Friday, February 1, 2008

The Price Of Knowledge - Jos. Christoffel Jr. Tasting At Giaconda (Jan. 31, 2008)

At 380 NIS (about 100 USD these days), I knew this tasting would not be cheap and besides the chance to taste expensive, mature Rieslings, I expected a horizontal/vertical tasting to teach me something new about the different vineyards cultivated by the winery. In that I was disappointed. Or maybe I just let myself down.

I had already tasted five of the thirteen wines of the tasting and had made up my mind about which I prefered out of them. I had hoped that tasting the wines together and alongside eight younger and older wines would put the characteristics and inherent qualities of the vineyards in relief but I came away unable to put my finger on anything consistent across the different pradikats and vintages. Though I did come away with some opinions reinforced, I didn't learn anything drastically new. Just about the only clear conclusion is that young Mosels have a round fruitiness that gives way to crisp minerality in time, but that's something else I knew coming in. Is the honeymoon finally coming to an end, am I settling down to a lifetime of just slowly building up a relationship with the love of my wine life?

Enough complaining. The wines were good to excellent, the food was terrific (and paired well with the wines), the company was of good cheer and Giaconda's Anat and Raphaella's commentaries about the wines were educational in themselves. Now on to the notes.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese ***, 2006

The nose makes a somewhat austere impression - lime, lemon, honey, apples peels, a touch of minerals and gentle oak, all the nice, correct touches I look for, but in a delicate, detached way - which is in contrast with the roundness of the palate, where right now the sweetness of the fruit dominates the acidity that is integrated inside. There are only hints of the spiciness that a mature Wurzgarten shows. I expected greater concentration and length from a three star Auslese but overall, right now this is a rather delicate wine, which is its charm, but makes it feel like a wine to drink from 2010-2015, rather than over twenty years. 216 NIS.

Sparring partner Ran Shapira complained about the lack of scores on 2GrandCru. I still think they're just a crutch, but to put things in perspective, this would be a 90 for me while the other wines would creep up to 93-94.

Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese *** Gold Capsule, 2006
All three 2006's are aromatically shy, though here the nose is not quite as reticient, it is sharper and more focused with a dusty, chalky minerality and gentle spiciness. There is greater length and concentration compared to the previous wine, and while the fruit is even sweeter and rounder, it comes off as better balanced. If the Urziger Wurzgarten played all the correct cards in the correct order, the Erdener Treppchen starts with the same ingredients but comes up with a few wrinkles on the way. This is even more evident in the next wine. 279 NIS.

Erdener Pralat, Riesling Auslese *** Gold Capsule 2006
Here we have the same dusty minerals on the nose, with minute, almost microscopic hints of petrol. It is a broader, more powerful wine (though we're still talking about ballet dancers and not boxers), with an extra dimension on both nose and palate. Like the previous 2006's, it is in a very fruity stage and would make a more delicate impression if it didn't follow daintier wines to begin with. 311 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Spatlese, 1994
Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spatlese, 1994
I know these two wines quite well, though this time I preferred the Sonnenuhr. It was hard to write notes for them as following the fruiter 2006's, they seemed harsher than usual. So I just cleansed my palate with bread and drank up. 135 NIS (but the Sonnenuhr is sold out).

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese **, 1992
Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese **, 1992
Two more old acquaintances. The Sonnenuhr, while lacking just a little concentration, gives great pleasure, with an aromatic complexity based upon cool, wet rocks and spices, with fruit in the background and light notes of petrol. Very elegant and, while it is quite ready, when matched against the Treppchen, feels as though it could use some time to burst out. The Treppchen is more about herbs, smelling like a hurricane had come through a storeroom full of parsley, and more diffuse on the palate. At first, I thought any difference between them was a matter of taste, but after a while I realized the Treppchen just can't contend with the Sonnenuhr's crystalline structure. Despite my reservations about the Sonnenuhr's concentration, it was one of my favorites. 207 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese **, 1989
A razor sharp nose with stone cold minerals and herbs again, parsley, dill and a little petrol. Somehow, in the context of this wine, too little petrol. Litchi on the palate, compact and structured with chalk on the finish. The way the litchi blends in with the structure reminded me of Scheurebe. Not very complex in the sense this has only two or three "colors" but there is an interesting interplay between them. This wine seems to be at its peak and will hold for several years. 225 NIS.

Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese ***, 1990
An intruiging, spicy nose, with herbs, mint and minerals and tropical fruits in the background. Though I can read more into it than I did last year, it feels less expansive, a bit leaner than I remembered, but there's enough going on all around to compensate. It's got all of the 1992 Treppchen's vegetable-soup and herbs essance, but unlike the Treppchen, retains a sense of composure. A winner, to drink from now until 2015. 245 NIS.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Beerenauslese, 1994


Long and crystalline, projecting a lean-ness on the palate, although quite ripe on the nose, with hints of mint, nuts and raisins. A meaty-spicy finish. Oddly enough, it doesn't feel sweeter than the Auslese: that's balance fer ya. The color is an oddball, light, yet murky. I don't want to make a guess about its drinking window, as it seems closer to its peak than I'd have thought. But then again I have so little experience with Beerenausleses. Thumbs up. 585 NIS.

Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Auslese *****, 1975

Oy vey, what pungent minerals on the nose! And to play off them (although after thirty-three years it takes some comcentration to make out specific aromas) parsley, litchi, brown sugar and a lot of honey. The palate also boasts litchi and tropical fruits, and once again the entire package is tightly structured. Another winner, though sadly beyond my financial reach. 600 NIS.


Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese *****, 1976

A dark, amber color, very much a dessert wine nose of sugared nuts. Requires even more concentration on the part of the taster than the previous wine. I think it is also coarser and not quite as fresh and, despite its huge presence, I prefer the Treppchen 1975. See what I meant about no vineyard taking a clear advantage during the tasting? 600 NIS.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, 1976

Liquid bronze, liquid pastry. Baked apples, dried fruits, sugar and mildew on the nose. It's got length, complexity, lovely acidity balancing all that huge sweetness and a meaty, spicy finish. A real pleasure. 702 NIS.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

are you sure that you are knowledgeable enough?

2GrandCru said...

No, Dear Reader, I'm not. That's the point. The price I'll have to pay to become knowledgeable enough.

Medusa said...

Familiar names, familiar wines. Glad you enhoyed them.