Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Battle of the Heavyweights: Nigl vs A. Fernandez

Well, this isn't much of a head to head competition here. Two very full-bodied, intensely flavored wines, however, hence the 'battle of the heavyweights.' The Nigl I had a few nights ago was a 2001 Kremser Kremsleiten Riesling, and the Alejandro Fernandez wine was 2004 Tinto Pesquera. OK, so clearly an apples and oranges comparison, actually more like apples and carrots: White vs red, Austrian vs Spanish, bottle aged vs current release. Both are very good wines from producers for whom I have an enormous amount of respect.

The '01 Nigl was a beautiful 18K gold color. Its nose was rich, honeyed, and showing a good bit more maturity than I had expected, with strong buckwheat flower honeyed notes, mandarins, apricot glaze, and some woodsy, floral aromas (maybe I should say 'manly flowers'?). Thankfully, the wine showed a lot drier than what the palate suggested, though the fruit was of such a rich and ripe character, that it was almost over the top for my taste. On the plus side there is just enough acidity to keep things balanced, and the finish is a very long one. Drinking this wine, you can taste what must have surely been a warm, sunny vintage in the Kremstal.

'04 Pesquera is of course a little baby. All of the classic Ribera dark fruit, licorice, and grip are on full display here, but with the added dimension of spice on the perfume that always make this bottle distinctive, and easy to detect if poured out of a brown bag. This spice and aromatic complexity is not yet on full display. It should begin to emerge after another 1.5 to 2 years in bottle. Drunk with a thick, grilled, Pittsburgh rare New York strip steak (to honor my recently deceased grandfather, Pepa), the '04 Pesquera was delicious and savored immensely with my immediate family.