Deep gold in colour, showing age. Quite intense on the nose, smells mature, whiff of petrol and caramel, sweet orange. Medium bodied, some apple caramel sweetness initially, then bracing acidity and a lively finish with apple, hints of orange and lime. Very long. Interesting.
On the nose, I remember toasty caramel notes, very attractive. The trademark Riesling "petrol" note was very subdued, but present enough for me to guess the grape and region, and come very close to the correct year without tasting.
The palate surprised and pleased me. So much flavour, with good fruit, but the shocker was the acid. Was very surprised at how much youth and brightness still remained. This made the bottle extremely pleasing.
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The night I was served the Cremant from this Chateau, they also chose to serve me this - a perfectly aged example from their library that (on hindsight) has to represent one of the last true bargains in Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling. I let them know how much I enjoyed the wine, especially with the fresh fish of the night, and we moved on to conversation and dessert wine. After the dinner, I went on my merry way toward Paris with full thoughts of another escapade in the Alsatian countryside and how genuine the people are. If you've never traveled to this region, I highly recommend a weekend or more visit - it is unlike any other region in France (or Germany as it is often compared). The wine, food and people are unique in France and they work very hard to keep their tradition alive.
The next day I was surprised by an email in my "in" box - they were quite happy by my reaction to the 1998 Pfingstberg and asked if I would like some for our customers? Yes, indeed I would.
As an aside, it's such a pleasure to taste winery-aged stock as the freshness and delicacy of terroir are impossible to duplicate from bottles that have been traded or put through multiple tiers of distribution and shipping - they just do not taste the same. Steve Tanzer has a famous quote about wine "traveling too many miles" and in this case I could not agree more. What is now a tired example in the US is still fresh and alive from the winery stock with a delicacy of flavor and aromatic that is delightful and compelling (when I say "tired" I refer to the original stock of this wine shipped to the US in 1999 - at this stage, it is like a different wine). I've had bottles of this exact same wine in the US (the same 1998 vintage) and they seem tart and lean by comparison. While I'm not going to say this wine is the greatest example of Riesling ever produced, it's not, but it is a wonderful example of aged library stock at a (pardon my crass language) cheap price.
Considering current vintages of Lucien Albrecht's Pfingstberg sell for $28-35+ (from a lesser parcel than Orschwihr's), it puts into perspective how crazy this price is for a library aged example.
An absolute steal.
ONE SHIPMENT ONLY at this price directly from the cellars at Orschwihr:
1998 Chateau d'Orschwihr Riesling Pfingstberg Grand Cru (sec)