Thursday, May 5, 2011

The happiest I've ever been about a corked wine

At J. Betski’s in Raleigh.

1999 Freie Weingärtner Riesling Smaragd Achleiten
Deep golden/green color. The nose is still white pitted fruits and Achleiten stone. I can't think of another vineyard with this kind of stony signature. It really does smell like a glass full of rocks. I would have liked a bit more generosity on the palate, there was something that wasn't quite cohesive, keeping it from being excellent, but it was very good.

1999 Franz Hirtzberger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Honivogl
Man, what a bummer. This wine has been a monument to Gruner Veltliner and I thought for a minute it might just be some mustiness that would blow off. That was not to be as it got more and more chlorinated as it was open. The strange thing is, I've never been happier for a bottle to be corked as it forced us to order from the list, and what we ordered blew our minds.

1993 Louis Jadot Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots
The nose was full of beautiful fruit with spice and sous bois notes developing around the edges. After a couple of hours of being open, it began to shut down a little bit. I think that it has a little upward potential if the structure resolves a little. It's close now, but the tannin are still a bit hard on the back end. It has great lift and the nose is amazing. Very much the Vosne side of Nuits.

2001 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
I opened this mid-afternoon on Josh's advice. By the time we tasted it at around 7 it was beautiful. Full meaty nose with hints of minerals, leather and other sauvage animal notes with some black and red fruit skins underneath. Really well put together. Smooth but still structured and cut. The structure was there to help the wine get across its meaning, not to dominate or distract. Given what the air did for it, I think this has years of development ahead of it. It is a hard wine to rate in the circumstances because the food wasn't geared to this type of wine, it was opened with another restaurant in mind. Really impressive and a singular expression of Côte-Rôtie.

1979 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Auslese Sang
We purchased this off the list at J. Betski's because the Hirtzbereger was corked. Man, what a great piece of luck. The color was an ambient golden. The nose was still full of gooseberries and slate with only a hint of diesel or milkyness. On the palate, the acids really lit the wine up, giving the sensation that it was glowing in your mouth. It was driving itself into pleasure centers of the brain that rarely get tickled, sensual and intellectual all at once. It was the sort of experience that just stops you dead in your tracks and you just have to say "Damn". Easily the best white wine of 2011 and a steal even of the list. It was so good that we ordered another bottle to enjoy over conversation with the chef and the owner of the restaurant. Really shockingly good and I'd advise anyone who runs across a bottle to buy post haste!

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