[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Europe Wine Diary 1998

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.


Munich

Saturday, May 16, 1998

Dinner at Florian's
Around the table from left: Florian, Mary, Patricia, José María and Lisa.

Lunch at Florian's

Back in Munich for a quick stop between Austria and Spain, we enjoyed a long, luxurious lunch and afternoon of wine-tasting at the lovely suburban apartment of Florian Miquel Hermann and his wife Lisa; also joining us were José-María de Lema and his wife, Patricia. On this occasion I left the note-taking to Florian. Here's his excellent report:

Florian Miquel Hermann:

Just a few hours after our return from the Maldives we had the honor to welcome Robin and Mary for a little lunch offline. Both seemed very happy and overwhelmed by what they had experienced since their arrival in Europe, but obviously they were a little bit tired from driving so many hours. That´s why they finally decided to fly to Spain on Sunday instead of leaving just after the offline by car. A good decision!

This small offline consisted of 6 people, Robin and Mary, José-Maria and his wife Patricia, and finally Lisa and me. Patricia had prepared some wonderful tapas and Lisa served us great Pasta with green asparagus in a creamy cheese sauce. Thank you girls for not letting us die of hunger!

We started with a wine José-Maria had brought, the 1996 Albariño Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas, Gerardo Méndez Lázaro. Made of old vines Albariño, this wine revealed a medium concentrated, perfumed nose of peaches and mint, followed by a full-bodied palate of medium acidity, good concentration and a medium long finish. While not as concentrated as the Lusco do Miño I reported some time ago, it is a very well made Albariño that should be consumed over the near term.

Next we had a pair of 1991 White Burgundies, the 1991 Meursault Charmes, Comte Lafon and the 1991 Meursault Perrières, Coche-Dury. 1991 was a so-so vintage for White Burgundy, but these two wines have the reputation to be well above the average quality of the vintage. Unfortunately, the Lafon continued my recent series of disappointing experiences with this producer. 2 years ago this wine showed very well, exhibiting all those nuts and chestnuts aromas in spades that are so often attached to the village of Meursault. But not so in this tasting. The nose was completely dominated by new oak and lactic aromas and also the palate appeared monolithic and extremely oaky. Is this wine going through a dumb phase or has the oak finally killed the fruit? Time will tell. Fortunately the Coche was a real revelation. It exhibited a mind-boggling nose of iodine, hazelnuts, roasted almonds, toast and liquid minerals. On the palate it had very good acidity for a 1991 (obviously due to its strong mineral character), showing a full-bodied, concentrated, creamy character and finishing with a long lingering aftertaste. This doesn't reach the quality and precision of Coche's 1990 and 1992 bottlings but it is nevertheless an outstanding success. Drink now-2003+. Changing to the reds, we compared two promising barrel samples from Ribera del Duero (OK, Abadia Retuerta is not inside the DO), the 1996 Alion and the 1996 Petit Verdot, Abadia Retuerta. The Alion confirmed its strong showing of previous samples and will be IMHO the best wine this relatively young venture has produced yet. It possesses all the virtues of the 1994, but is better balanced as well as showing riper, smoother tannins. It is immensely concentrated yet manages to stay elegant and equilibrated. Bravo! Drink 2002-2010 (to be relased in 2000). Completely different in style yet equally compelling is the Petit Verdot of Abadia Retuerta. This wine will never be sold on the market and such is of more academic interest, but it makes part of the regular Abadia Retuerta bottling and it's interesting to see how it behaves on its own. Your nose is immediately torpedoed by an incredibly concentrated bouquet of crushed cranberries that must be smelled to be believed. The palate though shows why this variety is seldom bottled on her own and mostly used for blending. It reveals high acidity, medium tannins, full concentration and body and along aftertaste. If this was bottled on its own it would for sure merit a rating in the low 90's. Just out of curiosity I made a experimental blend of 2/3 Alion and 1/3 Petit Verdot (Mariano please forgive me). The result was astonishing. It seemed to me that the Petit Verdot was able to add further interest and character to the already superb Alion. BTW the Alion contains some 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Bodega won't confirm that.

We finished with two 1994 Prioratos, the 1994 Clos de L'Obac and the 1994 Finca Dofi. Both wines contain between 60 and 70% Garnacha, the balance being differing quantities of varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cariñena and Syrah. The Clos de L'Obac, the finest offering in Carlos Pastranas portfolio, always tends to be more syrupy and overripe than Alvaro Palacios offerings. His 1994, which I liked on release has developed into an unbalanced and overdone wine. Showing a hyperripe, sweet nose of licorice, cassis, clove and coffee, the palate is off-dry, with strong acidity and tannins, full body and concentration and a long finish. This could be an outstanding wine if it wouldn't show a nearly chemical aspect (something between parafin and tar) that really disturbed me. I must admit that I haven't noticed this on previous tastings, but it was there and I wonder whether Pastrana may have problems with his barrels. Victor has noticed this problem earlier, but for me it was the first time I encountered it. In perfect shape, the Finca Dofi impressively showed what a great Priorato from an outstanding vintage should be like. It exhibits an wonderful, concentrated nose of minerals, cassis, vanilla, clove, pepper, butter and leather, followed by strong balancing acidity, medium-strong, ripe tannins, full concentration and body and a long, balanced finish. Not fully mature yet, this wine should be at its best from 2000-2010. An outstanding effort.

That's all for now.

Friday, May 15, 1998

Dinner with Heinz

Heinz Bobek

Heinz Bobek presides over his home-built schnapps bar.

Not long after we arrived in Munich after a beautiful drive over from Vienna through Salzburg, skirting the foothills of the Alps, our friend Heinz Bobek from the CompuServe Wine Forum picked us up at our hotel and drove us out to his suburban home for an excellent dinner (that he prepared) with his wife, daughter and her boyfriend. It was a pleasantly social evening with a number of excellent wines including a delicious, dry and piquant Sekt rosé, a fine German Riesling and a D'Arenberg Old Vines Syrah from Australia, as well as a couple of aromatic if searing tastes of Schnapps (yellow plum and pear) to finish up. I regret that I've apparently lost my detailed notes, but we're indebted to Heinz and his family for a very pleasant and relaxing evening.

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