Tasting with Friends: Strange Fruit

Last Friday, we had the third of our group of friends’ wine tastings. The previous tastings were themed around old world and new world Malbecs and European reds (which we conducted blindly). Not only did this time’s hosts decide to cook us a spectacular meal, they also picked a really cool theme for the night: “Strange Fruit”. They had initially thought about restricting the allowed wines to unknown grape varieties or regions, but later settled for strange fruit, which proved to be an awesome theme.

My initial thoughts for what wines to bring were centered around grape varieties that were strange or not very common, but I then also thought about wines that tasted different than expected. I had a couple of ideas and we ended up bringing a bottle of German Riesling (what’s unexpected about this, you may ask, but bear with me!), a bottle of the Ruchè we had tried with Nina’s birthday burgers and a Cannonau di Sardegna, both Italian reds.

Meierer Logo

Meierer Logo

2011 Meierer Riesling WTF!?

2011 Meierer Riesling WTF!?

We started with the 2011 Meierer Riesling WTF!? (12% ABV, limited to 300 bottles made). When Nina and I first tried this wine at the winery in the summer of 2012, it was definitely one of the weirdest Rieslings we ever had, hence the name… Matthias, the winemaker, had decided to produce this wine in the way one would usually make a Pinot Noir: He let the must sit on the skins and stems for a couple of days. This really changed the nose and palate of this wine making it intense and I would never have guessed it was a Riesling if I had not known. I was eager to share this wine with the group, so we made it our apéritif. The wine showed itself in a slightly darker yellow, pretty much pee color. The nose showed acidity, some sour apple, I got hints of vanilla and coconut, but there seemed to be a decisive lack of fruit in the nose. The palate was herbal and what I would call branch-y, with healthy acidity and some apple aromas. Most in the group remarked on that it reminded them of a Chardonnay. The finish was long, with some bitterness. I like the experiment itself, I am not sure I would want to drink this wine all the time…but how could one, with only 300 bottles made? (I wrote in depth about the winery here). And it definitely fit the tasting’s motto.

2011 Agape

2011 Barafakas Winery Agape

The first course of the meal was an arugula salad with cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese. We paired it with a 2011 Barafakas Winery Agape, a Greek white wine blend from the Peloponnese peninsula. The wine is made with 50% Roditis grapes and 50% Savatiano grapes and had 12.5% ABV. The label promised strong acidity as well as citrus, banana and peach aromas. It poured in a light yellow color and had a very subdued nose. I really was not able to discern anything in the nose. The flavor profile on the palate showed a dry, slightly buttery wine with virtually no acidity or fruit aromas, some bitterness and a decent amount of heft to it. Nina said it seemed syrupy to her in texture (not sugar), I am not sure I got that. All in all, a bit boring. But then again, a lot of Southern European dry whites give me that impression. That said, it paired exceptionally well with the salad. The acidity in the dressing, the blue cheese and the nuttiness of the arugula made for good companions.

2010 Osél Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato

2010 Osél Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato

For the pasta course, a classical dish of orechiette pasta and tomato-based ragù sauce, we first opened the 2010 Osél Ruchè di Castagnole Monferato that we had brought. My notes resembled the notes I made when we initially tried it in March, which is why I just repost them here: “It poured in a lighter red with some hints of brick. The nose was floral and perfumy with cherry and jammy notes. Rather enticing. The flavor profile of this light to medium bodied wine was very intense, with again cherry and some earthy aromas. There was noticeable residual sugar, maybe a tad too sweet. It had a peppery and slightly bitter finish that was rather short.” All in all, it seemed fruitier this time around, which I did not mind at all. Still a solid wine.

NV Accattoli Lacrima di Morro d'Alba

NV Accattoli Lacrima di Morro d’Alba

We then opened a NV Accattoli Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC, an Italian red wine made from 100% Lacrima grapes, an ancient and rare grape variety. The wine had 12.5% ABV (notice a theme here?) and poured in a very dark ruby red. The nose was great, incredibly floral: violets and lavender and other floral aromas. It smelled a bit like an old grandma, but in a good way, if that makes any sense…On the palate, the wine was medium-bodied and soooo silky. That was the first thing I noticed: I really loved the texture of the wine. There was some cherry, and some smokiness to it, but the dominating factor was its black currant and blackberry aromas. Incredible. If you ever had black currant juice (I have, they sell it in Germany and it is AWESOME with sparkling water), you know what I am talking about. Just a wonderful currant, cassis bomb. There were hardly any tannins in this wine, and the finish was quite short. This was seriously yummy. And it paired well with the homemade dark chocolate ice cream. The fruitiness was great and the lack of tannins also helped when pairing it with the ice cream.

2008 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna DOC

2008 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna DOC

We then proceeded to open my back up bottle, the 2008 Sella & Mosca S.P.A. Cannonau di Sardegna  DOC Riserva. I had brought the wine in case we’d run short because given our hosts gracious and laborious meals, we guests were providing the wine, and two of our friends couldn’t make it, so we would potentially have been short of wine. I had initially bought this bottle because I liked the label and the word Cannonau…which I had hoped was another strange fruit, but it turns out that it is the Sardinian name for Mourvèdre. The wine poured in a brickish red. The nose showed wet tobacco, a serious level of ripeness and some age, sweet plums, and, honoring the tasting’s motto: horse sweat. Significant horse sweat. Well, that was weird. On the palate, it felt flat with serious acidity (others were less kind and said sour), had a short finish and was not very enjoyable. I guess the fruitiness of the Lacrima, the wine we had before, did not help this contender, but it still seemed like it had serious issues which was too bad…

Johnny Drum Bourbon

Johnny Drum Bourbon

We finished the night with a glass of small batch Bourbon that our host, a total Bourbon aficionado, pulled from the kitchen closet. It was delicious and a great finish for another awesome tasting night. We’ll try to work another one into the time before we head out for our big trip this year, and I already cannot wait.

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12 thoughts on “Tasting with Friends: Strange Fruit

  1. […] The rules are always the same: The host sets a topic (we did “European Reds“, “Strange Fruit“, “French and Argentinian Malbecs”, “Michigan vs. Mosel” and others […]

  2. […] grape that one has only tried once in the past. Case in point: Remember my post on a wine called Lacrima di Morro d’Alba? I really, really liked that wine. And there we were, towards the end, standing at a table, […]

  3. Oliver, I love the way you described these wines!

  4. teacherpatti says:

    Is the wine really named WTF? Is that common for wines? Beers try to outdo themselves with “fun” names (often irritating me) but I’ve never known a wine to do it….

    • Hahahaha, yes, Patti, the wine is really named WTF!? Did you see it on the label photo I posted? Very, very unusual for a German wine, but then again the winemaker is quite unusual and awesome. It was his first reaction when he tried the wine from the barrel. So he decided to put it on the label…:)

  5. Dear friend, I feel honored you are asking me about this wine. The name “Forster Winzerverein” indicated that the wine was made by a cooperative of winemakers in the village Forst in the Palatinate region. As a rule of thumb, cooperatives make decent wines, albeit not outstanding wines: several growers deliver their grapes to the cooperative, and that cooperative makes wines out of them.

    The interesting thing with this wine is that Forster Kirchenstück is a prime vineyard site of 3.67 hectares. The elite winemaker’s association VDP qualifies it as a top vineyard. To my knowledge, it is unusual that cooperatives have holdings in such a small top vineyard site. Other wineries that have holdings are such stellar estates as Reichsrat von Buhl and Bürklin-Wolf…the vineyard is right behind the village church and parts are surrounded by buildings which keep the summer heat there over night, making the grapes ripen well. In the Kingdom of Bavaria’s wine site classification of 1828, it was the ONLY vineyard in the whole Pfalz that was awarded the highest point possible!! (I got this information from Wikipedia).

    You can see the exact location of the vineyard here:

    http://www.forsterwinzer.de/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=73

    2011 was in my view a very good year (at least for the Mosel) for dry Rieslings: not much acidity (but that should not be a problem in the Pfalz anyway), and very pleasant wines. You should definitely be in for a treat.

    As to what to pair it with: I think a wine of such a prime location should probably had by itself first and foremost. Just imagine: from the only 3 1/2 hectares that got the highest ranking in 1828 out of 23,000 hectares in the Palatinate today!! That is mind-boggling. You probably can pair it with some soft cheese if you wanted, not too strong, because the aromas of the wine could be delicate. I would probably drink it as an aperitif. Make sure it is is properly chilled!

    Lucky you. I cannot wait for the story behind it…

  6. Totally off topic, asking for your expertise.

    We have been given this wine gift: “2011-er Forster Kirchenstück Riesling Kabinet trocken Deutscher Prädikattswein AP Nr 5 112 027 025 12 Erzerugerabfüllung Forster Winzerverein …Pflalz”

    I’m being lazy–hoping you can save me the trouble of research on a topic about which you know a zillion times more than I know. I know this much, this is your specialty. Anything I should know? The bottle is beautiful. What should I drink it with? When?

    And yes, I already know, I’ve been blessed. I’ll tell you about the giver someday… when we sit around a table together and have along conversation about how amazing friendship is.

  7. Stefano says:

    Sounds like all in all you had yet another great night, Oliver!
    Well done on the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba: when it is well done, it is a very good, enjoyable wine. One of my favorite producers is Marotti Campi, in case you were interested in experimenting more with this grape variety!
    Also, regarding the WTF Riesling (I love the name, BTW!), I agree with you that what at least in Italy seems to have become a new trend (i.e., to make whites after a short maceration phase) is something interesting, that gives most whites an unexpected twist. Just like you said, it may get boring after a while, but if it is done subtly it can actually nicely enhance a wine’s aromatic palette and flavor.
    As always, you gave us wonderful tasting notes and a great account of your night.
    Take care

    • Thank you, Stefano! We had a great time and I definitely want to check out more of the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. Am noting down your winery suggestion! I think we still have a bottle of the WTF, so I’ll make sure we try that together. :)

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