Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg

Well, that was some week.

The estate is observing 850 years of existence this year, and as you can imagine this is an august occasion, in the context of which my little opinions about this wine or that can seem like the cavils of a tiny tin god. Yet, it is a winery, and even if this year’s offerings resonate with the profundity of all those centuries, eventually there’s a glass and there’s wine in it, and we drink that beverage per se – or we try to.

I often had to wrest myself away from a prevailing sense of lofty solemnity in order to simply attend to the wines. It didn’t help one bit that some of the wines embodied the lofty solemnity, and then I had to ask myself whether I could yap about the wines without being ungrateful. It was as though I took the resonant-loveliness and put it in a side room and said “Now you just sit here and wait.”

I also felt a gathering of what I might call a beautiful seriousness, as wine followed wine. Even banishing (or attempting to banish) “the centuries,” I was very much mindful that something superb and precious is taking place right now, and for that alone Schloss Gobelsburg is an estate of great consequence. I have had proximity to that consequence since my friend “Michi” arrived back in 1997, and I sought to be worthy of the gift, and equal to the task, as I do again here.

I love the estate. Often I revere the estate. There’s a deep and reverberating conscience around and beneath it, and if one wine or another isn’t working the way I’d happen to wish, that’s fine. It doesn’t efface the beauty of the enterprise as a whole.

The revelations of the tasting are the vividly excellent quality of the sparkling wines. They have always been good, but they’ve reached another level the last couple years. The trio of NVs made me glow with pleasure.

The wines I tasted were essentially the wines that have been available in the U.S., so I didn’t taste everything.

2018 Zweigelt (Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg)

Remember, the Schlosskellerei is in essence a second-label (though this wine is estate-bottled), offering “everyday” wines in commercial quantities for such elements of the trade where those things are needed.

The wines have always, without exception, punched way-y-y above their weight, which is a boon for us all, though the standard they set is improbably high. As a merchant I was proudest of any really high-achieving “normal” wines that the “normal” wine customer could easily afford, and that would over deliver. This wine is one such.

You can go two ways with Zweigelt. You can exploit its gushing fruit and make an addictively tasty glugger, or you can ease it into a “claret” direction, with darker flavors and dusty tannin, less seductive and more vinous. I like both styles, each in their own ways. This bottling reminds me a little of Setzer’s, with its dark smoky fruits and berries, and its sense of an amalgam of Syrah and Petit Verdot. It’s a multiple-layered wine though it’d be a stretch to call it complex.

I have it in the Riedel Chianti Classico alongside the Jancis glass, and not surprisingly the Jancis pushes the wine toward its Blaufränkisch parent, all that mint and violet, while the Riedel shows more dark-chocolate. In both glasses there’s a charmingly cressy bite on the finish.

These are a lot of words for a “simple” wine. But there is nothing simple about the achievement such a wine entails. Michael “Michi” Moosbrugger has done (and is doing) great things, but I submit to you that none is greater than to offer this quality at this price-level, just to share the love with all the people who, unlike me and you, aren’t obsessed with wine. Who ever treats them with this level of respect? The word I’m looking for is: honor.

SPARKLING WINES

Blanc de Blancs  Brut, N.V.                                                             +

At first there was just one, and then there were two, and then an “RD” vintage wine, and now a Rosé, and Gobelsburg has to be counted with the best Austrian Sekt producers, which as a group are among the finest sparkling wines in the world that aren’t Champagne.

This was disgorged 15 Dec. 2020, and it’s made from Chardonnay, Welschriesling and Grüner Veltliner. It’s method champenoise though it’s forbidden to use that term. It’s 100% cuvée, with tirage beginning only after six months in old casks. The assemblage is 2017/16.

The wine is thoroughly lovely. It has every bit of the texture and polish of Champagne, with a set of flavors entirely its own. These run in the warmed-straw direction, moving toward a wood-sorrel, hyssop, and sweet fern direction on the end palate; for synethesiacs it’s straw transitioning to a silvery-green and then to a deeper green on the final finish.

It is the very definition of class and distinctiveness.

In the second encounter, the most charming woodsy element started appearing. It’s exquisitely silky from the Juhlin, and more overt from the MacNeil

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Brut Reserve, N.V.                                                                           ++

 

Deg. 9/2020, an assemblage of Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, including fruit from Lamm, Grub, Gaisberg and Heiligenstein (!!); as with the BdB it is all cuvée, “met-champ,” and tirage after six months in cask (of local oak). I don’t know the proportion of PN, but it’s decisive to the fragrance and palate.

It has always tasted more Austrian than Bründlmayer’s NV Brut, which is no snub to the fabulous Bründlmayer. Michi’s wine is more angular and sinuous, and in some way seems to offer a more vibrant dialectic without being at all tense.

It has the fluid, chlorophyll-y green of new spring leaves, the delighted lash of lemon balm and verbena, a nuance of white peach (hi, Riesling!), a ridiculously perfect poise of dosage, and something of a velouté of the sweetest green peas. It took all my will-power to spit it. I did, but I hated myself afterwards.

It also has a remarkably clinging length and seems to grow more concentrated toward the finale, so that it starts out gauzy and gets weightier and denser without sinking into heaviness. It feels like a wine Jean-Paul Hébrart would make from this raw material.

Second encounter is even better, more Pinot coming through, more sheer allure, and more of that elusive critter called charm. There will be tasters who find the dosage too high, but I do not understand those people. 

It triumphs in any glass I use, and it has to be counted as a ginormous success in an “everyday” echelon.

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Brut Rosé, N.V.

Still a base of 2017/16, deg. 12/2020, and an assemblage of Zweigelt, St Laurent and Pinot Noir.

Despite the native-grapes in the blend, this smells uncannily like a pink Champagne. It shows a sophisticated and seamless balance of fruit, silk and body, with – again – perfectly judged dosage. I haven’t yet tasted the vintage wine, but among the three NVs, this is both the fruitiest and also the most polished. Nor is it merely fruity. It has a cool composure, but it’s by no means aloof.

With air it seems to focus its particulars, and feints toward the “Pinot” (with St Laurent as a fellow traveller) rather than Zweigelt’s hedges and berries. When I taste it again I’ll use MacNeil’s fresh and crisp  glass, which tends to make such things explicit. Using the Juhlin (as I am) tends to make a wine “dress up good,” like a guy who looks surprisingly spiff in a suit. One begins to wonder whether this estate is capable of a false step!

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Vintage 2010,  Extra Brut

This is a Coeur-du-cuvée from an assemblage of Pinot Noir, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, tirage only after a year of cask aging, followed by at least ten years on the lees. Deg. 9/2020

It has that “papery” quality of certain mature sparkling wines, at least at first. 2010 is (if you recall) a very particular vintage, and initially this seems the most subdued and “quiet” among the Sekts.

 

Correct, monolithic; some wines can be paralyzed by having too much to say, and this may be one of them.

Rather than continuing to cajole it here and now, I’ll taste it again tomorrow, and use a range of glasses. I’m also aware that below-threshhold TCA can suppress fruit without smelling/tasting corky – but the cork smells fine. I am also aware that might be irrelevant.

Mañana dude.

OK, a day has passed. The wine is more open, but a fellow taster refers to a “cheesy, lactic” thing, and the MacNeil glass encourages my speculation about TCA.

STILL WINES

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2020 “Cistercien” Rosé  (Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg)

In my portfolio (or “former portfolio,” if you insist) there were a bunch of quirky rosés along with two classics; this one, and Caroline Diel’s. Both were commercially successful, this one especially, and it made me glad to see such robust acceptance for two rosés you honestly could call elegant.

2020 gives the impression of being highly aromatic, brisk, and somewhat matter of fact. At least for the early-released everyday wines. They bite a little on the finish, but it’s only “the taster” who has to pay that kind of attention. The drinker, which the taster also is in her private life, doesn’t worry about such things. Food will wipe away the end-palate sharpness, and if food doesn’t, conversation will, and if these things don’t work then the taster is taking his work home with him, and should stop.

The blend mirrors the sparkling rosé: Zweigelt, St Laurent and Pinot Noir. The stated aim is for the wine to be sleek. It is, in the very best sense, ephemeral; it sets about to perform something brief and beautiful. It’s not so much “fruit” as a vision of fruit.

Grüner Veltliners

It’s important to note, especially in the context of long deep tasting, that nearly every one of these GVs improved markedly over time. Bottles I emptied a week after opening were “joined” and lovely, and I questioned any doubts I was harboring. And yet, this is of limited value, because you’re not opening the bottles and drib/drabbing them out over seven days. Mostly you will open and drink, as I would. So if I tell you, the wine got better over time, that may or may not pertain to your experience. But it needs to be said. It suggests that wines that may seem asymmetrical fresh from the bottle will knit into harmony, given time. I want to be faithful to the wine as well as useful to the reader, so forgive me. I suggest you decant or otherwise aerate all these wines, as is often recommended for GV in any case.

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2020 Grüner Veltliner (Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg)

Michi writes: “We are trying to reflect the Kamp valley including (almost) all aspects of the appellation. Grapes from lower altitudes and warmer sites with higher maturity, from higher altitudes from cooler places with higher acidity and freshness, different soil, etc.” 

A perfect, and I mean perfect young GV fragrance; it’s what is meant when the word “lentilly” is used, but there’s also something freshly-mown about it, a fecund green savor that suggests sweetness without sugar. It is a masterpiece of candid clarity, varietal purity and brisk energy – brisk enough to have a little kitten-teeth on its salty finish. As a sort of tabula-rasa for the variety you could hardly ask for more.

I remember many years when I’d sit with Michi tasting this wine, my eyebrows raised as if to say Really? You’re offering this quality at this price? While he shrugged as if to say I tried to make it worse but I couldn’t.

 

Two days later it’s aggressively cressy and much of the ending sharpness is faded – but not all. Having tasted the sibling Riesling in the interim, I’m thinking ’20 may be better for Riesling than for GV.

2020 Grüner Veltliner Langenlois

Michi’s stated aim for this wine is  “We try to show the warmer aspect of the appellation. Langenlois at the lower end of the Kamptal. We are using beside others also Ried Spiegel 1ÖTW or Thal for this wine. Still it is a typical Kamptal, but showing a slightly warmer and expressive style of the appellation.

So, A village-wine in the new system, essentially in this case a cuvée from loess.

(A quick note for completists: I am aware the estate makes many lighter wines, but I’m only commenting on the wines normally available in the U.S., and thus I apologize to my international readers for the lacunae herein, and to all my readers for “lacunae herein.”)

Several producers wrote to me, “You’ll like the ‘20s, Terry; they’re classical,” and with this wine I see what they mean. The wine is light-footed, forthright and salty, quite the lentilly charmer until its phenolic finish. Food will help in cases like this. And I’ll follow the wine over the coming week, alert for travel-stress, and I’ll keep it at (current) cellar temp (62º). Mind you, I’m not at all displeased by the wine! I’m a fussbudget for tannin/phenols and have learned to attend when my teeth yawp at me. So we’ll watch what happens.

The next day it was like Puy lentils braised in an oxtail broth. There is still a pointedness to it. The finish is deliberate and quite ferrous. I’m using a glass that generally suppresses such attributes, but they’re still present.

Now tasting for a third time -  the bottle is open 72 hours. As seems to be happening generally, the “sweet” elements come forward but the gnarl on the finish never quite disappears.

2019 (Grüner Veltliner) Ried Steinsetz

I have put (Grüner Veltliner) in parentheses because it does not appear on the front label, and only in small print on the back. This is part of Moosbrugger’s conviction that Place should prevail over variety, a conviction I share, but only when everyone knows what the variety is. After all, it took centuries before most wine-people knew that “Meursault Charmes” was Chardonnay, and Moosbrugger seems to want to bring that about by compressing the centuries into a decade or so.

 

I’d love it if he were right.

I’m like an old dog in my geezer years; whenever I visited the estate I always took the same seat in the tasting room, the one that looked out the window to the Steinsetz. Briefly, it’s (Danube) river rocks deposited by the retreating river, overlain by loess. But perhaps more saliently, it’s a breezy plateau that can be picked late with little concern for botrytis. Always a particular GV, in its young days it was a radishy beast, but it grew deeper as the vine roots sank deeper, and these days it’s a 1er Cru with a curiously adamant brassy profile mitigated by ever more prominent juiciness.

I have it in two glasses, one that will emphasize the peppery sting and another that will subdue it.

 

The emphatic glass tells the Truth about the wine while the other glass tells a more pleasing version of the truth. That one – the tall Spiegelau white wine stem, brings out a lovely note of cordyceps. I know, WTF are they?!? It’s an edible fungus that’s incredibly good for you, and the purest way to encounter it is in its dried form, which you can obtain from Far West Fungi. The liquid you get from soaking your cordyceps is culinarily precious; you can make a really haunting risotto with it. You’ll also find it in tinctures and suchlike, if you have money to burn. 

Back to Steinsetz!

I think we ought to decant Steinsetz, just observing what happens as it gains air. Instead, I’ll leave it in the cellar and taste it repeatedly. There’s a lot to marvel over in here, and I want to see if it gets more swoony in the next bunch of days. The unfolding aroma suggests that it will.

OK, two updates. At the dinner table last night the wine was pungently exotic and tasty, so it tastes one way and drinks another. But tasted again the following day it feels like it has more muscle than it is currently managing. Perhaps this has been exposed by the developmental stage it’s in – or it’s travel sick. There are many compelling things about this wine, but its components aren’t interlocked, at least not here or now. Yet every third sip is so good I feel like a fool, to cavil as I’m doing.

 

Something tells me the wine will have the last laugh. But until then, I’m bemused by the scorched-pepper finish.

2019 (Grüner Veltliner) Ried Renner                                        ++

(With the symbol for Grand Cru next to the site name.)

Here’s an oddity. This bottle and the Steinsetz before it each had a curious smell of maple-syrup on the lip as I was pulling the cork, suggesting some tiny residue of goo that usually means the bottle was heated at some point.

So, OK, Renner. My favorite. Has been since forever. For me this is one of the great GVs anywhere, and one with very few equivalents. Steinertal comes to mind (thanks to Alzinger) but even those gorgeous wines don’t quite reach the polyphonic heights of this one. My inconvenient opinion is, the great GV masterpiece of Schloss Gobelsburg is Renner – even more than Lamm. “Inconvenient” because Lamm is the Chambertin of the Kamptal, and if you have it, it’s your top GV – understood. (And quite often justified.)

I have written (and written) about this in  catalogue after catalogue, and the flavor associations for this wine would fill your biggest suitcase. Let me try to squeeze it down. Renner is GV for people who love Riesling. It’s GV that lived amongst the Rieslings and went home speaking with a Riesling brogue. It has buoyancy, lift and minerality, and that curious sense of “sweetness” that isn’t sugar, but culmination.

I fantasize about a composer who thinks “I’m going to write a triple fugue, but instead of Bach’s divine mathematics I’m gonna do it full-bore romantic, and we’ll see if intricacy and sentiment can coexist!” 

Because Renner will tax you, ecstatically, but demandingly. Everything about it is beautiful but nothing about it is easy. Renner is a rapture, but it isn’t necessarily sublime. This vintage has some of the assertiveness of Lamm, actually, along with its insane minerality and rampant sweet-corn flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blown away by it. But I have a subversive thought….

The vintage was identified as great based on tastings a year ago. I know those tastings; the wines are blasting with primary fruit and psychedelic complexity and of course they’re great. But I’m seeing the wines a year later. Some might say, at the “worst” time. I’d simply observe, I’m seeing a lot of muscle now, which can be good if there’s mind and kindness behind it. Still, that argument probably doesn’t belong with this wine, because this wine is stunning by any reckoning.

2018 (Grüner Veltliner) Ried Lamm                                            ++

(Grand Cru) And I applaud the estate for giving this an extra year of aging pre-release. This is sometimes a silver-lining of the pandemic.

Lamm is both a mystery and a simplicity. It is large. In Bründlmayer’s hands it makes a mighty wine that’s as graceful (and as sweet) as an elephant. Moosbrugger’s wines are taller, stretch-ier. Giraffes,  basketball players. Great, they assuredly are. But great in what way, exactly?

MacNeil’s “creamy and silky” glass does its job exactly – it makes the wine creamy and silky. It emphasizes the darker spectrum of the aromas. It also highlights the wood.

The Spiegelau “tall” glass – usually perfect for a wine like this – throws every bright aroma the wine displays right into your face. It’s enormously satisfying and impressive.

The Jancis glass tells you that a possibly-great wine is at hand. Every scintilla of nuance is on full display. Sometimes this glass seems to say “Now let me explain…” but this time it let me see a kind of yielding quality I might have missed.

Lamm, when it works (which is almost always), is intense without being musclebound. Its signatures have been explicated often in my catalogues, but essentially it’s rusks, fennel seed, grass-fed lamb, toasted rye, a bit of the “wet-cereal” thing we get from loess. It’s intensely savory. And incidentally, in Gobelsburg’s hands it is an object-lesson on the proper use of cask. And this wine is an unlikely mingling of detail and succulence.

Austrian wine close-observers may consider, Lamm  has a cousin in Achleiten, while Renner’s cousin is Schütt.  I know – inside-baseball. But interesting for all that, for minds like mine that like to catalogue.

For those who may want to contemplate a (probably) great Austrian white wine that’s as far from the “grape variety” as possible – even while the grape is always present – this is where I’d send you. For me, as a long-time observer, I find this 2018 Lamm to be entirely lovely. It could be the best since the 2013. It has authority and intrigue. It takes you into a sweet, sweet field. If you’ll let me be totally crazy, it’s like grass-fed lobster – if that could ever be!

Rieslings (or as Michi prefers it: “appellation wines based on Riesling”

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2020  Kamptal Riesling (Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg)

Typically a cuvée of young vines – less than 15 – from Gaisberg and Heiligenstein, whereby fruit is intentionally in the foreground. But “fruit” is something quite different in Austrian Riesling.

 

Privately I call this “green and funky” and I mean it as a compliment. Green like herbs (tarragon and lemon verbena in this case) and funky like irises at their purple pungent best. It also smells like schnapps from mountain plants, and like juniper; I wish I had the Dautel Riesling around to taste alongside it!

The palate is frisky and then some! Dazzling and generous yet with the bracing breezes of these ‘20s, and also with the gravelly phenols on the finish – but compared with the GV this is  - or feels – riper, less scraping, though the wine is snappy and crackly, with mid-palate rock-dust and suggestions of chervil and anise seeds. Such attack as it does have is mitigated by juiciness, heightened by the smaller glass.  The more I tasted it the more I liked it.

The same is true re-tasting, and there’s a physio-ripness here that doesn’t exist in the equivalent GV – that, or maybe even a stealthy couple grams of RS to lengthen and round out the finish. It’s a loveable beast, and not without its edges and angles.

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2020 Kamptal Riesling, Zöbing

Now all funk, and even a little feral. I’m tasting this on an indecently pretty June day, one of those 24-48 hour respites we get before the summer sultries descend stickily over us, and in the midst of this euphoric weather is a wine that is  deeply, powerfully of nature, but nature at her least adorable. There’s a part of Scheurebe that isn’t grapefruit or cassis or sage, one you could call “darkly catty,” and I’m thinking of that now.

I admire a wine that doesn’t ingratiate, but this Riesling swings pretty wide on the hinges. I like the finish in its burned-resin saltiness, and I like the caraway character of amphibolite wines, but I confess I wouldn’t mind a sideways smile from this Riesling.

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2019 (Riesling) Ried Gaisberg (Grand Cru symbol)                  +++

While this warms in the glass, a thought; of all the great (or near-great) Rieslings I know, Gaisberg is the most Gregorian of them. It is placid and quiet and feels like it emerged not from a winery but from a cloister. We who love Riesling love this one almost in secret, and we’re not sure we can meet its cool purity with our own. The Gaisberg from this estate is a kind of apex of riesling’s introverted poetry.

And with all that said, this wine is ludicrously beautiful. Carried away by the elusive and ethereal perfumes, I had all these images of a pre-dawn birder on a dewy cool morning, hoping to spy an elusive little bird, blue and trilling…you know, that stuff. And then I took a sip.

An eerie clarity. Those colorful ice-clouds you sometimes look up and see. Frost on the ground but a mild day in store. Then comes the generous part, a riot of bee-balm and white nectarine and blueberries, and then just when you think it may be too ethereal there’s a wave of saltiness and wild fennel fronds, and it seems to quiver with intensity yet it’s all in the higher registers, and you can’t be sure you understand it all.

I am sure of this; people who love this sort of wine are rare people, and this is a rare gift. You can taste a thousand Rieslings and not find another one that’s rare in this way. It’s Riesling in the form of irisation. A keening, salty ghost. One who ate a lot of mangoes in her life, and misses them.

Earthly things emerge with air and warming in the glass, and the wine grows more tangible.  You get to decide which profile of greatness you want; the ethereal one (at cold temperature) or the fruit-divinity mango-jazz one. It’s wonderful to watch the shape-shifting. The whole thing is heart-rending. Please don’t confuse my three plusses for the kind of wine that puts on a big clamorous show for you, but also please understand, for me and maybe for others who love Riesling in its seeker-of-divinity profile, this is as profound as it can be. 

And it’s not only the greatest Gaisberg I’ve ever tasted from this estate; it’s the greatest I’ve ever had.

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2019 (Riesling) Ried Heiligenstein (Grand Cru Symbol)         +++

It certainly takes it place on a list of the world’s 20 most profound Rieslings. And 2019 is said to be a great vintage. So!

It is wilder and spicier and more visible than the Gaisberg. No interstellar dust here. It’s the first Riesling that really required the Jancis glass; my poor little Spiegelau was too small. On successive days the wine got all serpentine and slinky and push-pull and smoky-salty. I like an exciting wine!

When Heiligenstein works – and face it, you have to go to some trouble to make it not work – it is a big lush polyphonal chord with low tones and medium tones and high tones and the shimmer of their proximities and just when you think it’s one way oops it’s another way and even if you’re a wine big-shot like me you’re frozen in your tracks remembering this is what complexity means and you’re so happy it’s all there before you – to be seen and loved.

There is nothing wrong with explicit complexity. At their best, Heiligenstein makes you want to sing with gratefulness, while Gaisberg makes you want to pray with longing. In one, you lift your voice. In the other, you still your voice.

Please see my most recent catalogue for a contrast between the two vineyards.  Of the several great (and many excellent) Heiligensteins I know, Michi’s is the most deliberate, explicative and filigree. Of the many things he has achieved, the daisy-chain of greatness this wine has shown through the years counts as among the most profound.

And if you think there’s a better white wine on earth than this one, do be so kind as to share it with me.

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Tradition “Heritage” Cuvée 50 Years                                     +++

Last year just before Christmas Michi sent a letter to a few of us, explaining how the following wine came to be. He wrote: “ in Summer [2020] the abbot came to visit the construction site [for the new cellar: TT] and I was already considering what would be the appropriate wine to celebrate 850 years, so I asked him if it would be imaginable to use some stock of the library for such a project and he instantly agreed that we can use whatever we feel is usable for such a wine. So we started to make a few trials and from September on we took around 3000 bottles from the library, opened them, tasted and emptied the bottles first in small containers. From there we blended them into 300 lt casks and from there in 2700 lt until we made the final blend. This is something really untypical for us, but I have to admit, that it was not only interesting, but something that was worthwhile doing.

The wine will be bottled in January and released in March / April.”

 

OK, I took off the black wrapping paper and there was the label and the band atop the cork (with its wax seal) and I thought I should play 16th century chants or at least some John Taverner. But when you start out solemn you end up in a fudge, so I’m trying to play it cool.

 

The color is surprisingly pale. It looks like a 20-something wine, more green/straw than gold.

 

The smell is one I know well. It’s the scent of a healthy cellar. I’m finding it beautiful that it’s just “old” wine in general and not any single one in particular, because then I’m not thinking about vintage or variety or site. It’s just wine, plus time, plus love.

 

Obviously it is what we’d call contemplative. But what’s truly amazing is how fabulously good it is. The taste is younger than the aroma, and the first thing I thought was “this was blended by a genius.” It has a surmise of that “physio-“sweetness….actually, for all I know some of the wines in the blend were sweet, as they often were back then. It felt cruel to spit such a thing, so I didn’t.

 

I am mindful that a wine like this is in my wheelhouse for my most effulgently emotive/mystical wanderings, and I’m trying to pare them down. See what’s left. We know the burnishes and atmospheres and something I can only call the “ripe vapors” of wines like these. A lot of tasters who never wrote poetic tasting notes will write poems for this wine. I hope they let us see them. We could use more hearts on more sleeves.

 

Right now I am thinking, I’m glad I lived long enough to have tasted this. It is a benediction. I’m thinking, also, what one thinks at such times. Have I been kind enough? Did I love the way I wanted to? Thoughts like those.

 

But Michi, my friend, wanted a wine that might in some way embody a tradition of 850 years, that might suggest the dignity, the sweetness, and perhaps the sheer unknowability of such a rope of time. I wonder where those threads might join, his and mine. Could it be said, that an abiding human regret, throughout all time and for each of us, is that we weren’t as kind as we might have been? Even the monks were not as kind as they might have been. And so maybe, just maybe, the echoing music of the centuries, sitting in my glass just now, is that no kindness is ever regretted. Oh, I would like to think that.

 

We wash up on a far shore, finally; we sought to serve the cause of love and too often failed, and now we are shipwrecked and yet there is this sweetness. This sweetness. How in the world do we account for it? It must have to do with the kindness of dogs. Otherwise I can’t make sense of it.

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2017 Riesling Tradition                                                                   +

This is the last one; that is, the last to be varietally labelled and vintage dated. In the future there will be 3-year, 10-year and possibly a 20-year “Tradition” and these will be varietal blends, the point being time rather than variety or vineyard. 

 

I will say that as long as this idea persisted in this way, the results were often deeply beautiful. Both the wines, and the idea behind them, this shape-shifting into the mentalities of cellar-masters who didn’t have the technical options of today, and who worked with what they did have, and whose relationships to their wines were defined accordingly.  Michi’s curiosity to enter that ambience was and remains an inspiring thing.

 

This one is one of the Traditions powerfully expressive of its tertiaries. Saliently, it is only Riesling because we know it is, but otherwise it’s the breathing of the casks and the abiding fragrance of the cellar. I think it’s a fine, savory vintage of this wine, but you need to pay attention lest you think it is merely oxidative. It also comes back and jabs on the finish, but not in a bothersome way.