Friday Night Flights 18 May 2018

Welcome to Friday Night Flights for 18 May 2018!

As a reminder… we randomly pick one of several pre-chosen pairs and then drink the wines blind. Wines are paired based on varietal, vintage, and price, so that we’re as close to comparing apples to apples as possible.  Within the pair, one wine is from Germany and the other from somewhere else.  Which is “Wine A” and which is “Wine B” from week to week is random.

Wine A

Wine A has a pale ruby color.  On the nose there are notes of lots of red fruit (cherry, raspberry, and a hint of strawberry), a bit of white pepper.  There a bit of the (pleasant) smell of newly fallen leaves.  The wine is clearly oaked, with a round toasty vanilla aroma.

A dry wine, on the palate there’s a high degree of acidity, but this is balanced by nice red fruit (cherry and raspberry again), with vanilla, cedar, and a bit of white pepper.  The wine has a medium level of alcohol with restrained tannins and a medium body that largely comes from the rounded fruit.  The finish pleasant but somewhat abbreviated.

Overal, I think this wine is very nicely balanced with a lovely nose and good fruit on the palate.  The use of oak is tasteful and complements the rest of the wine.  A very good wine and one that would go well with smoked meats or game.  Clearly a Pinot Noir.

Wine B

Wine B is darker than Wine A — a medium ruby color.  The nose exhibits black cherry and red plum notes, with some herbal overtones from lavender.

Like Wine A, this wine is dry, with high levels of acid and medium levels of alcohol.  It is  more tannic than Wine B, in the medium(+) range.  These higher levels of tannin lead to a medium body.  But the palate is a disappointment, with the tannins dominating what little fruit there is (mostly a vague sense of red or black fruit).  The finish is short and leaves a bitter aftertaste.

While Wine B is not flawed, it’s hard to like.  The nose is unexciting and the palate is just plain unbalanced (too much tannin and very little fruit) and boring.  It is not a wine that I enjoyed drinking. With some more bottle age, the tannins would soften, but there is so little fruit that I would be concerned that the end product would be quite dull indeed.  In the short run pairing this wine with a grilled steak might also soften the tannins and reveal some fruit, but overall I think this is a lackluster effort.

Click here to see what wines we were drinking…

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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