Tag Archives: vintage

Revisiting the 2006 Cantina del Redi Vino Nobile Riserva

2006 Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile Redi Argo et Non Briareo Riserva

2006 Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile Redi Argo et Non Briareo Riserva

About a year ago, we tried the 2006 Vecchia Cantina Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Redi Argo et Non Briareo Riserva. I had picked it up on sale at WTSO because I remembered liking this cooperative’s wines when I first tried them during a trip to Italy in 2005. We tried the first bottle soon after it arrived, and both Nina and I were raving about it (see here). In short, the wine was really good, took quite a while to open up (we decanted it) and was a lot of fun…I finished that post by stating that I wished I had bought many more bottles to follow the wine for at least ten more years.

Last week, we opened the second bottle we have. Upon opening, the wine showed itself very closed off, almost harsh. There were a ton of hard tannins, so I decided to decant it again. After an hour, the wine showed a perfumed nose of raisins, prunes and chalk, but it still seemed quite closed. So we waited another half hour and then finally gave it a try: It showed good acidity, with prevailing aromas of leather. The tannins were gripping, leading to cherry and flower aromas (probably violets). The finish showed some bitter aromas and was definitely shortening compared to last year.

This tasting was a bit of a mystery: This bottle was way less expressive than the one we tried last year. It did not seem to me like the wine was on its way downhill. It felt more like it was asleep. I am aware that wines can go through these cycles and I wonder whether I hit this bottle at a weird moment in its development. Like I said, the aromas were still fresh enough to indicate it is not on its way out, the wine still was firm and fresh. We left some for the next day to see whether it opened up more, but there was barely any budging. Nina was very disappointed with the wine, but I have not given up hope for the next bottle which we’ll try in a couple of months…

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Minor Thoughts on the 2012 Mosel Riesling vintage

Somewhere along the Mosel, November 2013

Somewhere along the Mosel, November 2013

I’ve spent the last five days at the Mosel, where I was lucky to taste 2012 Rieslings with some of my favorite producers, and new contacts. Most of these tastings were dedicated to the 2012 vintage, but it was hard not to talk about the 2013 harvest, which was just finished a few days or weeks ago, depending on the winery, so let me start with that.

2013 seems to have been a very difficult year: It started with low temperatures which led to late bud break and flowering, followed by a very dry summer. Some areas saw early summer hails that led to some areas remaining without any yield. Once harvest time came around, the weather started turning wet and rainy, which meant vintners and their staff had to time picking grapes quite well in order not to get grapes that were either too soaked with water or brought in a bunch of water.

All in all, 2013 seems to have reinforced the need for a lot of work in the vineyards throughout the year (e.g. cutting down grape clusters very early once it was clear that the ripening period was shorter). What I tasted from the barrel showed quite some acidity (as was to be expected from a very mixed weather year), but aromas seemed to be alright. Most winemakers lamented how low their yield was, but that they were fine with the result in the barrels. This is the third in the last four years that brought significantly lower yields than on average, and it could mean financial difficulties for some….for now, a lot of the wines are still bubbling, and it is wait and see.

Barrel tasting 2013s at Immich-Batterieberg

Barrel tasting 2013s at Immich-Batterieberg

But now to the 2012 vintage. Let me recap the growing conditions, with the help of Mosel Fine Wines (if you haven’t signed up for their free newsletters, go and do that now!):

March 2012 was unusually warm at the Mosel, which led to an early bud break. Through uneven weather conditions in June, the yields fell quite a bit and there was early rot due to a rainy July. Other than that, conditions were normal. And a standard September weather brought a quick rise in sugar levels, maintaining higher acidity levels as well. The October had cool nights which made the acidity remain rather high and grapes remained mostly clean with low levels of botrytis.

All in all a rather good year, with the problems of low yields arising from June and July.

I had not read much about other people’s assessments of this vintage, so I was excited to go and try for myself. As you may recall, 2011 along the Mosel was, for my taste, a bit too low in acidity. Back in June 2012 I wrote: “2011 (…) was a year with high yields and very, very healthy grapes. (…) Nina called (what we tried of the 2011s) subtle, I would add sophistication. They also showed great mellowness. Think of 2010 as a crazy, modern art painting and of 2011 as a well composed and pleasing piece of art.”

In retrospect, and having tried more 2011s, I think I am really struggling more than I realized back then with their low acidity. Which was good for the dry Rieslings, but made the fruity and sweeter styles more difficult.

Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Auslese 2002 and 2012

Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Auslese 2002 and 2012

The 2012, in contrast, cannot complain about too little acidity. The wines all showed a nice balance of healthy acidity and enough sweetness. They were light and elegant, and refreshing. I probably benefited from trying them longer after their bottling than the 2011s, but it seemed to me that these wines were more to my liking. The interplay between sweetness, fruitiness and acidity is such an important part in a Riesling. And it seemed to work in most.

I also tried a bunch of 2012 dry Rieslings. I do think I still prefer the subtler style of 2011 over the stronger acidity-determined 2012s, but I found many of them surprisingly good. My range of assessing vintages is still very limited, so I cannot really compare or give advice on where this vintage lies (and, I also realize more and more that there are no good or bad vintages, it is more easier or harder vintages for the winemakers….or as a winemaker put it: There are no bad years, just bad winemakers.).

The guys at Mosel Fine Wines, whom I have come to trust quite a bit, think 2012 will be one of the great vintages when we look back in several years, especially for clean and juicy, i.e. fruity Kabinett and Spätlese (they see potential to play in the same league as the great vintages of the 1970s)…

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Thoughts on the 2011 Mosel vintage

The centre of Trier with vineyards in front.

We spent last weekend in Trier and along the Mosel. We had an amazing time, and tried a lot of outstanding wines. My tastebuds are still buzzing and my tasting sheets are full of thoughts and memories that I will jot down in the next couple of weeks. This is just some first ideas on the 2011 Mosel wines.

2010 was a crazy vintage along the Mosel with very low yields, but unheard of levels of sugar and acidity at the same time. This is highly unusual because often sugar is a sign of ripe and overripe grapes with less acidity. The 2010s we tried around the same time last year were incredibly racy and vibrant and colorful. Many wine journalists wrote these wines off because they believed they were too unbalanced and not well suited for ageing. The 2010s we were able to try now showed a really nice development. They were very drinkable and to me seemed well suited for ageing. Given that it is Nina’s and my wedding year, we decided to stock up on some auslese and spätlese to store for the future.

The 2011 wines we tried at Karl Erbes winery: from Kabinett to Ice Wine.

2011 in contrast, was a year with high yields and very, very healthy grapes. These wines are picture-perfect Mosel rieslings. There is not as much going on in our glasses and mouths right now, but they are just beautiful and very promising.  Nina called them subtle, I would add sophistication. They also showed great mellowness. Think of 2010 as a crazy, modern art painting and of 2011 as a well composed and pleasing piece of art.

The biggest surprise for me were the dry rieslings. German wine drinkers tend to go for dry whites, so winemakers usually make a number of them, too. I am not a big fan, because when I try these I often find myself thinking: “And now some more sugar and the fruit would come out more beautifully.” They always seem to leave something to be desired to me. The 2011 dries instead were mostly quite mild and pleasant. Without the rough acidity edges that they can carry in other years and very notably did in 2010. I was quite impressed.

Mosel Valley at Ürzig, Erdener Treppchen on the left.

We had seven tastings this weekend, 6 in wineries and one at my friend ManSoo’s over dinner. We tried wines ranging from simple Qba to ice wines. We tried old wines (down to 1987) and the wines just bottled. It was a lot, but I also realized how much I miss hanging out with winemakers and just soaking in their knowledge and stories and exchanging ideas with them…

More to come…

After a succesful day along the Mosel…

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