OC4PokerXIV: Alsace vs Germany (and dinner)

Wine Cellar Club, Irvine, CA

Tasted July 28, 2012 by Tim Heaton with 677 views


Many of the OC regulars, and some out-of-towners (including grafstrb, all the way from Blighty) gathered to share some food, conversation and wines. IIRC, we tasted a range of wines and styles that spanned 1975-2010

Flight 1 (26 notes)

2008 Weingut Robert König Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder trocken Germany, Rheingau
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. I was very disappointed with this bottling - all cherry cough drop meets Cherry Kool-Aid on the nose, with some of it even spilling over the the medium-bodied palate. The structure was decent enough, but something was done in the cellar and/or vineyard to take this too far off course for my liking. C+/B-, 12,5% abv, ~$29 (sadly)
2003 Château Hosanna France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
Slow-O 7 hours, served non-blind at a CT offline dinner. This young wine shows great promise. All indications are that this, while showing well now, will move from good to great in another 5-8 years. Cool acids, very fine, long tannins and lovely purity to the fruit. b.dylan's notes pretty much mirror my own. Given the challenges of the vintage, it's obvious that a LOT of work was done in the vineyard as this showed no obvious defects or shortcomings. Tanzer's scores of 6+ years ago are low at best. A very bright future here. Drink thru 2025, A-
2009 CT Barrel Project Cabernet Sauvignon Gerlach Ranch Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Coombsville
fingers's note is spot on. Served side-by-side with the Gerlach/Black Sears Vyd blend, this was the more open-knit, approachable of the two. Flavors and balance are attractive, but it's the structure and better purity of fruit in the latter wine that won my heart on the day.
1 person found this helpful Comment
2009 CT Barrel Project Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mtn/Coombsville Blend USA, California, Napa Valley
fingers's note is spot on. Served side-by-side with the 09 Gerlach Ranch. Very good to excellent purity of fruit, with an overarching structure that suggests the best is yet to come. If I were an owner, I'd be looking at 3-5 years minimum of bottle rest or serious aeration if enjoying sooner than that. Impressive balance, focus and my favorite of the two. recommended, 14,5% abv, drink thru 2022
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1980 Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
PnP served at a CT offline dinner. What a great surprise. I can't recall ever hearing anyone talk about the 1980 Barolo vintage before, but obviously it couldn't have been that bad as this still had a fair amount of life left in it. The fruit, aromas and tannins all gained weight and nuance but not until this had seen at least 30 minutes in the glass. Once it did open up, we were presented with a fairly classic mélange of tea, mushrooms, dried red floral, and faintly tart cherries. Acids, tannins and fruit remain in proportion, but it's clear the best days have already passed. Drink thru 2014, thank you NathanT!
2007 Realm Cellars The Falstaff USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline dinner. Very dark ruby color, no sign of age. Opens tight at first, but slowly unwinds and unfolds, offering brilliant spice aromas, elegant red fruits, some capsicum. By the second glass, this had begun to integrate and at this point, the structure became undeniably obvious - this is serious juice. I was thankful for the purity of fruit, attention to detail and sensibility that went into the vineyard work and élevage. A wine with a solid future, this will likely hit peak in 2-3 more years and drink well for a decade after that. This continued to gain complexity and weight right through the very last glass. highly recommended Thanks bweimer!
1986 Château Lynch-Bages France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
Slow-O 9 hours, served non-blind at a CT offline dinner. Just getting going? That was my first thought. In fact, myself and others were under the impression it was a 96 (more in line with the youthful color and aromatics). After some time wrestling with the reality that this is indeed 26 years old, I accepted that fact and the fact that the best has yet to come. Earthy, green, expensive cigars, a streak of dark berries, anise and graphite aromas. A medley of cassis, dark berries, and herbs are swaddled with fresh, focused tannins and still fresh acidity. The last glass was the best. It boggles the mind...mine, anyways. The next decade should prove very exciting. recommended, thanks, beachrooster!
2007 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
Slow-O 2 hours, served non blind at a CT offline dinner. Very dark ruby, no sign of age. Bright, powerful, encompassing aromas of red and black fruits, graphite, grilled herbs, sweet oak. The full-bodied palate is just lovely, and yes, there are a few nits right now, but I have confidence a little more bottle rest will work these out. As with many great wines, the last glass was the best. A very classy drop, and a tasty, satisfying blend. Drink thru 2020, recommended, thanks, NathanT
2005 Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva Old Vines Portugal, Douro
PnP enjoyed over 2 hours at CT offline. A happy example of Old World meets New World. Secondary aromas emerge after some initial heat and funk have blown off (10 minutes of swirling). Some notes are rustic, others rather cheeky as they tend toward sappy before they are reined in by copious tannins and ample acidity. Full-bodied, with above-average structure. A good QPR, but I've noticed some bottle variation, too (some too oaky, clumsy, others on a more integrated trajectory). Gained complexity with airtime. I should have a few bottles in the cellar, and I don't. For shame. Thanks, vinoPKM!
2011 Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel France, Provence, Côtes de Provence
Very different experience than the previous two bottles. This came across as austere, and slightly disjointed. Given the range of scores, it seems there's a fair degree of variation here. No sense in rating it, as other bottles have been integrated and enjoyable.
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1998 Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas
Slow-O 3 hours, served non-blind at CT offline dinner. Bottle, label and cork all in near perfect condition. In fact, as this is #11 of an original case, I can't recall any of the corks coming out so new, soft and lightly winesoaked. The cork suggested this was going to show youthfully, the appearance and nose confirmed it. Bright aromas of raspberry, spice, garrigue, thyme, and hot galets. Substantial lift and very fresh acidity. Absolutely at peak. Everything in balance on the palate, with tannins and fruit gaining substantial weight with airtime. During the 90 minutes this was being enjoyed, the complexity and elegance factors seemed unlimited in their upward trajectory. One bottle remains that I will likely enjoy in the next 2-3 years. Drink thru 2018, 14,5% abv, recommended
White - Sparkling
N.V. Agrapart & Fils Champagne Grand Cru Terroirs Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Disgorged Aug 2011. Nose and palate both show very fresh, but also moderately austere. Not quite the depth I prefer, and missing some of the nuttiness and complexity, but nearly makes up for it in the freshness department. A nice starter wine that may well soften up a bit in 2-3 years , but if enjoying now, fresh oysters seem a rather solid pairing.
2005 Weingut von Othegraven Kanzemer Altenberg Riesling Kabinett Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
PnP served non-blind at CT offline. Clearly still in possession of its youthful charm and zeal. Bright aromas and substantial cut appear nearly in their sweet spot, perhaps 2-3 more years will see this begin to mellow some and gain some welcome complexity. Not sure what this cost, but I'm guessing low-mid $20's and at that price, this is fighting at or slightly above its release price. Another data point on the "why I love 2005 MSR's" chart. Drink thru 2018
White - Off-dry
1999 Bert Simon Serriger Würtzberg Riesling Auslese * Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Slow-O 1 hr served, non-blind at CT offline. I've never been a fan of the 1999 vintage (prolly because I've had only moderate exposure to it) in MSR and this wine helps to extend that conclusion. This is missing a certain harmony that would allow all the parts to become something more than their expected whole. Granted this is still young for an Auslese *, but really there is no indication this has the stuffing to move from a good to great wine. Drink thru 2017. (slightly) Off bottle?
2007 Weingut Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken Germany, Rheingau
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Pale straw color, no sign of age. If this is representative of the bottling in general, this is sitting squarely in its preferred drinking window right now. Slightly more floral than fruity, with a subtle underpinning of petrol aromas and lightly oiled flavors. Well made, and no doubt a solid food wine. 10,5% abv, drink thru 2014
White - Off-dry
1975 Josef Haupt Riesling Liebfraumilch Germany, Pfalz
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Several years past its prime, a deep ruddy brown color, with very faded fruit and burnt toffee aromas dominating.
White - Off-dry
2003 Bert Simon Serriger Würtzberg Riesling Auslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Pale straw toward medium straw color, no real sign of age. Remains fairly fresh on the nose, with white peach, white floral, stone and reduced sulfur compounds dominating. Medium bodied with surprisingly fresh acids. Clearly not built for the long haul, this will likely hit peak in 3-4 years, tops. Medium finish, average complexity.
White - Off-dry
1990 Schloss Schönborn Winkeler Hasensprung Riesling Auslese Germany, Rheingau
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Medium+ straw color, still fairly youthful in appearance. Good thing I didn't read the tn's on this wine before hand, seems quite a bit of variation, and no doubt at least some uncertainty would have crept in This ended up being my WOTT, not just because it was a great producer, not just because it was a good year, not just because it had quite a bit of age on it, and not just because it was an auslese, but because it was in excellent condition and showed just the right amount of balance between secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors. It's also worth noting that this managed quite a bit of energy in the fruit and liveliness in the acidity. Very solid effort, and after reading the other tn's, it looks like we got one of the better preserved bottles out there (this from a fairly recent Garagiste offering/2011). This particular bottle, given its condition, had another 5-7 years of really good drinking ahead of it; if we hadn't drained it, that is.
White - Off-dry
1983 Schnitzius-Scheid Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Dark straw toward golden brown color. All things considered, the color, condition were pretty solid. It's fair to say that its best days are behind it now, but there remain a few interesting qualities nonetheless. Most of the fruit has faded at this point, and the acids are clearly waning, what's left is a fair amount of r/s and serious tertiary aromas and flavors.
White - Off-dry
2005 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Youthful in appearance, but rather subdued on the nose and palate. This is probably my fourth or fifth time with this wine and I'd have to say it was the poorest (ok, the ONLY poor/mediocre showing) yet. It's almost as if it is in some kind of phase. Not fully integrated, with shades of greatness remaining rather recessed over the course of the two hours it was open. Either way, I will let my remaining bottles rest for at least another 5-10 years, prolly more. My gut feeling tells me it's just an off bottle, others have been so undeniably superb.
2008 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer France, Alsace
fingers's note is spot on. Slow-O 1 hr, served non-blind at CT offline. Very impressive showing for an entry level Gewurz, in fact, this was my #2 wine of the tasting (out of ~ 30), as much for its purity as its zeal and balance. A lot of depth here, and the structure suggests this will likely get even better over the next few years. I haven't been wowed like this by an entry-level Gewurz in quite some time. Z-H, still using a horse and plow, gotta love it! very highly recommended
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
2004 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Medium straw color, no sign of age. This was up against some stiff competition on the day, but still managed to make itself known. Retains a good amount of freshness, but also showing some characteristics that only come with age. In other words, to my palate anyway, this is in a very good place right now. Gained only a marginal amount of weight and complexity with airtime. Outstanding 04 MSR's in this price category have been few and far between; this is certainly above-average in that group.
1 person found this helpful Comment
2001 Schloss Schönborn Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett Germany, Rheingau
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Aromas are slightly better than the palate, but only just. This seems to have lost some of its freshness and in its place, a bit of weight around the mid-section. Seems to be tiring, which slightly amplifies the r/s to the point that its just not singing. Could be a one-off bottle issue, or could be representative of the bottling as a whole. Not bad by any means, but not great either.
2009 Niepoort Douro Tiara Branco Portugal, Douro
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. A white-blend that I can't recall ever having had before. Very Burgundian in appearance, and a very fresh Chablis-esqe manner on the nose as well as the palate. Chalky, with loads of seaspray, citric zest and orchard fruits tossed with crunch minerals. In a very good place right now, but I also noticed that it added some complexity with minimal airtime. Be sure to serve on the cooler side of the equation, as this really began to lose composure as the room temp got to it. recommended, thanks for sharing, Andy V!
2010 Tablas Creek Counoise USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
PnP served non-blind at a CT offline. Dark as night in the glass, and interesting from the very first sniff. I share Brig's sentiment for TC and also his appreciation for this wine. Not a run of the mill bottling, and the best Counoise I've had in many years. Bright, earthy, spicy, very well balanced. Great care must have been taken with this in the vineyard, because this shows solid purity and depth. Proved a very good food wine as well. Impressive, recommended. 13,5% abv, drink thru 2015
2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
I share grafstrb's view and sentiment (tasted at the same event), though I may not be as confident of the drinking window, perhaps into 2017 or 2018. I haven't been too impressed with 08 SC Pinot fruit as a whole, but for $34, this delivered at and above its price point.


Many of the red wines listed here were served during the dinner that followed the tasting event. Several standouts at that event, as well. Thanks to all that came and shared. And although grafstrb's wife Ashley couldn't physically be there, she was very much there in spirit.

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