Sunday, 23 January 2011

Young Chenin Blanc and Riesling - it doesn't get much better than this.

Continuing my current preference (will it ever end?!) for white wines, here are a couple more absolute crackers, from two of my very favourite white grapes (and probably both in many people's top 3 finest white varieties)..........

100% Chenin Blanc, certified biodynamic. A lovely, limpid, almost shimmering straw/gold colour - just lovely to look at! And lovely to smell, too. Along with Riesling (the one grape variety I occasionally mistake it for - and vice-versa) good Chenin Blanc almost invariably possesses a "mineral" quality. Minerality has various guises - steely, flinty, slatey, stoney, occasionally just plain earthy. All are descriptors that non-wine-geeks may find a bit hard to fathom - and I myself find difficult to quantify - but any aficianado of these two noble varieties will surely know what I am on about. And this particular Chenin Blanc possesses most of them, to some degree, along with some enticing apple and citrus notes and a whiff of honey. And the richness suggested by the nose certainly comes through on the palate, with an abundance of tree fruit flavours, married to intense minerality and a spine-tingling level of lemony acidity. In fact, a more focused and pure expression of its kind would be hard to imagine. Such attributes are a virtual guarantee of immense ageing potential and this wine certainly has the stuffing to evolve for a good 10 to 20 years - and yet, it is so good to drink now. Granted, it was a bit tight when I uncorked it 24 hours ago, but it has certainly opened-out since then, and if I can keep my mitts off it for another day or two, I am sure it will get even better. Then again, I don't think I can resist, because it is absolutely gorgeous! 

Dr F Weins-Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2009
Here's a wine with many similar attributes to the one above, the only differences being the grape variety (this is 100% Riesling) and the level of residual sugar, Spatlese being harvested at a certain degree of overripeness. And that residual sugar is accompanied by a considerable level of fruit intensity. Lime zest, mandarin orange and sweet apple flavours abound, with a strong hint of wet slate, and a fleeting whiff of fresh root ginger and oregano. The entry on the palate provides a veritable fruit cocktail of flavours - from peach and apricot at the sweet/luscious end of the spectrum, to apples, oranges and limes at the tangy end. It always amazes me how one single grape variety can produce a wine with such glorious fruit complexity - in fact, I know of no other that can match it. But this wine isn't just about the fruit - it also exhibits a strong backbone of clean, laser-like acidity and minerality, which combines effortlessly with the fruit flavours, in a wine of quite stunning purity and a level of enjoyment that transports me effortlessly to a warm summer day, even on a dreary Sunday evening in the middle of winter. My only worry is that this wine is so delicious to drink now, my own personal stash may well be consumed well before its peak - which I would say will be in around 8 to 10 years. If you like the sound of it, then you'll be able to buy some at around £15 a bottle, when it arrives in stock in about a month's time.


Vinogirl said...

D'ya know that Chenin blanc was once the most widely planted grape variety in the Napa Valley?

Leon Stolarski said...

Really?! Is there much left, or has it all been ripped-up in favour of more fashionable varieties?