Thursday, June 12, 2008

Theise '07 German/Austrian Tasting - West Coast Edition

This is far from thorough. I still would like to put down a few thoughts on the wines and the vintage, with many gaping holes since I came far from tasting everything. For instance, I didn't taste any reds because I didn't feel like it. The fact that I tasted as many of these in the middle of a day off while, still trying to catch up from being away for a few weeks, re-confirmed both my choice of profession and my tolerance for tooth enamel punishment. It's a Terry Theise tasting though; so of course I wouldn't think of missing it. Terry's work is the reason why I have had the chance to taste such a variety of wines from Germany and Austria without travelling to either country. It could have just as easily been Rudi Wiest, but I sold Terry's wine back in the day, and besides Rudi's wines are tougher to find around Baltimore and DC where my formative drinking years took place.

Germany first. I really like the acidity of 2007. In many cases it is in terrific balance with fruit and sugar, and in my favorite wines there is a real crackle to the acidity, more so than in '06 or '05, which I would describe as juicier and maybe a touch less malic? That being said, there were some wines which were missing the power and richness of '06 and '05, or the prettiness and detailed minerality of '02. Overall it seemed like a better than average vintage - enjoyable wines where the peaks, from what I tasted anyway, were Rheingau trocken wines and Donnhoff. Favorites included Leitz's Eins Zwei 3 Dry Riesling (a dry fruit cocktail nose with intense mouthfilling fruits), the Rudeshmeimer Berg Kaisensteinfel Alte Reben (more austere, mineral, detailed, lime, tough to pin-point fruits) and a Toni Jost Bacharacher Hahn Kabinett (does Burt know that he has a village named after him?) that for some reason really impressed. It was a bright, lively combo of tropicality, some leesiness and tasty acidity to cut through it all. Of course the Willi Schaefer wines were great - I prefer Graacher Himmelreich to the Domprobst for its brighter, lighter, less smoky character. Christoffel...I wanted to like these wines more. Part of the problem is that they are so candied and sweet when young, which is usually fine because there is this amazing intensity of flavor. And I probably am missing something here, but I just did not care for them as much as I have the past two vintages.

Now Austria. Only tasted some gruner veltliner and a few assorted others, no riesling. '07 was meh, at least for gruner veltliner, especially following '06. Gobelsburg and Schrock still terrrific, my favorites being the Gobe Gruner Veltliner Steinsetz (bright, citric, clean, mineral for days) and Heidi Schrock's Furmint (explosive tart orange, almost like a bright racy tocai friulano). Nigl - surprisingly disappointing. Salomon Undhof - consistently good and solid value. My wine of the tasting (German or Austrian) was the '93 Gruner Veltliner Vinothek from Nikolaihof (Austria's first biodynamic winery, since '89 I believe). It had ripe citrus and plenty of creamy lees on the nose, with a soft, caressing, intense palate. I was so excited by the wine that I told Nikolas Saahs that it would probably prove to be, in my opinion, the wine of the day - yes I was one of 'those' people I'm embarrassed to say, but such was my level of excitement with the wine.

That's it, for now, there's dinner to prep.