Tag Archives: 2011

2011 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp “Kern” Riesling Fass 9

Peter Lauer's iconic label

Peter Lauer’s iconic label

For me, 2011 is a difficult vintage in German Riesling. The summer was very warm, and the grapes ripened a lot which resulted in lower acidity levels in general. It made for really nice dry wines when I tried them in 2012, but by now, I find a lot of them to feel flabby and uninspiring. So in general, I tend to avoid 2011 German Rieslings, at least at the moment.

It’s nice when you come across a bottle that actually captures you and makes you come back to it. And that was exactly what this bottle of wine by Saar winery Peter Lauer did for me. Peter Lauer, now a member of the elite winemaker association VDP, has been making highly acclaimed wines for a while now, and while I still have not visited the winery (something I intend to remedy this summer), I have had a decent amount of their portfolio. Their labels are hard to miss, given their unique design, and there are many things that make this winery stand out:

They try to defy German wine laws by putting fantasy names that closely resemble abolished vineyard names on the label to truly designate terroir and where exactly the grapes were grown.

They also put the barrel number on the label, because traditionally this winery put the must from its different plots in different barrels to vinify them separately.

They tend to not use the usual designations of Kabinett or Spätlese, and it is rather the barrel number (the German word for barrel is “Fass”) that will indicate what style the wine is made in.

Their slogan is: “Riesling for advanced drinkers” (Riesling für Fortgeschrittene)…

The 2011 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp “Kern” Riesling Fass 9 has 10% ABV with 35 grams of residual sugar/liter and hails from the Ayler Kupp vineyard, one of the prime locations along the Saar river. The “Kern” subsite is facing away from the Saar, on the far end of the Kupp. The winery considers it one of its premium sites, stocked with old vines. You can see it on this map:

Peter Lauer vineyard site map (Credit: Winery website)

Peter Lauer vineyard site map (Credit: Winery website)

The wine poured in a light yellow color like straw with hints of green. The nose was intense, with aromas of green apple and papaya, very fresh. The nose alone made me want to dive deeper into the wine. On the palate, it was light to medium bodied with a lot of heft to it. It was creamy, with lots of caramel, almost burnt caramel aromas (totally unexpected given its color!) and showed a lot of herbal character. I did not detect much fruit. The acidity was not noticeable, but not very prominent, but the sweetness was at the same time never overpowering. Towards the end, I detected some bitter aromas which did not quite fit in at that stage. The finish was of medium length. On the next day, the wine tasted a lot nuttier with walnut being the most prominent aroma on display.

This is not a Riesling as one usually expects a Riesling to be: The lack of fruit on the palate, the heaviness of the wine. There was so much going on on a different level than usually that made this wine a great experience. I am again and again surprised by what this grape can be capable of in the hands of the right winemakers. This wine is definitely worth a try and your time, especially in the darker months of the year. Peter Lauer wines are rather well available in the US.



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2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

I ordered the 2011 Argyle Pinot Noir, the Oregon winery’s entry-level Pinot, last spring, and finally got around to tasting it. It has gotten quite the bad rap on Cellartracker with an average rating of 85.3 points, and some pretty scathing reviews, calling it boring, tart, disjointed, unbalanced etc.

I don’t know. This was my first wine from Argyle, but I remembered when ordering the bottle that my Pinot-nut buddy Jeff The Drunken Cyclist has a thing for the winery, the price was right (around $15), and so I ordered the bottle. I bet I should have let it sit for much longer, but yesterday was the night I opened it.

When I poured the wine, I was delighted because it had the right color. Some of you may remember that I tend to open American Pinots with a tad trepidation because I often find it hit or miss. When I open a Pinot Noir, I am looking for a light, brickish red color, not a Cabernet Sauvignon dark. So this was had just the right color for me. Sniffing the first swirls, I couldn’t help but be struck by how much it smelled of freshly pureed raspberries. It was a combination of this berry and quite noticeable acidic aromas that made for a very fresh initial impression. Then, some metallic aromas (rust) crept in, which was a bit weird. I liked the first 2/3s of the wine when I tried it: it was light-bodied, nicely fruity but with a quite strong acidity, again aromas of raspberries. The metallic notes persisted, but not too prominent. The finish was a tad bitter, and disappointing. Not much length there. Over the next hour or so, aromas of dark chocolate started to come to life and there were some herbal aromas coming in.

What’s the take on it? Definitely not a complex or outstanding wine, but also not bad. We’re talking about an entry level wine after all! The $15 seemed a bit high, but then again we are moving in Pinot Noir territory from Oregon, so prices are higher in general.

It did seem somewhat unbalanced with its strong acidity, but then again I am not really averse to higher acidity if it does not turn into vinegar. And this one did not taste vinegary to me. The aromas were good (loved those pureed raspberries), except for the weird metallic note. I think this is a decent drinker, not sure what to pair it with. Definitely would give it some time in the bottle, and also let it air for a while before you drink it. It pulled itself together after a while.

Final verdict? Decent and I welcomed the old world style. Check out the video fellow blogger Jeff of Stay Rad posted when he tasted the wine (which he seemed to like quite a bit!).

@Jeff The Drunken Cyclist: I could have thrown in that it is a mystery to me why some reviews on Cellartracker were so harsh, but that would be trying to cheat my way into the MWWC. Sorry I didn’t make the cut this time around…

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2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino DOC

2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino

2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino

One of my earliest posts in this blog involved one of my go to, bread and butter, affordable reds: the 2007 Epicuro Salice Salentino, which is available at Trader Joe’s for $5.99. I later reviewed the 2009 vintage of that wine (decidedly less exciting than 2007). Upon one of my last Trader Joe’s visits, I realized that the 2011 vintage is now out, so in line with earlier posts, this is my review of that wine. I know this is an industrially produced, mass market wine, but I always had a soft spot for it, so bear with me…

The 2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino DOC is no longer qualified as a Riserva, unlike its predecessors. It is still made of 80% Negroamaro grapes and 20% Malvasia Nera, with 13% ABV.

In the glass, the wine displayed a decidedly lighter color than its predecessors, a watery ruby red that lacked the depth of color in the earlier vintages (I assume that this is due to less ageing in a barrel). The nose showed oriental spices (think mulled wine, a bit weird), wet tobacco leaf and earthy aromas underlying it. All in all a similar nose to earlier vintages, I think. On the palate, though, what struck me immediately was that this vintage has a decided sugary component which is too much for me. I am not looking for a semi-sweet red wine, so this was a downer. There were cherry, leather and tobacco aromas with barely noticeable tannins, so its feels mild and is rather easy to drink.

I think the earlier releases had more depth and character than this vintage. I was quite disappointed, frankly and am not sure I will reach for it again…

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