Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Sloppy Heads’

Riesling Throwdown: New York vs. Germany (and the Sloppy Heads!)

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently, I worked a tasting hosted by chef and wine educator Jacqueline Lombard. So, in a 34th floor financial district boardroom, over some fine small plates, we tasted a German Riesling and one from New York. We also tasted a Chinon (Loire Valley, France) Cab Franc against a New York Cab Franc/Merlot blend, but they were so young and overwrought with tannin that several of our guests couldn’t tell the difference. Besides, I’ll stand on a soapbox for CA 100% Merlot before I would offer this gesture towards 100% Cab Franc from NY. Riesling is native to Germany and was first brought to America in the middle of the 19th century. The Finger Lakes region of New York was one of the earliest US producers and Riesling has long been one of the few things New York has done right in regards to wine.

I’m listening to Brooklyn rockers the Sloppy Heads on a soundboard recording from their recent gig at Maxwell’s, Hoboken’s legendary rock club, and the only reason to go to New Jersey. So, the joke begins like this: A rock critic, a promoter, and a sexy redheaded Smurf walk into a bar. But the punch line is a sincere-as-it-gets Brooklyn garage rock act with enough lingering innocence to sound wholly human, while still rocking convincingly. I’m very much interested to see what comes next for and from the Sloppy Heads.

First up was the German, from the Nahe region: Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 (1L). The wine is as close to clear as a white can be, but the aromatic is nice, and the fruit on the palate is full yet gentle and could probably masquerade as a Gruner. It’s a Kabinett which is one level sweeter than bone-dry, but the sweetness seems more prevalent than that. Jakob Schneider Riesling Kabinett 2009 is floral and sweet with green apple and stone fruit. This is a very nice light, yet versatile Riesling for the money, particularly as it comes in 1 liter .

The challenger, from the Finger Lakes region of New York: Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009. It’s pale gold w/ a slight green tinge, though next to the Schneider, it appears deeply yellow. This dry New York Riesling has a firmer acidity than its German counterpart and shows just a hint of effervescence that is typical to the region. Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2009 is light/medium bodied and displays pair, apricot, light citrus and subtle herbs. The crisp acidity makes this one of the food friendliest of wines, and it pairs well with a large range flavors.

Three Young Wines Over (Midweek) Sunday Night Italian Dinner

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Having gone to this midweek Sunday Night Italian dinner directly from the Sherbrooke portfolio tasting, with a brief stop at home to pick up some bottles and La Piazetta in my neighborhood for cannolis, there are a few new wines that need mention. I don’t review many new wines and never bother with a point scale and while my tasting notes are sparse from yesterday’s trade event, several things must be said. First, Henri Boillot is currently making some of the finest white Burgundy I’ve ever tasted. The Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere 2009 is as round as it is deep with intoxicating aromatics and can only improve for at least another 5 years and sustain for at east another 5. The Boillot Corton Charlemagne is attractive though currently much bigger and more pungent than the Puligny. Another year or two in bottle will likely find it rounder, more complete, but it is certainly not lacking in character today. While tale of the quality of 2009 in many of the most significant regions in France has spread farther and wider than the actual wines (to date), it speaks volumes that the Boillot Pommard ’08 and Volnay Les Fremiets ’07 are also drinking quite nicely today and these wines clearly have many years to evolve.

Oh iphone 3G, how dost thou camera suck?

As the price of the average Chateauneuf du Pape and much of the rest of the Rhone creeps skyward, some of the few deals left to be had in that region come from Gigondas and the Dauvergne Ranvier Gigondas Vin Rare 2007 was a standout amongst the hundreds of bottles represented, particularly at it’s price point. Also noteworthy were two (very) sweet whites at the dessert table, both new to my palate: Ca’ Rugate La Perlara recioto Di Soave 2008 and Chateau Perray Joannet Bonnezeaux Les Menus Clos 2009. Try either of these with a tarte tatin, or cheese plate with artisanal honey.

At dinner, an impressive array of meat products and red sauces were prepared (thanks Bill!) and as such, I brought some meaty syrah. But first, there was a selection of meats and cheeses with which with which I opened a nicely chilled bottle of Donelan Family Venus 2009 (90% Rousanne 10% Viognier). For all the sins that American wines are often accused as related to the nose, this one escapes, having almost no apparent alcohol with which to obscure the abundant fruit. The Venus had rigid acidity, lending to the notion that it intends to drink well for a good few years, and a lightly creamy mid-palate that stood up to a moderately diverse cheese plate in the creamier and saltier directions. The palate is briefly buttery, showing light minerality at the end, but it’s the crsip acidity that carries the apple-pair and hint of citrus through the finish. As with just about every new wine of any varietal, another 6 months in bottle should smooth over that tiny bite that lingers. After a long breath, the last of the Venus made a palate-smacking intermezzo en route to various meat and pasta dishes.

In the background: Starmaiden of Brooklyn rockers, Sloppy Heads.

Very recently I found some 2006 Milbrandt Syrah The Estates Wahluke Slope on one of the better discount sites that have been springing up and this selection became the first big red of the evening. I have tasted and thoroughly enjoyed several vintages of Syrah produced from these same grapes under Charles Smith‘s K Vintners label and was anxious to taste the wine made by the Milbrandt family themselves. Upon opening, the nose was almost non-existent* with small amounts of black and red fruit intermingling beneath glycerine and a little alcohol, but aromatic expansion would occur. Rather than a single block of a single vineyard as the label may seem to indicate, the ’06 Milbrandt Estates Wahluke Slope is 100% Syrah from three estate Wahluke Slope vineyards (67% Northridge, 22% Talcott, 11% Pheasant). The concentration is considerable as is the complexity, though slightly shy of what Charles Smith achieved is his ’06 Milbrandt bottling. While the nose opened up somewhat over time, the palate became thick (in a good way) and the distinct presence of boysenberry and soft earth rose to the top over bramble, with hints of spice and a trace amount of something almost menthol; followed by a deceptive, lingering finish. While less inherently forward than the K Syrah, the overall weight is quite similar and will make an interesting side by side tasting in the coming years (both new vintages and past). *This wine was tasted two days after shipping, which can affect it’s showing.

Boring picture of an unusual foster child wine.

The final wine that accompanied our savory feast was Pax Syrah Cuvee Christine 2007. But before the tasting notes, full disclosure. The wine was made and barreled by Pax Mahle, but due to a split between Mahle and the Donelans, it was blended by then new Donelan Family winemaker, Tyler Thomas. Further disclosure, I was on the mailing list when the label was Pax and and remain on the Donelan mailing list. I actively follow the winemaking of Pax Mahle and have a number of bottles of his various  wines going back to his 2000 Lauterbach Syrah and I am on the mailing list of both of his current projects: Wind Gap and the remarkable Agharta. What can I say, I like a nice syrah.

Pax Syrah Cuvee Christine 2007 is a lighter wine (Rhone) styled to be more approachable early in it’s life than previous vintages and as such, it doesn’t have the palate encompassing weight of the ’05 or ’06. Still it’s a full bodied wine by any standards and exhibits cassis amongst it’s distinct berry characteristics. It’s earthy and broad on the palate and finishes with a flourish of spice. It’s the kind of wine that begs to be consumed with the powerfully savory, not unlike the Italian feast with which this one was enjoyed, but it would have been just as contented to hang with barbecue, or a really good pepperoni pizza.