Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wines at the Beach

It should come as little surprise that my recent week off from work and a week away from the blogosphere hardly meant a week off from wine. However, in keeping with Brooklynguy’s recession busting advice – brew your own coffee, pack your own lunch – it did mean carting along some wines from the home cellar rather than exploring the downstate wine shops in search of new finds. It also meant a week of much more casual note taking than usual (which is to say none…) so the following quick write-ups are based mainly on raw impressions.

Traisental Grüner Veltliner “Hugo,” Weingut Huber 2007
$10. 12% alcohol. Stelvin. Importer: Boutique Wine Collection, Philadelphia, PA.
Certainly the beachiest of the bunch. Relatively generous yields show through in Hugo’s relative lack of concentration but I challenge you to find another $10 Grüner Veltliner that shows as much quality as this. Crisp, fresh and light, it bursts with flavors on the citrus and grassy side of the GV spectrum. Not at all vinous or serious, just a good, refreshing quaff and a worthwhile alternative for anyone tired of drinking inexpensive Sauvignon.

Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese, Carl Schmitt-Wagner 2005
$17. 9% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Terry Theise Selection, Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY.
It was hard to pass up at the price but this is the second ’05 from Schmitt-Wagner that I’ve been a little under whelmed with in recent months. A soaked through cork hinted at the possibility of poor provenance, which may explain the dulled flavors of the wine. It wasn’t without appeal, showing pleasant, baked apple fruit. But its length was shorter, its acidity softer and its minerality less pronounced than I would have hoped. More than drinkable but less than memorable.

Touraine “Cuvée Gamay,” Clos Roche Blanche 2007
$16.50. 12% alcohol. Neocork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
After reading rave reviews about this from both Neil and Mike recently, I expected to be wowed. Instead, I was a little let down, a particularly coincidental experience as I’d just defended Clos Roche Blanche in response to Neil’s posting. High expectations are always hard to meet, so I should say that this was far from bad wine. It was just a touch flat, showing hints of the aspartame character I sometimes find in direct, simple Gamay as well as a touch of the plastic flavor I’ve found in some wines – is it just my imagination? – sealed with Neocork/Nomacorc. An off bottle? I’m not sure, but I’d love to see CRB (and other producers) switch to screw caps instead of synthetic stoppers.

Champagne Verzenay Grand Cru Brut, Jean Lallement & Fils NV
$40. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Terry Theise Selection, Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY.
Without question, this was the wine of the week. Even though the price has crept up closer to $50 in some markets since I purchased this, it’s still a damn good value in grower Champagne. Creamy, succulent and showing lovely phenolic concentration up front, it finished with a grippy, pithy twist of the tongue, showing fantastic acid backbone, even a suggestion of a little tannin. Flavors of yellow peaches led into fresh raspberries and cream. The finish brought a return to peaches along with red apples – the skins rather than the flesh. Really compelling bubbly.

Chinon “Les Picasses,” Olga Raffault 2002
$20. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.
We took this and the Lallement to dinner at a Rehoboth restaurant called Nage. My wife summed it up something like this: “That Champagne was delicious. This is… hmmm… hmmm… this is good wine.” The young sommelier, who had never tried Chinon before, found it sour. You know what? They were both right. Leaner and quieter than I expected and, yes, even a little sour on the finish but an excellent food wine. Red currant, black tea, thyme and olive characteristics were carried on a narrow frame. Delicate tannins, high acidity and a little on the austere side, albeit quite supple in feel. This one requires some devotion but is worth the effort.


Lyle Fass said...

The '02 Raffault will turn out to as good as the '89 and '96 in fifteen years.

David McDuff said...

Welcome back, stranger. I'm inclined to agree with you in terms of the potential longevity of the Raffault. I do expect it will be quite delicate in its old age. As my note suggests, it's already leaning out and developing some bottle bouquet. Should be interesting to watch over the next 10-15.

Lyle Fass said...


Yes been in and out of it these last couple months but should be more regular these days.

David McDuff said...

Glad to hear it, mate. Hope to see you at the Dressner tasting in a couple of weeks.

RougeAndBlanc said...

Long time no chat. Glad to see your writeup & Lyle's response on the '02 Olga. Wonder how this wine turns out when it matures?

I am not sure if I can wait 15 years to try it though.

David McDuff said...

Holy crap, R&B. I thought you'd disappeared.... I do think the '02 Raffault "Picasses" will benefit from some rest but I'd hardly say you should wait 15 years before even trying it. It's not the friendliest of wines at the moment but, at the price, it has a lot to say for itself.

Be sure to let me know if/when you get your blog back into action.

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