Saturday, July 30, 2011

Loire Wines to Remember

It’s hard to describe Loire Valley wines in broad terms. Home to 87 different appellations, the wine region is as expansive as it is inexhaustible. There are so many great wines from the Loire Valley that you could drink a bottle of Loire wine every night for the rest of your life and never get bored. I’ve always found it interesting that wines from the Loire, while ranking up there with the best in the world, are made from grapes you won’t find on many people’s favorite lists: chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, gamay and muscadet, to name a few. The distinctiveness of these wines, their diversity, their ability to age and improve for generations, it is all part of what attracts me to this region.

Loire wines have quite a heralded history. Romans planted the first vineyards there during the 1st century AD. The wines thrived in quality and reputation throughout the Middle Ages. In their time, wines of the Loire were even more prized that those from Bordeaux. I fell in love with Loire wines in the summer of 2005, when I started drinking light, refreshing, delicious whites from Muscadet, Anjou-Saumur and Vouvray. As a recent graduate of journalism school, it also helped that many of these wines were surprisingly well-priced. It was a 2002 Baumard Quarts de Chaume, a sweet chenin blanc with impeccable intensity and balance, that really did me in. Since then, I haven’t been able to get enough of the wines of this region.

So I was obviously excited about getting together some great friends and fellow Loire-ophiles for a night of Loire Valley wines. Ripple, a great new restaurant in Washington D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, was gracious enough to host us, provide us with lots of wine glasses, and deal with our wine-filled rants and outbursts. This tasting was everything I thought it would be. The range of wines we tasted was tremendous, encapsulating most of my favorite wines from the region. So, I’ll get right down to it. Here are my tasting notes (more like love letters) from the evening:

Opening SparklerWe started off the night with this vintage sparkling vouvray from one of my favorite Loire producers.

2002 Huët Vouvray Pétillant Brut - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray Pétillant
this sparkling vouvray was a great way to start the evening. gorgeous nose of nougat and lemons. linear palate, great acid and weight. chalky mouthfeel with lush white peach flavors. long finish. (90 pts.)

Sauvignon Blanc
Sancerre has always been my go-to sauvignon blanc, so I was happy to try these two. The Dagueneau was in a whole different class.

2005 Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Vieilles Vignes - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre
the first sauvignon blanc of the night was a solid one. lemon and grapefruit on the nose. quite rich on the palate with white peach and green apple. creamy mouthfeel. this one didn't have as much acid as i like in my sancerres, but it was still a great wine. these grapes saw some great sun in 2005, and it shows in this wine. (88 pts.)

2007 Gerard & Pierre Morin Sancerre Le Chêne Marchand - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Sancerre
this sancerre was a bit closed down at first, and showed hesitant aromas. with time, this opened up to show lemon and flowers and seashells. the palate was surprisingly rich, almost plump on the palate. this is a really intense wine. i love how the acid and minerality comes out on the finish to leave the palate feeling cleanses. this is a really good wine, and it got better over the course of the evening. (89 pts.)

2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé
didier dagueneau (may he rest in peace) was an artist of the sauvignon blanc grape. this is one of the most beautiful sauvignon blanc i've ever had. the nose shows rich mango fruit, lime and honey, but also some chives and minerals. plush on the palate, but lively. the balance is superb. tons of fruit, but also rosemary, jalapeno and slate. long finish. this is a fantastic wine. (93 pts.)

Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos de Breuil Mini Vertical
Chidaine is a great producer of chenin blanc. It was fun to taste the differences among these three vintages.

2007 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos du Breuil - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire
this was the first chenin blanc of the night and the first of a mini-vertical tasting of the chidaine's clos du breuil vineyard. at first i was wondering if this was an off bottle because the nose showed some strange elements: a little bit of must and aroma that reminded me of a sheep. that blew off after a bit, and the palate showed no signs of a fault. smooth fruit flavors: bruised apple, honey and some white tea. less acid than i was expecting. (87 pts.)

2008 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos du Breuil - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire
this was much different than the 07. the nose is a burst of energy: grapefruit, flowers, honey. such a complex nose. the palate shows a lot creaminess and balance. the flavors of honeycomb and peanut brittle are rich and delicious. but there's also great acid that keeps it balaned and fresh. what a beautiful wine. (91 pts.)

2009 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos du Breuil - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Montlouis-sur-Loire
the nose on the 09 showed more subtlety than the 08. aromas of sea salt, soap and white flowers. ripping acid on the palate, much more so than the 08 and 07. a little too much acid for me, but this went very well with the food. lemon, grapefruit and saline flavors and a medium finish. (89 pts.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Incredible Second Novel

A Review of Jonathan Safran Foer's 2006 novel “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Oskar Schell, the child narrator and protagonist, is one quirky, hilarious kid. He’s vulnerable and innocent, yet strong in his convictions and determined in his commitments. He’s extremely curious and incredibly stubborn at the same time. He makes broad pronouncements about pretty much everything, and he’s full of information about elephants, the time-space continuum, and burning buildings. One of his “only exceptions to veganism” is dehydrated ice cream. Why? “Because it’s what astronauts have for dessert.” I can say with confidence that Oskar is one of the most intriguing narrative voices I’ve come across in modern fiction. That enough makes it worth dropping what you’re doing and buying this novel.

Oskar is an emotional child. When asked by his shrink, “What’s going on?” Oskar replies: “I feel too much. That’s what’s going on.” (When his shrink asks Oskar why he is in therapy, Oskar responds: “… because it upsets my mom that I’m having an impossible time with my life.”) Even his name, spelled Oskar, not Oscar, demonstrates his individuality. Oskar relates to people he knows in a strange way, and he relates to strangers in an even stranger way. Through his curiosity and likeability, Oskar creates intimate connections with strangers all over New York City. It’s like he has a stranger-whispering ability. People invite him into their homes and make him coffee, even though he’s only nine. A man on a Harlem doorstep let’s Oskar hold his baby. He shares his deepest secret with a man he’s never met. He manages to get a kiss from a middle-aged divorcee.

He’s also a loyal kid. His lives his life according to raisons d’etre he has established for himself. These raisons consist of not hurting his grandmother’s feelings, making his mother happy and solving a mystery that arose after his father’s death. The death of Oskar’s father, who was in the second World Trade Tower as it was struck, has had a profound impact on Oskar’s psyche: “Everything that’s born has to die, which means are lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they’re all on fire, and we’re all trapped.” After his father’s death, Oskar finds a key in an envelope marked, simply, “Black.” It is this mystery that threads together this ambitious and far-reaching work. It’s this mystery that drives the plot. Oskar must find the lock for this key. To solve that mystery, he seeks out as many people with the last name Black as he can. He roams all over the city, meeting people, asking them if they knew his father, and getting into hilarious and touching discussions.

Oskar’s journey may be the foundation of the novel, but is by no means the only storyline. Like Foer’s first novel, Everything is Illuminated, his second uses a variety of prose formats to tell a complex, interwoven series of stories. Letters from Oskar’s grandfather make up a solid portion of the book. The grandfather left his wife when she was pregnant with Oskar’s father. His letters describe a man mired in an existential crisis. “I can’t live, I’ve tried and I can’t. If that sounds simple, it’s simple like a mountain is simple.” A survivor of the firebombing of Dresden, the grandfather survives by fleeing from love, commitment and happiness. He is a profoundly depressed man who ceases talking and spends his days writing letters to the son he’s never met, letters he never sends. He’s unhappy because he doesn’t know what he wants.

Oskar’s grandmother, who is intimately connected with Oskar, also writes letters that also appear in the novel. The grandmother is such an amazing character, so full of truth and heart. She has this old world sensibility, this tragic sense that somehow — although she can’t explain it — good things can come from tragedy. Through her letters and Oskar’s narration, Foer knits a detailed and touching portrait of a woman who is as real as literary characters come. Readers will remember this character long after they put this book down.

I have to say that some of this quilted, scrapbook kind of storytelling gets old, and even gimmicky. Images of an elephant crying, scribbled markers, a flock of blurry birds, and a couple dozen others are throw into the book. These images take up a page, sometimes two, sometimes ten. Some pages are black blotches while and others are blank while others have sentence fragments with no punctuation. There’s even about twenty pages that act as a flip-book cartoon. (Although I will confess that I enjoyed the flip-book. I was a fan of making flip-book comics when I was a kid, so I’m not about to disparage Foer for doing the same.) I’m not particularly against using images in a novel. In fact, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut is perhaps the best example of how images can highlight the prose and make the story even better. But that is not the case here. Here, the images detract from the story. So do the layout tricks. Paragraphs in all caps get old. There are pages and pages of this book with tab spaces after each period. Safran-Foer has a difficult task in keeping all these competing narratives going without confusing the reader. So I understand that he changes up the way words appear on the page to reflect changes in time and narration. But the effect is jarring and irritating, and it steals some of the power from his incredible writing. If Foer was a mediocre writer, these images and gimmicks would be welcome because they would make crappy writing easier to get through. But Foer is a master of language and a poet of the human condition, and anything that distracts from his prose pales in comparison.

I mentioned Kurt Vonnegut because I feel Foer is paying homage to my favorite fiction writer in this novel. (The interplay between prose and imagery mentioned is clearly inspired by Vonnegut.) Vonnegut experienced the firebombing of Dresden first-hand, and memorialized it’s chaos in his haunting and hilarious 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five. He certainly doesn’t own the topic, but it is clear Foer has read and respects that novel. It’s clear that Foer, like Vonnegut, achieves his artistic heights when dipping equally into horror and humor. The two forces might seem to be opposites, but they play so well with each other. How can an artist create meaningful work out of tragedy without some sense of humor? And, if one could create such a work of fiction, would anyone want to read it? Not me. Like Vonnegut, Foer has an keen eye for tragedy and destruction. But he also recognizes that in fire, there is beauty. And Foer has the skill and the heart to show that beauty to anyone with the time to read his book.

This novel, with its faults, is a touching and hilarious story. More than that, it represents a unique means of understanding. Only through fragments, pieces of lives, can we attempt to dig meaning out of our lives and sense out of the tragedies that happen to those we love. Anyone with a heart and a mind will fucking love the shit out of this book. Bravo, Mr. Foer.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Master of the Short Story

When I read a short story by Tobias Wolff, it’s immediately obvious that I am reading the work of a master story teller. I become so enthralled in the characters, the storyline, and the pristine reality of Wolff’s world that I simply forget I am reading at all. Wolff offers escape into his creation, perusal into the minds of the people he has created, but his stories are believable, real and powerful. If you don’t believe me, pick up his quintessential 1996 collection “The Night in Question.”

If there is a wasted word in these pages, I sure as hell can’t find it. The prose is trimmed like a golf green, but it flows like poetry. It is lyrical, rhythmic and down-right beautiful, page after page after page. It is evident that Wolff selects his words with the utmost care, and each paragraph is filled with extracted meaning. The symbolism, the use of hard and soft consonants, the repetition, the rhythm, Wolff has a surgeon’s precision with language. Each piece is meticulously crafted, leaving no room for waste or doldrums. Take ten books of short stories, boil them down, and this is what you get. The book weighs in at just more than 200 pages, but I got more from this book than the last 400 page novel I read. The only problem with this collection is that there are not more stories.

Wolff has a profound ability to connect the reader to his characters. The characters in this collection are every bit as real as the people you pass on the street everyday. Great fiction writers have many skills, but among the essentials ones should be a desire to explore the intricacies of the human spirit. Wolff has insight into the human experience that is unique in modern American letters.

If short stories are paintings, Wolff uses only black and gray hues, but he crafts an experience that is so real, it doesn’t matter that he leaves out the red, green and yellow paint. Wolff is “strangely roused, elated by those... words, their pure unexpectedness and their music.” He loves the subtleties of language, and that love fills these pages.

“Mortals” is profound and powerful story, one that deserves a level of literary analysis I will not attempt here. Wolff’s writing has so much to offer about the short story as a craft. He is a master, and it’s stories like this that prove it.

“Casualty” is a story about Biddy, a man who has been in Vietnam for months, seen many firefights, but hasn’t killed someone in battle. He’s two months away from leaving when his friend Ryan, also nearing his plane out of Asia, is sent on an ambush mission. B.D. has lost a lot of his soul in Vietnam, but he refuses to let go of his dedication to friendship. “He had been forced to surrender certain pictures of himself that had once given him pride and a serene sense of entitlement to his existence, but the one picture he had not given up, and which had become essential to him, was the picture of himself as a man who would do anything for a friend.” This is all that is left of his self-worth and identity. B.D.’s fate is inseparably tangled up with Ryan’s.

His heart is not in the fight and his Lieutenant tells him: “It sounds to me like you’ve got a personal problem, soldier. If your mission requires personal problems, we’ll issue them to you. Is that clear?” Through his thoughts and actions, Biddy, the protagonist, represents the American public’s struggle with the war in Vietnam. Biddy sits around “waiting for something; he didn’t know what.” He, like the American populace, struggles for someone to blame for all the chaos. “Somebody around here’s got to take responsibility.” This story of friendship, brotherhood and war is one to remember.

“Powder” is a brief story even for Wolff, but it is in these brief stories where Wolff’s talent is most evident. This story is about a father and son who need to get home on Christmas Eve, and the only way to do so is by driving on a closed road over inches of fresh snow. That’s all that happens in this story. But Wolff packs so much meaning and truth into this short piece. “Now you’re an accomplice,” the father says to the son as they pass a police barricade and head into the snow. “We go down together.”

“The Life of the Body” The protagonist, Wiley, is a man with honor, a man with desires both rational and irrational. He’s a smart man, but, like all men, he is subject to innate whims of unknowable origin. “Well, the body had a mind of its own.” A misunderstanding during a conversation at a bar leads a woman to think Wiley is a creep and a potential stalker. He wants to set the record straight, so he tries to track her down, which only leads the woman to think that he’s even crazier. I found myself begging Wiley to stop making things worse, but unable to put the story down.

“The Other Miller” is a Vietnam-era tale of a young man named Miller who is training for deployment when he gets notice from the Army that his mother has died. Miller thinks the Army has mixed him up with “the other Miller” of the same name, even though there is no apparent reason to believe this is the case. Miller is a cynic. “The future. Didn’t everybody know enough about the future already, without rooting around for the details? There is only one thing you need to know about the future: everything gets worse. Once you have that, you have it all. The details don’t bear thinking about.” Miller hasn’t spoken to his mother in two years, ever since she married the Phil Dove. Wolff loves playing with the names to up the moral heft of his stories, and this is a great example of that. Miller hates Phil with the same passion the military and political hacks hated the “doves” during the Vietnam conflict. This is a story of family tragedy, but it’s also the story of a nation ripped apart by war and animosity. The ending is superbly vague and haunting. This is one of my favorite Wolff stories ever, and it deserves to be read and taught in high school English classes instead of whatever crap the kids read these days.

It’s incredible how quickly Wolff can draw his readers into his story. Using only the title and the first line, Wolff grabs the reader. This is best exemplified in his story “Two Boys and a Girl.” The title already spells trouble. Then comes the dynamic first line: “Gilbert saw her first.” Wolff tells the reader so much in those first four words, and the rest of the story moves along the lines those words establish. It’s a tragicomic love story full of tension and desire. Rafe is away and Gilbert is feels the need to move in on his girlfriend. The crux of the tragedy is Gilbert’s inability to stop himself: “he knew what he was doing and could not otherwise.” The story is plotted perfectly but not weighed down. Its themes are poignant and easy to relate to. This story is about rationalizing things we know inside to be wrong. “Reasons always came with a purpose, to give the appearance of a struggle between principle and desire. But there’d been no struggle. Principle had power only until you found what you had to have.” It ends with a hilarious twist that leaves the reader feeling fulfilled and relieved.

“Migraine” also starts off in declarative and powerful prose: “It began while she was at work.” In addition to being a story about a woman has a migraine, is a story about loneliness, alienation and the inability to relate to others on an intimate level. It’s also about passive aggressive people, and how they are hell to deal with.

The titular story is one of chaotic family relationships. The father is a violent, dominant prick and beats his kids. But his son refuses to back down. It’s about avoiding our inability to control external events, and about what happens when we stake a moral claim and refuse to back down.

The final story, “Bullet in the Brain,” has a startling title, and the first line backs it up by describing a man waiting in line at a bank with a “murderous temper.” This can’t go well, and Wolff wants us to know it. Sure enough, robbers with guns come in. I’m reminded of Chekov’s advice that if you introduce a gun in the first act, it had better go off by the third. Without giving away the ending, I’ll just say that Wolff knows his Chekov. But Wolff’s writing a short story, so there’s no time for a third act. The action is quick, blunt and brutal. But in this story, death isn’t the end. Far from it. This short story is like a play or a novel trimmed down to its core. It’s a superb piece of work, and a great way to end this collection.

If you love storytelling and you love language, you need to read this collection. Enough said. Cheers, Isaac.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Do you have $15? Then you have a great Spanish tempranillo

I love wine, but I also have a budget. The two forces are mortal enemies in constant conflict with one another. Grand Cru burgundies and Jaboulet Cote Rotie's call to me, and my budget screams, "No! Sortez d'ici!" I guess that's why I have so much fun trying to track down great wines at reasonable prices. You have to know where to look and what to look for, because there is a lot of boring wines out there waiting to let you down. (And, in my mind, nothing is worse than a boring wine.)

In my quest for wine bargains, I'm always on the lookout for sub-$20 reds to have with dinner on weeknights, a lazy Sunday with a book or while I'm sitting on the couch watching boxing. Thing is, I want my wine to be good. The 2007 vintage of Aneccop's "El Molinet" is just that wine. This wine is a tempranillo-based blend from Spain's Valencia region. I picked it up at Calvert Woodley in Washington, DC, for a whopping $15. I'd tasted a previous vintage and enjoyed it, so I thought it was worth a try.

My tasting notes...

2007 Anecoop Valencia El Molinet (Spain, Valencia)this wine has expressive aromatics, although it needed some time in the glass to show it's full stuff: blueberries, red plums, tobacco, and an aroma that reminds me of violets. on the palate, this has tangy acid, solid tannins and gushing red plum fruit. it's an elegant and balanced wine, and i'm really impressed by the overall quality. all the parts are in the right place. the smooth oak and vanilla adds a roundness to the mouthfeel. some dark chocolate shavings on the finish, also some grippy tannins. anyone with a palate will enjoy this wine. this should show well for a few more years, but why wait? it's showing wonderfully right now. 90 points - IJB

So, do yourself a favor: take $15 (c'mon, that's like 2.5 Starbucks drinks), buy this wine, sit down on a weeknight when you're watching Seinfeld re-runs and pour yourself a glass. I dare you not to enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bury My Heart in New Orleans

As soon as my feet hit the streets of New Orleans, I felt a profound sense of belonging. Why, I thought, had it taken me 27 years to visit this city?

I roamed the streets of the French Quarter drinking absinthe, getting into discussions with homeless men, ordering Cajun coffee from women dressed like wenches. I ate a lot of amazing foods that involved meat and olives and fried sea critters. I met a gravedigger who gave me a tour of a half-dozen of the city's cemeteries. We strolled through the wealthiest and most decorated cemetery I'd ever seen, then drove ten minutes away and found one of the poorest and most decrepit ones I’d even seen. Much of it had been washed away by Hurricane Katrina and it was littered with unearthed tombstones, broken headstones, rotten wooden crosses, stray bones, sinkholes, crawfish huts. I roamed around pondering and taking pictures. Then I drank beer on Bourbon Street and moseyed through quirky art shops on Royal Street. Seriously, where else on earth could this happen besides New Orleans?

As a writer, I felt an overwhelming desire to write down what I saw, heard, smelled, tasted and felt because it was all so new and exciting. My journal, which I’ve read over several times since visiting the city in April, is filled with lots of personal impressions. I also wanted to read a bit more about New Orleans, specifically what local writers were saying about it. While perusing a book store in the Garden District I came across a "New Orleans" section stocked with all sorts of books. Most focused on Hurricane Katrina, some on the oil spill, others on food and culture. There were a lot of cookbooks. But I did find a fat collection of short stories all written by Louisiana writers. So I picked it up, and it turned out to be a great purchase. These stories are great slices of Louisiana life. I probably would've preferred a book just about New Orleans, but apparently there are other places and people in the state as well. A lot of these stories take place in New Orleans or relate to the city somehow, and I’ll admit that I'm probably biased toward the ones that do.

If you've ever been to New Orleans or are planning on going, pick up this book. The stories in here are moving and powerful, and the writers deserve some serious credit. Below are some brief overviews of the stories that stuck with me the most.

Wide Awake in the Pelican State: Stories by Contemporary Louisiana Writers - Edited by Ann Brewster Dobie

“The Work of Art” – John Biguenet
A New Orleans man sells everything he owns to buy a sculpture of a woman in the tub made by Degas. He is also falling in love with a real-life woman. He’s an obsessive man, one who is all in or not at all. And he’s sure of both his decision to buy the statute and marrying this girl. This is an anti-climactic, slow-paced but insightful love story.

“The Convict” by James Lee Burke is an incredible story set in the 1940s. The narrator is a young white child whose father's sociopolitical views are fifty years ahead of his time. He is a man of honor who can't stand bigotry and hatred and evil prospering. A convict breaks out in town (drama introduced), and the father finds himself helping the convict, a burglar, hide from the authorities. What happens when a man is too helpful and honest for his own good? That’s the theme of this powerful story.

“Crickets” by Robert Olen Butler is the story of a Vietnamese immigrant and his son living in Louisiana. The father wants to teach his son how to make crickets fight, a game the father used to play in Vietnam. Loaded with symbolism, this is both a great immigrant family story and a story about how people from different backgrounds relate to new surroundings.

In “Where She Was” by Kelly Cherry a seventeen-year-old daughter tells the story of her mother’s childhood in Louisiana. The story is short and reflective, offering a kind of voyeuristic journey through this secretive woman’s life.

Ernest Gaines, who wrote the foreword, has the longest story in this collection, aptly titled “A Long Day in November.” And I’m guessing he pulled some strings with the editors and publishers to get this 50-page behemoth in here, because there’s no reason to include this huge piece. It’s narrated by a young boy stuck in the middle of his parents marriage crisis. It’s a mundane and boring story with way too many pages for my taste.

Tim Gautreaux’s “Welding With Children” is an oddly-titled but well-done story. It’s told from the perspective of an old man who is babysitting his four grandchildren all at once. The grandfather holds lingering guilt about not raising his daughters up as well as he could have. But he’s trying to make right by his grandkids. He sits the kids down to tell them Bible stories, which they’ve never heard before. The kids all think the Old Testament is like an action movie. Hilarious and touching, this story is simple yet oddly memorable.

Ellen Gilchrist definitely has the most disturbing story in the collection, “Rich.” A rich Catholic husband and wife in New York seem to have everything going their way. They adopt a child and have children of their own. Maids take care of the kids while they go to country clubs and roam around the Garden District. But things go bad very quickly for this family. Gilchrist has a knack for writing beautifully about terrible occurrences. This story is so well done that it will surely haunt anyone who reads it.

“It Pours” by Tim Parrish is set in the late 1960s. It starts off with a massive rainstorm. The rain, which is getting worse and worse as the ground soaks up all it can, is a metaphor for the increasing American involvement in Vietnam. The weather is bad and getting worse, as is the war. Parrish is a master of craft and this story perfectly weaves the international and historical with the local and personal.

"Brownsville" by Tom Piazza is my favorite story, and it's only two pages. But it's two amazing pages of prose. The book was worth buying for this story alone.

The last two stories by Nancy Richard and James Wilcox are total bores, so the book ends on a bad note. That said, it's still a solid collection.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Drink This Riesling

So, I'm going to Germany's Mosel Valley in October with my girl. I can't wait. I've always loved Mosel riesling, and I've been drinking more lately than ever before. I came across this great kabinett riesling from a reliable producer, and this bottle really wowed me. For $25, seriously, buy this wine by the case.

2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett (Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer)
i drank this with my friend kevin on my washington, dc, rooftop on a summer evening. what a treat. the nose is exquisite. the palate has superb balance, wonderful yellow and green apple, lime, tons of slate. acid and minerals sing harmonies together. delicious finish. spectacular riesling for $25, and this one will age well for years.
90 points - IJB