Reflections of a wine lover – report #55

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The Breh-tan-oh-MY-sees, or just simply Brett, were there; barnyard, saddle leather and horse sweat. The red fruit and the scorched earth
sent me directly to a Mourvèdre dominated wine – a Bandol maybe? But the taste confused. Especially the, for Nebbiolo, prototypical tannin structure got me wondering where on wine earth I should land this one! Bandol or Barolo?

The sweetness came after a while and together with that a warm taste. A touch of oxidation in a positive way made me write down larger oak casks and there you have it; my guess – a 2003 Barbaresco! Sitting there and feeling quite proud my brother couldn’t fool me he presented the bottle, the 2002 Chateau Musar from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon…


Back to square one – this is exactly why some times tasting wine blind is so educating, fun and totally free from label drinking. Even if I have tasted several vintages of Musar I didn’t find anything that resembled or made me associate with the Lebanese wine.

Besides the learning feature it gives you a most humble view of the wine world in general and that a wine’s origin shouldn’t be a reason for rejecting it . The proof is in the glass – not on the label!

This week’s report lets the Musar bottle show the direction – curiosity and new tasting experiences! Thank you for reading newsletter no. # 55 – the first one written in English.

 

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It’s sadly more than ten years since I visited the Franken region in Germany. This has however not kept me away from the wines of Franconia, au contraire, I am very fond of the great Silvaner wines emerging from the region, not to mention the just as spectacular Spätburgunder wines.

I remember standing there in the summer of 1998, with a glass of Rudolf Fürst’s Burgstadter Centgrafenberg wondering why no one told me before that Pinot Noir from Germany could be this great! As a soon-to-be-examined student from the university I didn’t have the funds to pick up a case of the great Spätburgunder but somehow i found a way to buy two bottles (read between the lines; me eating noodles for a month!). They were 45 Deutsche Mark a bottle then, equivalent of EUR 25, and the price partially explained why no one had told me about German Pinot, none amongst my wine friends and the wine literature i read knew it existed!

A decade later I still, from time to time, buy a Fürst bottle. But the fact that I as a poor student had to dig deep in my wallet hasn’t changed; today Rudolf Fürst and his Burgstadter Centgrafenberg and the prestige wine Hunsrück is recognised all over the world as top notch Pinot’s – and the prices are of course correlating landing the wines around EUR 75-100 a bottle. So, nothing has changed actually – I am still the poor student….

However, Franconia is so much more than Silvaner and Spätburgunder. Of course you will find the Riesling as well but i am still to be convinced about its greatness here. Not to be forgotten are the Muskateller, Rieslaner, Gewurztraminer and the latter I served with a breaded flatfish and “Danish remoulade” last week.


The renowned producer of Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist has fashioned a most aromatic and minerally 2008 Gewurztraminer from the site of Würzburger Stein - the vineyard that for decades was synonymous with Franconian wine and also explains the term “steinwein”.

Now, this is what Gewurztraminer is all about! Yes it is floral and perfumed in its aroma but also shows freshness, restrained tropical notes and a mineral touch I can’t remember having experienced before in a Gewurztraminer wine!

There’s a slight sweetness to it in the taste but the vibrant acidity and the mineral reminding me of the flint in Pouilly-Fumé, adds structure, freshness and gives the wine a complexity not always found in these floral wines.

Great with the fish and just as delicate for sipping. More impressive; it kept just as good the following day. At EUR 14 it can only be described a bargain! (91 points)

 

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I like the bocksbeutel and its shape – there’s something naive and almost innocent to it. But then I am reminded, when I stand there with a couple of bocksbeutel’s, wondering how on earth these shall be fitted in to the wine refrigerator?


If you do not have a cellar and are referred to a more limited storage then the bottle is everything but naive and innocent; it is stupid, irritating and impossible to store.

God, I hate bocksbeutel and regions that needs to be unique and then destroy all possibilities of storing wine risk free!

 

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When exploring German Pinot Noir I came across Martin Wassmer in Baden. Classic wines with plenty of Burgundy feeling. But I couldn’t help wondering, when the cork was pulled, how a wine producers reasons when he puts address and phone number on the cork?


I mean, how many gets the urge to call the producer after pulling the cork? Or saves it as a business card? But hey; maybe in the future Martin Wassmer will be considered an avantgarde thinker when we look back?

 

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Let’s stick with Martin Wassmer and his 2007 Spätburgunder from Baden Markgräflerland. Not an expensive one but on my quest for good quality Pinot it’s impossible to neglect Baden and 2007. Wassmer’s Spätburgunder really shows that the vintage was great and after just a short decanting time the wine reveals nice intensity on the nose with mashed strawberries, compost, a touch of saddle leather, some toasted oak and a lovely floral note. Just a note of stems in the bouquet which actually balances the hot impression.


In the mouth it shows mature red berries, especially strawberries and cherries, compost, mouthwatering fruitiness and good acidity. Decent length and just when I was about to shout super value it finishes off with just a little bit too bitter taste. Sad, this could have been awesome for the 11 Euros spent, Although the bitterness disappears a bit with food it is still there; day two the bitter feeling in the finish is the same but the bouquet has grown! A wine for smelling purposes mainly – and that is not bad at all! (85 points)

 

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Sometimes it is better just to trust one’s own taste. A good example of that, in my case, was the Weingut Wöhrwag 2007 Untertürkheimer Herzogenberg Pinot Noir from Württemberg. When found retailing at around EUR 25 and having read a review giving the wine a 96 points rating, I most surely got suspicious. Nope, this is not possible – especially not for a German Pinot. These grades are a monopoly thingie for Fritz Becker and his majestic Tafelwein Rhein.


Anyway, what happens? Of course I buy a bottle. Who hasn’t falled for the points trick before? So, after my brother has tricked me with the Musar 2002 vintage it’s my turn and the Wöhrwag is my choice. Pulled and first feeling is just a giant question mark? Is this an oak sample or a Pinot? The wine ooses of coconut, coca-cola, vanilla and fire place – the oak is almost burnt and I can’t help thinking there must have been a mix here; these barrels were intended for Islay!

Leaving the bottle and crossing fingers some hours of aeration will do the job another bottle is picked up. We sample the Wöhrwag again later on to find the oak a bit reduced. For an oak freak it is now most likely a great smell. The taste is hinting it might be a Pinot Noir behind all the mascara – thanks to the acidity, but otherwise there are none grape typicity. Retasted the second day and nope, no improvement. If it wasn’t for the acidity and colour i would have written down Syrah in a blind tasting.

For those of you that follows my blogs knows I mostly concentrate on positive tasting notes. I simply prefer writing about great finds, that’s it. But when a wine fails that miserably and there is no defect at all in the bottle or cork, i must express my disappointment. Oak is nice – but only to smell, not chew. (No rating)

Sensmorale: trust your own palate and express tons of suspiciousness when a wine gets too many points and price doesn’t correlate!

 

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Although today hyped as one of the most interesting new actors on the Burgundy scene, Olivier Bernstein started his wine career 2002, in Tautavel, Rousillon where he created Mas de la Devèze.

My first contact with Olivier Bernstein’s wines was also a Burgundy and not his Rousillon project. A beautiful and world classy Pinot, 2007 Mazis-Chambertin, got me interested in Olivier’s potential and the more humanely priced wines of the southern parts of France. A few weeks ago I had the 2007 La Devèze, a wine based on 50% Grenache and equal parts of Syrah and Carignan. Old vines, used barrels, schist and limestone soil and sticking with local grapes are the road to success.


A young wine not showing much the first pour. The wine is therefore left for some breathing and an hour later it shows dark plums and cherries, a peppery note, some coffe and vanilla from the oak and a most refreshing hint of lavender. With time a hint of violets adds complexity. But the most fascinating feature in the aroma is the scorched earth that is both expressing the warm growing site but at the same time gives away a sense of cold rocks! Fascinating bouquet styled in a modern way.

Doesn’t show as much in the taste as on the nose. A bit stubborn at the moment although day two it shows more than oak and minerals. Plum skin, lavender, scorched earth, massive fruitiness and fine integrated tannins. Balancing on the verge of overripe but manages to stay on the right side. Long taste but lacking a bit of complexity if drunk today. However, the components are in place and the balance is impeccable. Give this baby a year or two and I believe it will be there! (91 points)

 

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A desire to understand and naturally to see the vineyard that once was the Grand Cru of Madeira, Faja dos Padres, will take us 250 meters down alongside the cliff side! For centuries the vineyard was only accessed through the sea but now days a lift, not for the nervous one’s, takes you down from the top. Unfortunately the Faja dos Padres today is a multi-agricultural land but before it was the Malmsey of the island.


But thanks to he current owners some noble grape varieties are being replanted and cultivated, and a small wine cellar is being build up. Amongst the vines cultivated there’s some of the maybe greatest of them all, Terrantez, and having spoken with the owners which invited me to see the place, I now can’t wait to see this mythic site and truly unique micro climate. Madeira – soon we’ll come!

 

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  • Henrik

    >Hmm, first comment in english than, not that there's anything wrong with it.
    I've had Musar a couple of times and it's always been a pleasure – mostly I believe beacause it's been ten years or older. I've never felt anything close to that volatile acidity I've read and heard about.
    la Deveze I think is gonna be a beaut. Had half the bottle day one and thought it was brilliant on the nose, but the taste was a bit on mute. Day two it started to come together – lovely hedonist wine with a bit of cheese.
    So, after all this hard-earned knowledge – what do you drink to your noodles?

  • Claes

    >Niklas
    med all respekt, du var bättre på svenska….
    Jag förstår dina intentioner, tror jag, men allvarligt talat. Du, och några av dina bloggande gelikar i den svenska vinsfären har stått ut som lysande läsnings skapare på grund av:

    - Hantering av lokalt orienterat vinutbud, trots alla dessa utfykter med hjälp av tyska och danska leverantörer
    - En härlig språkhantering som gör det till ett nöje att läsa bloggarna

    Jag är ledsen, men intresset för att läsa det du skriver minskar drastisk p.g.a. att din engelska inte kommer i närheten av din svenska. Att förstå den har jag inget problem med, men att njuta av den… Sorry! Reconsider, mate!

  • Anonymous

    >Nä Niklas, nu har du tappat en läsare till. Men det kanske kvittar. Ska du skriva på Eng och konkurera med de andra vinbloggarna på detta språk så måste du tyvärr hoppa upp några snäpp. Det finns många vinbloggar att välja på om man vill läsa på Eng och då håller den inte världslass, sorry. Kommer kanske kika in någongång men inte följa den som jag gjort tidigare. Hoppas du inte tagit dig vatten över huvudet och om det går dåligt så tror jag det kan vara ruskigt svårt att få tillbaka läsarna. Men är det detta du vill så go for it!

    Hoppas det går bra för det unnar jag dig.

    /Johan

  • Daniel

    >Hi Dear
    I am totally agree with you, that the taste of wine get something different, if we leave it's cap open for sometime for this the (wine) loose all it's smell. then this will sure our taste of wine make malicious.so to use the Wine Refrigerators
    to keep your wine chilled and fresh..

  • Finare Vinare

    >Hey, it's still Niklas and his choice bottles! How can you not follow this independent seeker of pleasures?

    This is not friggin' literature, it's joyful sharing of experiences and priceless hints of how to find them. Keep it up, Jorgensen!

  • Ingvar Johansson

    >Niklas, I quite enjoyed reading your reflections in english but couldn't help
    noticing one important omission. On the other hand, how do you translate BOIS

  • Claes

    >FV
    I agree that it still is Niklas and he is in his full right to drink and describe and comment any wine he choose, and in the manner he chooses.

    I wont stop following him, I merely want to point to the fact that I will enjoy it less after this transition. I have given him rightful credit before for being one of my favourite bloggers, so I think it´s not more than fair to be honest and tell him what I think.

    Your defence of Niklas makes me a wee bit worried. Might you be considering switching to english too? I´m sorry to disappoint you, but I think you´re wrong when it comes to the classification of what you and the other good bloggers are producing. To me it is literature. And do not pretend that you don´t agree. Your handling of the language points clearly to the fact that you don´just feel like sharing impressions, but also enjoy doing it in an intriguing way. (Goes for Niklas too).

    Niklas
    Keep up the good works, but please ask yourself from time to time if this turned out better….

    (Look what you´ve done. I set out to do this in Swedish, but it turned out like this anyway :)

  • Anonymous

    >Well, 8 Comments already…

    Go where the fun is, Niklas!
    One desire, tough. Promise you will not start writing in Portuguese?

    /Martin W

  • Vintresserad

    >Swedish or English are both fine with me, but I have to agree with MartinW, please no Portugese!

    Keep up the great effort, Niklas!
    Best regards,
    Vintresserad (still firmly rooted in Ärans and Hjältarnas Skriftsprak)

  • Gabriel

    >Niklas, det är klart att du ska göra det du känner för. Gå alltid på lusten. Sen är det ju kanon att vinälskare överallt ifrån nu får möjlighet att läsa dina funderingar.

    Det enda som saknas nu är en vodka-blogg skriven på ryska, men den kanske kommer?
    ;-)

  • Kayaker

    >Gabriel: Whiskybloggen på Gaeliska saknas också. :-)

  • Anonymous

    >Tja,
    Nu har vi ju tydligen whisky här i Mackmyra också. Så en Whiskyblogg på Valbomål. Är någon intresserad? Inte?

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Thanks for all comments! Let me try explaining the choice i've made and stand for. Sorry for not keeping it short…

    I knew when I finally decided to switch to English there would be two sides of the coin. When it comes to my more targeted blogs on Germany, Madeira and Portugal there were no discussion. It's simply a fact that the interest for these are miniscule in Sweden but I have received several questions from people abroad sharing the passion, especially for Madeira. Writing for nobody is pointless and the discussions were too few so English was an easy and natural switch.

    When it comes to Mise en bouteille my thoughts were also switching to English sooner or later. The number of visitors are more or less the same for quite a long time now although I have tried to gain more readers. Sure, maybe I will get some more but i doubt that will dramatically raise the stats. How many Swedes share my passion? How many English speaking or understanding share my wine passion?

    * I seldomly write about news on the shelves at the state monopoly, Systembolaget. Already there I have reduced the number of interested domestic readers since the interest of using the fully legal wine e-shopping within the European Union, as I do, is standing for 0,4% of the Swedish comsumer's wine purchase (article in Svenska Dagbladet this week on the alcohol shopping patterns of Swedes).

    * I could make the list gigantically long on wine producers I would like to try but never gets the chance if i stick to the monopoly stores. Sure, many excellent wines do pop up in Sweden – at great prices many times as well – but then it's the queuing for a wine that buggers me. Not interested in doing that every release -there´s too many interesting wines that never finds its way to the country and that I can find on the internet – without standing in line and getting my ration.

    * Old and mature wines which I believe is important and fun to taste, to better understand a wine's development on bottle, are impossible to find in Sweden. Once in a while when they come (read: a 15 YO German Riesling for less than EUR15) they are grabbed from the shelves and it's almost an outbreak in the shops! I love tasting and writing about these golden oldies, well sometimes just oldies.

    Before going off-topic – I could just sum the whole thing up by saying I'm a sucker for romance – and that goes for wine as well! It's 100% passion and my writing should therefore be considered, hopefully, more inspirational than on a review basis. I don't want to reduce this to just Swedish speaking – I want to share and discuss this with as many as possible – for who doesn't want more readers – even if my English isn't at the same level as my mother tongue language. But time will hopefully develop my writing skills in English as well.

    The passion of wine unites and hopefully this will be seen on a more global basis in my blogs in the future! If not and I have then burnt my bridges – well then lets try writing in Danish and Portuguese ;-)

    Best,

    Niklas Jörgensen – who is, out of plain curiosity, serving a 1963 Periquita amongst wine passionate friends on Saturday,

  • Frankofilen

    >Niklas,
    man skall göra det man känner för, annars kan det kvitta. Eller som det så vackert heter: It's my blog and I cry if I want to.

    Hmm, en whiskyblogg på gaeliska… jag har ju faktiskt en del universitetspoäng i Gaeilge, så det får väl bli fuisce na hÉireann i sådant fall. Håll utkik efter min nya blogg "Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís". Jag siktar på tre läsare i halvåret ;-)

  • Kayaker

    >Åh, Franko, Shoot! Jag får ta hjälp av andra för att förstå men det kan det vara värt. :-)

  • Anonymous

    >Looking forward to read your comments on the Periquita 1963. Is it the same producer that we have in SB?

    JC

  • anders wennerstrand

    >I'll dodge the real discussion for now, but hey, Franko, that comment should render Niklas a few pretty obscure Google hits every now and then ;-)

  • Frankofilen

    >Well, he said he wanted more readers, didn't he?

    BTW – "Gombeirimidbeoaranamseoaris.blogspot.com". Eat your heart out Nettare e Gioia ;-)

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >José Maria da Fonseca – the one and only! The historic bottles of Periquita has quite a reputation and last summer the '74 was still alive and kicking.

    Me and my brother shared quite a sending from Portugal and he had the single bottle of the '67 and was quite impressed!

    Niklas

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Thanks Franko! It's already ticking upwards ;-)

  • CAFÉ ROTSUNDA

    >So, is this all about language skills, or is this about the true passion for wine?

    I join the people who love wines, and likes to share any thoughts and comments, no matter the precision in the language or the way to express the nuances in the description of the wines.

    For those who doesn't like this blog in English, there is always the option of not reading it. It's as simple as that!!!!!
    But why all those complaints?
    Niklas is very skilled and knowledgeable, far better than many established Swedish or even English wine writers (who I know), and to me that's what counts.

    Whether his language is perfect or not, and for sure mine isn't, is not the key point. To me, the content of the blog is far more important. I'm a wine lover, not an English school teacher

    And until I find a blog with the same analyzes and passion for Portugese, German and other wines, I stick to this.

    In English, or in Swedish.
    (but please, don't go for Portugese … then not ever the boing guys who complaints can comment their dissapointment)

  • andersuw

    >Now is this a language blog or a wine blog? I've got no trouble with your English Jörgen, but why on earth are you trying to scare every wine lover on a budget away from Fürst. Is this a desperate attempt to get his prices down or what? ;-)

    OK, it may set you back 75 € (or more) to catch a flight on the back of his famous hen. But the Spätburgunder (as well as Frühburgunder) Centgrafenberg is only 25 € (or less) a pop. Furthermore, there is no need to start that far up the pinnacle. Why not begin with the Spätburgunder Tradition at half the price of the Centgrafenberg: a real bargain IMNSHO. Not to mention the ordinary Bürgstadter, which, in reality, is the truly traditional wine in the line-up (we're in Germany, remember) and costs even less.

    So cheer up man! You're rich. Oder was sagen Sie Herr Jörgensen?

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Hi Michel,

    Wow, what can I say besides thanks! Even if I do admit language skills do play an important role in the writing, and that my Swedish naturally are superior when it comes to complexity and subtle writing, I do also expect to develop my English skills along the way.

    And no, I won't start writing in Portuguese. My blog would then be quite boring to read considering I don't know many sentences….

    Best

    Niklas

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Hi Anders,

    Haha…if I wanted to get prices down on Fürst there's onle one way to go; really lousy scores;-)
    Seriously, you're absolutely right. The wines with less steep pricing in the Fürst portfolio are really nice buys. For example I've had the Parzival many times and for less than EUR 20 it's a great buy. But when you've tasted the prestige wines once you just want more! They're so good and can definitely compete alongside the Fritz Becker with many top burgundies. And then the price is not an issue anymore – Hunsrück is then almost cheap!

    And thanks for the cheering up. I don't have any doubts at all regarding my decision to start writing in English – au contraire – it has given me a boost in the, by myself, sometimes questioned time one spends on non-profit wine writing.

    Best,

    Niklas

  • Micke

    >I'll continue reading, and enjoying, your blog Niklas, English or Swedish, even if I agree with those who think you Swedish is superior. BUT, as well as you hope to improve your English skills while writing, I hope to improve mine, while reading great wine reflections.
    And BOIS will be BoIS, right? :)
    \\Micke

  • andersuw

    >Jörgen,

    Yes, Fürst is really good not only from an absolute point of view but in terms of QPR as well. We were in Franconia last summer and Fürst was the last stop on our itinerary (since he is a bit off the beaten track of the wine region as a whole). We had not bought all that much at previous winery visits and that was fortunate because (of course) we came away with more boxes here than anywhere else.

    OK, when you first look at his price list, you might jump to the conclusion that he's really expensive. But once you realize that his base wines would be considered anything but basic at many other wineries, you are apt to change your mind.

    We never bought the Hunsrück though. Perhaps just as well. I have the feeling that I might contract your "addiction" and would have to fight an uneven battle with my wallet for years to come. ;-)

    Keep up the good work. Your English is already fine and there's nothing like a little practice in order to make it better still.

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Hi Micke,

    The soccer feature will be left out…sorry ;-)

    Maybe I should start a BoIS-blog also? I only have four official…

    /N

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