An Interesting Comparative Tasting 07-11-13

One of the areas I believe our industry does not spend enough time on is “what is good wine”.  And, to better understand this concept, we also need to spend some time showing tasters, I believe, truly masterful winemakers……what we refer to as game changers….& their wines.  These can then serve as benchmarks which other, subsequent wines can be compared to.   Andre Ostertag of Alsace, France, for instance, is truly one of the most brilliant minded winemakers in the universe.  I could easily say the same about Gunter Kunstler.  So, why not compare their wines (& from the fabulous 2009 vintage…mano a mano).  There will NOT be a winner…..that is not the intent  Both wines are just too good!  This hopefully will instead give tasters a base to work from as they explore the world of wine.  The other pair of wines (Pinot Noir based) features Michel Reverdy & his fabulous Sancerre Rouge…& an amazing Pinot from the iconic Coche Dury in Burgundy, France.  What a tasting…….pure, transparent. delicately nuanced wines of fabulous intensity, glorious breed/pedigree done with seamlessness, complete-ness, class. finesse & refinement. 

ABCD22009 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre ROUGE

A very fragile, gentle, highly refined, uber-ethereal, “one of kind” Pinot, which defines an appellation..

Hippolyte Reverdy’s family has been making wine in the charming village of Verdigny, a commune of Sancerre in the eastern Loire, for many generations—perhaps as far back as 1600. Shortly after, the passing of Hippolyte, his son, Michel, was left with his mother to bear the burden of loss and to assume the responsibility of running the farm alone. Today, Michel farms fourteen hectares of vineyards on his own. Chris Santini, our man in France, writes of Michel, “His dedication is total. He’s one of the few remaining vignerons in France who truly live like a paysan [peasant]. No vacation, no travel, ever. He’s happy just to stay on the farm, working seven days a week, and wanting nothing more and nothing less…[Michel] plans to keep working the land until he physically can’t get himself out to the vines any longer.”  Since Michel has taken the reins, Kermit says that Reverdy has since “become the benchmark domaine of our day.”  After tasting a Sancerre rouge from the domaine, Kermit asked Michel to craft one for him in the traditional demi-muids, (400 liters) and specified that he would like it unfiltered. Since then, his rouge is the talk of Sancerre, one of a kind”.

2009 Coche Dury Bourgogne ROUGE  ABCDEF

A wonderfully pure, elegant, graceful, lovely Pinot from one of Burgundy’s truly iconic superstars.

The enigmatic, modest, Jean-François has only recently & reluctantly accepted the celebrity status of his wines. When asked, he would be most likely say that it is rigor, constant vigilance, and adherence to old-school tradition that makes the wines so special. Jean-François’ heritage seems more closely linked to the studious, farmer-monks that once propagated this area of Burgundy during the Middle Ages, as his work style is almost hermetical. The Coches farm almost nine hectares of vineyards on minuscule parcels over six communes.. Though they are best known for their Chardonnay, they also bottle six exquisite Pinot Noirs. No clones of any kind are planted—an absolute rarity in Burgundy”.The Coche-Dury vineyards are tended like gardens, every vine immaculate, no pushing weeds, even the stony topsoil raked to perfection. The vines are vibrant, bursting with life and energy from their roots, buried deep in the soil. The Coches are the first out in the vines every day in Burgundy, and among the last home…These long hours pay off at the end of the year, because the reward is some of the most beautiful grapes in Burgundy, and that is the secret to their stunning success.

ABCDE  2009 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Grand Cru “Muenchberg”

a true majestic Alsatian thoroughbred from his flagship parcel in the Muenchberg Grand Cru vineyard

To call André Ostertag a revolutionary winemaker is to tell just half the story. He is a pioneer, certainly, but also an ardent environmentalist.  Since going biodynamic in 1997, has been an active member of the natural farming community. There is poetry to Ostertag’s practices. He looks for the nuance of terroir rather than the typicity of a grape varietal. He rejects formulaic, scientifically engineered wines.

As he so beautifully explains in Kermit Lynch’s Inspiring Thirst,

…true quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us. It is not locked inside a formula. Its essence is subtle (subjective) and never rational. It resides in the unique, the singular, but it is ultimately connected to something more universal. A great wine is one in which quality is contained. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other, and because of this fact it will be atypical, or only typical of itself.

2009 Kunstler Riesling DRY “Hochheimer Domdechaney”  ABCD

there is no doubt, Gunter Kunstler, is crafting some of the VERY best DRY wines out of Germany today.  Being from the Rheingau region, his Rieslings display such power, profound-ness & character.  When I was growing up in this industry, the Domdechaney vineyard was always revered as one of the truly iconic vineyards in Germany & this wine will show you why.  Cheryle & I (& my best friends, husband & wife Nunzio & Joanne) where there in the vineyard in 2009 with Gunter at harvest…..& were so impressed, we had to special order this wine from Gunter right then & there, before the miniscule amounts of this fabulous wine was gobbled up by the rest of the world.  Here is DRY German Riesling in all its glory—majestic, magnificent & glorious.

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