In this round of Vintage Pairs Blind Tasting, we served:
Last night was the 14th installment of our ‘Vintage Pairs’ blind tastings. Here we take five wines, serve them blind, and as a group work our way down from ‘Old World / New World?’ until we find the wine. The twist is that there are actually ten wines – two vintages of each one, served in pairs.
In terms of trying to make sense of what is in these two glasses, tasting in vintage pairs can make it easier – confirming in one glass what you were thinking in another, but in other cases it can be totally baffling – as we saw twice last night.
Here’s what we tasted last night…
Dr Thanisch Berkcasteler Doctor Spätlese Auktion – 2013 & 2008
We always serve the younger vintage first, but in this pair the 2013 was already a fuller gold (more ripeness, botrytis, or just more advanced?), while the 2008 was pale green-gold, discrete, mineral and very refined. The 2013, in contrast, was already honeyed and open. The Dr Thanisch estate has been making this wine since the late 19th century. It is a magnificent south-facing, steep (60 degree) vineyard in a commanding position above Berncastel where it seems to rise almost like a cliff when viewed from across the Mosel’s banks. At the end of winter this warmer site is easier to pick out as the snow melts here first. Total production each year of the auction cuvee?: about 300 bottles.
H.J. Kreuzberg Devonschifer Spatburgunder “R” Auktion – 2014 & 2013
Each year I attend the wine auction in Bad-Kreuznach, Germany, mainly to buy some choice Dönnhoff (Nahe) and Keller (Rheinhessen) wines, but the auction always begins with some very interesting Pinot Noirs (Spätburgunder) from the Ahe region. I bought this wine two years running because I thought it was the best one – only later realizing I’d bought the same cuvee in two vintages. They showed really well, with most participants getting to Pinot Noir, but then looking around in the Côte de Nuits for the answer. “This is so Chambolle!” one exclaimed. I think I would have gone the same way. The 2014 was a touch lighter, with a soft strawberry/raspberry aroma, floral, and with a hint of bacon, elegant and refreshing. The 2013 was a little deeper, more concentrated, very raspberry, morish, long and very fresh. A wonderful wine that would compete with a 1er Cru Côte de Nuits from a top domaine, for sure. Very little made, and we have very little in turn to offer, but either of these would be great to serve blind to your Burgundy drinking friends!
Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir – 2013 & 2011
Arguably it was Bass Phillip that put this grape variety on the map in and for Australia. Fanatical would not be too bold a word to describe Phillip Jones’ approach to the vine and wine at this Gippsland Victoria estate. Organic since 1993, biodynamic since 2002, low-ropping, dry-farming, (relatively) cooler temperatures, and mineral rich soils complete the picture. The ‘Reserve’ label is top here – but it is very expensive. There is an accessibly-priced ‘Estate’ label. The ‘Premium’ sits in the middle, much like a 1er Cru.
Vintage clearly plays a major role here. The 2013 was 14.9% alcohol while the 2011 was 12.4%! The difference was clear too in the colour (full versus pale), expression (candied raspberry versus confit cherry tomato and a touch of mint), and sense of weight. Both were very enjoyable, but to guess these blind?!....
Sine Qua Non – Female Grenache (2013) & Pictures Grenache (2007)
Elaine and Manfred Krankl’s idiosynchratic, highly acclaimed Californian micro estate had to get featured in ‘Vintage Pairs’ at some point! The bottles and labels for each wine are unique works of art in themselves, and the contents are undeniably special. The 2013 Female was incredibly expressive and complex, with a very full but fully supple texture. I loved it. The 2007 Pictures was also complex, but denser, more tannic. Tough to pick these blind, though someone did immediately say “Grenache”, but as is the way with blind tasting, they changed their mind. Always go with your instincts!
Lucien & Andre Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux Cuvée Centenaire – 2005 & 1998
From the post-modernist exponent’s versions in the previous flight, we turned here to that of the classicist’s on home team soil. The ‘Centennaire’ cuvee debuted with the 1989 – celebrating the 100 years since the oldest vineyard was planted here. 1889! This predominantly Grenache (85%) blend is super low cropping – 15hl/ha, and immensely, naturally deep and concentrated. Unfortunately our 2005 was a touch oxidisied, but the 1998 was absolutely singing – a truly magnificent Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
‘Vintage Pairs’ will return in the New Year. I hope you can come join in the fun. A list of some of the wine we have served at past events can be found here. Wines we tasted that we have available for sale can be found here.
|2013||Weingut Dr. H. Thanisch - Berncasteler Doctor Spatlese Auktion||750ml||--|
|2008||Weingut Dr. H. Thanisch - Berncasteler Doctor Spatlese Auktion||750ml||--|
|2014||Weingut H.J. Kreuzberg - Devonschiefer Spatburgunder 'R' Auktion||750ml||--|
|2013||Weingut H.J. Kreuzberg - Devonschiefer Spatburgunder 'R' Auktion||750ml||--|
|2013||Bass Phillip - Pinot Noir Premium||750ml||--|
|2011||Bass Phillip - Pinot Noir Premium||750ml||--|
|2013||Sine Qua Non - Female Grenache||750ml||WA98|
|2007||Sine Qua Non - Pictures Grenache||750ml||WA97|
|2005||Lucien & Andre Brunel - Chateauneuf du Pape Les Cailloux Cuvee Centenaire||750ml||WA95|
|1998||Lucien & Andre Brunel - Chateauneuf du Pape Les Cailloux Cuvee Centenaire||750ml||WA97|