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Friday Night Flights 11 May 2018

Welcome to our first “Friday Night Flights”!

How it works:

The flight is randomly picked from a set (5 or so) of pairs of wines.  I’ve chosen the pairs to be comparable on varietal and price (so that I’m not comparing apples to oranges) and then the wines are tasted blind.  I’ll describe them and offer a few comparisons and then reveal them on the next page.  In the future we’ll also discuss the food we paired the wines with.

So… on to the flight…

Wine A

The first wine presents a pale ruby color.  It’s rather translucent, but a lovely color.

On the nose, Wine A is totally fragrant with notes of red cherry, raspberry, blackberry and vanilla, with a definite floral overtone.  It is clearly oaked, with aromas of vanilla and baking spices.  I detected notes of forest floor as well…

The palate presents red cherries, raspberries, and vanilla, with light tannins and high acid.  The finish isn’t long, but the overall impression is lovely, with nice balance between the fruit and acid.  I was impressed by this wine… it’s lovely.

This is clearly a Pinot Noir.

Wine B

Wine B is ruby as well, but is darker.

The nose on Wine B is also darker, with black cherries, red plum, and blueberry.  But there is also a strong hint of white pepper and tobacco as well as meat.  This wine is more substantial on the nose.

The palate is similar to the nose, with black cherries, tobacco, and plums.

In contrast to Wine A, Wine B is definitely more tannic, but with decent acid and more body.  Its finish is also a bit longer.  Again, clearly a Pinot Noir.

Wine B probably has more potential age (maybe 3-5 years) compared to Wine A, which should be drunk relatively young.

Click here to find out which wines we were drinking…

Profile of Alex Stodden in the F.A.Z.

Drinkers of German Spätburgunder are surely family with Weingut Jean Stodden in Rech on the Ahr.

A few days ago, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a lovely profile of Alex Stodden. Alex  has had primary responsibility for the winery since his father Gerd died suddenly of a heart attack five years ago in 2013.  The  winery was founded by Alex’s great-grandfather Alois and is named after his grandfather Jean.

Alex makes some of the finest Pinot Noirs in Germany (and it is often said that he makes the absolute finest German Pinots).  They present intoxicating Pinot aromas and luscious fruit, but always in balance.  They are refined and elegant.  The best are age-worthy.

My personal favorites are those that Alex makes from the Herrenberg in Rech, a sundrenched parcel that faces south and east.  Alex produces a variety of wines here at different price levels.  His Recher Herrenberg Spätburgunder Grösses Gewächs could be the definition of a perfect Pinot, with a nose that is worth the price of admission alone, but is a delight on the palate as well.  And for those who are not familiar with Frühburgunder (a early-ripening mutation of Pinot Noir), Stodden’s Recher Herrenberg Frühburgunder Grösses Gewächs offers an almost unbelievable nose, with spice and floral notes.

The FAZ article is a great tribute to Alex’s winemaking abilities, but also discusses the overall quality on the Ahr.  I think the article’s assessment that the average quality on the Ahr is higher than anywhere in Germany is true.  Admittedly, it is a very small wine-growing area, but the strides that have been made over the last 30-40 years are amazing.  Climate chance has probably also helped a bit.

If you haven’t tried Weingut Jean Stodden’s wines (or any other wine from the Ahr)… you should!

See the article (Translated into English by Google.  The translation isn’t great, but it will give you a sense.)

Farewell London!

Tonight is our last night in London. I’ve been here for four months, Alison has joined me for a week in March and the last two weeks.

It might be a stretch to say that living in London has been a life-changing experience, but my visit to the London School of Economics has been nothing short of spectacular. But living in London has also given me the chance to start down the path of sequence of courses at the Wine and Spirts Education Trust.  As I blogged about yesterday, I took my WSET Level 3 test yesterday.  If I pass, I’ll enroll in the WSET Diploma in the Fall.

Serendipitously, the owner of the apartment I rented in London is Mark Barber, one of the proprietors at Marlings Vineyard.  Mark was kind enough to give me a bottle of their 2014 Sparkling Rosé.

It seemed only appropriate to celebrate a wonderful stay in London with it. It’s a great wine.  Dry, but not brut-dry, with a lovely pearlescence, it has a hint of yeast on the nose, and a soupçon of cherry on the palate.  Totally refreshing and delicious!

We are headed to Germany (and all that wonderful Spätburgunder) tomorrow.  Friday Night Flights will start in earnest next week and we’ll be adding much more content to the site over the next few weeks.  But I am certain we will be back to London very soon!

Auf wiedersehen, England!

Level 3 Finished!

I took my WSET Level 3 test today.  It was pretty tough, but fair, I think.  The first wine was clearly a Sauternes.  The red wine was less clear (and of lesser quality). 50 multiple choice questions, 4 multi-part short answer questions. I wrote for 2 hours! It’s been a long time since I’ve taken an exam…

Overall, a great a experience and a great beginning!  On to the Diploma!

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