Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Terry Theise Vintage 2007 Germany and Austria Tasting

TerryTheise.jpgI try to go annually to my local Terry Theise tastings, though I must say these usually crowded, elbow-to-elbow, hurried sip-and-spit affairs are a bit distressing. Still, I go. How can you not? Theise’s German and Austrian selections are impressive. How he assembled a thick portfolio of the regions’ great producers speaks about his insights.

Theise—if you’ve ever met the man, heard him talk, or read his off-beat wine catalogs that look more like ‘70s mimeographed anti-establishment handouts sprinkled with slogans and inspirational philosophical quotes (it’s probably what he wrote in his formative years)—is a charismatic dude. In fact this kind of off-beat, left-wing attitude has proven to be very effective in selling wines to the wine masses. Note the successes of Randall Grahm, Kermit Lynch, and Neal Rosenthal. Even savvy wine marketers as Jon Rimmerman of the popular Garagiste, as well as yours truly I confess also tries it, and a host of wine bloggers have styled themselves after this kind of radical chic wine talk. What exactly they (or we) are railing against I’m not sure. But, hey, this ‘tude sells wines!

I know I wouldn’t have time, and it’s ludicrous anyway, to systematically taste every wine being poured so I decided, as I often do in big tastings like this, to narrow it down to a few producers that I’m fond of and intend to buy, as well as other notable ones, to get an overall perspective of the vintage performance.

My quick overall impression is 2007 is an outstanding vintage for Austria and Germany. There many very good wines to like.

2007 Gruner Veltliner “Steinsetz”, Schloss Gobelsburg

Sweet, ripe, vibrant fruity flavors complemented by good spiciness, making the wine harmonious and delicious.
2007 Gruner Veltliner “Renner”, Schloss Gobelsburg
Intense, spicy citrus and pear flavors with very good minerality. Vibrant and long on the palate. Terrific!
2007 Gruner Veltliner “Lamm”, Schloss Gobelsburg
Creamy lemon tart flavors, well balanced, maybe a bit too understated, especially after the Renner.
(Poured in person by Ms. Maria Angeles Hiedler)
Ms. Hiedler contrasted the 2007 from the 2006 by saying that the former has greater acidity and minerality and drinks more easily, while the latter is creamier, sweeter, and has more alcohol.

2007 Grüner Veltliner “Löss”, Hiedler

One of my favorites in the tasting—its dry, elegant qualities; its well-perfumed, apricot flavors; and its unpretentiously modest price make it a wine to seek out.
2007 Gruner Veltliner Thal, Hiedler
Pure, fresh, and transparent flavors, with delicious, spicy, mint, ginger notes. Relaxed. Feels cool on the finish.
2007 Gruner Veltliner “November”, Hiedler
From 55-60 year-old vines in the Thal vineyard. Fermented long and slow for 5 weeks at 19 degrees C. 3.5 grams RS. Creamy mixed tropical fruit, mango flavors with hints of spice. The crisp acidity breaks the off-dry sweetness making it dry and vivid in the mouth. Very nice length. Full of surprise!
2007 Riesling “Urgestein”, Hiedler
Grown on slate. Exotic, tropical fruit scents. Honeyed fruit, with well-balanced acidity and very good minerality. Dry and deliciously textured.
2007 Riesling Steinhaus, Hiedler
Very vibrant, dry, elegant flavors with delicious notes of mint. Very nice intensity and length.
2007 Riesling Gaisberg, Hiedler
Floral scented. Creamy, round citrusy flavors with nice penetrating intensity.
(Poured in person by Mr. Christoph Schaefer)

2007 Mosel Riesling Kabinett Graacher Himmelreich #2, Willi Schaefer

Rich, sweet, a bit on the ripe side. Lacks definition for now.
2007 Mosel Riesling Kabinett Graacher Domprobst #16, Willi Schaefer
Perfumy, ripe, and expressively sweet, with lively freshness and transparency. Minerally. Long. A definite winner for me.
2007 Mosel Riesling Kabinett Graacher Himmelreich #9, Willi Schaefer
Tightest of the three Kabinetts. Sharp and firm, but still tasting rich, with good minerality. Long. Good, but not terribly exciting.
2007 Mosel Riesling Spätlese Graacher Domprobst #12, Willi Schaefer
Lovely floral perfume. Firm, intense ripe fruit concentration. Full of potential.
2007 Mosel Riesling Spätlese Graacher Himmelreich, Willi Schaefer
Very rich. Mineral. Brilliant acid balance. Intense, harmonious flavors. Lovely, lovely length and intensity.
2007 Mosel Riesling Auslese Graacher Domprobst #17, Willi Schaefer
Honeyed fruit bouquet accompanied by fleeting floral scents. Crunchy and mineral, and seductively unctuous. Vibrant, very good acidity. Unloads a lot of sweetness in the finish.
2007 Mosel Riesling Beerenauslese Graacher Domprobst, Willi Schaefer
Not on the list and pulled from under the table by Christoph Schaefer just for the pleasure, so to speak. Honeyed, peach jam flavors; dense, unctuous; very rich, very sweet and concentrated. More honey, more peach, some pear and apricot. Very long and intense. Vivid and not cloying, as the acidity is not lost in all the richness. A wine to cellar for many years.
(Poured in person by Mr. Cornelius Dönnhoff)

2007 Nahe Riesling Kabinett Kreuznacher Kahlenberg, Dönnhoff

Grown mainly in loam. Light, delicate, good balance, drinking well even now, with a nice, lingering finish.
2007 Nahe Riesling Kabinett Oberhäuser Leistenberg, Dönnhoff
Grown in grey slate. Rich, mineral, vibrant, high acid, and vivid. A bit too edgy.
2007 Nahe Riesling Spätlese Kreuznacher Krotenpfuhl, Dönnhoff
Planted in loamy soils. Good tension, rich, sweet, and graceful with very good acid balance.
2007 Nahe Riesling Spätlese Felsentürmchen, Dönnhoff
Planted in volcanic soils. Tight nose. Citrus, mineral, vibrant, ripe fruit. Intense in the mouth. Very long. Terrific!
2007 Nahe Riesling Spätlese Oberhäuser Brücke, Dönnhoff
From a mix of slate and loam soils. Very tight yet palpably very rich. Excellent ripeness matched with excellent acid balance. Outstanding but not as good as the Felsentürmchen.
2007 Nahe Riesling Auslese Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Dönnhoff
From grey slate soils. Rich, very sweet, very ripe, and well concentrated. Tight and compact right now but loaded with powerful extract.
(Poured in person by Ms. Eva Fricke)
2007 Eins Swei Dry “3”, Josef Leitz
The number “3”, drei in German, is a word play for dry. A dry, crisp, simple Riesling that’s light and quite delicious.
2007 Rheingau Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels trocken “Alte Reben”, Josef Leitz
Up to 70-year-old vines. Intense and creamy with citrus and mineral flavors. Very good length.
2007 Rheingau Riesling Rudesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone”, Josef Leitz
The beauty of this Riesling has always been its intensity and charming simplicity, altogether irresistible for the price. Sweet, juicy, vibrant fruit with very good acidity. Simple and delicious.
2007 Rheingau Riesling Kabinett Rudesheimer Klosterlay, Josef Leitz
Very good purity, rich and sweet, but good acid balance. Again, very nice length.
2007 Rheingau Riesling Spätlese Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Josef Leitz
Beautiful purity and balance. Flowing, graceful, sweet, vivid fruit. Harmonious. Long. Bullseye!
2007 Rheingau Riesling Spatlese Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck, Josef Leitz
Ms. Fricke offered this to taste first before the Schlossberg. Richer and sweeter than the Maggie, yet elegant and well-balanced, helped by its nice minerality.
2007 Rheingau Riesling Spätlese Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Josef Leitz
Opulent, very ripe, sweet citrus flavors with good minerality showing in the finish. Showing very rich and not much else, yet if it could be really interesting if it opens up to more things.

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