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Ahrtal Frühburgunder and Rosenthal

We invited a passel of our wine friends to our apartment in Washington Heights last Friday (2 November) for a tasting of wines from the Ahrtal — a selection of Frühburgunder and then all of the dry Spätburgunder from the Rosenthal that I could identify. Although I’ve been blogging for a few months, this served as a de facto launch party for rotweinjaeger.com.

Leslie Gevirtz and Eliza Jaeger
The Ahrtal and particularly the Rosenthal vineyard hold a special place in my personal wine history. The first wine from the Ahr that I found totally captivating was the 2007 Rosenthal from J. J. Adeneuer. It remains one of my favorites. The Ahr is the wine region that I know best, and I count several of the producers there among my friends. So a tasting of Ahr wines was a natural for a tasting to celebrate and promote the blog.

Although focused on Früh- and Spätburgunder, we served two Blanc de Noirs from the Rosenthal while folks were gathering. The first, a 2017 from Weingut Franz Coels, was light and refreshing, with great acid and very nice fruit. More unconventional was the 2016 Rosenthal Blanc de Noir from Weingut Michael Fiebrich. This Blanc de Noir was aged in oak (2nd use barrique), which imparted a steely depth to the wine that one does not usually expect from Blanc de Noir. This is a wine that would pair well with substantial dishes like pork loin or game that one might normally pair with a medium bodied “Noir.” Many of our guests were really taken by this wine as something out of the ordinary but totally delicious.

First Flight

Once our guests, a mix of New York wine folks and wine-friendly academics, had all arrived, we sat down for the first flight. I had picked a variety of Frühburgunder (an early-ripening mutants of Pinot Noir, also known as Pinot Madeleine or Pinot Précocce), to reflect both the geographic diversity on the Ahr as well as to represent the four VDP vintners who do not produce wine from the Rosenthal. In my experience Frühburgunder exhibits a lovely fragrant nose and is a bit more delicate on the palate than Spätburgunder. The 7 wines were:

1. Nelles2016 Madeleine
2. Julia Bertram 2016 Neuenahrer Sonnenberg frühburgunder
3. Meyer-Näkel 2016 Frühburgunder
4. H.J. Kreuzberg 2016 Dernauer Hartdberg Grosses Gewächs Frühburgunder
5. Jean Stodden 2016 Recher Herrenberg Grosses Gewächs Frühburgunder
6. Mayshoss-Altenahr Winzergenossenschaft2016 Frühburgunder Goldkapsel
7. Deutzerhof2016 Mayschosser Mönchberg Grosses Gewächs Frühburgunder

Opinion in the group was a bit divided about the top wine in this group between the Jean Stodden and the Deutzerhof. Both exhibited notable but restrained use of oak with vanilla and cherry on the nose. My personal favorite was the Deutzerhof for the complexity of the nose and a great palate of red fruits with nutmeg and pepper notes. If anyone still doubts that German red wine can favorably compare to those from elsewhere while still remaining “Spätburgunder” at heart (as distinct from Pinot Noir), then they should try this wine. It is absolutely world class.

The Meyer-Näkel also captured some accolades with strong ripe strawberry on the nose and palate. The nose on the Nelles Madeleine was beautifully floral and the palate showed good fruit, but the finish was a bit disappointing.

Will Harcourt-Smith and Joe Czerwinski
The Dernauer Hardtberg from Kreuzberg was well-integrated, with balanced use of oak and good fruit, with a touch of baking spices on the palate. It’s a delicious wine.

Julia Bertam‘s Sonnenberg was perhaps a bit closed (these are all young wines after all), but showed potential with nice red fruit balanced with decent acid. Julia, a former German Wine Queen, is one of the few Ahr vintners whose wines can sometimes be found here in New York (some of her wines, although not this wine, are imported to the U.S. by Schatzi Wines). She has been producing wine under her own label since the 2014 vintage and is already one of the best-known producers on the Ahr.

The Frühburgunder Goldkapsel from the Ahrweiler-Mayschoss Winzergenossenschaft was perhaps a bit overshadowed by the other wines in the flight, but it is clearly a well-made wine probably best enjoyed over the next few years. The group thought that the Nelles, Stodden, and Deutzerhof had good aging potential. I would add the Kreuzberg to that list.

Second Flight

The second and third flights presented dry Spätburgunders from the Rosenthal. The Rosenthal is one of the premier (and largest) vineyards on the Ahr with about 22 hectares under cultivation. It faces south and south west with the walled medieval town of Ahrweiler at its feet. The soil is primarily loam, but also with slate and graywacke.

I tried to present all of the dry Spätburgunders from the Rosenthal and was surprised at the number of producers and variety of wine produced there. Most of these wines are produced in tiny quantities (for those aged in barrique, mostly 1 barrique worth, or about 300 bottles). Assembling a full complement of Rosenthal’s from older vintages would have been impossible, and I doubt that such a collection has been assembled very often, if at all, even in Germany. It was a privilege to be able to present these wines to a group of knowledgable wine drinkers in New York.

The second flight consisted of

1. Ahrweiler Winzerverein2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
2. Max Schell 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
3. Franz Coels 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
4. Weinhaus Rosenthal 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
5. Max Schell 2016 Grand Max “S” Spätburgunder

This flight represented producers that, I think, were totally unknown to any of the group, which included a few folks (including Karl Storchmann, NYU Professor and Editor of the Journal of Wine Economics) who know the Ahr well.

Karl Storchmann
The standouts of this flight were, by nearly unanimous consensus, the two wines from Max Schell. Both showed beautiful “Pinot” noses and on the palate had a great balance of fruit and acid, with def use of oak. I personally found the Grand Max “S” to be a tick more lively. These were both outstanding wines that show the hand of a very skilled wine maker. Wolfgang Schulze-Icking, the winemaker who owns Max Schell with his wife Katarina, provided the wines to me before they are released to the public, but they were both were already drinking quite well. Bravo!

The least expensive wine of the night, from the Ahrweiler Winzerverein, also won some hearts (particularly among the younger crowd at the tasting with a more limited budget) as a decent, drinkable wine at a fair price. I found the sour cherry palate to be a bit disappointing, but with cheese or a meal this would be a perfectly acceptable wine.

Franz Coels’s Rosenthal was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing. I had tried it in Ahrweiler on the previous Sunday and found it to be surprisingly good, with a decently aromatic nose and a rounded and fruit-filled palate. There was some discussion in the group about whether the bottle was flawed (I’d unfortunately left the second bottle I’d purchased back in Germany), and so I am loathe, given my earlier experience, to draw a definite conclusion about the wine based on this tasting. The wine in our glasses was a bit lifeless and thin, unfortunately.

Weinhaus Rosenthal is the brainchild of Michael Lang, who runs the Ahrwein Depot in Ahrweiler. This is the first vintage in which he has produced his own wine. He uses Max Schell’s Weinkeller but during a recent visit to Ahrweiler he assured me that he did all of the work himself in the production of the wine. The wine was good, certainly for a first effort, but not great. At a price point that exceeds Adeneuer’s Grosses Gewächs from the Rosenthal, however, it’s hard to recommend this wine too strongly, and I think Michael has oversold it a bit on his website and label. Having his likeness on the capsule is also a bit goofy. In my opinion the two wines in this flight from Max Schell are much better in an absolute sense and also offer a substantially better value for their quality.

Third Flight

The third and last flight included the two Rosenthals produced by VDP producers Jean Stodden and J.J. Adeneuer, as well as Peter Kriechel, Paul Schumacher, and relative newcomers Julia Bertram and Michael Fiebrich:

1. Peter Kriechel2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
2. Julia Bertram 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
3. Paul Schumacher 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
4. Michael Fiebrich 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal
5. J.J. Adeneuer 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal Grosses Gewächs
6. Jean Stodden 2016 Ahrweiler Rosenthal Grosses Gewächs

These six wines, all excellent, showed a remarkable variety considering that they are all produced with fruit from the same vineyard and are from the same vintage. Roughly speaking, there was consensus that the wines could be grouped into two groups of the first three (Kriechel, Bertram, and Schumacher) and the last three (Fiebrich, Adeneuer, and Stodden). I perhaps should have randomized the order in which they were poured, but I think there was some sense in keeping the Grosses Gewächs Rosenthals for the end.

The Rosenthal from Kriechel, while good, was perhaps not quite ready for prime time, with a bit of a short finish. Peter Kriechel was very kind to provide a bottle to me before they go on sale to the and warned me that the wine probably would not show as well as it might with a year or two of bottle age. He also provided a bottle of his 2015 Rosenthal and I’ll include it in a Friday Night Flights at some point in the near future.

Julia Bertram’s Rosenthal is a very nice wine, with soft tannins and good fruit. The nose was perhaps not as stunning as some of the wines later in the flight, but this is a wine that will age nicely over the next few years.

The Rosenthal from Paul Schumacher was probably the most Burgundian of the wines of the evening with darker fruits and a rounder mouth feel, with some spice on the long finish. A very nice wine!

Michael Fiebrich is one of the smallest producers on the Ahr, making about 6,000 bottles total of all his wines, which are all organic. I recently visited some of his vineyards and his Keller (a blog entry coming soon). He does nearly all of the work on his wines himself (including tying the capsules to the bottles!) and they are truly a labor of love. His Rosenthal very much impressed the group with a lovely nose, wonderful fruit, and a great finish.

The last two wines of the night, both Grosses Gewächs were probably the favorites of the flight for the Group. Adeneuer’s Rosenthal is the more delicate of the two and has been one of my “Lieblingsweine” for years. Those nose has floral and vanilla elements along with restrained cherry and raspberry. On the palate, it delivers a mouth-pleasing balance of red fruits with hints of baking spices and vanilla. The use of oak here is restrained but appropriate. This is a beautiful wine.

Stodden’s Rosenthal was, for me, the star of the night, though, even though I am through-and-through an Adeneuer fan. For me this wine was in perfect balance between acid and fruit with silky tannins. The finish was tremendous and the nose was gorgeous — a wine one could sniff without sipping for hours. But why would you want to? This is a prodigious effort from Alex Stodden. What a shame that there are only 300 bottles made!

My impression from chatting with our honored guests was that they were extremely impressed with nearly every one of the wines. They were astounded by the variety coming from a small vineyard area so far north.

After a few wine-soaked hours, we were ready for dinner. We started with Pumpkin soup with pumpkin oil from Steiermark in Austria and toasted pumpkin seeds. Alison then provided risotto with Bergkäse paired with roasted Brussel sprouts and smoked salmon. It was spectacular and a perfect ending to a perfect evening!


Thanks to all! In February there will be a tasting of (nearly) all of the Grosses Gewächs Spätburgunder from the Ahr — I’m very curious to see what folks think of them!


Photo credits: Mikhail Lipyanskiy

Congratulations to the Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoss-Altenahr!

The Winzergenossenschaft in Mayschoss on the Ahr is celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this weekend!

The Winzergenossenschaft is the the oldest wine cooperative in the world (“Genossenschaft” means cooperative). It was founded in December 1868 as the Mayschosser Winzerverein with 18 members and at its 100th anniversary in 1968 it had 240 members. In 1982 it merged with the Altenahr Winzergenossenschaft and in 2009 with the Walporzheimer Winzergenossenschaft, which was the second oldest cooperative in Germany, having been founded in 1871.

The Genossenschaft currently has 432 members with about 150 hectares under cultivation and produces about 1.4 millions bottles of wine, making it the largest producer on the Ahr.

From my own experience, I can say that the Mayschosser Winzergenossenschaft has made big strides in the last 10 years and now produces some excellent wine. Their dry Rieslings and the Spätburgunder “R” Pinot Noir and the Walporzheimer Kräuterberg are great and good values. I’m also fond of their Blanc de Noir.

Their cellar, which was built in 1871, can be toured with a guide and is definitely worth a visit.

The celebration will be going on all weekend. Infos are Info (sorry, only in German).

Congratulations to the Mayschosser! Weiter so! Zum Wohl!

The Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoss then:
Alt Mayschosser

and now:

Passed my Level 3 Exam!

My Level 3 Award in Wines from the Wine and Spirts Education Trust arrived in yesterday’s mail, one week earlier than I expected!

I passed the “theory” part of the exam with merit and the blind tasting (2 wines, one white, one red) was just a “pass”.  The theory section was 50 multiple choice questions and 4 short answer questions with multiple parts for which we had 2 hours.  I used just about all of that time.  It’s been about 25 years since I’ve taken anything other a multiple choice test.

The blind tasting, which we wrote first, was 30 minutes.  The goal of the tasting is to see if one can describe wines using the WSET’s “Systematic Approach to Tasting.”  The idea behind the SAT is to provide a standard framework to describe wines (appearance, nose, palate) that would allow another person familiar with the framework to have an idea about how the wine looks, smells, and tastes, even if they have never tried it.    It’s fairly detailed — here’s the Level 3 SAT.  One doesn’t have much latitude in how to describe stuff like color, alcohol, or acidity, but one can use whatever aroma and flavor descriptors one wants.  I had hoped that my white wine would have been a Sauvignon Blanc because I think most of them smell like Mexican guava (how’s that for obscure?), but I got what I’m pretty sure was a Sauternes.  I’m sure there’s a straight Sauvignon Blanc in my future, though…

For those that don’t know about the WSET Awards…  There are four levels.  I started at Level 2 in February(a month worth of Saturdays taught by the inimitable Quentin Sadler) and then did Level 3 online, both while I was visiting the London School of Economics.  The next and final level with the WSET is the Diploma, which comprises 6 sub-courses and takes about a year to 15 months to complete.  After that, one can apply to the Master of Wine curriculum.  If you work really, really hard and have a bit of luck, after another 3 or 4 years, you get to use the hallowed “MW” after your name.

So I’m thrilled to have passed Level 3!  Now the really tough work on my way to those initials begins.  Thanks for accompanying me on that journey…

Friday Night Flights 15 June 2018, Linz Edition (I)

I’ve been visiting the Department of Economics at the Johannes Kepler Universität in Linz, Austria this week.  I have known Rudolf Winter-Ebmer and René Böheim for a long time it’s been great to spend a little time in Linz.

And of course there is great wine in Austria!  More on that later and next week…

I asked René if he’d want to do a Friday Night Flights with me and he organized an amazing evening of wine with Linz friends and colleagues.    We’d been through three flights of two Austrian wines each (see below) before we got to the “Friday Night Flights” comparison.  As you can imagine, we were warmed up and in a good mood!  René was great about drinking everything blind and so the usual FNF conditions apply.  Let’s get to it!

Wine A

Our first wine (well, technically our 7th wine of the night, but…) has a beautiful deep ruby color. On the nose it’s got a mix of green pepper, tobacco, chocolate, plum, and spices.    It’s really great.

The palate has pronounced but well-integrated tannins and it’s clear that this is a wine that built for aging.  There’s tobacco, a bit of plum, some eucalyptus, perhaps some white pepper. The acid is in balance, but restrained.  Between the fruit and tannins, the wine has pronounced body.  There a lot of great things going on in the glass, and the finish is long and pleasant.

Wine B

Our second wine is also ruby, but a little lighter than the first wine.  On the nose it offers more vanilla than the tobacco of the first wine with spicy notes.  There are definite black fruit notes as well.  The nose here is great, but perhaps a bit less complex than Wine A.

On the palate, I get black cherries, blackberries, plums and again vanilla.  There’s very nice fruit here as well as decent acidity.  The tannins are a bit silkier than Wine A, but definitely present — another wine built for the bottle.  It’s full bodied and round in the month.   The finish is not quite as long as Wine A, but still great.

Since I brought these two wines (but don’t know which is which), I’m glad.  René has been so generous sharing his own wines both at this grandiose tasting, but also at dinner on Tuesday, and he’s been so enthusiastic about my new wine ventures, that I didn’t want these wines to disappoint.  They definitely didn’t and our group of five definitely enjoyed them.

So which of these is from Germany and which from elsewhere?

Click here to see what we were drinking…

Friday Night Flights 8 June 2018

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

Wine A in the glass

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

Wine B in the glass

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.

Click here to see what we were drinking…

 

 

Friday Night Flights 1 June 2018, Ireland Edition

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

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

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 great.

Boof… a couple of great wines, but I can see where my young tasting colleagues are headed with their preferences.

Click here to see what we were drinking…

Friday Night Flights 25 May 2018

Welcome to Friday Night Flights for 25 May 2018!

This is the third installment of “Friday Night Flights,” where we drink two wines blind and give you the scoop.  One will always be from Germany, and the other can be from anywhere, but we choose them to be comparable on varietal and price point.

Wine A

Wine A in the glass

This week’s Wine A is medium ruby in color.  The nose offers blackberries and black cherries and definitely has some mushroomy/forest floor and green asparagus overtones.  There’s a bit of clove, and I suspect that it is matured partially in new oak.

The palate offers a bit more black cherry than on the nose, with blackberries, and a bit of cassis.  The smooth and integrated tannins are on the high side of medium, with high acid.  Overall the wine has nice (medium-plus) body.  The finish is a bit disappointing, but not unpleasant.

I find the wine to be well-structured with a nice balance between acid, tannin, and fruit.  There is clearly aging potential here, probably for 10 years or more.

Wine B

Wine B in the glass

Wine B is a bit lighter in color, with definite hints of garnet on the rim.  The nose gives substantially more evidence of new oak than Wine A, with notes of toasty vanilla.  The fruits here are a bit more pronounced than in Wine A, with a mix of black fruits (black cherry and blueberry) and red fruits (raspberry).

The palate offers the same lovely mix of fruit along with white and black pepper.  The smooth tannins here are perhaps less pronounced than in Wine A (medium rather than medium-plus), but there is also high acid.  The fruit is more pronounced than in Wine A here as well, but with similarly high acid.

Wine B has a lighter body (medium) than Wine A, but a longer finish.   There is still aging potential, but it is probably less than Wine A, which is more tannic.

Click here to see what we were drinking…

Facebook

We’ve now added a Facebook presence at http://www.facebook.com/rotweinjaeger

It’s sometimes easier to share things on Facebook that are posted on Facebook (e.g. notices from vintners, etc.).  And not everyone uses Twitter and we’re trying to reach the biggest audience we can.

Some great possibilities for Friday Night Flights this week.  I’m curious to see what pair gets chosen!

Memories of Trestle on Tenth

I have been spending my sabbatical leave this year away from New York, which has been lovely.  I love New York, but sometimes a change of pace is good.

But I am quite sad to be away this week, as it is the last week that my absolute favorite restaurant in the city, Trestle on Tenth will be open.  Trestle is closing its doors forever and I am sorry that I won’t be able to be there on Saturday the 26th to say goodbye to owner and chef Ralf Kuettel and his superb staff, especially general manager Gwen Hayward.

My good friend Karl Storchmann, editor of the Journal of Wine Economics, introduced my to Trestle in 2010.  We’ve since spent many nights there eating and drinking wine, and discussing wine, often ones that we brought ourselves and that Ralf was kind enough to let us drink without charging us corkage.  Ralf’s Swiss upbringing was reflected in the menu and his smoked and roasted pork loin was to die for.  I rarely deviated from my choice, even if other items on the menu were also spectacular.  What I loved about Trestle was that it was quiet enough to be able to carry on a conversation, which is not always easy in New York restaurants. And the service was always impeccable.  The prices were reasonable and the wine list was heavy on natural European wines, also something of a rarity in New York.  The outside garden was one of the loveliest spots for dinner in Manhattan.

Trestle played an integral role in my quest to bring German red wine to the attention of Americans.  Most significantly, it was the place where, in November of 2010, Karl and I co-organized a blind tasting of Großes Gewächs (the German equivalent of Grand Cru in France) from the Ahr and selected (and roughly comparably priced) wines from Burgundy.  Karl was amazing in organizing funding from the German Wine Institute and the American Association of Wine Economists, which paid for dinner for all of our guests.

Ahrwein at the ready

Karl also assembled a great guest list…  Here’s who was there, in addition to Karl and me, with their affiliations at the time:

The 6 VDP (Verband deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweinguter — the best 200 vintners in German) vintners on the Ahr (Adeneuer, DeutzerhofKreuzberg, Meyer-Näkel, Nelles, and Stodden) were very generous and donated 6 bottles each (3 bottles of 2 different Großes Gewächs), which I schlepped back from Germany in two different trips.  I was traveling back and forth quite frequently then, so this wasn’t a particular problem.  While a few of the Ahr vintners were exporting to the U.S. at the time, I sold them on the idea that this would be a good way to test the waters of the U.S. market, particularly if we could induce some of the press at the time to report on the tasting.

Stephen Bitterolf, who worked at Crush Wine at the time and who now organizes the Rieslingfeier every year in New York also supported us by providing to us at cost four Burgundies that would normally retail for about $100 per bottle.

Setting up. So many glasses!  L: Alison Beach, R: Tom Dunn (Trestle General Manager at the time)

It was important to Karl and me that we taste the wines blind, and the staff at Trestle was superb in helping us to achieve this.  There is a fair amount of prejudice against German red wines, even among some of the more sophisticated wine people in New York.  This event was no different, as a certain contingent of folks spent a lot of time trying to figure out which of the wines were from France and then heaping praise on them.

Karl has a lot of experience with blind tastings, however, and came prepared with software from Richard Quandt, a renowned Princeton econometrician and wine lover.  His WINETASTER software has been used to evaluate hundreds of blind tastings.

We tasted eight wines in each in two flights.  Each taster was asked to rank the wines from 1 (best) to 8 (worst) in both flights.

Introducing the night.  L to R: Howard Goldberg, Orley Ashenfelter, Joe Czerwinski, me, and Karl Storchman

First Flight

The aggregated rankings of the first flight were:

  • 1st:  2007 Nelles B-48 GG
  • 2nd (tied):  2007 Stodden Recher Herrenberg GG
  • 2nd (tied):  2008 Meyer-Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert GG
  • 4th:  2007 Deutzerhof Mayschoßer Mönchsberg GG
  • 5th:  2007 Lafarge Clos du Chateau des Ducs 1er Cru
  • 6th:  2006 Adeneuer J.J. Adeneuer “R”
  • 7th:  2007 Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny
  • 8th:  2007 Kreuzberg Devonschiefer “R”

The wines of the same color are considered to be statistically ranked the same. The Nelles B-48 was clearly a winner in this flight and the next three wines were also from the Ahr.

First flight

Second Flight

The second flight was somewhat less conclusive, as all wines were statistically similarly ranked.  Nevertheless, Ahr wines topped the list:

  • 1st:  2008 Meyer-Näkel Walporzheimer Kräuberberg GG
  • 2nd:  2007 Kreuzberg Silberberg GG
  • 3rd:  2007 Nelles B-52 GG
  • 4th:  2007 Adeneuer Ahrweiler Rosenthal GG
  • 5th:  2007 d’Angerville Volnay Champans 1er Cru
  • 6th:  2007 Stodden Ahrweiler Rosenthal GG
  • 7th:  2007 Deutzerhof Altenahrer Eck GG
  • 8th:  2007 Chevillon Nuit-St.-Georges Les Cailles 1er Cru
Paul Greico and Joshua Greene

This was my first experience with New York wine professionals, and most were very gracious (Paul Greico and Joshua Greene, pictured at right, for example).  It was somewhat surprising to me, though, how closed-minded some folks were.  Maybe I just love Spätburgunder more than others.

Karl and I had hoped that the night would generate a bit of positive press and interest in Ahr wine in particular and German red wine in general.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, although there was general agreement that the Ahr wines held their own against the 1er Cru from Burgundy.  The lack of availability of the wines in the U.S. probably played a large role.

Lots of empty bottles

 

Farewell, Trestle

I owe much to Ralf and the staff at Trestle for making that night back in 2010 so successful.  But I am also so grateful that Trestle was always a place that was welcoming and where I was greeted by name and with a smile.  I’ve shared many wonderful times there with colleagues, friends, and family.  I’ve celebrated there and spent nights in long conversation.  I’ve sat outside in the garden in the sun and watched snow pile up outside the big front window.  It’s been an anchor in my life for a long time now, and I will dearly, dearly miss it.

Ralf, Gwen, and the rest of the staff at Trestle:  I hope this is not good bye, but just Auf Wiedersehen.  Thank you for so many good memories.

The bar at Trestle

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…