Grand Sichuan (St. Mark’s Place) with mostly Rhônes and Rieslings
Five guys, fifteen wines, one table, zero corked bottles.
2009 Domaine Rousset Crozes-Hermitage Les Picaudières - Chambers St. brought this in at the suggestion of the Gonons; it’s old-vine Crozes from some of the better terroir in the region. Ripe and full but amply mineral and tangy, olives, expressive nose. I think everyone liked this.
2007 Benetière Côte-Rôtie “Cordeloux” - stunning; my favorite red of the night. This was hand-carried back from France, as there is no US importer for this amazing domaine. This wine is as wide open as other 2007 Northern Rhône wines I’ve had recently, and is just wonderful with smoke, ash, autumnal mulch, iron, red-black fruit, and so super fresh and complex. What is better than a great Côte-Rôtie? My second Benetière and I really hope not my last.
2009 Cayuse Syrah En Cerise Vineyard - it was pretty fun to throw this into the mix with the two Northern Rhône wines. The nose is classic smoky, funky Syrah, but on the palate it’s less interesting and finishes with a powerful bitter note. Perhaps it will come around in time but I’d rather be cellaring the Rousset (at a third of the price, no less).
2010 Domaine Ganevat Côtes du Jura Cuvée de l’enfant terrible - So pale it looks like a rose; yup, it’s Poulsard. Light and delicate, bright red fruits, cleansing acidity, and savory funk. The table is divided on its merits. I generally prefer Ganevat’s whites to his reds and this did nothing to change that, but I dig this nonetheless.
2000 Ch“teau de Beaucastel Ch“teauneuf-du-Pape very dark and still very young, totally clean (no brett), dense texture but very, very fresh despite that. Still some tannins on the finish but this is drinking really well. Dark fruits, meat, slight charcoal, gravel. Excellent bottle.
2007 Ch“teau Rayas Ch“teauneuf-du-Pape Pignan Réserve - what a joy this is to drink. Super pure and long, delicate and nearly weightless on the palate despite its evident ripeness. High-toned red fruits, spring flowers, and damp earth soar out of the glass. A real masterpiece, and really, it’s neck-and-neck with the Benetière.
1996 Edmond Cornu & Fils Ladoix 1er Cru Les Corvées - appealingly rustic in character with lots of rugged soil and faint dishwatery notes mingling with lighter red fruits, palate-cleansing with refreshingly high acid.
2001 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - Very early prime time for this. It’s so 2001, with laser-precise focus and clarity, super pure and enveloping primary fruit with telltale 2001 acidity powering straight through. Superb. I could drink this every day.
2005 Schäfer-Fröhlich Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Spätlese - sulfury and somewhat mute on the nose, and it’s a bit clumsy on the palate too, with too much sweetness for the acidity. Not unpleasant but very much overshadowed by several of the other Rieslings on the table
2009 Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling trocken Alte Reben - I liked this quite a bit but it was too dry to go with the spicy food we ordered. Tons of energy and cut, almost raspy with acidity, with piercing yellow fruits and a marked herbaceous character. I took home the leavings and will revisit tonight.
2010 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese - holy shit, what a wine. Almost impossible to believe it’s an auslese, as this is absurdly filigreed and delicate as a choice Kabinett but with the kaleidoscopic flavor array of an auslese. Everyone stops what they are doing and oohs and aahs over this beauty.
2010 Weiser-Künstler Enkircher Ellergrub Riesling Auslese - I was mightily impressed with the verily electric 2008 editions of Weiser- Künstler’s Kabinett and Spätlese from this vineyard, but this auslese is everything that the Dönnhoff is not: heavy, syrupy, simple.
2010 Weingut Günther Steinmetz Kestener Paulinsberg Riesling Auslese - this is nice and has ample auslese character that fits somewhere near the midpoint between the miraculous Dönnhoff and the boring Weiser-Künstler. Really very nice, but could someone please pass the Dönnhoff?
1994 Reichsrat Von Buhl Rupertsberger Reitenpfad Scheurebe Beerenauslese - [concentration fading, spice levels rising] Considerable browning, very sweet (duh) with botrytis and a fair amount of Scheurebe’s exotic character, but I’m not especially wowed.
NV Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux - a nice Pineau des Charentes, this one Grande Champagne Cognac with Ugni Blanc. It’s got a rancio quality, raisiny fruit, and spicy grappa/marc notes; actually quite delicious and refined. It’s perhaps too powerful to fully enjoy after a dinner with this many wines but I’d check it out again.
Great wines, great time!