Brett happens

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MWG November 24th tasting: Grand cru times two

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Alsace Riesling 2011, Grand cru Steingrübler, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($48, 12214161)
100% biodynamically farmed Riesling. Manually harvested. Sorted in the vineyard and at the cellar. Gently pressed. The must is allowed to settle for 12 hours before being racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Lightly filtered at bottling. Small amounts of sulphur dioxide are added at the first racking and at bottling. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Outgoing nose of quartz, white flowers, apple, lemon zest, a faint hint of mango but no petrol. Dry and acidic yet so rich and smooth. The ripe fruit comes with an herby saline undercurrent, a quartzy substructure and a long, so-dry-it’s-verging-on-astringent finish. While the estate considers the Steingrübler to be the earliest developing of its grand cru Rieslings and while this 2011 is enjoyable now, it will clearly benefit from a few more years in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes.)

Alsace Riesling 2009, Grand cru Hengst, Domaine Barmès Buecher ($48, 11010343)
100% Riesling from biodynamically farmed vines around 30 years old. Manually harvested. Sorted in the vineyard and at the cellar. Gently pressed. The must is allowed to settle for 12 hours before being racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months on the lees in neutral demi-muids. Lightly filtered at bottling. Small amounts of sulphur dioxide are added at the first racking and at bottling. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Browning yellow apple, mowed field, an array of minerals (chalk and flint along with the expected quartz), a petrol note and a hint of musk. In the mouth, it’s rich, even a bit honeyed. Riper than the Steingrübler’s, the fruit is aglow with smooth acidity and dusted with chalk. Breadth and length it has in spades but less depth and complexity than usual. Passing through a shut-down phase? The effect of a hot vintage? Hard to know without further research. For now at least, a mildly disappointing showing for this normally exceptional wine. Not that it was unsatisfying – quite the opposite in fact – just that it lacked some of the tension and brilliance that have made earlier vintages so memorable. The 2010 can now be found on the SAQ’s shelves. I look forward to tasting it. (Buy again? Maybe.)

(Flight: 2/5)

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Written by carswell

December 16, 2014 at 14:03

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