Welcome to Friday Night Flights for 8 June 2018… a humid and sticky night in Bonn, indeed.
I’m without my trusty sidekick Alison Beach tonight and so I won’t be able to give you a “blind” report in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed. Alison is off leading a class of Ohio State students to the Blackfriary Archeological Field School in Trim, Ireland. Clearly her priorities are not in order… and she has the good camera with her. I’ll try to solider on, two bottles staring me in the face, without her.
I don’t think drinking these wines “nonblind,” as it were, will affect my judgement much, as you’ll see. But I won’t break format, and so there will be some suspense for you until the “reveal,” as usual. I will note, though, that both wines were slightly chilled before tasting.
Wine A presents with a medium ruby color. It has a lovely “pinot” nose, with light floral notes, along with vanilla, raspberry, and a hint of strawberry. It’s quite delicate and lovely.
On the palate, Wine A has refreshing acidity, balanced by good fruit flavors of raspberry, red cherry, a bit of kirsch, and a touch of spice on the nice finish, which is medium(+) in length. The body here is on the low side of medium, with silky tannins and the acidity balancing the excellent fruit.
Overall, a very pleasant wine.
Wine B is lighter than Wine A, a pale ruby. On the nose, one notes that it is definitely matured at least partially in new oak, but these vanilla notes, while strong, are pleasant. There are some light cherry and strawberry aromas as well.
The acid in Wine B is more restrained than in Wine A and on the palate there are notes of cedar and sour cherry, with a bit of spiciness. The tannins here are slightly more pronounced than in Wine A, with medium alcohol and a shortish finish.
This is a good wine, definitely well-made and drinkable.
Ok, so I knew what these wines were while I was drinking them. To my knowledge, I’d never had either one, though.
Wine A is a 2014 Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Pinot Noir “8” (Vin d’Alsace), 13.5% alcohol.
The wine is matured in oak barrels (my guess is either large vessels or barriques that on their third or later use) and non-filtered. As a “Vin d’Alsace” the grapes can be sourced from any of the vineyards in the co-op. Pinot Noir is the only red grape approved to be grown in Alsace.
The Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr is a co-op winery, begun in in 1954, and now with 119 members. It has about 81 hectares (200 acres) under cultivation with 80% of its vineyards in Hunawihr, with the rest in the surrounding areas. It sets about 1.6 million bottles per year, with 25% of those sales being outside of France.
Wine B is a 2014 Ahrweiler Winzer-verein Spätburguner Ahrweiler Daubhaus, 12.5% alcohol. The Ahrweiler Daubhaus vineyard is characterized by predominantly clay, with some graywacke (dark sandstone). This wine is also matured in old oak barrels.
The Ahrweiler Winzer-verein is a “Winzergenossenchaft” or co-op (like the Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr), which was founded in 1874. The co-op has about 78 members currently, and produces 85% red wine. Its members have about 24 hectares (59 acres) under cultivation.
I bought both wines at the local Kaufhof in Bonn for EUR 8.99 (about USD 10.50 and 7.90 GBP at today’s exchange rates).
Let me first say that this is a really apt comparison (pats self on back) — two co-op wines at exactly the same price from the same vintage. According to Google Maps, it would take you about 4 hours to drive almost due south from Ahrweiler to Hunawihr. As the crow flies, the two towns are 264 km (164 miles) apart.
I think these are both really good wines and super values. Surprisingly so — I had pretty low expectations going into this tasting. Either one could be an “every day” wine if you are a Pinot fan (and who isn’t?) But I do think the Cave Vinicole is a truly outstanding value. It has a great nose and I think there’s terrific balance between the acid, tannins, and fruit. The Ahrweiler Winzer-verein is a really nice wine, too, but doesn’t have quite the same balance. Still, at EUR 9, it represents a great value and I would very happily drink it on a regular basis.
This was a very nice tasting, even if I didn’t drink the wines blind. It’s great to see that lower-priced wines can bring such drinking pleasure and show off the skills of the “Kellermeister”. I wouldn’t say that either of these wines exhibits a huge degree of “terroir” — but that’s hard to expect at this price point.
As always, thanks for reading! See you next week, when I’ll be in Austria, and will hopefully have some surprises…