Riesling and Rioja Dinner Relived

Riesling and Rioja Dinner Relived

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What an exciting night, this dinner had been booked out a couple of weeks in advance and the restaurant was now full. For the first time Rare Wine Dinners had the run of the restaurant floor and was able to make the night our own. I must apologise for taking so long to get some notes up from this evening. On this and many future occassions i will be using the very precise wine orientated notes of good friend and fellow wine enthusiast Cam Wheeler. Cam’s wine notes can also be found on his website: camwheeler.com. As usual i will be adding my own blend of review of the night. 6.30pm was the start time and people had already started arriving as early as 6pm with a sudden rush right on 6.30pm we were almost ready to begin with a glass of Schloss Vaux Rheingau Riesling Brut in hand most people were mingling and the conversation was flowing. There was a wonderful feeling of excitement in the air and why not, for tonight we will all be tasting the Joh Jos Prum 1964 Auslese along with many other rare and wonderful wines from Rioja in Spain and a number of regions in Germany.

2009 Schloss Vaux Rheingau Riesling Brut – Germany, Rheingau
Floral, stonefruit and mineral nose. Palate has a burst of acidity and is quite fresh, but there is a lack of depth and interest. 85/100 (CW)

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The last to arrive were now in their seats and we were ready to begin around 7pm. First up for the evening was the Staatsweinguter , Kloster Eberbach Steinberger GK and the 2011 Langwerth Von Simmern Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Kabinett Trocken which proved a gentle and good start to the evening. The restaurant paired a lovely natural Oyster dish with the wines. Some short notes on the wines in the words of Cam Wheeler:

2011 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern Hattenheimer Nußbrunnen Riesling Kabinett trocken – Germany, Rheingau
Light floral notes, with some spice and citrus. Very light richness on the palate. Simple but quite tasty. 88/100 (CW)

1998 Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach Steinberger Riesling Goldkapsel – Germany, Rheingau
Grapefruit and marmalade with some orange peel. Drops away too quickly on the palate for my liking, there is a touch of sweetness but not much else. This has aged but not really developed any complexity. 85/100 (CW)

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Moving up one level on the Pradikat scale we arrived at the Spatlese wines both from Langwerth Von Simmern and their Rauenthaler Rothenburg vineyard first was the 2011 and second was the 1976. A wonderful experience to try two wines from the same producer and vineyard with 35 years difference in age. A unique opportunity to see how these wines develop over time. Kevin and the rise team paired a very good Ocean Trout Confit with the wines that worked very well for mine and many other palates.

2011 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern Rauenthaler Rothenberg Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Rheingau
Lime, smoke and honeysuckle aromas. Intense sweetness on the palate, I find that there isn’t enough acidity or brightness to cover for it and it ends feeling unbalanced. 83/100 (CW)

1976 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern Rauenthaler Rothenberg Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Rheingau
Kumquat, apple, straw and light smoke. Good acidity brightens the palate. Good length and there is some depth evident. Drink now. 89/100 (CW)

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Now it was time for the high light of the evening, 1964 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Zeltinger Sonnuhr Auslese Riesling. An opportunity to try this wine made under the direction of the great Sebastian Prum who lead Joh Jos Prum to great heights with many of his wines through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Sebastian handed control to his son Manfred Prum in 1969. The estate themselves rate 1964 as one of the best vintages of the 60’s and perhaps only marginally better in their opinion was 1969. The opportunity to try this wine is rare and unique particularly in Australia. There was no food served with this wine as I believe it needed your full attention.

1964 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Amazing light straw gold colour. Enticing aromas of florals, lemon, talc and some spices. The nose was consistent over an hour or more, not dropping away but not unfurling further either. Palate is a highlight with excellent balance and imposing length – subtle initially it just builds superbly across the mid-palate and holds on for quite some time. 92/100(CW)

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Changing pace we move to a 1981 white Rioja from Lopez de Heredia. An intriguing wine that left many at the dinner divided. I felt it was the kind of wine that you either like or dislike, there is no inbetween with this wine.  I think it is also worth mentioning that many Australian palates would not have had the opportunity to try such a wine before, nor would they easily find such a wine in this country easy to buy over the counter so perhaps an open mind is needed and a thirst for something out of the ordinary or otherwise it may be too confronting. The restaurant paired this brilliantly with a house style seafood stew complete with puff pastry top.

1981 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Viña Tondonia – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Caramel, vanilla and lemon with a little bit of nutty oxidative character (but not as much as I expected). Texturally it was very interesting, though the acid was a touch prickly on the finish. 88/100 (CW)

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Moving back to Riesling and stepping up the Pradikat scale again we have an Auslese Riesling, 1976 George Muller Hattenheimer Deutelsberg and a Kabinett Riesling with 100 degree Oeschle the 2011 Langwerth Von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn. The interesting fact about the second wine is that 100 degree Oeschle pertains to a level residual sugar usually associated with Auslese Riesling, not Kabinett. The restaurant paired a lovely dish of slow cooked pork belly with enoki mushroom and teriyaki, a great match of richness and sweetness for these wines.

2011 Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Kabinett – Germany, Rheingau
Lots of sulphur here, there is some white flowers and honey after time. Rich and youthful on the palate, it has just enough acid to carry the sweetness. 89/100 (CW)

1976 Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimer Deutelsberg Riesling Auslese – Germany, Rheingau
Some aromas in the eucalypt/mint spectrum as well as marmalade and melting sugar. Great balance and depth, the components woven together with purpose. Drinking well now but will hold for quite some time. 91/100 (CW)

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Now for a little fun before moving to the red wines from Rioja i bought along a wine which i served blind and asked a number of options questions in an attempt to give away a bottle of 2011 Langwerth Von Simmern Rauenthaler Rothenburg Spatlese. I say in an attempt because we got down to the last 3 people and all three elected not to vote for the correct answer to the final question which left me with the wine and so i decided i would make another attempt later in the evening to give it away again. The wine was 1959 August Eser Oestricher Lenchen Spatlese Riesling.

1959 August Eser Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Rheingau
Honey, grapefruit and coconut aromas. Beautifully balanced on the palate, light richness and a good core of acidity persisting. Great length and a real pleasure to drink. 92/100 (CW)

I think by this time everyone was very much looking forward to some red rather than another flight of white. Lucky for them it was certainly our first flight of red wines for the evening from Rioja Spain. The first two wines from the Reserva category were 1994 Martinez Bujanda Garnacha Reserva and 1995 Martinez Bujanda Finca Valpiedra Reserva. The restaurant matched a lovely Lamb sous vide dish for the reds that of course paired nicely.

1994 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Graphite, leather, strawberry, aniseed and some kirsch. Some balanced savoury intensity on the palate with good length. Mostly resolved and ready to drink, I preferred this to the 95 Finca Valpiedra Reserva served by its side. 90/100 (CW)

1995 Martinez Bujanda Rioja Finca Valpiedra Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Interesting aromas of stewed plum, charcoal, orange rind and some brett influence. Tannins still standing out on the palate, there is some red fruited character in behind but not much depth. Maybe another 3-4 years would help this wine round out its edges a little bit. 88/100 (CW)

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Next we stayed with the reds of Rioja but moved up a level to the Gran Reserva and this time the wines were 1975 Martinez Bujanda Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva and 1983 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. Two wonderful old wines made in the traditional Rioja style. These wines were a treat and to many the 1983 La Rioja was the wine of the night. Both wines suitably made great impressions on all that were present and as you could imagine the conversation was now in full swing and the restaurant alive with buzzing conversation much of which centred on the wines that had been tasted throughout the evening.

1975 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Rioja Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Was served two bottles of this, the second blind. The first showed spice, cedar and caramelised fruit. The palate was holding up okay, with some grip from tannins but fades away on the finish. 87/100 (CW)

1983 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Complex and compelling aromas of autumn leaves, cherry, smoky leather, tobacco and spices. Beautifully balanced palate, there is sweet old fruit with earthy savoury notes. Detailed, textured and very long. Fantastic. 93/100 (CW)

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The finale for the night had come and it was a 1976 Niederthaler Hof Beerenauslese Riesling from Pfalz Germany. 1976 being a hot but very good vintage in Germany and Beerenauslese being one of the great sweet wines of the world. As you could imagine this wine put many a smile on the faces around the room while the restaurant served smoked vanilla ice cream with coconut granita and mixed berries. For me i found the dessert a little too cold for the Beerenauslese hence i made the decision to have them separately rather than together. This wine was a great way to end a night of wonderful rare and vintage wines from Germany and Spain.

1976 Niederthäler Hof Bochinger Bischofskreuz Riesling Beerenauslese – Germany, Pfalz
Apple, ginger, candied apricot and sultana aromas. Acidity still in tact provides good drive through the medium sweetness on the palate. Good length with some depth to it as well. 90/100 (CW)

With the end of the night upon us i still had that bottle of Riesling to give away so i opened another bottle of wine and served it blind. This time i decided to serve a wine that had already been served during the course of the evening, it was another 1975 Martinez Bujanda Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva. The interesting thing about serving another bottle of this wine was that this bottle was showing differently to the previous two bottles served and hence there is obviously some bottle variation after 36 years which also had a few people in the room fooled. The good part was i finally gave away the bottle of Riesling, Congratulations to Dennis. I think the consensus on this evening of wine and food was, it represented incredible value for money and a true “wine experience”. Once again every one in the room again was given the opportunity to try many wines they would never normally have the opportunity to try and this is the Rare Wine Dinners experience. Special thanks to: Kevin and restaurant team at Rise for the wonderful food and service, Tim for the handouts/booklets, Jeremy for the wine photography and Carey for the Photography on the night and assistance with the wines.

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1975 Bodegas Valdemar (Martinez Bujanda) Rioja Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
The second bottle was fresher with the same spice and cedar, but also some earth and cherry. The red fruit is more evident on the palate as well but there still isn’t great complexity. 88/100 (CW)