apples, nice minerality, everything wrapped into a beautiful very high acidity. Loved it. The wine finishes with a medium mineral aftertaste. That high minerality makes this a very good wine.
We had this wine with mussels in a white wine sauce. Not ideally as the wine was heavier than the food but a very nice pairing.
Aalto PS 2006
Bodega Aalto was founded in 1999 by Javier Zaccagnini, formerly director of the Consejo Regulador de Ribera del Duero for 6 years, and Mariano Garcia, who was head winemaker at Vega Sicilia from 1968 to 1998. Aalto wines are the product of 100 ha of vines, comprising more than 250 parcels spread out over the various terroir’s of DO Ribera del Duero. No parcel is more than 3 ha, and no vine is less than 40 years old. The standard cuvee is named simply Aalto, with the bodega’s top wine called Aalto PS- Pagos Seleccionados (selected parcels). Tinto fino(Tempranillo) is the only grape used for the wines. Until 2005, wines were made at a rented winery facility in Roa, but Aalto is now based in a winery at Quintanilla de Arriba. The basic wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in steel vats, but for Aalto PS barrels are used.
Aalto PS 2006 spent 30 months in new French oak and is made from vineyards planted in the 1920s or earlier. The wine has an opaque dark/purple color. I just love the smell of a Spanish beast locked in a bottle. The smell of the wine simply fills up the entire room with its aromas. The wine is thick, leaving many lazy legs coming down after swirling the glass. It has a very sweet lactic nose with pretty much all the specter of the wine aromas: ripe dark fruits, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, ripe dark cherries, floral flavors: violets, spices, thyme, rosemary, cigar box, earth, mushrooms. It is the most complex nose I smelled so far. In the mouth the wine is full body, almost Port like, it creates a creamy mouth-feel. The wine is impressive, showing real finesse with over ripe, but not jammy, dark berries: blackcurrant, blackberry, tobacco, violets, chocolate, cocoa, mocha, even meaty everything wrapped in a sweet vanilla flavor from the oak. The wine shows immense balance and depth with layers and layers of flavors. When you have this nose and the mouth-feel you would expect the wine to finish with a sweet sensation. But that’s where this wine gains in complexity and surprises: the wine finishes in a very, very long aftertaste with a beautiful pure dark chocolate bitterness that stays with you forever.
If I may turn a negative into a positive and use the words of some of my readers, this wine is decadent, pure obscenity, that good it is. The best wine I had this year. Excellent+
This wine has a price level of 65-70 EUR in Spain, so next time you visit Spain make sure to break the piggy bank and buy one of this bottles.
You can serve this wine with any big food. We drank this wine with our next two courses: penne with beef, sour cream and tomato sauce and the last course: rare grilled beef with mushrooms and grilled vegetables. Perfect match.
I wish my good friend Dan Happy Birthday and best of luck and thank him for sharing this amazing Spanish red.
Even 4 h later, the wine was still fresh on my memory and I could really feel that amazing smell while watching the markets in the US falling sharply. Strange how the memory works when you are on the right side of the trade.
Thanks for reading…