Monday, April 4, 2011

Gruner Veltliner + Riesling + Korean Food = Bliss

Gruner Veltliner and Riesling at Mandu
4/3/2011 (Mandu - Washington, DC)

The theme: gruner veltliners, rieslings and a melange of Korean food at Mandu in Washington, DC. Sounded like a fun, simple night. But it turned into one of the best wine tastings I've been to in recent years. The range of aromas, flavors and textures in these wines was incredible. About 11 of us got together for mounds of great Korean food, served family style by a respectful and generous staff. While the food was phenomenal, these wines were just flat out incredible. The first riesling dinner I arranged at Mandu in March was a phenomenal success and this take #2 was even better. I tasted each wine in each flight individualy, then went back over them again, then with food. While the food aromas and flavors were intense, I still feel like I was able to taste each wine for what it was. That said, the interplay between the food and the wine was tremendous. Also, I would've been happy with any one of these wines over the course of an evening. Each one was so distinct, that it was almost a crime to taste so many great wines together. But it was a crime I had a lot of fun committing. This tasting further solidified my opinion that F.X. Pichler is one of the greatest wine producers in the world, period. And, if I needed further basis for my opinion that riesling is the greatest white grape in the world, this sure helped.

Below are my tasting notes and scores.

Opening Wines

N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut - France, Champagne
nose shows lemons, strawberries. the palate is very acidic, with not enough weight for me. still a good finish. (85 pts.)

2007 Bernhard Ott Grüner Veltliner Der Ott - Austria, Niederösterreich, Donauland, Wagram
this is a gruner? really? its filled with mango, apricot and honeydew on the nose. the palate is thick with honey and really viscous. not very gruner-esque, but still a great wine. more like a riesling, in my opinion. (89 pts.)

2007 Weingut Meinhard Forstreiter Grüner Veltliner Tabor - Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
the nose is so oily! gops of oil, spicy herbs, lemon oil, melons with spice. gorgeous thickness on the palate, matched with spiced lemons, almond paste and white pepper. gorgeous wine. really mindboggling in its depth and complexity. (93 pts.)

Pichler Gruners

2008 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
the nose of this wine is gorgeous. lots of rosemary, nervy lemons, dill, white pepper. the palate is filled with apples, white pepper, rich tobacco and dandelion stems. the complexity is astounding. (94 pts.)

2008 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 'M' - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
peaches, white lillies on the nose with some white pepper. the palate is filled with green apples, golden pears, and a hint of cinnamon. there's a great onion, dill and white pepper flavor, like a ukrainian green borscht. great balance. what a gorgeous wine. (93 pts.)

2007 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
rich, honey, peaches and cream on the nose. the palate is rich and creamy, white grapes, green pepper, honey, rosemary. while i'm sipping this wine, i really wonder, does gruner get better than this? i don't think so. (95 pts.)

2007 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 'M' - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
the nose is intense and lovely. lemons, yellow apple, tobacco, lemon zest and heating oil. apricots, honey, oil, creamy, tobacco... the flavors are unbelievable. gorgeous wine. (95 pts.)

Riesling Kabinetts

2002 Dr. Fischer Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
the nose shows apples, pineapples and apricot. the palate shows apple juice, pineapples and minerals. nice wine. the lack of acid keeps it from being better than it is, but it was nice to get a riesling with a bit of age on it into the tasting. (87 pts.)

2007 A.J. Adam Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
the nose on this riesling is intense. sugar cane, white peach. the palate shows green apple, golden honey and gorgoues peaches. wonderful. (90 pts.)

2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
dense petrol on the nose. almost like a bit of new leather. also some gorgeous apples on the nose. the palate is rich and oily. i get a lot of golden apples and layers of honeyed graham crackers. gorgeous length. drinks like a spatlese, but i can't help but love the richness of this wine. (91 pts.)

2008 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
gorgeous nose of ginger, lemons and oil. pineapple, golden apple and lime zest on the palate. a bit more zip to it than the 07, but this is still quite rich for a kabinett. (90 pts.)

Two more rieslings

2009 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
i don't throw around 96 points very often. but this wine is just immaculate. it has the sexiest nose: flowers, lemons, white peaches, fresh laundry. i feel like i'm running through a field of blossoms and hanging sheets in one of those downy commercials. the palate is fresh, but really dense and complex. right off, i could tell this wine needs years to show its true potential. right now the flavors are so compacted that it needs time to develop. but there is no denying the complexity and mouthfeel of this wine. apricots and honey flavors stay from the attack to the finish, but they're mixed with granola, peanut brittle, golden apples and a hint of cinnamon. the acid is intense throughout, making this a massive but balanced wine. the finish is seamless and incredibly long. i've now had the 92, 07, 08 on several occassions, and this was my favorite FX riesling stienertal experience. (96 pts.)

2009 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
what a beautiful nose of golden apples, white peaches and slate. searing acid on the palate is balanced by a thick, oily mouthfeel. rich white peaches glide across the palate, followed by honeycomb, golden apples, and a rush of minerals. at this point in the tasting, i felt like my palate had been on such a high, that this might even be better if just tasted alone. also, incredibly young. still, this wine wowed me. (92 pts.)

Ausleses to end the evening

2001 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese - Germany, Nahe
what a beautiful golden color. an impressive, powerful nose of apricots and honey, like those honeys with spices in them you can get at farmer's markets. the richness of the orange marmalade, sugar cane, honey and lemon oil is astounding. gorgeous finish. (93 pts.)

2006 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
the color is an intense honeyed orange. the fruit is pure and powerful on the nose. i get canided pears, golden apples and apricto, all highlighted with a stony minerality. the palate is viscous, rich and exciting. massive creaminess, golden grahams cereal, apricot puree, honeyed apples, hints of spice. its not at all cloying, which is why i loved this so much. it goes down easily with the acid, and the acid and sweetness linger in perfect balance on an incredibly long finish. that has an incredible 25+ years of development ahead of it. (95 pts.)

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