Gaja Barbaresco 1982

That is the wine we took to share with The Wine Raconteur Jr. and his family for a Christmas meal.  He actually created his own moniker when he was a guest writer for a couple of articles for me, and I guess the name is apt.  I was there at the beginning when he was hired to work at the store that I did everything but sew and own, and he was in college, looking to make some extra money.  Now he has a family, has a profession and because I guess he has too much free time, he decided to get into local government and ran as an Independent, as he didn’t want to beholden to any strings for a campaign allocation.  He is always in high gear, especially when he decides to learn and/or do something; as he never does half measures.  He also helped his charming wife get into a business, and so he gets to wear another hat; and by the way, he is known to wear hats.  I have such respect for him and what he is doing, I wore a ceremonial mask from the car to his house, because it was daylight when we got there and I didn’t want his neighbors to get into an uproar, if they are busy-bodies.  I know, I should, but I treat a house, like a restaurant, as soon as I sit down at a table, the mask can come off; I am told that it is science.

We sat down in the living room and had appetizers to get into the mood.  He makes his own spiced cashews, an olive tapenade and a bruschetta topping as well for some flat bread crackers.  He also had a Lemon Curd Ricotta Cheese that I could have single-handedly devoured, but I did show restraint.  He also was pouring his own version of a Christmas Champagne Cocktail with cranberries in the glass and topped with a micro-sprig of rosemary and it was very tasty and he used a Rose Champagne.  For dinner, he went all out and made a classic interpretation of Braised Short Ribs with his own rub and spices, and served with fresh pasta dusted with cheese, and once again I could have eaten the entire pot of meat, of course I have strong affinity for that dish.  For dessert we sampled some of all of his home-baked cookies, a huge selection and we got a big bag of cookies to take home as well. 

I guess I have strung you along with my little asides of the evening, as you were sure that I probably made a typo for the title of this memory.  It was a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco DOCG  1982 and as soon as we got situated, and before we started on the noshes, I opened up the bottle and for a thirty-eight-year-old bottle of wine there was no ullage, the wine was still filled to the top, with bubbling of the foil capsule, it was still brand new, except for the dust that had settled on it, in my cellar.  In fact, when I cut off the foil cap, I was amazed to find that there was a second foil capsule that I had to cut away, to get to the cork; and since is the first classic bottle of Gaja that I have ever opened, I don’t know if that is the norm.  For a wine of this age, I used my Durand combination corkscrew and Ah-so, and the cork still cracked on me, but I got the cork out in two pieces.  I then started to decant the wine, using a torch and my eye, but I ended up using a funnel and a coffee filter, as there was a lot of sediment on the bottle and in the wine as well.  I had anticipated a wine with brown tones, foolish me, the wine had a glowing and bright cherry color to it and still had fruit aromas wafting up as it was decanted and it was probably opened about ninety minutes prior to dinner.  1982 was a stellar year for Bordeaux and Champagne, Spain and all of Italy, there are only a few years that I really get excited about, as I have always been told that a great winemaker, makes great wines.  Gaja is one of the best-known winemakers in Italy and still is based in Barbaresco, though with their additional productions and vineyards, they now produce more Nebbiolo wines in Tuscany, than in Piedmont. It began in 1859 with two hectares by Giovanni Gaja and each generation has seen expansion, though it is Angelo Gaja that has really elevated the company’s reputation and success.  This wine is pure Nebbiolo and is only sourced from their vineyards in their fourteen vineyards in Barbaresco and Treiso, as they had stopped sourcing from other vineyards in 1961 to have total control of the product.  The juice from each single vineyard undergoes its own maceration and aging in oak for twelve months, then all the wines are blended together and aged in oak for an additional twelve months.  The nose still had some black cherry, but after all of the years of maturation, the tannins were softly blended into this sublime wine with a beautiful long finish, but the taste was totally singular and beyond the realm of my expertise in aged Italian wines.  The good news is that I still have one more bottle left.

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One Italian, One Canadian

One of my favorite things to do, especially this year is to stop at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source and pick up the monthly wine club selections.  The wines are always picked for being interesting and not run of the mill.  It gives the club members a chance to try some wines that might not be picked up otherwise.  Most people like to play it safe when selecting wines for the house and unless they are touted to try a wine, they will inevitably go with something tried and true; it is just human nature.  They were rather busy when I got there, between customers and wine representatives, so I just bided my time and kept busy.  I must say that they were still very upbeat, especially considering that they also own an upscale restaurant that is completely shuttered, because of the lockdown, in Downtown Detroit.  While I was there, they were packing up wine orders, either to be shipped, locally delivered or curbside pickup.  I have always enjoyed observing the moxie of an independent business man, who doesn’t cry and roll over and die, but figures out a way to survive even when the local government is trying to keep him from making a living.  Thankfully, he has a loyal clientele and a large wine club group.  

The first wine of the month represents the Old World with a winery that does not represent the status quo in Tuscany.  The Bibi Graetz Casamatta Rosso 2018 is a wine that I have encountered before, in fact I have a 2015 resting in the cellar. Bibi Graetz was an artist first and finally fell in love with his family’s vineyard that originally only produced wine for the family and in the mid 1990’s he began making changes and with his family estate and another twenty small organically farmed plots, he now manages seventy-five-acres to produce his wines.  Casamatta is considered his house wine, and like some of his other wines, it has a unique name as it means “Crazy House.”  The winery is probably his very own “Crazy House” as it his not only his home for his family and children, his studio and art gallery, but a dedicated winery as well.  In the midst of what appears to be chaos to the outsider, is home to Bibi Graetz.  Without any formal training, he began making wines in 2000 and started of with five-acre hillside plot and has grown, using the medieval castle that his parents acquired some sixty years ago, as he looks out onto the city of Florence.  Casamatta is pure Sangiovese and uses the youngest fruit grown from his estates around Florence and Sienna.  The fermentation is less than a week in Stainless Steel and then all the juice was the different plots are then blended together and aged for six months in Stainless Steel to maintain the freshness of the fruit.  It is described as a fun wine with cherries and raspberries with balanced acidity and medium tannins and one of the reasons that he has become a “cult” winemaker as it is a very different glass of Sangiovese and better with lighter dishes instead of big heavy Italian dishes, actually great to start the dinner off, in my book and would get the taste buds requesting more.

The New World offering I found very intriguing as it was not from an area that one normally encounters in the shop.  The owner was ecstatic that he was visited by representatives of the Canadian Wine Industry and he had a private wine tasting with them, as they were looking for new venues in the States for their wines.  Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Ontario VQA 2019 was the first wine to be introduced from the shop.  I told them that I know the area where the winery is from, Saint Catherines, since I was a child going there with my family to visit relatives on holidays.  Three sons ages nine, fourteen and sixteen were the creators of the original vineyard that they planted shovel by shovel in 1984, while their parents were back in Toronto.  The first harvest was in 1988 and they didn’t even have barrels initially for the first harvest.  The wine was successful and they were one of the early wineries for the area.  This fruit is grown in the Short Hills Bench of the Niagara Peninsula.  Baco Noir is a Cold-Hardy hybrid that was developed for North America, especially in the North-eastern parts of the United State and Canada, but it is also found in Michigan and Ohio that I know of for sure. The grape is a blend of the French Folle Blanche and the local Grande Glabre.  It is a popular grape for Northern climes as the grape matures quickly on the vine, with high acidity and the winegrowers try to extend the growing season as long as possible to tame the acidity. These grapes are grown on the original vineyard site of Henry of Pelham, and was one of the earliest known planting of grapes for Canada in 1842. The wine went through full maceration and fermentation in Stainless Steel and then aged for six to eight months in American Oak, of which twenty-four percent was new. The wine is described as a deep, dark red wine with flavors of currants and blueberries, spices and a toasted oak finish. 

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Merry Christmas 2020

A short note wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, after this trying year. The agony of not seeing family has been difficult here and everywhere else. May you have love, luck, health and happiness.

Go and enjoy your Christmas or the holiday of your choice and I pray that you get to enjoy the same satisfactions that you always have. If a commercial jet plane can be full of strangers, a home should be full of loving family.

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Mimosas Are for Sunday

 I think it was about twenty years ago, that we were told that we were going into a fifteen-day lockdown mode and it has been a roller-coaster ride ever since, my recollection of the time span may be off, but it sure feels like it.  I miss going to restaurants, just like everyone else, but we have been told that science has proved that one can get the Chinese disease shopping in a small neighborhood store or in a restaurant, but not a Wal-Mart or a Target.  I am glad that I am retired, because for the bulk of my career, I worked in small independent companies and I guess they are the carriers or the spreaders of this disease.  We always liked to go out for brunch after church, in all honestly, my Bride goes to church faithfully, until it was discovered that it was also a spreader of the disease.  We have been trying to recreate our brunch days ever since.  It is funny to know that my Bride also has made an appearance on her church’s Sunday video that plays on demand through the computer, as she has been a lector there for years.   So, our Sunday begins with our 3K walk in the subdivision, she watches church on a monitor along with one of her girlfriends and we have brunch.  

Brunch is a fancy word that is a mash-up of breakfast and lunch and years ago, it was a popular item for fine dining establishments and country-clubs.  I can remember when the Big Three (which means the automotive corporations in Detroit) decided on trying “Casual Fridays” the memo to the employees stated, the attire one would wear for brunch.  The executives understood it, but the majority of the work force, needed some clarification.  I only mention this, because back in the Dark Ages, I was a clothier and I helped plenty of people with this new concept.  Brunch to me meant a much fancier breakfast, maybe not as elegant as Breakfast at Brennan’s, but beyond bacon and eggs. I am spoiled, if I could get it on a daily basis, I would have Eggs Benedict, but I am still married and have survived the lockdown this far, but we do have great brunches on Sunday. 

Brunches require Mimosas, well maybe Bloody Mary cocktails as well, but we are in the realm of The Wine Raconteur.  Not only have we been going through the wine cellar and finding wines that were forgotten, we are also kind of cleaning up the selection of bubbly that is down there.  Mimosas do not require the top end of Champagne and it would be a sin, especially on a Sunday to mix orange juice and Dom Perignon.  In reality, we have more sparkling wine, than we should have or need and thankfully, most of it is in the popular price range and that is fair game.  We ended up with several bottles of splits of Champagne Duval-Leroy Brut NV.  Champagne Duval-Leroy is a Champagne house in the Cote des Blancs region and was founded in 1859 by Edouard Leroy and Jules Duval and is now in its sixth generation of family ownership.  They were one of the original houses to be environmental in their approach and the first to produce a certified organic Brut Champagne. They have about five-hundred acres of vineyards and forty percent of their property is Premier and Grand Cru vineyards.  While this wine is not at the top of the heap for the house, it is their “meat and potatoes” and what they produce year in and year out, trying to maintain the same taste and it is a classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  This might have been overkill for a Mimosa, but they were excellent especially with just a tincture of orange juice, just for color and Vitamin C.  Another bubbly that we have been enjoying is the Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Sparkling Wine Mendocino County NV.  John Scharffenberger founded his winery in 1981 in the heart of Anderson Valley.  The wine is a blend of fruits from both the estate’s one-hundred-twenty acres and select contract vineyards.  The wine is made in the classic Methode Traditionelle process.  The wine is a blend of sixty percent Chardonnay and forty percent Pinot Noir.  After two years on the lees, the wine gets the finishing touches to be set out into the world.  Once again this is a wine that could be enjoyed on its merits, but the trace of orange juice just finishes the process and it is officially a Mimosa.  I pray that within my lifetime that restaurants will be legal again, you may be aware that marijuana is (in this state).  Afterall, a meal without wine is just breakfast.    

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Saber Brut Rosé Single Vineyard

“Where is my Surete-Scotland-Yard-type mackintosh?” as I ponder the last bottle from my shipment from A Taste of Monterey.  This bottle has perhaps driven me to drink as there were plenty of MacGuffins along the way.  In case you haven’t noticed, I try to go beyond the advertising blurbs to find interesting tidbits, at least they are interesting to me.  Back in the dark ages I took a course in Journalism, which I do not adhere to, because back then, one was taught to telegraph the important points immediately and follow with probes and answers to the probes.  I don’t feel too bad that I don’t write that way, but then again, I think that the “journalists” of today wouldn’t go beyond whatever information that they are given, they don’t even check for accuracy or truth.

There was plenty of discoveries along the way, as I began my search about Saber Brut Rosé Single Vineyard NV.  I have always understood that wineries prefer making sparkling wine that is non-vintage, as a way to maintain a consistent taste year after year.  Here was a sparkling wine made from the Mesa del Rio Vineyard and I do believe that this is the first sparkling wine that I have had from Monterey, as one doesn’t think of bubbles from that region, right, wrong or indifferent.  What was interesting is that the wine was produced by Saber in Lodi, California.  I finally found their “website” which was more puff and not full of wine information.  The wine is produced using “Metodo Italiano” which is a fancy way of saying that it is made like a Prosecco, and the bulk of them are made by the Charmat Method, as the better ones say that they are made like French Champagne.  I finally discovered that the wine is one of the brands of Al Scheid that I have written about in the past, and a couple of his brands.  The story of Al Scheid is interesting.  He first purchased property in Monterey County in early 1972, and the area was in its infancy for wine, and it was originally known as Monterey Farming Corporation and was a limited partnership that was originally conceived to take advantage of the tax shelter laws. For the first fifteen years he sold his grapes to other concerns for their winemaking.  As he slowly brought in his family the farm became an estate vineyard and winery and he also bought more in the Salinas Valley to expand the winemaking.  In the Monterey estate he bought out his partners and even bought another vineyard of Pinot Noir.  They built a state-of-the-art crusher for the bulk jobs and created a small winery in Monterey for their craft production.  

There was more discussion about the use of a saber for opening, which they try to downplay, perhaps for insurance purposes.  I have never done it, as I think it is a bit pretentious, though there is plenty in the wine world that I find that is, and doesn’t make me happy, but that is me.  The wine is ninety-eight percent Chardonnay and two percent Dolcetto.  The wine was aged for six months in Stainless Steel using the Charmat Method.  The wine is described as a light salmon/orange color with larger bubbles, with a nose of tropical fruits.  A medium mousse on the palate and a short finish.  I have read that the wine is rather “brut” in finish straight from the refrigerator, but then tends to sweeten a bit after it warms up.  A rather unique description of the wine and when I actually have the wine, I will give my opinion.  The other curious fact about the wine is that it had no foil around the bottle and wire and cap seal.  I shall finish with another quote by the famed Inspector of the Surete, and I will understand if you are too young.  After stepping on and breaking a violin “Oh well, if you’ve seen one Stradivarius, you’ve seen them all.”

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Bernardus Sierra Mar Chardonnay SLH

There is no doubt that I have the avid curiosity of a kid when we get our quarterly box of three wines from A Taste of Monterey.  It sometimes feels like an archeologist getting ready to discover an undiscovered room.  Everyone gets giddy, I guess when there is a surprise, especially if they are anticipating something very special.  You may look at the title and perhaps stifle a yawn, and think to yourself; yes, he has been to Bernardus and has had their wines before, he has had wines from Sierra Mar Vineyard and he has had plenty of wines from Santa Lucia Highlands, and yes, he has definitely had his share of Chardonnay wines is fifty years.  You would be right on all counts, but there is always great anticipation of enjoying a well-crafted wine and I have discovered that some of the wines that I thought were over the hill surprised me, because of the quality behind the bottle.  I have tried to stay optimistic.

 Bernardus Winery and Vineyards was founded by Ben Marinus Pon about twenty-five years ago with the intention of creating premier wines in the Carmel Valley.  His intent was to produce single vineyard designated wines and a Bordeaux blended wine.  Bernardus has three estate vineyards: Marinus planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec; Featherbow planted with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon; and Ingrid’s Vineyard planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  All fifty-four acres of estate vineyards are in the Carmel Valley AVA.  To compliment the estate vineyards Bernardus also has contracts with vineyards the Arroyo Seco, Santa Lucia Highlands and others in the Monterey County. I am sorry to say, that Mr. Pon passed away in September of 2019 and his vision will be continued by Robert van der Wallen the current owner, who also understand the passion that Mr. Pon had for his winery.

Bernardus Winery Sierra Mar Vineyard Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands 2018 is one of the single vineyard designated wines that Mr. Pon envisaged and his version of a white wine to compete with Burgundy.  Sierra Mar Vineyard was planted by Gary Franscioni on a hilltop at the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands.  Bernardus Winery has the good fortune to be able to get both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit that has been harvested from this respected vineyard. There are several clones that have been planted there like the Wente clone and the Dijon clone 96, and all the fruit is hand harvested and hand sorted.  This Chardonnay wine emulates the best of the white Burgundy wines, in that it has gentle whole-cluster pressing and special selected yeast for the fermentation and a complete malolactic fermentation.  Each barrel is hand stirred every two weeks until just before the final blending and bottling.  The wine is aged in French Oak, of which forty percent is new for about eleven months.  The tasting notes suggest a nose of ripe peach and apricot along with caramel and honey suckle.  The taste offers candied white fruits, spice and toasted oak, with rich tones, crisp acidity and a very long finish, and an aging potential of six to eight years.  There is nothing shabby about this wine and I am sure one can understand my excitement about this wine.

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Wrath Wines KW Ranch Syrah

A December surprise is always what will be in the shipment from A Taste of Monterey from their “Private Reserve Club.” We have been members of this club for ages and it gives us a chance to enjoy some wines that otherwise may not get to Michigan for a myriad of reasons, and after we found out that they could legally ship to us, back when we were still a “felony state,” it was a no-brainer.  We were staying in Carmel-by-the-Sea and had made a side trip to Monterey, because I was a pain in the rear, and some things never change, and I had wanted to dine at the legendary Sardine Factory in the historic Cannery Row district.  We ate, drank, bought wine, joined a club and bought a major piece of art, all in part of a day.  We still have the art work, and we are still getting wine from our wine club, though, off-hand, I am not sure if we still have any wine in the cellar from that trip still, though it is possible.

The first wine that I pulled out of the carton was a Wrath Estate Wines KW Ranch Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands 2016.  Over the years we have received and enjoyed many wines from Wrath.  Wrath Estate Winery is located in Soledad, California and they are a winery where production is limited, but not the quality, and since we have been there, they have opened a satellite tasting room in downtown Carmel.  The winery produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Falanghina and Sauvignon Blanc from their estate vineyard and some very respected private vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  Wrath Wines has contracts with McIntyre Vineyard, which was planted in 1973 and has the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands.  The Doctor’s Vineyards also in the Santa Lucia Highlands grows eleven different clones of Pinot Noir on one-hundred-ninety-three acres, forty-five acres of five different clones of Syrah and almost five acres of Malbec.  The Tondre Grapefield started in 1997 with six and a half acres in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands and is now one-hundred acres dedicated to Pinot Noir.  The KW Ranch is also in the Santa Lucia Highlands and was planted in 2000 and dedicated to Pinot Noir and Syrah.  The Alta Loma Vineyard was planted in 2000 and is two-hundred-forty-six acres of biodynamically certified Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Grenache.  The last of the private vineyards that Wrath Wines contracts with is the Boekenoogen Vineyard, which went from a fifth-generation cattle ranch to becoming a vineyard in 1998 and growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. 

The KW Ranch is located in the center of the Santa Lucia Highlands with the Pinot Noir and Syrah vines planted by Kirk Williams and is located only six miles from the winery.  Historically the wines from this vineyard are known to be intense and highly aromatic.  The grapes are hand harvested and sorted, with twenty percent of this wine utilized whole cluster fermentation and an oak regimen. Even after the bottling, the wines were cellared for an additional twelve months in the bottle before they were released.  According to the tasting notes the wine offers “flashes” of black pepper, smoked meat, blackberries, leather and cassis.  The tannins are described as bold, but elegant and approachable.  The suggested cellaring potential is for eight to ten years and there were only one-hundred-fifty-eight cases produced and I did check their website and they do not have any representation here in Michigan, especially with the small production like this wine had.

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Two From Prum

I had the chance to taste two different wines from the same winery, same vineyard, same vintage, but two different levels of ripeness while I was at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  I guess as a “Street Somm” I have some knowledge, but I am still in awe of how little I know after fifty years of enjoying wines.  Over the years I have tried to have wines from many different regions and at many different price points and tasting wines is a lot of fun.  The Prum family have had a presence in the winemaking in Wehlen for over four-hundred years, and the estate as is now known was established in 1911 by Johann Josef Prum and it was under the guidance of his son Sebastian and later his sons and onto the fourth generation that have maintained the quality level that is respected world-wide.  They have fourteen hectares of holdings in five Grosse Lages or First Growth Vineyards and they only grow and produce Riesling wines.  Directly across from their base of operations is the legendary Sonnenuhr (Sundial) Vineyard in Wehlen, which is a very long and steep vineyard that runs along the Mosel River and the soil is noted for its blue shale and there are about twenty wineries that have vines in Sonnenuhr, but the Joh. Jos. Prum winery is the largest and most known.

German wines are also known for their unique harvesting methods.  The towns and the wineries decide on a date of when to begin harvesting.  Then there is the concept of Pradikat in the Qualitatswein or when I started out it was Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (MP) which denoted the best of the best in German wines.  There are six official Pradikats and I will only mention the first three, otherwise I would be in the first pages of a doctoral thesis to do it properly.  Kabinet is the lightest style and is from the official first pickings of harvest and the wines tend to be dry or medium-dry in style.  Spatlese which means “late harvest” can be anywhere from a week or more in the harvesting of grapes from the initial harvest date and the wines tend to be richer, more concentrated in flavor and sweeter compared to the Kabinet.  Auslese means “selected harvest” and is made from grapes that have some appearances of botrytis or “the noble rot” and this harvesting can begin at the same time as the harvest for Spatlese, as the pickers use a basket that has a smaller compartment to put Auslese grapes in, and this harvesting can be done over several days of repeated picking and this wine is even fuller and sweeter compared to the Spatlese.  Also, as we go up the ladder, the wines actually need longer times in the cellar to be fully appreciated. 

The first wine that I tried was the Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2017.  The label gives the name of the winery, the village, the vineyard, the grape and the harvest information along with the vintage.  Finding the production notes was beyond my research capabilities.  A great nose offering minerals and fruit secondary, with the taste being of tropical citrus fruits, salt and a nice finish with terroir and an excellent example of what a Mosel wine should be.  The Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2017 was extremely impressive, especially following the Spatlese.  The nose was more decisive showcasing the blue shale and mangos and bananas, while the suppleness on the palette was lush, and complex and very tight and finished with a nice long count.  This wine even to an amateur like me, when it comes to German wines, let me know that it was way to young to be fully appreciated, and it was truly night and day different and I really didn’t want the finish to end. In twenty years, it would be awesome and a night of memories.

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An Elbling and a Riesling

An Elbling and a Riesling

Sometimes as I walk around my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source, I see wines that I haven’t noticed before.  If it happens when I am there alone, nothing much happens, perhaps a little discussion and then we move onto other subjects.  It happens that one particular day, I had my Bride with me, who is also the Lord High Exchequer of Funds and known throughout the realm.  What caught my eye was a couple of older German wines and the next thing I know, we are doing an impromptu tasting, and I had to make my own notes, but that is fine, over the years I have been able to accomplish this minor task without much ado.

Weingut Matthias Hild Elbling Trocken Mosel 2017 is from Weingut Frieden-Berg GbR .  While this wine is from the Mosel, it is actually from the Upper Mosel, instead of slate, the region is limestone.  At the small town of Wincheringen, Matthias Hild farms about six hectares of mostly terraced vineyards on the hillside.  For this wine, he uses the old and ancient Elbling grape that use to cover basically all of Germany and Liechtenstein.  Elbling is still grown where Riesling cannot mature and grow, Elbling is high acidic in nature and very low in sugar, so the wine can be bracingly sharp to the taste and is often used for sparkling wines.  The vines on this estate are basically thirty to sixty years of age, but some of the vines were actually planted before World War II, and they are manually harvested, because of the terraced lands.  The winery has been referred to as romantic, because it is more a labor of love, with the intent of saving a winery that in today’s profit guided world, just doesn’t make sense, except for the true believers and followers.  The juice is fermented and goes through Malolactic fermentation in Stainless Steel.  This wine is definitely dry (trocken) with a low proof of normally less than 10% and is bracingly dry in a refreshing way.  I think that I would serve this wine before dinner with cheese and crackers and other light appetizers. 

Weingut Pfluger Riesling Buntsanstein Trocken 2018 is a beautiful dry white wine from the Pfalz or when I was growing up, it was the Rheinpfalz.  The region is one of the largest producers of both quality wines and table wines in both red and white offerings. Alexander Pfluger is the second generation at the helm of Weingut Pfluger, which is an organic and biodynamic estate, one of the first so designated in Germany.  While they are not part of the Verband Deutscher Pradikatsweinguter (VDP) elite group of the premier wine producers of Germany, he is in the VDP Academy and is considered one of the up-and-coming winemakers to watch and perhaps to start following.  The Pfluger vineyards are in the area around Bad Durkheim in the Pfalz.  Alexander Pfluger is convinced that the quality and the balance achieved in his wines is from his commitment of his biodynamic work in the fields. This very pale-yellow wine offered green apples and citrus with fresh acidity and a decent finish with terroir to balance out the wine. 

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Two from the Right Bank

For ages the wines from the Medoc and Graves were the center of the world in Bordeaux.  I recently had a chance to get some wines from the Fine Wine Source as one can now book a private tasting time from the region across the river in what is historically known as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, but both have become well respected on the own.  Saint-Emilion probably produces the same amount of wine as the entire Medoc region of Bordeaux and Pomerol probably produces about fifteen percent of Saint-Emilion.  These were two districts that I immediately gravitated towards in my youth, because they were so affordable compared to the Medoc, and they were more supple and matured somewhat earlier.  These two districts were referred to as the feminine side of Bordeaux, because the wines were softer and they tended to rely more on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, instead of Cabernet Sauvignon.  They were some of my first loves and even back then, I was not ashamed to state that, though nowadays, I think that stigma has long been forgotten, as the prices commanded can be just as dear as the classified Medoc listings.

Couvent (Convent) des Jacobins Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2010 is a delightful wine that took me back to my youth, with its full flavor and of course excellent pricing.  The Convent has been celebrating seven centuries of winemaking, famed terroir and since 2020 they have been certified “organic farming.”  A blend of eighty-five percent Merlot and fifteen percent Cabernet Franc from vines that are ten to fifty years old. The wine had twelve months of aging in a mix of forty-five percent new oak barrels and a production of about twenty-two-hundred cases. There was plenty of black fruit, some vanilla and silky tannins and probably another good ten to twenty years for cellaring.  Just a charming wine.  The Grand Cru designation began in 1954 and has been updated a couple of times.  I have heard some people remark that there is more Grand Cru wine, then there is basic Saint-Emilion wine, but I have never seen it in print.

Chateau Les Cruzelles Lalande de Pomerol 2016 is owned by Denis Durantou who rebuilt Chateau L’Eglise-Clinet in Pomerol and his is a firm believer that terroir is a guiding influence in creating fine wine. Since taking over Chateau L’Eglise-Clinet he has also acquired another piece of property further up the “Right Bank” in Lalande de Pomerol and he calls it the “golden triangle” and he can actually see his original chateau from Chateau Les Cruzelles.  This wine is ninety percent Merlot and ten percent Cabernet Franc and aged in oak, of which forty-five percent is new.  I will estimate that the wine was aged for about a year, I can not find an actual report, but I have read that he thought the wine needed at least another month in the barrel, and he thought that it needed at least a couple of years in the bottle.  I was clearly impressed with the wine and I wrote in my quick hieroglyphic notes “Cabernet Franc,” “licorice,” and “wonderful.”  I was actually surprised to discover later that it only had ten percent Cabernet Franc, as it really caught my attention, even after tasting several other wines that day.   It had all the black cherry and other black fruits one could wish for and the tannins were still feisty a couple years later after bottling.  I was totally impressed with this wine and realize that it may be at its peak around 2030, which I think is remarkable as Lalande de Pomerol is not held as in high esteem as Pomerol, but it certainly passed my test. 

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