After the party comes the afterparty, and after the food and wine presentations at OFF comes the wine degustation at home, between chefs, food lovers and bloggers.
And since our thirst had grown during the day, it was good that there were a few bottles standing around. Of course, my deed was to bring some Rieslings from Germany and represent to a certain extent my country, also knowing that these wines are basically unavailable in France.
We started off with some Ulysse Colin Champagne. Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut is dry to the bone, but still with a delicious fresh minerality: what a nice way to rehydrate your body. Then as a contrast, a Riesling from Rheinhessen by talented young winemaker Kai Schätzel. Also dry, but appearing more on the fruit opposed to the Champagne. I was curious about the reactions from my Belgian and French comrades who aren’t really used to German wines. C’est bon ca, doesn’t need a translation. Indeed the 2009 Pettenthal is a prime example of ripeness and balance with a good Terroir note. Châpeau!
Then, a 2006 Kiedricher Gräfenberg Erstes Gewächs by Robert Weil from Rheingau baffled my francophone friends anew: This is Riesling? Yes, with age it tends to develop some petrol-notes, or notes d’hydrocarbures as Sang-Hoon Degeimbre, a Belgian chef who once worked as a sommelier, remarked. Not everything sounds better in French, does it?
Then again a change in style. The powerful, young 2009 Uhlen B by Heymann-Löwenstein from the Mosel again brought up the varietal question. Well, Riesling is a grape with various faces. And this one is sheer vibrancy. Of course, the slate soils are there, but the fruit is so luscious, and the structure so powerful and vibrant as if a miniature V8 engine was running at the bottom of the glass. It wants a bigger glass. It wants more time. Next bottle in a year or so.
Finally: my baby. I realized that evening, this must be one of my favorite dry Rieslings I have in the cellar. This is dry Riesling from young vines from Keller‘s Abtserde vineyard bottled under the creative label of some sort of négociant. Such a singular and multifaceted wine. Peach, apricot, herbs and chalk. Vibrant minerality. Perfect structure. For my palate, this is one to die for.
Then, on to some reds and back to the world of Vin Naturel. A magnum of 2008 Les Rouliers “Presse” by Benoit Courault was a charming Cabernet Franc from Anjou: Light and full of fruit concentration and flavour. A little chaussette mouillée, the natural wine stinkiness, was also in there, in a good way. A little more on Benoit Courault on WineTerroirs, where else?
Another VN magnum. This one more tannic and probably too young. Domaine des Griottes exists since 2001 in the Loire region and cultivates 8 Ha of vines. This P’tite Gâterie is a cuvée, but not sure of what exactly: maybe Gamay and some Grolleau, pherhaps also some Cabernet Franc. Despite the astringency it starts drinking well after some time since there is enough fruit hidden behind this tannic curtain. Thanks again Laurent for these discoveries.
Finally we had a nice duo from Bordeaux and also what you could call a clash of preferences. We brought up the theory of drinkability to compare these wines. For my palate, the 1983 Château Talbot from Saint-Julien – charming, seductive, round and still complex – was the better wine, or let’s say it: the wine with better drinkabilty. The 2002 Château Angelus of Saint-Émilion was certainly a wine with great concentration but with overly strong tannins and lots of wood in the nose it was too much of a baby in my opinion. That said, I think that most people still preferred the Angélus that evening. Am I a niche-drinker?
Finally some thirst-quenching, reparing Riesling Spätlese. This one by famous winemaker Dönnhoff from the Nahe region is like a soothing balm on your palate. It is sweet but balanced by a strong yet elegant acidity, to a point you wonder whether it actually is a sweet wine or not? And of what I saw from the reaction, this was again a style not many had seen.
I finished the evening with the satisfied feeling I somewhat played the role of German Riesling ambassador in France. Actually something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Of course, the sheer abundance of wine styles in France naturally reduces the demand for German whites, but for a true wine lover who’s always looking for something new, this is probably a worthwile discovery. I’m glad I was among such friendly wine-lovers that evening.