Brief Reflections on the Return to Terroir Event in NYC

I went to the Return to Terroir event at the Metropolitan Pavillion and it was a blast. I did more schmoozing than tasting but that is the way of the business these days. Anybody who tells you their business is doing great is lying. I have never heard so many retailers and restaurant people saying how well they are doing. Denial is a river in Egypt last time I checked, not the state of the wine business in New York. It was good to see the usual suspects and some not so usual suspects and catch up. It also sucks to have everybody and their mother ask me what I am doing. I am working on it…….soon. But any-hoo on to some brief impressions of some wines that made impressions on me.

I do not like Austrian wine that much but after I taste Nikolaihof wines I wonder if I am wrong in that assessment, or if I am drinking the wrong Austrian wines or I just need to drink organic, biodynamic and natural wines that are Austrian. If the third one is true then I am doing just fine by having only Nikolaihof in my cellar and lavishing praise on them. The \’93 GV Vinothek was a stunner. Rich, airy, calm, zen-like balance and transcendence are the order of business for this wine. In old wooden foudre for fifteen years and released not a moment too soon. The best Vinothek I have had. The two \’08 Federspeils I had were lovely. Crisp and extremely mineral with ravishing textures and stunning depth. Even the couple of Smaragd\’s I had were airy and balanced with the delicacy of a ballerina. Wonderful wines. There was also a 2004 Steiner Hund Reserve. This wine had an interesting story in that the vineyard this comes from is three minutes from the Wachau, so Wachau could not be on the label, nor could Smaragd, so you have the omnipresent reserve which doesn\’t mean shit but the law is the law, so reserve it is. This wine is amazing. Big stuff. But as all Nikolaihof wines go this is airy, present, minerally, mellow and zen-like in its balance. This is a stately wine that commands your full attention once you stick your nose in the glass. So pure it is astonishing that any liquid could taste like this. Yikes, I better stop, I am turning into Terry Thiese. Great wines which were a great start to the day.

Other highlights included the excellent 2007\’s from Wittman. Or I should rephrase, the great 2007\’s from Wittman that their importer Frederick Wildman actually brings in. Wittman is the second greatest producer in the Rheinhessen behind Keller, yet Wildman only brings in one of their four Grosses Gewachs. And if NYC does see it is from shady grey market sources. While it is the Morstein, which in 2007 is an astonishing wine that balances power and finesse, it still is a shame to me that the New York market will never see the Aulerde or Kirchspeil. That is like importing Rousseau and only bringing in the Chambertin, No Beze, CSJ or Ruchottes. But forget this little tirade as I do not want to take away how great 2007 was at Wittman. From the wonderful estate Trocken up to the Morstein Grosses Gewachs (well there was only one wine in between and I don\’t want to mislead you into the idea that I tasted 20 wines in between the Trocken and the Morstein) these were wines of power, minerality, fruit, supple textures, great acids and incredible structures. The more structured the wine the higher pradikat you got. The Riesling Trocken was a nice young go getter of a trocken, but not without structure. Not as structured as the Morstein, but there are not many dry Rieslings on earth that are. The Morstein will be a twenty year wine no doubt and is up there as one of the finest dry wines of the vintage for me. Wittman did pour the Morstein Spatlese and Auslese which were good but no where in the same league as the dry wines.

One more estate worth mentioning is the Domaine de Villaine. What amazingly pure Burgs for a song. They age extremely well too. I mean there are two Bourgogne Rouges from 2007 (La Digoine, La Fortune) that the winemaker says will age 15 to 20 years. After tasting these absolutely uncompromising pure burgs, I would have to agree. Lovely structure, brambly fruit, supple texture and tons of minerality and earth are the hallmarks of these amazing value-priced and ageable red burgs. So pure and alive were these wines you could almost taste the beetles in the vineyard. The 2007 Bouzeron was a lovely Aligote with mellow acids and great taut lemony-lime infused mineral fruit and a lithe structure that hints this will grow older gracefully. The 2007 Bourgogne Blanc Les Clous was bright, opulent and clean with nary a trace of oak or any of that other shit that makes Chardonnay suck. Like ML. Like overripeness. Like botrytis. Just a stunningly pure and eminently drinkable Chardonnay. There was also a 2007 Rully 1er Cru \”Les St. Jacques\” which has always been a favorite of mine with its piercing acidity, intense layered minerality and hints of fruit. All in all it looks like 2007 was a fantastic vintage at the Domaine and in this awesome economy this is where I am putting my money as they are astonishing values.


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