Long Time Coming

Every wine lover knows this feeling of anticipation: opening a wine it took you a good few years to hunt down or a special wine you've never tasted at maturity that you've aged for quite a while.

A few years ago, we visited Andreas Laible at Durbache Baden. This wonderful family winery, with great dry Rieslings and Pinots, as well as my lifetime benchmark for Scheurbe - all sourced from one great vineyard out side the family home,  Plauelrain - is rarely seen outside of Germany. I've spent 6 years trying to hunt down more bottles. The closest is a bottle from their son's winery, whose Rieslings come from vineyards in the northern Ortenau region in Sinzheim Baden-Baden

Alexander Laible, Baden, Riesling *** Trocken SL, 2018

The SL stands for Selection. Alexander isn't a VDP member, so regardless of the quality of the wine and vineyard, he can't use the Grosse Gewaches designation and so he uses the good ol' star system. This is a steely and elegant wine, without the rough texture a GG would need a few years to smooth out. It's not a heavy wine, but it's damn somber. It projects the image of a Teutonic scholar/doctor/engineer in sharp contrast with the vivid joy of Mosel and Nahe wines. It offers a lot of joy, don't get me wrong, just not visceral joy. The nose and palate are complex and evocative and there's a lightly grainy swath of spicy flavors on the finish that I don't find elsewhere in Germany. And it sure was made with a firm, yet light, winemaking hand. (Feb. 8, 2020)

Luis Pato, Bairrada, Vinha Barrosa, 2011

Another thing I have been waiting a long time is to drink a Luis Pato Baga with some age on it. Or any Baga at all with some age on it. The Barrosa is more or less Pato’s flagship red. I think the 9 years post-vintage have focused and refined the basic character of the Baga grape - a deep, dark, tarry, graphite character - and have only just begun to embellish it with additional complexity. Getting at at the complexity is like going spelunking at first, but the Barrosa unfolds to stirring effect with air. The tannins are present with a grainy texture but they do not obscure the velvet fruit - Pato is good at controlling the grape’s tannic nature - and there is enough acidity to bank on at least 20 years for these wines. Both nose and palate - the tannins, certainly - have a savory minerality (that graphite again) that make me think of a rustic, yet classic, region about to be swept into the limelight. Say, Madiran or Bandol 40 years ago, Graves 200 years before that. (Feb. 9, 2020)