Even apart from the lavish birthday celebrations last week, I've had the good fortune to enjoy lots of really good wines over the last few weeks - always in moderation, of course! But it's a bit of a job keeping all my notes together, so it may take a while to put them together into something more cohesive, before writing about some of the stand-out wines. Meanwhile, here are my notes on a rather delicious trio from this week.
Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese No.12 2006 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Already a hint of petrol on the nose, making me think it may be quite advanced. But the palate is bright, fresh and simply crammed full of youthful fruit, with an astonishing intensity of flavour, combining stone fruits, sweet apples and soft citrus. The level of ripeness and residual sugar is pretty much up to Auslese level, but any suggestion of sweetness is more than offset by stunning acidity and a wonderful backbone of slatey minerality, all of which makes for a wine of incredible focus and balance. It makes your tabs laugh alright, but puts a real smile on the face at the same time, and the length on the finish is very impressive. It is a beautiful, world-class Riesling. In about 2 weeks' time, I will be taking delivery of a host of wines from Weingut Kurt Hain. I was hoping to be able to include some of this very wine, but by the time I placed my order, it had unfortunately sold out. The good news is that I will have the 2009 vintage, which is already every bit as good, and perhaps with an even better future ahead of it. Look out for it on my list, very soon - at £14.50 a bottle, it's a lot of a wine for the money.
Les Vins de Vienne Sotanum M.M.I Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes
Vins de Vienne is a collaboration between three of the Northern Rhone's top growers - Yves Cuilleron, Pierre Gaillard and Francois Villard and this wine, made from Syrah (and perhaps a little Viognier) grown on the slopes around the commune of Seyssuel, just north of Vienne. Therefore, it cannot qualify as Cote-Rotie (which lies a few miles to the south, and on the other bank of the Rhone) but my goodness, it smells and tastes an awful lot like Cote-Rotie - and a very good one, at that. It is quite a deep, rich purple/red colour, but just beginning to show a little maturity at the rim. It smells lovely - crunchy black and red fruits, violets and lilies, damp earth, just a hint of smoky bacon and some well-integrated, top-quality oak. The palate shows plenty of depth and even some richness, but is supremely balanced and elegant, with softening tannins and really juicy acidity. There's plenty of black fruit in there, but also a layer of sweet and sour cranberry, which gives a refreshing lift. Finishing the dregs of this wine tonight (i.e. day 2) it has lost a little of its initial vitality, but gained even more complexity. Indeed, this is one of those Northern Rhones that - for me, at least - displays an almost Burgundy-like flavour profile and elegance. If you have some, I'd say you can start drinking it now, or age it for at least another 5 years. A real stunner, which cost me about £16 at auction, although current vintages aren't cheap, retailing at up to £35.
I wrote a note on this wine late last year, from a tasting sample sent to me by Les Vignes de l'Arque, whose wines used to feature heavily on the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines list. And thanks to that sample (plus a whole host of other good wines) they are now very firmly back on my list. They arrived in stock last week, so it was never going to be too long before I opened another bottle of the Duché d'Uzès red, and (as if I didn't know it already) it is a cracker. It has amazinly intense aromas and flavours of bramble, plum skin and blackcurrant, with further notes of orange peel, soft spices, tobacco, oak vanillin and meat/leather. A riper, more sun-drenched red wine would be hard to imagine, with those red and black fruits complemented by chocolatey tannins and really good acidity acidity. At 14.8% abv, it is no shrinking violet, but it remains beautifully balanced, without even a hint of heat - just fruit, fruit and more fruit. Oh, and a bit of fruitcake thrown in for good measure. For the money (£9.95) this is a brilliant wine, and without a shadow of a doubt provides the best quality/price ratio on my list. You'd be mad not to try it!