There I was at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan just casually stopping by to pick up my monthly club selections, and I was asked if I had a few minutes to taste some wines that they were looking at for the shop and for their restaurant Vertical in Downtown Detroit. I know that it may look strange that I always write it as Downtown Detroit, but I grew up when it was thought of as that way. I mean who doesn’t enjoy tasting a wine or two? Also, it is rather flattering to even have wine professionals ask me for my thoughts,
The first white wine was P.J. Valckenberg Madonna Auslese Rheinhessen 2016 and they have been in business since 1786, both as a winemaker and as a wine trading house. In 1400, the Liebfraumilch has been cultivated by Capuchin monks around the church of “Our Dear Lady” in the city of Worms, Rheinhessen. Peter Joseph Valckenberg exported the “Liebfraumilch” as the first in history in 1908. The firm has over two centuries of experience in bottling and exporting wines, especially from their five-hundred-year-old vineyards. The Rheinhessen is famed for their two white varietals: Muller-Thurgau and Riesling. Since neither is listed on the label, it is probably a blend of the two, as both are grown in almost equal amounts in the district. Auslese is a special designation and means “selected harvest” and some of the grapes are affected by botrytis, the “noble rot” which consolidates the sugar in these late harvested grapes. The wine had a nice soft gold color with notes of honey, peach and apricot. This was a true dessert wine with a true balance of acidity and sugar, with a very nice long count finish of honey and peach for me.
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Constantia, South Africa 2017 is what legends are all about. Napoléon Bonaparte asked for it on his deathbed. Vin de Constance is their flagship wine made from Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, as well as many other local names like Muscat de Frontignan. This is the oldest member of the Muscat family known for its small berries and seeds. The estate was once part of a larger estate called Constantia, established in 1685 by Simon van Der Stel, the then Governor and namesake of Stellenbosch. In 1817, the estate was broken into two, and the smaller (klein) of the two estates was hit by phylloxera at the end of the century and basically was left dormant until the Seventies. The grounds are decomposed granite and limestone, and the fruit is left to raisin on the vine, before harvesting. That is about all the trade secrets I could find. A beautiful soft golden color with notes of citrus, florals and almonds. On the palate, it was a true nectar of the Gods with ripe stone fruits, citrus zest in a perfectly balanced combination of acidity and sweetness, without being cloying, and a honeyed spice finish that had a nice long count.