Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wines from the Cellar

One of the joys of having a wine cellar is being able to select mature wines whenever one wishes. One of the potential pitfalls is that one often doesn't get around to consuming the cellared wines at their maturity. In the last two to three months I think my wife, Adele, and I have been more fortunate than usual in the wines we have selected from our cellar. In the following list of enjoyable wines tasted recently are many that have been in our cellar for over 10 years.

(1) 2005 Clemens Busch "Vom Roten Schiefen" (from red slate).

Busch is a small, organic producer from the "lower" or northern part of the Mosel in Germany. Although his wines are very hard to find in the US, they are worth seeking out. This semi-dry, entry level Riesling had an extremely fragrant bouquet, richness (but not sweetness) and an elegance that is characteristic of wines from the best producers of Riesling. It captivated everyone who tasted it a few months ago.

(2) 1997 Ridge Vineyards York Creek Zinfandel

Although Ridge's Geyserville and Lytton Springs Zins receive much more publicity, I have often found that its York Creek bottlings, especially when well-aged, are my favorites. This wine was no exception. It still retained an extremely deep color, with only very slight browning around the edge. Its spicy and berryish nose was very prominent. On the palate the wine was intense and had great vigor. The finish was fabulous. A great Zin.

3) 1989 Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu Premiere Trie

A Loire valley, Chenin Blanc wine that was made from the first picking of super-ripe grapes in one of the so-called "vintages of the century" in the area. When I initially tasted this wine in 1996, I was underwhelmed. Perhaps it was the company--outstanding Vouvrays from 1919 to 1990. Or perhaps it was simply that the wine was immature. In any case, despite my respect for Huet wines, I didn't expect very much from this bottle. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It had a beautiful "old gold" color; a bouquet of figs; a rich, honeyish taste (still with a good deal of sweetness) and a long finish.

4) 1994 J.J. Christoffel Uerziger Wuerzgarten Spatlese

Because of their special spicy taste, the wines of the great Uerziger Wuerzgarten vineyard are among the easiest German wines to identity. This late-harvested example was pale yellow in color. It had the typical Wuerzgarten smell and taste, richness complemented by a noticeable and refreshing acidity, even on the finish. Still going strong at 14, this wine is why I like and collect German wine.

5) 1985 Ch. L'Evangile (Pomerol)

Over the years this wine has received glowing reports from some wine critics, notably Robert Parker. Yet like the Huet Vouvray above, it did not show particularly well when I first tasted it, at a tasting of 1985 wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol held in the late 1980s. The bottle tasted last month had a vivid, medium-ruby color and a very attractive nose, suggestive of berries. Even though it had been decanted before serving, at first, its taste was muted and it seemed dominated by acidity. After an additional 15 minutes, very rich fruit and a smoky quality had developed. This balanced the acidity. A very elegant and impressive wine. To me, it represented some of the best qualities of the 1985 vintage in Bordeaux.


1 comment:

NYC Wine said...


Great post! Your comments raised a few questions for me. You mention first off that one of the hazards of having a wine cellar is that you don't always choose to open a bottle of wine at the right time. Could you comment on what you do to make it more likely that the wine chosen will not be past its prime when opened.

The second question I have centers around creating a descent wine cellar. Are there wines a beginner would want to have in starting out? Are there estates, vintages or types of wine you would recommend?