This month, dear reader, I have stumbled (no, flitted) my way onto Jeff Vierra’s German wine page in order to talk about one of my favorite, and in my opinion, most beautiful wines in the world: riesling! Now don’t get me wrong, I do love wines from my old stomping ground of, say, Corbieres, Cornas and Cahors. On the palate these hearty reds can be full of black fruit, beef blood and exhibit a magnificent sinewy texture. But could I, would I, drink these wines all the time? Hell no! Enjoying wine, as with Life, is all about finding balance, and along with the brawn, I absolutely must have beauty to make my wine drinking life meaningful. The 2004 Schmitt-Wagner Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Kabinett ($19.99) is a riesling that puts a smile on my face and a kick in my step. I’ve even been known to start dancing with myself after a glass or two. This ’04 Mosel is so pure and clean, that drinking it makes me feel like a kid again. Young, alive and VIBRANT!! And would you believe that this snappy, zippy, bright, lithe gem of a wine hails from 107-year-old un-grafted vines grown on pure Blue Devonian Slate? Despite all of its green apple and nectarine charm, this assuming kabinett has the structure to last 15 plus years. Have you fallen in love yet? There is a Chinese proverb concerning beauty that encourages the following: When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. Well folks, riesling is my lily, and my world is certainly more rich and beautiful for drinking it. —Mulan Chan
Let us concentrate on a winery that concentrates on red wine, and red wine only. Yes, we will need some concentration from you also! In the Mittelburgenland region of Austria you will find the village of Horitschon and within this village you will find Rotweingut Iby (Red winery Iby). Yes, this wine house grows and produces only red wines of the highest quality possible. There is no outside sourcing of fruit and the vineyard and cellar practices are extremely rigorous. At Iby the goal is a simple one: to produce wines that rich, full and harmonious. Since the beginning of the 20th century Iby has been naturally cultivating vines on there 20 hectares of vineyards. They make multiple passes during the growing season in order to thin and concentrate the yields that will eventually be harvested completely by hand. Depending on the varietal, some will be aged in oak some will not. The following two are un-oaked wines that are great examples. 2000 Iby Blaufränkisch Hochäcker ($14.99) A clean, full bodied wine with ripe tannin and a soft, juicy acidity. The dark ruby color will lead you into a world of fully ripened cherries and dark berries and then linger on your palate teasing you palate into wanting more. I'm sure Jim Barr would be willing to give this nine doggies!!! 2003 Iby Zweigelt Classic ($11.99) If you are wanting something that has a bit more weight and concentration, this could be right up your alley. Some even say this could be the Austrian equivalent to a spicy Cotes du Rhone. A perfect springtime BBQ wine, I think Jim would give this one eight kitty faces!!! —Eric Story
The Spanish dish that I most closely associate with wine is paella. When we recently tried the 2004 Bodegas Mustiguillo Mestizaje ($13.99), I immediately imagined myself in the countryside enjoying this wine while waiting for and then eating paella. Fifty percent of this wine is bobal, a grape that Bodega Mustiguillo seems to single-handedly put into the category of fine wine grapes (The remaining proportion is cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and grenache). Dark cherries, and a lot of them, on the nose and the palate. Spiced and accentuated with oak, flowers and minerals. Medium bodied, supple and elegant, it has soft tannins and a fresh long finish. Also try it alongside roast chicken, pork, veal or simply jamon y quesa. The next two wines’ structure and size makes them cry out for meat! Roasted, broiled, braised and grilled. The 2001 Cillar de Silos, Ribera del Duero Crianza ($24.99) has a delicious Graves-like note of minerality to it. This is not a shy wine, with plenty of ripe, dark fruits and toasty oak on the nose. On the palate it is big, with concentrated red and dark fruits, chewy tannins, spicy oak and a considerable finish. Drink tonight with about an hour of decanting or cellar for a few more years. The 2001 Bodegas Balbas, Ribera del Duero Crianza ($21.99) has more of a Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels character, think Poujeaux with American oak. Dark cherries, berries, earth and sweet oak dominate the nose. On the palate this has more dark fruits that are accented with a pleasant tobacco earthy spice. Medium to full-bodied with good structure, there is a seamless quality to this wine that makes it a pleasure to drink. —Kirk Walker
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