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onsdag 26 november 2014

A sad moment...the loss of a good friend

In the middle of all these passionate discussions on wine, and all good things in life, I can't help thinking about something else - the potential hazard that comes with our common passion.

A friend of mine recently died. At the age of 45. The sadness is difficult to grasp. He was a member on Robert Parker's bulletin board and posted regularly, though not lately, as his passion in life - wine - turned into a beast that finally killed him. He died an alcoholic. It wasn't just his passion for wine that killed him but rather a combination of factors that together created a negative spin on his life, where one thing lead to another and where what was once really just a beloved passion seemingly turned into the means to drown his personal sorrows with alcohol. Something that finally killed him. Unfortunately very unexpected. I thought of calling him this month just to see how he was doing. Now I'll never get that chance. Maybe not until we reunite in some better place one day and continue our passionate discussions on wine. Unfortunately, it so much resembles a great but sad movie, Leaving Las Vegas.

I would like to tell you about my friend. He wasn't rich. But he spent good money on some quite expensive wines because it was his true passion. And...he didn't drink them alone but invited me and other friends to share his passion. I remember him opening the 1998 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises just for the fun of it, because he was curious how it tasted and was eager to share the impression with his friends. Or when he opened the legendary 1990 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino, because Barolo made him happy and he wanted to surprise us. Or when he opened 1998-2000-2003 of Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Da Capo one evening, just for comparison. He was the kind of guy who, when he had some good wine, was happy to make them come to good use by sharing with his friends.

I think he enjoyed life most, from a vinous persspectve, when he had a glass of Burgundy in his glass (and yes, the few occasions I've been offered DRC at a dinner, it was at his home) or just a great German Riesling and the occasional Barolo.

His path in life reminds me that we, passione wine lovers are no doubt a risk category in that our passion can turn into a negative destructive force if we are left alone - especially with easy access to alcohol since most of us have a wine cellar. It strucks me that the line between a passion and a destructive behaviour can become very thin and fragile when you bump into great personal difficulties in life and start spiraling us downwards. And speaking of inreased levels of risk, I also feel that we, more than the average Joe, are exposed to another possible fatal finale of our lives from the fact that although most of us are responsible persons who spit at wine tastings when we happen to visit friends and travel by car, there are those moments when we take some shortcuts because the wines are simply too good to spit. Although we know we'll be driving home late at night in the dark.

I mention this not to point finger to anyone but to urge everyone to embrace our wonderful passion and live life to the fullest but at the same time I want to say:

Please, take care of yourself. And each other.

And don't forget to use wine to celebrate life and above all...share good wine with good friends.

Finally, here's one for you, my old friend. I have no idea if you even would have liked this song but still, I picked it out for you. Please, rest in peace and if I ever happen to come to heaven, don't finish all the good German riesling and Italian Barolo until I get there.

I miss you.


torsdag 20 november 2014

A...TRIBUTE...to Bruno. That's Bruno GIACOSA. It's the HELICOPTER all over again!

Always fun to occasionally look back down that windling Memory Lane. Joakim is holding a special celebration with us Barolo Boys of Stockholm today. As a preparation for the dinner and what will no doubt be a bad ass list of wine treasures from Piemonteland, I allowed myself some memories of past experience when he has rang the bell to announce it's time for Barolo Boys to gather.

I'm slowly recovering from last night's get-together at Chez Joakim. He had summoned us for a modest little meeting of our wine club called...BAROLO BOYS.

Every now and then the four members of Barolo Boys gather here in cold, dark Scandinavia to celebrate the little things in life and meanwhile conduct some serious Quality Control measures of certain bottles from the beautiful green and misty hills of Langa. In fact, once we even tried to invite Antonio Galloni for such a dinner while he was staying here in Stockholm but he had to do with the cooking of our celebrated chef Matthias Dahlgren at Matbaren instead. I believe he has published an account of that dinner on Hedonist Gazette. (Next time, Antonio!)

Joakim kindly asked us to turn up at his home yesterday evening and immediately greeted us with some seafood mix together with a Champagne looking like a rosé but after tasting it you realised the pink/red colour was an expression of the mature age. I must confess I didn't care much for it as it had an obvious oxidied note throughout the palate. Not oxidised in a faulty way as in a bad gone bad but more from the very mature stage of its development. I had no idea how old it could be but noticed there were still some nice dried fruit in it and others who enjoyed it more than I did liked the creamy texture mixed with the red fruit that seemed surprisingly lively for such an old Champagne. It turned out to be a 1928 Pommery. I believe I just broke my own record for tasting old Champagne by at least 50 years...

When mixed with some fresh juice form a bottle of a non-vintage Pommery Rosé the blend turned out more complex with more lively fruit yet with that distinguised dry fruit and creaminess in the background. I still preferred the young Champagne on its own as I have a hard time with anything oxidised (I have proclaimed my home to be a certified sherry-free zone) but for those who are not as sensitive would be very surprised as to how fresh the 1928 Pommery tasted.

With this encore Joakim kindly asked us to take a place at the dinner table to sample two white wines while he got busy in the kitchen. Although I enjoyed drinking the two whites present in the glasses I couldn't help wondering what Joakim was up to in the kitchen so I brought my camera for some documentation. He was busy allright. Could it be that we have a Swedish version of Mario Batali in our little Barolo Boys wine club? Minus the red hair.

Joakim's first pose in the kitchen looked a little like this:

Ahhh...scallops. Obviously we were up to good start here.

Wonderful...! Then we need a good presentation and Joakim Batali never disappoints. He went on to carefully place the scallops on various beds of tasty yum-yum. Joakim, help me here..what did you use?

And the final output loooked something like this:

I told you so... How could you possibly go wrong with a Barolo Boys meeting at Chez Joakim?

With the scallops beautifully presented on the plate we continued to enjoy the two white wines. The first wine leaned toward the same tendency as the Champagne, with a more pronounced maturity but nowhere near the likes of the Pommery. Here you had a nutty feeling with ripe yellow apples mixed with dried fruits and dried...wood. Yes, like cedar. Difficult to explain. The creamy texture together with the hints of dried apricot and peach and some vanilla and almonds created a very pleasant setting together with the food. Yet...this wine too had a hint, and really just a slight hint of oxidation in the background making it - to my palate - a wine I would call good but not great, giving it 88 points. Those who like the nutty tast and are really into more maturity in wines would probably rate it slightly higher.

The second wine was a completely different creature. Much more vibrant och fresh this was clearly a younger wine. On the nose you had pleasant yellow fruits and immediately on the palate that impression was confirmed with a nice touch of fresh lime peel, a very "yellowly" polished vibrant acidity, yellow, ripe apples, roasted oak and a very nice balance. What impressed the most was the combination of lightness together with the richness of the fruit. I rated it 93-94 points and had no problems at all flushing down the scallops with these two wines. Guessing Chardonnay on both I was right but I had no clue about vintage or producer.

The wines in question were the (first) 1998 Louis Latour Bâtard-Montrachet and (second) 1996 Verget Bâtard-Montrachet.

Then it was time for the reds...

Need to take a moment of contemplation here. The wines were so outrageously delicious. Difficult to describe. Words...are so inadequate sometimes.

Satisfied by our initial smiles, Joakim quickly returned to the kitchen and put some butter in the pan, melted it and added big leaves of sage to accompany the gnocci.

And of course...he felt that we simply couldn't sit there completely dried out at the table so while enjoying his superb cooking during the evening every now and then he pulled some corks and served us an assortment of red wines. All blind, all without having a clue what it could be. Here is my impression of this modest little lineup.

To the gnocci with sage:

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Villero
Ahhh...beautiful, was my first impression. So wonderfully silky and balanced from the first sip. Beautiful darkish red fruit with some Asian spices, mushrooms, wild strawberries and licorice. Sweet, silky tannins adds to a wonderfull overall balance. Just perfect harmony and ripeness. Long finish that just melts away in your mouth. I wish all my wines would taste like this... But then it hit me. Nervously I looked around at my friends around the table. Did they see the same thing as I did? Or was I just hallucinating? I turned to Joakim and asked: "Where's your girlfriend?" Upstairs, he replied. Why? Oh, nothing special I said, and slowly pulled away my hand from where it was and placed them on the table again, hoping that no one had noticed... 95 points.

1982 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche Falletto
Very similar to the Villero but...even more mushrooms on the nose and palate, black truffles and black porcini, deeper red fruit of cherries and wild strawberries, tannins not as silky but with more punch and a little more coarse. Long, persistent finish. With a more rustic feeling but with the rich fruit still retained, this baby needs some more time... 93+ points.

To the risotto with sweetbread and bacon:

1971 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda
Ahhhh! Has anyone met Egon Müller from the Saar? This is how this wine tastes. Aristocratic from the first sip. Initially restrained but when you get to know it it opens up and blossoms. This one vibrates, rumbles, like a V8 engine waiting for you to hit the gas pedal. Thick, jammy red fruit of wild strawberries, cherry and raspberries yet so ripe and astonishingly mature and balanced. Wonderful sweet tannins and ahh, the fruit! So deep, so layered and with all those assorted extras...tobacco, some gunpowder, cacao, some milk chocolate. So silky and so elegant. It has this noble expression from a noble winemaker. Serenity. Yet brutal power. Endless finish... Mama, I don't wanna go home!! I couldn't take it anymore so I stared at the others and asked, aren't we among friends? Yes, they said. And aren't we all men? Yes, they said. So what if I...NO!!!, they shouted. 97-98 points.

1982 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda Red Label Riserva
Well, THAT sure was a beginning I thought, pondering on the outrageous start of the evening when I dipped my nose into the next wine. Holy macaroni! Roses... Red roses but not just one beautiful specimen. Thousands of them! Layer upon layer. Run for that sack there in the corner. What is it? Dried porcini? Okay, pour the whole sack into the wine. Wonderful perfume and taste of sweet tobacco, so sweet and silky tannins you feel like crying from pure joy, black mushrooms/truffles, tea leaves, licorice. So delicious, so beautiful, so ethereal, such a mindboggling class of a wine it seems to hover above the glass begging you to take another sip. Words are simply not enough to describe this extraordinary wine...you need to be there and taste it yourself. This is at its peak right now and I only wish more producers out there on this lonely planet could study and learn from this example. E v e r y t h i n g Burgundy ever wanted to be but....failed. I just couldn't take it anymore! Full rotor swing, we have a LIFT-OFF! It took me endless energy to break out of orbit just to be able to continue the wonderful tasting. A celebration of life and a tribute to the great Bruno Giacosa! 98-99 points.

It's funny. Scoring is such a crude instrument. When looking at the nose I and the given score I notice I obviosly rated the younger wine higher but to be honest, that's just a snapshot from a series of impressions. During the evening I was at times leaning more towards the 1971 and then back again, so please regard my final scores as a mere indication of the level of quality and the utter joy & happiness these wines offered during this magical evening.

1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda Red Label Riserva
This one very much mimiced the 1982 vintage but with some differences. Equally enjoyable this had a higher "pitch" in its acidity, making it seemingly fresher but also combined with tannins that fel a little more pronounced (yet utterly silky nevertheless). It's absurd saying that about an almost 20-year-old wine but it needs some more time before it will reach its peak and full maturity. Deep-deep layered with lots of delicious licorice and coffee together with brute force and richness in an endless finish. 96+ points.

Intermission, just for the fun of it...

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Red Label Riserva
Knowing us to be like sponges, Joakim felt that he didn't want to risk us becoming completely dried-out while he was laying the finish on the food so he served us a little intermission. Damn this is good! Decadent. Concentrated. Masses of rich compote of wild strawberries and then your usual suspects kicks in as second gear. Licorice, lots of it, succulent, delicious red roses, silky, sweet tannins perfectly integrated with the fruit, wonderful dried porcini and so smooth, so delicious, so embarrasingly yummy. 96-97+ points. This must be difficult for our host. Here we are sitting in our Barolo Boys t-shirts very well aware of our host's affininty to Barolo and yet this Barbaresco is as ethereal and breathtaking as Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings.

1982 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Red Label Riserva
And just when you thought you've heard it all...knock-knock on the door and here enters the 1982 version of the same wine. My God!! So captivating from the very first sip! Deeper layered, deeper red fruit, even MORE integrated with all components in utter harmony, rumbling and kind of whispering it has even more to give deep down there at the core but it's just teasing you with the more shallow layers at this moment in time. Asolutely sensational. And there's more. Chocolate, licorice, did I say rumbling fruit beneath that layer upon layer of deep, red fruit? Superb length and absolutely dead-gorgeous. It has such a profound personality; you could literaaly hear Bruno Giacosa whispering through the silky curtains. It's difficult not to get emotional by such a great wine. And even difficult to drink it as it changes, evolves and shows you different layers each time you come back with your big nose above the glass. So noble, so Giacosa, so delicate and elegant yet so powerful. Houston, we have a lift-off! 98-99 points. Or what the heck, even 100 points at times. It's not a matter of the wine anymore. It's more about who sitting in your lap and although Joakim is a fine specimen of a human being but I'd prefer this on my lap to give the wine a perfect three digit score.

To the the oxtail with macaroni and cheese:

1985 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Red Label Riserva
First impression...you actually need to chew this wine. Succulent, red candy and licorice. Damn it's decadent! This is a wine that should be R-rated and forbidden to ever pass under the nose of children. So sexy, so flirty and so astoningshly rich in it's yet so silky texture. Pieces of red roses and actually real chunks of red candy. Mutidimensional and outrageosuly hedonistic. I never thought that silky, gracefull Giacosa could have this power and grip. 96 points.

1990 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Red Label Riserva
Ahhhhhh! Where's my zipper! It needs to go...DOWNTOWN!! At this point I wasn't even looking at the other, wasn't going to ask, didn't want to hear their feedback, their concern or their worries. This is a down-with-the-zipper-and-out-comes-the-full-rotor-swing-of-a-wine. Helicopter is moving and Houston, guess what... We have a LIFT-OFF! The complexity in this wine...the violet pastille, you know that candy you had as a child, like a flying saucer with theat violet powder within it, the way it melted in your mouth, ahhh. Juicy, succulent compote of...well, believe it or not, the fruit is so rich we might even have left the jammy wild strawberries and entered into the blueberry spectrum here. Of course, I'm not talking about a rich, black Rhone Syrah-kind of blueberry here but at least you get my point that it's a beautiful expression of the warmer, richer and denser fruit of the more oppulent 1990 vintage. Yet...it feels so damn...YOUNG! Total purity, delicate & powerful at the same time and absolutely stunning. And with those spices added, the minerals and alltogether wrapped together in this elegant package. Because, despite all the power it's such a feeling of balanced elegance. How could that be? So delicious it's almost hypnotising... 98? 99? 100 points? Choose whatever, this is a brilliant wine!

1996 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto Red Label Riserva
What a surprise...I had this just a few weeks ago at my birthday party and I rated it the same as above. It was pitch black, oozing with dark, alsmos black fruit and black truffles and seemed very jammy, silky with deep dark-red fruit and yet so utterly cool fruit and so mindboggling balanced you just wanted to kiss your neighbour. However...this one was a completely different creature. It had an intriguing nose of almost Sauvignon blanc initially and the freshness of the wine was further accentuated by the deep, deep, almost dark nose of concentrated red fruit. This one felt much younger than at my place and had a more meaty character with far more pronounced tannins with the fruit rumbling like that recognizable V8-engine deep down below. Pardon? What's THAT? That's my hand on the zipper, my friend... This is a puppy and needs more time yet it hints on what's to come further down the road. 97+ points.

Looking back at this Barolo Boys meeting I feel speechless. To me, it was the Mother of All Wine Tastings I have ever attended. Sure, I've had other tastings with equally good wines but this...the atmosphere, the good food, the good laughs and the wonderful spread of so many different wines from one single producer, it was so... Well, I think Bruno Giacosa would be proud. And happy about how the wines were enjoyed. In the company of good friends, food and lots of laughter. Just as Bruno intended. And you know what, Bruno. Through your wines you are...this. And this is how you will stay.

Yours truly together with some amazing wines...

So all in all, the evening was truly a tribute to Bruno Giacosa but also a tribute to Joakim's generosity... Thanks. To both of you.


söndag 16 november 2014

Comparative studies for scientific purposes are of the essence...

I just couldn't resist...

After opening the two 2010s above I looked through my cellar thinking I had only the Hubacker GG from 2010 but lo and behold, I fished up a Kirchspiel GG as well, both from the same vintage so I thought...why not?

2010 Keller Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Grosses Gewächs

No! I say no... No, as in I no, I don't like this Kirchspiel from colder years as much as I like them from warmer, rounder vintages like 2005, 2007 and 2009. However, if you'll ask the winemaker he will say Yes! Probably preferring wines from the leaner years more, because he likes the astonishingly elegant finesse Kirchspiel can display from these vintages, like 2008, 2010 and 2013. But to me... (hey, I'm the boss of my own tasting notes, mind you!) the very essence of Kirchspiel is - yes - the finesse Klaus-Peter Keller is looking for but also combined with the yummy spicy characters derived from the yellow lime stone rock beneath this beautiful vineyard outside the tiny village of Westhofen. This is lean, offering citrus flavours and chalky, almost like chalk dust. And with considerable acidity coupled with a refreshing mineralic salinity. Very crisp and crystalline, the salty minerality really cleanse your palate with a beautiful vivid tension throughout the tasting experience. A very enjoyable wine in my book but it still feels somewhat lean and tight right now and not up there among the greatest Kirchspiel GGs as I prefer the more opulent vintages. 92 points.

2010 Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Oh yes... Right from the start, this is a completely different creature. Taste it side by side and you immediately feel that this offers much more stuffing. You stand erect as the wine feels; offering a very aristocratic and firm combination of powerful, dense minerality deep down to the very core of the wine. Truly the essence of a "crushed rock" feeling. Bone dry core of minerality is mixed with waves of peach, lime, nectarine, mint and...well, best described as ultra-fresh, sparkling apple soda. Utterly crisp and powerful on the palate with a beautiful oscillating tension in texture and finish. I think the most impressive character in this lovely wine is the electric feeling of vibrant minerality and laser-like focus towards the finish. Totally transparent and delightfully boyant and elastic yet so damn noble and powerful. Very impressive. I could drink this succulent juice all night long... To me, probably the best vintage of Hubacker GG so far. Bravo! 95+ points.

It's fun (!) to compare notes of different wines from the same producer and vintage, like I have done here with four 2010 GGs from Keller.

But it also struck me it's fun to compare one's own impressions of the same wines over the years, to see if my perception has changed. I was curious if I somewhere had saved any notes from my first impressions of any of these wines, when they were still babies, and yes, I found these comments from three and a half years ago, when they weren't even yet in the bottle:

"I must be the only person in the world (it feels like sometimes) who always favor Kirchspiel Riesling GG above the Hubacker Riesling GG. I love the luscious, spicy Kirchspiel compared to the more aristocratic, firm and stony Hubacker. This time...not. Something has happened with Hubacker GG. The best I have ever tasted from this estate, possibly better than the grand 2009. Can't explain it. It seems to retain its usual aristocratic and very firm appearance yet the high extract has infused the package with something else. More body, more structure, more of everything yet still keeping what Klaus-Peter does best - producing wines with brutal raw power coupled with utterly delicate lighhtness. The Hubacker is almost weightless yet powerful like a bull. Oh...should I really mention the other GGs? As good as ever. I can't really say if they are better or more powerful than the previous vintages. It makes no point squabbling about wines I rate above 95 year in and out. On the Kirschspiel vs Hubacker...it reminds me about WHY this passion is such a fascinating experience, especiellay when we gather with fellow wine lovers, share a bottle and compare notes. We all drink from the same bottle yet our experiences can differ considerably. To me, the Hubacker has always been tight, firm, very mineralic and very aristocratic at those initial early spring tastings. While the Kirschheck posseses, in my opinion, a more luscious texture, sometimes lighter, sometimes even richer than the Hubacker, with a pronounced spiciness, almost red in taste and colour. The more spice I find in this mineralic bowl of wine, the better I tend to rate it. The same goes for lushness. In 2010 I found the Kirschspiel to be excellent, as always, but a little lighter in stuyle and not as spicy I'm used to. The Hubacker however, fired on all cylinders and literally erupted in a mineral shower together with that unmistaken Keller "weightlessness", making the fruit so utterly integrated into the mineralic components and that almost polished acidity. Great terroir, great winemaking, great wines - no matter how you look at it."

2010 Keller Abtserde Riesling Grosses Gewächs
(or AbtsE as he calls it – I don’t know if it’s technically/legally a GG according to the German Wine Law but I call it that anyway)
Too early to give it a final score at least my initial impressions might be worth considering. I tasted this wine together with John Gilman and we both seemed to savour it in silence, initially having not much to add except the sighs. "Ohhh & Ahhhs" were exchanged. What strikes me as so often with this wine is the nervousness, the oscillating energy that sets this vineyard apart from its peers. Like a pin-ball, it bounces around in your mouth while singing that soothing lullaby telling you that everything's gonna be alright. Lovely cornucopia of yellow-green apples/yellow peach and some pear mixed with white flowers, grapefruit and a laser-like limestone minerality focusing like a beam of light while it penetrates the palate. Oh do I LOVE this type of weightless nectar of the Gods! 97-100 points.

So those impressions (above) are now 3½ years old. It was fun to revisit these impressions and compare them to how much I enjoyed the wines today. And looking back in the mirror, it seems as if the impressions were similar already then, that I found the Kirchspiel leaner than I usually prefer and thus didn't favour it as much as more opulent vintages, when the spicy character is more pronounced (to my palate, mind you). In addition, the Hubacker today fared similarly to the initial impression - with the observation that I seem to like this vintage (2010) even better than warmer vintages - in other words, the opposite of the Kirchspiel.

Life should be more like this. Tasting wines side by side, comparing older notes, reflecting, having more wines... Unfortunately, the reality is that more and more people seem to discover the same treasures and making these wines increasingly difficult to find. That's fine by me, as long as these treasures end up on the tables of true passionate wine lovers who buy them to drink and share with good friends - not using them as part of an "investment portfolio". And let's hope that the Asian market will not discover them more than is already the case! :-)


söndag 2 november 2014

Two Germans and a Frenchman went on a trip...

...down my throat. To offer, in the name of science, some data points on their current developmental stage. Good for them. But before the Jury results from my sensory receptors, some Swedish music.

Having said that, here are the results from the Swedish Jury.

2005 Chateau L'Arrosée
The first thing that comes to my mind is...lightness. And a distinct purity. This is a very elegant, soft-spoken red that doesn't shout out its inner qualities but merely whispers them to its audience. I would have thought it would provide more punch but it's almost a Burgundian style of Bordeaux. The sentiment probably comes from the delicate balance in the wine because behind that seductive, polished appearance you notice layers of sweet fruit of both black and red berries that coats your palate and makes you go back for more. Lovely texture. The tannins provide enough structure but more than that, this wine bids you farewell with a round, soothing feeling of...balance. Very drinkable now. Very enjoyable. 92 points.

2010 Keller Pettenthal Riesling Grosses Gewächs
I hesitated opening this wine. For two reasons. First, my experience with the dry wines from Pettenthal by Weingut Keller is that they have always felt quite closed from the beginning. The Hipping Riesling GG is usually open for business from day one, even sometimes jumping out of the bottle grabbing you by the...well, you probably get the picture. But Pettenthal, oh no, it's more the kind of the shy, modest sibling that might have even greater potential in the long run but seldom flashes with the crown jewels from the very start. I have the same experience from the sweeter Rieslings from these adjacent Nierstein vineyards. While the Hipping Kabinett or Spätlese jump out of the glass straight into your arms, dressed to tease and charm your pants off and having every one at the table exclaiming that this is the wine of the evening, corresponding wines from Pettenthal seldom make a big fuss initially but as the night progresses so does their development in the glass and when it's time to wrap up the dinner, the guests usually point to that bottle of Pettental and crown it King. However, in my opinion, the slow start is even more pronounced in the dry Riesling GG from Pettenthal. In a hurried tasting where you would taste the wines quickly and only allocate a short time of attention to each wines, this would even risk disappearing when compared to wines delivering more instant gratification from the very first sip. Threfore, to me, this has always been the wine not to gulp down with food but rather just open by itself and drink it as is, to allow myself being immersed by its beautiful purity. Second, in my opinion, 2010 is a brilliant vintage for many German Rieslings and I believe they will age particularly well so I had my doubts opening a bottle possibly "too soon". There was only one way to find out, so I asked the person who has the strongest connection to this particular wine, and who would thus be in the best position to offer good advice, the winemaker himself. "KILL IT!!", was his laconic answer. So what to do? There wasn't much to discuss.

And...the wine surprised me. Already on the nose you can feel the aromas slowly evaporating from the glass to hit your sensory glands with a splash. First of all, smoke. That flinty version when you smash pieces of slate until they crush and form that delicate smoky powder as a by-product. And then a lovely bouquet of spring flowers, a complete array of citrus fruits and a intriguing spicy aroma that I find difficult to describe. Peeled nutmeg? Mind you, not the one bought at the supermarket but picked up freshly straight from the rainforest floor. Or might this be a fancier expression of simply "Asian spices"? While impressive on the nose, it's the palate that really offers the true fireworks. First this sensation of tangeringe. Yes, really tangerine. And filtered red peach so as to extract the sensation of red colour together with some of the flavors without influencing the flavour profile too much. Oh, and in addition, those sensational flavours mixed with that delicate nutmeg spice, which combined creates an almost hypnotic tunnel vision as you stare bewildered at your glass, craving for a second sip before even bothering analysing the first one. And then the texture. Absolutely transparant purity. It's so delicate and feather-like weightless, despite its sheer power of vibrant flavours, that I found myself shaking my head in disbelief while staring at the glass. How can such graceful lightness possess so much power? Impressive fireworks here, in particular with that continuous sense of a moist, ultra-thin coating of white peach wrapping the laser-cut core of crushed stones. Truly impressive, especially the combination of deep, complex layers in the texture that seem to stir the wine to alternate its exposure of delicate fruit, spice and mineralic energy every time you sink your teeth into this beauty. Simply stunning. 96+ points.

2010 Keller Abtserde Riesling Grosses Gewächs
I teach mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology at my school and one thing I constantly tell my students is the importance of comparative empiric experiments. It seems rather pointless to urge others to compare if you don't act yourself as a good example to follow. And on that note, I grabbed a bottle of the Abtserde GG to compare two wines from the same grape, vintage and producer. I was very eager, above all, to see if really could be that the signature characteristic of Abtserde would show yet again. That sense of vibrating nervous oscillation that seems to be encoded in this vineyard like a stamped-in signature, making it - often - the most easy to identify in a Keller tasting. And sure enough, it really, truly IS the first thing you notice with this wine. Don't take my word for it - try it out yourself and report back to this forum. It literally vibrates of high-pitched, nervous energy as it hits the receptors on your tongue with a ticklish sensation. Like a newly opened champagne where the fresh bubbles cleanse your palate with a splashing wave of sparkling freshness. Really dancing like a ballerina along the journey down your throat. More than anything, in fact even more than the impressions of aromas or flavours, it's this electric tension of oscillating energy that always comes out as the most impressive character from Abtserde. To say it's one of my favourite vineyards in the world would be a gross understatement... But, I must say, on the opening it acted more what I expected from the Pettenthal GG above, more shy and restrained in its aromatic profile straight from the glass while retaining it's pronounced sappy vibrancy. Delicate lime flavours are mixed with more mouthwatering nectarine notes together with dusty sprinkles of limestone chalk. Extremely light and delicate, almost to the brink of pure weightlessness. It's as if the wine is not really there, yet it is, or more like you feel the energy from it without pinpointing its location. If I would ever offer a wine to Edward Witten, it would be this one and I'm sure it would lead to some new Eureka moments to the theory of supersymmetry and vibrating strings. How to rate a wine with this brilliant grip and energy? I had it in the mid-nineties and it would stay there had I not saved half the content in the bottle in the fridge, only to have another go at it the next evening. My immediate thought on the first sip was to look down into the glass, then head for the fridge to look what I had been pouring. Was it the Absterde or did I mistakenly simply grab another bottle? Nope, it's the very same bottle but something had clearly happened to this wine overnight. The oscillating, nervous vibrancy was there just as last night but now with an even increased amount of energy and movement. Not much unlike a vibrating string proposed in the M Theory. Then, the really new costume, what was prior a rather shy, delicate cornucopia of aromas and flavours, has now turned into an utterly refined and smooth coating of blood orange peel sprayed with even more spices and above all mineral dust to create a golden feeling of silky smudge of almost tropical flavours throughout the palate. It's as if the wine turned full-bodied with high extract while retaining a featherlike weighlessness. Or if you will, as if gravity has no pull on the wine since there's no mass, just a beam of laserlike photons on the finish. This creates an elastic tension to the wine's texture that's simply mindboggling. And before you know it, the bottle is finished. Like the Cookie Monster you find yourself looking around for more. What an utterly stunning wine. 98 points. While I would like to taste all those super expensive white wine icons out there, like Montrachet, I can't but help thinking I'm drinking some of the best white wine on earth for the price of admission that must be only a fraction compared to other superstars of this stratospheric level of quality.

And finally...just the conclude the same way I started this post, some absolutely stunning Swedish music (1). And yes, a chair, a stage, no studio or electronics. Just as pure as Keller's wines. And just as a bonus, another even more scaled-down, version (2) and a finally, another melody, just to wrap it all up (3). I wish I would have a fraction of that talent...

Thanks for listening.

PS. By the way, on the label you won't see Abtserde but Abts E. Because the name Abtserde is not allowed. The first action point to repeal as soon as I become world president. Should you happen to be interested in the history of the wine's name and origin, you can find it here.