Welcome to Friday Night Flights for 1 June 2018… we’re in Ireland this week and not drinking Guiness. Sorry for the late post. Sometimes the rotwein|jaeger has to attend to that pesky career as an economist. The more you read and like, the sooner I can give up that silly research stuff and concentrate on the important business of tasting wine.
So we’re in Ireland because trusty cork puller and wine pourer extraordinaire Alison Beach is here leading a lusty band of students from Ohio State in a study abroad course at the Blackfriary in Trim, Ireland. We’re joined today by a few graduates from the class of 2017 from Middlebury College: Eliza Jaeger, Sofy Maia, and Tom Canaday. As you can guess, Eliza is our daughter. And Sofy and Tom are getting married this month! What better reason to open a few bottles of great wine…
Getting down to business… [Sorry, no glass pictures this week… they’ll return next week]
Wine A has a medium ruby color in the glass. Really a lovely color, but rather Pinot Noir-like.
The nose has definite floral notes, with red cherry, raspberry, blueberry some white pepper. We all agree that there are vanilla notes as well.
On the palate, it has high acid, with raspberry, red cherry, lingonberry, and vanilla, and white pepper on the finish. The balance is super between the acid and fruit and medium tannins. This is not a “big” wine, and has medium body. The finish is pleasant and long.
Overall, we all agree this is a really good wine, but I think that of the group, I probably like it best.
Wine B is definitely darker than Wine A, a deep ruby.
The nose here is more complex than Wine A, with more black fruit (black cherry, blackberry) than red. There’s also a bit of forest floor and cedar and vanilla. It’s really lovely and I think my young co-tasters are especially enamored of it.
The palate has all of the things we detected on the nose plus some black pepper on this finish, with really nice acid. The tannins are restrained, but the great fruit in the wine gives it more body than Wine A. The finish is long and lovely.
Boof… a couple of great wines, but I can see where my young tasting colleagues are headed with their preferences.
We poured these wines blind, but I only brought two bottles to Ireland and it was pretty obvious from the get-go which wine was which. At least to me.
The labels on both of these wines are so great, I’ll present both the front and back labels.
Wine A is a 2013 Ziereisen Gestad Syrah (Baden), 12% alcohol. Syrah from Germany, that’s correct. Heiner Lobenberg, one of Germany’s best wine sellers, says that this is perhaps the only Syrah produced in Germany that can compete internationally. And that may be true. This is a wine of great finesse, which would probably be best compared to a Northern Rhône Syrah.
The back label is a paragon of providing information, the kind of stuff that makes any wine geek’s heart beat a little faster. In translation: “Hand-harvested clusters of Syrah are fermented on the skins for 8 months. The wine is matured for 18 months in 25% new and 75% old traditional 225 liter Assmann barriques. On the nose lush blackberry fruit with black cherries and cassis. The fruit is accompanied by pepper and eucalyptus notes. On the palate blackberries and fresh acid. Unfiltered, small deposits as well as a light cloudiness are naturally occurring.” Bwah, why can’t all labels be like this?
Hanspeter Ziereisen is one of the premier Pinot Noir producers in Baden. His vineyards are in the corner of Germany that borders on France and Switzerland.
Wine B is a 2016 (Ok, I messed up with the vintages) Magpie Estate “The Sack” (Barossa Valley), 14% alcohol. I first encountered Magpie Estates wines many years ago in London when attending a conference. I jumped on the chance to purchase some more during my recent residency in there and I thought this would make a great comparison with a German Syrah (if I could find one — fortunately I did!). I bought these from Noel Young Wines in Cambridge (shipped to London, of course). Magpie is a joint venture of Rolf Binder and Noel Young. Rolf’s father emigrated from Austria in 1950, so there is a German-speaking connection here as well.
The back label here, too, is a thing of beauty, exhorting us to “enjoy the encoring fruits, black cherry, and plum with spice and some creamy oak. This wine stays long in the mouth… Enjoy this big Barossa red in its youth, or cellar carefully and drink over the next five to seven years. A true sack full of pleasure.”
The full “sack full of pleasure” was the clear winner among the young tasters in Ireland. They were impressed with the riper fruits and fuller body of the Syrah produced in a hotter climate. And I must admit, that “The Sack” was a mouthful of fun. And not surprising, too, at 14% alcohol.
The Ziereisen Gestad Syrah is a beautiful wine, though, and super-refined. It is more Pinot- than Cabernet-like in mouth feel. But the bigger and bolder Australian wine was more appealing to the younger set.
I’d like to try the Ziereisen with a Northern Rhône sometime and see how they would compare.
Both wines cost about USD 20 (I bought the Ziereisen in Germany and the Magpie in the UK). Both are extremely well-priced, in my opinion.
Overall, I think both of these wines were fantastic, reflecting where they were made and exhibiting the winemakers’ skills to the fullest. And what fun to taste with our daughter Eliza and her friends!
Thanks for reading! Tune in next week or the next Friday Night Flights…