One Champion, No Contenders (Oct. 27, 2015)

It's true, you know: you don't need great wines to have a great wine night, you just need good friends. Sometimes, the lineup just doesn't work out, sometimes great wines don't come up to scratch, and sometimes, someone (me!) brings the wrong bottle.

It's all about the company and the friends, but it doesn't hurt if someone brings in a good German Riesling from an unknown producer - or if someone brings a great vintage Champagne,

A great Champagne
The great friend who brought it
J. B. Becker, Rheingau, Wallufer Walkenberg, Riesling Trocken, 2013

A producer I've never heard before. A crisp presence with clean, pungent, green apples and skins, chalk - just about all you could expect from a young dry Riesling.

Pierre Peters, Grand Cru Le Mesnil, Les Chetillons, 2007

Expressive and powerful, full and broad, with brioche, mushrooms, baked apples - the necessities of life, in other words. Despite its power, the nose has a delicate subtlety to it, while the palate balances dry cut with ripe breadth. If you don't love Champagne, you don't love life, and while that doesn't mean you need to love every Champagne, you definitely need this one on your life list.

R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia,  Rioja Gran Reserva, 1976

This is a still vigorous, but aging Don, with typical mature Rioja nuances: red fruit, tobacco leaves, balsami. You could argue that it's past it best - I don't agree, and although I've had better Riojas, I salute its aging grace.

Andre Ziltener, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, 1989

This, however, is definitely over the hill, although the nose still thrives, with its sweet fruit, underbrush and flowers. Naty, who brought it (along with the Peters), said he bought a few at 100 something euros a piece and that others bottles were very good. I've never heard of this producer, and Google tells me the domaine also has a hotel on the premises. I looked up the domaine's site, and I dunno, it reeks heavily of hype and tourism.