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Aug

02

2010

Posted by Joe Salamone

Alain Coudert and his Clos de la Roilette have provided me with two important experiences: one was the best bottle of Beaujolais that I’ve ever drunk - the 1999 Vendange Tardive; the other was my first andouillette, which I actually managed to enjoy over lunch with Coudert and a bottle of 07 Metras Fleurie VV. Crazily enough, I feel like I owe Coudert enormously for both.

More on the 99 Tardive in a moment, but first we need to pause on the andouillette, a tripe sausage that has always elicited fear and revulsion in my mind. When it comes to tacos de tripas, I’m down. But I head the other way when it comes to anything else remotely involving tripe. I believe I had consciously decided never to eat an andouillette.

Jul

28

2010

Posted by Joe Salamone

Finding Jean-Paul Brun wasn’t easy.

I was at Pierre Chermette just prior. I typed “Charnay, Crière” into the GPS, and fifteen minutes later, Voilà! I was in Crière. There are maybe a dozen and a half homes in the hamlet. I then spent twenty-five minutes trying to find Brun.

After a couple of phone calls, Brun finally pitied me and agreed to meet me in front of Eric Texier’s up the road. Once at Brun’s, I realize that I had missed the sign, which is handwritten and - at best - 2' x 1.5’.

Once there, though, the quality of Brun’s 2009 line-up was simply incredible. Brun says that the 09 Beaujolais vintage is the best quality he’s ever seen. The wines showed a level of concentration and breed that I’ve yet to encounter in Brun’s wines. And trust me, with Brun the bar is set pretty high.

Apr

23

2010

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf

So I'm off to Germany tomorrow (today, whatever as appropriate) to preview the 2009 vintage and do a bit of touring, Deutsch-sprechin'... that sort of thing. For you German wine geeks, here's the plan.

Sunday and Monday I'm at the Mainzer Weinbörse: This is basically a VDP-fest with the top producers all present. A good way to blaze through a wide collection of the 2009s and get a good sense of the vintage. Stamina required. Last year they served tarte flambés at the food station and that helped with the basic exhaustion of it all. That said, it's a very well organized event.

Jan

09

2009

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf

Tim Frohlich, the 30-something ultra-cool winemaker, may well be a genius. He has what Rudi Wiest calls "the touch." Unlike most winemakers in Germany, he did not study at Geisenheim; instead, at the tender age of 21, after only an an internship, he simply told his parents (his mother was making the wines at the time) that he was ready to take over the estate. And so he did.

I can't quite explain it, but when Tim says something to you, it's said in such a frank and even tone that it's hard to resist. It's as if he can only recite god-given facts. In my imagination, Tim wakes up one morning, realizes he is now going to make the wines at the estate, and calmly tells his mother and father. They, in turn, nod silently in agreement and then everyone goes back to work without another word.

However it went down, it was a wise move. Tim's first vintage was 1995 and in the decade plus since, Schafer-Frohlich has risen to an elite status in the Nahe. Donnhoff beware. Emrich-Schonleber watch out! Indeed, after the mind-blowing strengths of his lineup of wines from 2005, 2006 and now 2007, I really don't think there are many people who could argue that this estate is not on paar with Donnhoff and Emrich-Schonleber.

Aug

06

2008

Posted by Joe Salamone

We arrived at Willi Schaefer bright and early and were welcomed by Willi Schaefer himself. The first stop: A tasting room full of AM sunlight and the scents of spring flowers coming through the window. A 1975 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese sat on the table. It felt like I went from the comfort of sleep to even more comfortable place.

Willi Schaefer said that he chose to begin with the 1975 because he felt that the 2007 and 1975 vintage shared many similarities. Both vintages possess low botrytis and have high levels of acidity. If the 1975 is any indication of what lies in store for the 2007ers, those of you who stock up will be very happy indeed.

The 2007ers exhibit extreme focus, clarity and concentration; they are arguably some of the best wines produced at the estate in recent history - which is saying something. These are incredibly dense wines with profound minerality and a structure that is formidable, to say the least. They promise to be exceptionally long-lived. Don't miss this lineup.

Jul

21

2008

Posted by Joe Salamone

"Expressiveness bordering on the super-natural." - Terry Theise


The view within the Haardter Burgergarten vineyard; the Muller-Catoir estate is visible in the distance,
to the left, with the bright yellow awnings.

The 2007 collection at Muller-Catoir serves as a compelling testament to the survival of a level of craftsmanship once widely assumed to have deteriorated. Time to check your assumptions, because these are wines of stunning clarity and uniqueness.

The elite BAs and TBAs especially, are just absolutely psychotic (in a good way). They have a guillotine-like cut, an apocalyptic fireworks of bright fruits, herbs and flowers and minerals that glow like the neon blazing across Times Square. Words just don't do the singular uniqueness, and extraordinary quality of these wines, justice. So try one.

Jul

14

2008

Posted by Joe Salamone

The wines of Helmut Donnhoff have such power and complexity that their signature weightless feels seems nearly miraculous. One taste and you sense that magic. Donnhoff's wines are on par with the best of Germany in a very unique way - his sweet wines rival those of Prum and Egon Muller and the dry wines are mentioned in the same breath as luminaries such as Keller and Rebholz. Very few (any?) have this degree of versatility.


Approaching the estate in Oberhausen.

Apr

29

2008

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf


A staggering 180-degree hairpin bend by the playful Mosel River at Bremm. Visible at the lower right-hand side of the picture is the small town of Bremm; visible on the left-hand side of the picture is the jagged wall of vines that is the Bremmer Calmont vineyard.

Apr

11

2008

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf

The Kunstler estate has recently moved into new headquarters. Well, old new headquarters. The great building on the Geheimrat-Hummel-Platz that Kunstler now calls home formerly housed the Rheingau's oldest sparkling wine manufacturer. True story. The 1837 building is considered a landmark and has some wonderful architectural details. Though the new tasting rooms that Gunter Kunstler and family have redone are undeniably slick with some modern touches (they have automatic sliding glass doors - "komisch!"), they've done a great job of keeping the soul of the building front and center - it's truly beautiful and a wonderful place to taste wine. Believe me, 11am on a Tuesday rarely looks as good for me as a lineup of 19 different Kunstler wines, going back some 10+ years.


You have arrived. Hochheim's Geheimrat Hummel-Platz. It's fun to say!

Feb

04

2008

Posted by Stephen Bitterolf

In September of 2007 I was lucky enough to travel through Germany with legendary importer Rudi Wiest. I have long been a fan of the great wines of Germany but I have to say this trip was nothing short of a revelation. I had the opportunity not only to speak with the winemakers and walk their vineyards with them, I got to taste roughly 400 wines, most of them from the 2006 vintage. I'm happy to offer some of the highlights of this trip in the form of my "German Travelogues."

Ludwig Breiling has been the winemaker at Karthauserhof for many years and his signature is an exquisitely enchanting dance of minerality and acidity. These two sensations are for a Karthauserhof more than mere descriptors, they are the very core of the composition. The fruit, though lean and graceful, is never the most important part of a Karthauserhof. Rather, the wines quietly reveal a singular delicacy, a wispiness that is persistent and almost always refreshing, like a brisk morning fog where you can almost smell and taste the cold stones in the stream and the lemon orchards over the hill - which is, not surprisingly, very much the atmosphere at the estate.


The lichen-dappled stone wall at Karthauserhof.

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