Saturday, October 20, 2012

Grab Bag Whites with Good Friends

When drinking wine with good friends, German riesling is always a wise choice.
My friend Tooch and I have been drinking wine together for five years. We’ve shared hundreds of bottles from practically every premium wine region in the world. Last year he moved from DC to Chicago, and Friday was his first day back in town for 11 months. Naturally, our tight-knit wine crew threw a tasting at our favorite wine shop, Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park. We didn't plan ahead for a theme, and  everyone just bought a bottle they wanted to share with good friends. Based on the wines people brought, the tasting took on several themes of its own: Burgudy, the Jura, the Loire Valley, German riesling. There were a lot of people and even more bottles. (I believe the final body count was 30-something.) There was no way I could make it through all the wines on the table, so I had to prioritize.

Here are some notes on some of the white wines in the tasting. You know, when I'm drinking such good wine and hanging out with good friends, I can’t help but think: I'm a blessed guy.

2009 Rudi Pichler Grüner Veltliner Federspiel - Austria, Wachau
Not a bad way to start off the tasting. Initially a bit closed, but with some air and time the wine opened up to show slate, lemon and white pepper. Very bold palate, with delicious acid, and gummy white peach fruit. Finish is laced with minerals. Classic Rudi Pichler. 88 points

2008 Domaine de Montbourgeau L'Etoile - France, Jura, L'Etoile
This is an extreme wine, even for Jura chardonnay. Seriously, it smells like my wetsuit after surfing for hours on end, complete with hints of seaweed, brine and sea salt. Hints of lemon and sherry round out the nose. Massive acid on the palate, along with clean flavors of lemon, quince, almonds and sea salt. This wine is quite young, and I imagine it would show better in a few years. This chardonnay is powerful enough to stand up to pretty much any sharp cheese. 88 points

2010 Domaine Servin Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre - France, Burgundy, Chablis
I pretty much knew this wine was going to be awesome, but it still surprised me. Very young, but stunning. Aromas of lemons, limes, limestone, salt and crushed rocks. High acid from start to finish, buttressed by green pears and apples, bright minerals, seaweed and salty air. Long, crisp finish. Bring on the oysters because this stuff is simply beautiful. The Montée de Tonnerre vineyard is one of my favorite places for chardonnay, and in 2010 Domaine Servin really nails it. 93 points

2002 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Mosel
I always welcome a Christoffel Erben riesling to a tasting, and this 2002 showed quite well. Vibrant peach on the nose, hints of petrol and honey as well. Still smells youthful. The palate shows nice balance between fruit and acid. Lovely white peach and lychee flavors, along with minerals the first signs of petrol. More of a boisterous wine than an elegant one, but it's delicious. 90 points

1990 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel
An absolutely beautiful aged riesling. Gorgeous aromas of petrol, orange peel, marmalade and a hint of white flower. Huge acid on the palate provides freshness and elegance, supporting the rich flavors of dried pineapple, mango and apricot. Fleshed out with nougat and bracing minerals. This is everything I love about Mosel riesling, and Maximin Grünhauser in particular. I'd love to taste this again in five years. There was a lot of discussion amongst the older folks at the tasting that 1990 was their favorite vintage. With a wine like this, it's understandable. 93 points

2005 Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter Saumagen Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Pfalz
Hmmm... strange wine. First of all, it's only seven years old but it's got the orange color of a 20-year-old riesling. Aged aromas of peach juice, honeycomb and dried mango. The palate has a lot of honey, dried apricot and even caramel flavors. I can't believe this is only a spätlese, as the sweetness is reminiscent of an auslese. Lower acid than the other rieslings in the tasting, but low acid for 2005 in general. I don't know how this wine got so old so quickly, but it's a riesling to drink in the near term. 84 points

2010 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Sonoma Coast - California, Sonoma Coast
Aromas of peanut shell, buttered popcorn and green apple. Actually some solid acid on the palate, nice bit of kick. Flavors of lemonhead candy, buttered cookies and green apple. I like the cut to this wine. I’m a fan of this producer’s pinots, and I was expecting a bit more from their chardonnay. 86 points

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