First, an update on the January German/Austria tasting with Terry Theise and friends: We are absolutely having it, and it will be great and life changing. At the time of this writing I can tell you it’s on Saturday, January 21 at Coco 500 (near our SF store). Cost yet to be determined. Log onto www.klwines.com for details. See you there!! Now on to new business... As you read this there should be a ship called the Carada docking here in the bay carrying some great Rheingau Rieslings from our dear friend August Kesseler in Assmannshausen. Mr. Kesseler runs along with superstar cellar master Max Himstedt one of the top estates in the Rheingau for Riesling and possibly THE top estate in Germany for Pinot Noir. Assmannshausen is located just around the bend from Rüdesheim at the northwestern end of the Rheingau, a village long reputed for its red wines. The estate is about 20 hectares with vines in the Höllenberg in Assmannshausen and in Rüdesheim the Berg Schlossberg, Berg Roseneck, and Bischofsberg totaling about 50% riesling and 45% spätburgunder. Yields are kept low, on average about 45 hl/ha and the style here is in one word sleek. The Rieslings are racy and bright, on the drier side and in 2004 posses a clarity and precision not often found in the Rheingau. We are bringing in a smattering of his ’04s and just a tiny bit of the high end pinots for those of you like me who are in love with them. Here’s the line up: 2004 August Kesseler Estate Riesling ($11.99) my vote for best value German wine this year, you just don’t get this much wine for the price anymore. This comes across as positively Nahe or even Mosel as it is so clean and refreshing with subtle undercurrents of minerals and fresh pears. 2004 Berg Roseneck Spätlese ($19.99) here is the yin to Mr. Leitz’s yang, both great Roseneck Spätlesen but such different expressions, this has laser like focus and firm mineral structure, very compact and revved up compared to the grandness of Leitz’s textural masterwork, this is what makes these wines fun. This next wine was created for the foods August found in his travels around the world though he does hint that it was SF that inspired this wine with our diverse modern cuisine. The 2004 530.3 Spätlese ($25.99), from Schlossberg and Roseneck, is so named for the navigation marker on the Rhine that sits just below this portion of Schlossberg. Made in a slightly drier style to complement more types of cuisine, especially Asian influenced dishes. Firm, powerful and full of minerals. There are also small quantities of a gorgeous 2004 Bischofsberg Spätlese Gold Capsule ($25.99) and the Pinots 2003 Spätburgunder ($22.99), 2002 and 2003 Höllenberg Spätburgunder ($57.99). Live in the Light! —Jeff Vierra
Ahhhh, the holiday season, is, without question, the busiest time of the year for so many of us. Family, friends, shopping, cooking, entertaining and, of course, the dreaded wrapping. So, with that in mind I shall stay off my soap box and keep it simple and to the point. Walking through the store the other day and realizing what has suddenly been thrust upon us, I thought I would write about wines that I would either love to receive as a gift (hint, hint family and friends who read this) or wines that would help me get through these hectic times. I think I found a few that will fit the bill. 2002 Weingut Smelz Riesling “Stein am Rain” Federspiel ($17.99) A refreshing little bugger that is structurally packed full of minerality and zippy acidity, racing across your palate. You will be treated to the bright essence of citrus fruits spiked with exotic spices that melt into the back of your palate and a finish that is as crisp and bright as the cold winter air just outside your window. 2002 Emmerich Knoll Riesling Smaragd Loibenberg ($34.99) This is a powerhouse that is surrounded by grace and beauty. A wine that is full of ripe melons dusted with white pepper leading you into a ripe, juicy, forgiving palate of delicate minerality and intensity. This is one of those gems that you can drink tonight or rediscover in ten years’ time and truly understand why this is a wine of legend (plus maybe really understand the power behind the label on this beauty). Yes, I am purposely not describing the label; you have to see it to believe it! 2003 Nigl Riesling “Privat” ($49.99) Don’t let the 2003 vintage fool you; this is something special. While having 2003 characteristics, the wine-making skills and the old vines that help create this wine ensure a quality that shines, and I promise, you will not be disappointed. Ripe fruit, teaming with fleshy white peaches, (I'm not just saying this), Christmas spices, a subtle tinge of minerality and a balance that is focused and pure. —Eric Story
2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Crianza ($14.99) 2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Reserva ($23.99) I love the wines from Vina Izadi! The winery is located in the heart of the Basque section of the Rioja known as the Rioja Alavesa. Grown on calcareous clay soils, tempranillo achieves great richness and delicacy. Both the Crianza and the Reserva wines are from the fabulous 2001 vintage, which is the greatest vintage in Rioja since 1964. The wines are made from a blend of 90% tempranillo, 5% graciano and 5% mazuelo. Aged for 14 months in American oak, the Crianza is full of ripe black cherry fruit with a solid core of structure and tannin. Enjoy this wine now with braised pork shoulder, or it has plenty of stuffing to age for several years. The Reserva wine, made only in the best of years, is aged for 25 months in a mix of French and American oak. Big and bold, this red has plenty of rich, ripe fruit intermingled with aromas of spice cake and vanilla. The power and depth of this wine make it a great cellar candidate of 5 to 10 years. 2001 Arzuaga Crianza, Ribera del Duero ($26.99) 2003 Pago Florentino, Arzuaga, La Mancha ($15.99) Founded in 1990, Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro is located right next door to the venerable Vega Sicilia. Florentino Arzuaga makes Riberas of great depth and elegance. Made from a blend of tinto fino (aka tempranillo) with a bit of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, their 2001 Crianza shows all the hallmarks of this top vintage. Round, ripe blackberry/cherry fruit is balanced with a long elegant finish. This wine would do well with 3-7 years time in your cellar. The Pago Florentino is their new project in La Mancha. Made from 100% cencibel, the local name for tempranillo, the wine is aged for 8 months in a mixture of French and American oak. The big flashy, ripe fuit and long spicy finish make this wine a great choice for the local specialty, Manchego cheese! Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett, firstname.lastname@example.org
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