Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Selbach-Oster 2015 (Dec. 28, 2017)

En Bloc
Tasting through the 2015 as depicted by house Selbach-Oster can be a great many things, but most of all, it is great fun. Mosel Riesling is beautiful, moving, delicate. But it's also fun, joyful, vibrant, arguably the most delicious wine in the world. The quality among the top ten/twenty/forty/whatever producers is so high that I could probably load up on cases from any given producer in that rank. I could make a case, though, that the price point at Selbach is the best in the Mosel.

Weissburgunder, 2016

White fruit, minerals, a very nice midweek or brunch drink, if you want some variety in your Riesling diet.

Saar, Kabinnet, 2015/16

The 2016 is apples and chalk with such intense acidity it comes off as dry and rough. The 2015 has much better balance, which allows the wine to show more fullness, depth and nuances.

Zeltlinger Schlossberg, Spatlese Trocken, 2015

An outright dry wine, and even though I’m not a fan of the style in the Mosel, the nose is complex and interesting. However, while the palate is almost as focused as it is lean, in the end it’s too austere for me and not as successful as the 2012 was.

Graacher Domprobst, Spatlese Feinherb, Alte Reben, 2015

A moving nose, deep, almost brooding, very complex. The palate is as complex, earthy, a little bitter, with the pungent bite of green apple and lime.

Zeltlinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese Feinherb, Ur Alte Reben, 2015

Lighter than brother Domprobst, it doesn’t show the same bass notes of brooding melancholy. It's more restrained and the finish is cleaner, salty rather than bitter.

Zeltlinger Schlossberg, Kabinnet, 2015

This has been a fave year in and year out and tonight it’s the first wine to really make me grin. Finely balanced and wonderfully evocative, a classic Mosel with its apples, peaches and slate.

Zeltlinger Schlossberg, Spatlese, 2015

A very classic Mosel, a very classic Spatlese, a sweet gossamer snowflake of apples, apricots and a touch of Atlantic salt. Addictive. 

Zeltlinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese *, 2015

Eldad thinks Johannes doesn't use the German star system to denote a higher level of quality, necessarily, but this seems to me purer and finer than the Schlossberg. But then again, I'm always biased towards Sonnenuhr and this wasn't a blind tasting, so...

Zeltlinger Schlossberg, Auslese *, 2015

Very young and very dense. If the Spatlese was a snowflake, then this is a snowball that will take decades to unwind - or rather melt, if I want to maintain my simile.

The final three wines are what Johannes Selbach calls the "en bloc" series and are made from a single pass through specific parcels in their respective vineyards. The idea is to highlight the terroir and not necessarily the pradikat, despite the label. I assume the grapes were picked at a date that ensured the combined must weight of an Auslese. I'm less sure about the presence of botrytis; only the Rotlay exhibited any signs of that.

Zeltlinger Himmelreich, Auslese, Anrecht, 2015

Crystalline, regal and cool, a perfect balance of the sweet and the saline.

Zeltlinger Schlossberg, Auslese, Schmitt, 2015

This seems the most complete and complex of the three, deftly combining sweetness and laser-like focus.

Zeltlinger Sonnenuhr , Auslese, Rotlay, 2015

Tropical and and a bit unfocused, it seems like one of those Auslese that need 3-4 decades for the acidity to overcome the baby fat and sugar. 

A good way to sum up the tasting would be to recommend an optimal purchase strategy. A couple of Saar Kabinetts for immediate pleasure. A six pack of the Schlossberg Kabinetts to follow over two to eight years (who am I kidding, they'd all be drunk up within a year). One or two Sonnenuhr Ur Alter Reben. None of the other Spatlese or Ausleses are imported except for the "en block" wines, and here I'd pass up on the Rotlays and buy a bottle of the Anrecht and as many Schmitts as you can afford. The Schmitt is a treasure and a real keeper.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Domaine Fourrey, Chablis Premier Cru, Mont de Milieu, 2015 (Nov. 28, 2017)

As much as I love Chablis, it's getting harder to write about the merely good wines. The great ones are great, of course, and any bad wine can be fun to pan. Other than that, there's only so much even a compulsive-obsessive like me can write about the aromas and tastes that make up the marine theme that is Chablis: oysters, shells, sea air, sea weed, kelp. Kelp! That's a good one, I haven't used that word before. 

Is that why there's a backlash against Chablis recently? Have we writers run out of interesting things to say about it or has it really become an annoying prevalence on the restaurant scene, a brand whose recent popularity with the masses has become a turnoff for the cognoscenti? Is it so wrong that it's become a bestseller because civilians find it so to pronounce? -  never mind that its style and reserve makes it an easy food pairing. We've been spoiled with something on the order of two dozen Chablis producers being imported to Israel in the last few years. Me, I can still remember when all you could find in Israel was two-three negociants and Jean Durup. I don't know whether I'm jaded, but I have been buying less Chablis in general, and what I have been buying I rarely cellar these days, basically I just drinking it up.

The names, though, the names get me. Doesn't Chablis really have the most romantic and exotic vineyard names? My favorites are "L’Homme Mort", which I think even the most rudimentary of French speakers understand to be "the Dead Man"; and "Montée de Tonnerre", which Google Translate has just told me is "Ascent of Thunder" and blew my mind.

Mont de Milieu is romantic for its geographical, not linguistic, pertinence as it signifies the border between Burgundy and Champagne. If Chablis really needs an advocates then how about this wine, whose mineral and saline flavors highlight the best of what both regions make of Chardonnay?

Oh, and by the way, the Fourrey Mont de Milieu isn't all about the sea and the beach - truly, Chablis is never only about that - it has a good measure of pungent apple skins. I'd go with up to five years of cellaring.