Yet again, more proof that talented, consistent producers, who make consistently good, balanced wines, will do the same in more challenging vintages. Here we look at a Bdx and a Mosel Riesling from the oft maligned 1997 vintage. In the case of Bdx, it really was a tough year, with rains during harvest and many diluted, overly vegetal wines. Many '97s are not fun to drink. For the Mosel, I think that '97 was more overshadowed by the amazing '96 vintage, and was not by any means a dud.
Langoa Barton St. Julien 1997 - If St. Julien represents Bordeaux at its most elegant, with a most consistent spread of typicity, elegance and value (which, based on my experience up to this point, it does), then Langoa Barton is a perfect representative for the commune. Just like the '04 which I had a few months ago, this '97 is a balance of meaty savor, pure understated fruit, and soft texture. Of course this is a good bit more advanced, especially considering the fact that the vintage is not one for long cellaring. But really delicious, a much more complete and balanced wine than any other '97 Bdx I have yet tasted. '97 Malescot is pretty good now that I think about it, and may last a bit longer, but Langoa is the more interesting wine right now.
Max Ferdinand Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Kabinett 1997 - I had to return a badly corked bottle to get to the good stuff. Which reminds me: at between 20-25% corked bottles (and I have cracked open many of Dirk's rieslings as I used to sell them for a distributor), this winery has BY FAR the worst corked wine to good wine ratio I have ever encountered. Dirk - you make very good Riesling but either find a better supply of cork or switch to stelvin!!! Anyway, VE is a monopoly vineyard for Richter, who is based in Mulheim in the middle Mosel. The flavors are very bright, pure, focused and citric, almost like Wehlener Sonnenuhr but lighter, more simple and with a more delicate minerality. Soil here is gray slate and quartz, not the famed blue Devonian slate as in Wehlener Sonnenuhr. With a light straw color, a bit of petrol and citrus on the nose, and a very juicy, snappy palate tasting of clementines, this wine can probably still evolve for another several years. The wine is starting to get the nice, silky, mature Riesling texture, but isn't all the way there yet. And it seems as though there is some sweetness that could further resolve itself in another few years. Richter's Veldenzer Elisenberg. wines, though, and this is no exception, are a real delight to drink young, middle aged, and I imagine old, though I have yet to experience a 20 yr old Richter wine from VE.
Tomorrow, probably back to the Loire valley (again....)