WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

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WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Otto » Sun Jun 25, 2006 5:02 pm

Mid-summer partying continues with a few interesting pseudo-old Pfalz Rieslings (I've not seen many older ones around). Both were really nice!

  • 1996 Josef Biffar Deidesheimer Grainhübel Riesling Spätlese Trocken - Germany, Pfalz (6/25/2006)
    AP 5 106 026 013 97, 12,5% abv. An inauscpicious start: the level was significantly lower than the 98's - mechanical cork failure. I also got scared when I removed the capsule and I got a scent of Madeira. But Rieslings are hardy wines. The wine inside was vibrantly alive. A deep golden colour (not a good sign I suppose in such a young wine, but didn't matter here). The nose was lovely: strawberries covered in chalk and stone dust. The palate was fully dry, but with assertive fruit, high in acidity and lovely Riesling "bitterness" - a powerful wine, very much in the Austria/Alsace mode. But the best part was the very intense, acid driven and long aftertaste with its pronounced minerality. Lovely!
  • 1998 Josef Biffar Deidesheimer Grainhübel Riesling Spätlese Trocken - Germany, Pfalz (6/25/2006)
    AP 5 106 026 013 99, 13% abv. Gold. The nose is true to the grape but does have a funny spearmint smell to it and dried apple also. A faint hint of petrol is developing. The nose is fruity and powerful with a touch of minerals - like Austrian or Alsatian Rieslings. The palate is also powerful and has a pronounced note of strawberry and the 13% abv is a little noticable, but the fine acidity, intensity, and minerality make this a thoroughly enjoyable drink. Very nice!
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Jun 25, 2006 6:36 pm

Biffar is an excellent, and unappreciated source for high quality Rieslings. Unfortunately they have had a bit of a revolving door with their winemakers.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Otto » Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:13 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Biffar is an excellent, and unappreciated source for high quality Rieslings. Unfortunately they have had a bit of a revolving door with their winemakers.


David, thanks for the info, but would you mind elaborating a little? What's been going on?
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:33 pm

They are on something like their third winemaker in the last 10 years. I would need to do some research, but the last one left about 2 vintages ago.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:39 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:a powerful wine, very much in the Austria/Alsace mode. But the best part was the very intense, acid driven and long aftertaste with its pronounced minerality. Lovely!

Otto, I could have written that too. I absolutely agree with that characterization, having recently gone on an Austrian Riesling spree and enjoying the wines immensely. I do love a good floral/stoney Mosel Riesling, and I do appreciate the low alcohol of the German iterations ... but oh, how I love the electrifying dryness and crispness of the Austrian/Alsatian mode. These wines really speak to my vinous soul. I always preach that our Ontario wineries should aim for such a style; many of our whites are made just off-dry and I wish more were in a full-bodied but completely dry style.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:00 am

Paul B. wrote:I always preach that our Ontario wineries should aim for such a style; many of our whites are made just off-dry and I wish more were in a full-bodied but completely dry style.


You don't have the "terroir" for such things Paul. The Austrians (and some Germans) have those vertiginous slopes, and get the grapes much riper than anything I have ever tasted from Ontario. Most Ontario dry Rieslings taste rough and grassy, and that's from unripe fruit.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:21 am

David M. Bueker wrote:You don't have the "terroir" for such things Paul. The Austrians (and some Germans) have those vertiginous slopes, and get the grapes much riper than anything I have ever tasted from Ontario.

I'd qualify that to say that not enough work has been done, perhaps, to fully identify the best pockets of terroir that exist in the Peninsula. I think that we in North America are still beset by a mindset that balances ultimate potential quality of fruit against all other considerations: e.g. how economical will it be to work that vineyard (if it's placed against a steep, difficult slope, then spraying, machine harvesting, etc., won't be as cheap to do). I do understand that a business needs to be designed so that it brings in money, but if what actually results in better fruit is more difficult - more labour-intensive and hands-on practices, let's say - then the bullet should be bitten and such practices should be implemented. I have a feeling that the good vineyardists of Germany and Austria are perhaps more apt to sweat it out and do what needs to be done to get the best fruit out of the land. We need to learn from them.

That said, I still prefer dry to off-dry here ... Howie's '04 Riesling was from Ontario fruit and at .9% r.s., I loved it.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:23 am

I have a feeling that the good vineyardists of Germany and Austria are perhaps more apt to sweat it out and do what needs to be done to get the best fruit out of the land


The vineyards have also been planted much longer in Germany/Austria.

For an insight on how notions of economic returns affect planting, just look at all the "prime" spots in the Mosel than cannot get anyone to work on them.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:50 am

Rahsaan wrote:For an insight on how notions of economic returns affect planting, just look at all the "prime" spots in the Mosel than cannot get anyone to work on them.

Then I guess human nature really is universal ... :)

It does confirm my belief, though, that often times it's a balancing scale between economic objectives and the best quality fruit. It's hard to achieve both simultaneously, i.e. great fruit doesn't just happen on its own ... and if good fruit is achieved on a mass, mechanized scale, the other thing that gets compromised often times is soul. You just can't make those tiny, artisanal, terroir-specific wines using mass-market principles. And that's why I wish that in Ontario at least, the starting point weren't so much the business plan but the art of wine growing itself. Of course that's not to say that there aren't business-minded people who aren't into that.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:11 am

Paul B. wrote:Then I guess human nature really is universal ... :)


The need to eat is universal. People go broke trying to create an ideal rather than what the market will consume.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:19 am

Now that is pitifully true.

Cheers,

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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Otto » Mon Jun 26, 2006 4:50 pm

Paul B. wrote:Otto, I could have written that too. I absolutely agree with that characterization, having recently gone on an Austrian Riesling spree and enjoying the wines immensely. I do love a good floral/stoney Mosel Riesling, and I do appreciate the low alcohol of the German iterations ... but oh, how I love the electrifying dryness and crispness of the Austrian/Alsatian mode. These wines really speak to my vinous soul. I always preach that our Ontario wineries should aim for such a style; many of our whites are made just off-dry and I wish more were in a full-bodied but completely dry style.


Paul, I've usually preferred Rieslings off-dry. In fact, these Biffars were sort of the missing link between Austrian and the more northern German styles: it wasn't electrifyingly dry nor as powerful and austere as, say, Trimbach in Alsace. This was rather a very satisfying middle way. But if you can, do try Biffar. Though I might guess from you note, that you might prefer the likes of Bürklin-Wolf and Dr. Wehrheim would probably make the sort of über-powerful, forceful Rieslings that would send shivers of delight up your spine. They're the sort of wines I can appreciate intellectually but haven't developed a love for (yet?).

Edit: and I also meant to write that both of them are holding well overnight. That's what I love about Rieslings: they don't tire as fast as most other wines. When drinking Rieslings, I can always have several open at one time and I never have to be afraid that they will die on me! Most will last 3 days easily.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:01 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:über-powerful, forceful Rieslings that would send shivers of delight up your spine.

Oh definitely - that is my kind of winespeak. I think I would love them! Some r.s. to balance acidity is fine in austere German Riesilngs, but outside that context, the one thing I don't care for (especially here in Ontario) is piddling, non-descript whites that have no edges. Of course, Riesling isn't that kind of wine to begin with ... unless it's grown in an overly warm climate or is somehow mishandled. Thanks for the recommendation!
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Otto » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:09 pm

Paul B. wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:über-powerful, forceful Rieslings that would send shivers of delight up your spine.

Oh definitely - that is my kind of winespeak. I think I would love them! Some r.s. to balance acidity is fine in austere German Riesilngs, but outside that context, the one thing I don't care for (especially here in Ontario) is piddling, non-descript whites that have no edges. Of course, Riesling isn't that kind of wine to begin with ... unless it's grown in an overly warm climate or is somehow mishandled. Thanks for the recommendation!


Sugar water is never nice, I'll agree. But I'd really love to try some Rieslings grown over in your area to try for myself whether I'd prefer the dry or off-dry. I do like the fully dry Rieslings as well - I'll never turn down a Trimbach -, but as I'm in love with Germany, I find that the most balanced wines are off-dry. I've never yet tried an Eastern wine from the N. American continent. I wish we could get some here. Baco especially - I've been really intrigued by some notes on Baco I've seen.
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Re: WTN: 2 x Bloody Brilliant Biffar (Pfalz)

Postby Paul B. » Mon Jun 26, 2006 5:24 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:I wish we could get some here. Baco especially - I've been really intrigued by some notes on Baco I've seen.

Otto, Baco is a grape that really requires a skilled hand in the vineyard as much as in the cellar. The reason is that it inherited the high acidity of its wild Vitis riparia ancestors. Other hybrids also have riparia ancestry (Foch, De Chaunac, Chancellor) but their acid balance tends to be better in my opinion.

In my experience, the best Baco Noirs were the ones that received hands-on attention in the vineyard and then were aged in small casks - Hungarian and Slovenian oak, rare woods to use on Baco, seem to impart the nicest spicy overlays that play well with the grape's natural hickory-smoke/bacon-fat nose.

That said, Baco is also a really easy grape to get horribly wrong - I've had some that was so sour as to be unpleasant, even for this committed fan of hybrids.

I wish that Hernder's Baco was more commonly available. I think they do an even better job of it than does Henry of Pelham, which is the most famous producer in Ontario.
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