Before we get real serious about Spätburgunder and why you should be drinking more of it, you need to get out your calendars and block off Saturday January 21 for our Third (not exactly annual) Terry Theise German and Austrian Tour Tasting. This year we will be holding the event in San Francisco at a very hip yet undisclosed space. It will cost some amount of money, and you will get some amount of food. How’s that for exclusive? Come rub elbows, taste and chat with some of the hottest growers from the coldest regions, learn why drinking Riesling will make you better looking, how a steady diet of Grüner Veltliner has been proven to make you happier and more content, how Blaufränkish has been known to cause sudden outbursts of extreme joy… in other words don’t miss it. We will be pouring a ton of 2004s and some others: whites, reds, sparkling and down-right weird. The final list of producers is not yet firm, but I can say now that they will be many and most of them tall. Stay tuned for more info, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be put on a notification list. There will be a bottle of wine for the person who travels the furthest to attend this spectacular event. Now on to your new passion… German Pinot Noir aka Spätburgunder in the homeland. First, I must say that if you are the type who likes pinot more in the style of syrah, big and dark with super-ripe flavors and lots of new oak, please do not buy these wines. You will hate them and me for suggesting them to you. If finesse and subtlety appeal to you, then we are on the right track. German Pinot Noir is, as you can imagine, more of a novelty in this country, not because it is no good but because it is in such short supply and what we get here is usually the lowest quality wine made by large blenders (any one remember the monkey bottle?) The market is so strong in Germany for great Spätburgunder that some of the wines routinely fetch over 100 Euros. and are much coveted by collectors. We have two great wines in stock now to introduce you to this important cool-climate style of Pinot. 2004 Weingut Binz Nackenheimer Spätburgunder ($12.99), grown on the red slopes of Nackenheim, is a bright zesty style of pinot, balanced with reasonable alcohol level, full of spice, wild cherry and hints of earth. Yes I said $12.99!! The 2003 Bercher Jechtinger Eichert Spätburgunder Spätlese Trocken ($28.99) is from just east of Alsace in the warmest growing region of Germany, the Kaiserstuhl. Here is where you find some of the most sought-after reds in the country and where most of the great Pinot comes from, like this supple beauty. Rich and lush with great power and depth, this wine will convince even the most skeptical among you. Live in the Light! —Jeff Vierra
Yes, it is upon us, the holiday season. This is the season when we find ourselves spending our time and money on everyone else but ourselves. Two months of being pulled in every direction possible. With that in mind I’ll keep it short and sweet, shooting it to you straight, three wines that make me smile. From the Rust region, here is… 2004 Heidi Schrock Muscat ($21.99) This spicy little beauty will just make you tingle inside. Made up of 40% gelber muskateller, 20% ottonel muskateller, 40% sauvignon blanc and a whole lot of love, this is a must have. Fragrances of a newly flowered spring meadow race around the rim of the glass. I swear I saw a couple of fairies from the land of Aromatica, it’s a fairly new country, that came flying out of the bottle when it was uncorked. When I finally decided to find out what the rest of this wine had to offer I took a sip. A feeling of brilliant purity zipped across my palate backed up by a freshness of pears that are interlaced with mint and crystal clear water from the high mountains. From the Kamptal region I give you… 2004 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner “Gobelsburger” ($13.99) A lighter, polished style of Grüner, with an unexpected, hidden core of fruit that will, truly, make you smile. A truly classic Grüner, aromas of a peppery earthiness linked with a racy acidity that will tantalize your palate, leaving you with the realization that you just got one heck of a wine for, only fourteen bucks. And last but not least, from the region of Mittelburgenland, here is… 2003 Paul Lehrner Claus ($16.99) A vibrant, juicy red blended from 85% zweigelt and 15% blaufränkisch. Here is a wine you don’t have to put away and forget about for years and years. Drink it today, or tomorrow if that is better for you! This is really a warm, delicious wine packing quite a bit of life. A bit of smokiness, a hint of fresh herbs and just enough acidity to make everything balance out, it’s a quaffer!!! —Eric Story
2004 Marques de Riscal Rueda Verdejo ($6.99) This awesome Verdejo reminds me of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc—dry, crisp with great body and charm. It’s a perfect pick for cocktail party snacks! 2000 Mont Marçal Brut Reserva Cava ($11.99) Is there a better way to begin a fiesta than with a glass of bubbly? The Mont Marcal is one of the best Cavas around. Rich and creamy with a crisp finish, this wine from the Penedes is sure to please even the fussiest palate! 2004 Valminor Albariño, Rias Baixas ($11.99) 2004 is an truly great vintage for white wines in Spain. The Valminor Albarño is one of the most charming wines of the vintage. From the seductive aromas of white peach and citrus blossoms to the long crisp finish, this wine is perfect with any seafood or with a plate of fruit and cheese! 2002 Vina Alarba Old Vines Pago San Miguel ($14.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “...a blend of 85% old vine Grenache and 15% Syrah aged in French oak for six months prior to bottling. It exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, fine elegance, serious concentration, sweet black cherry and currant scents intermixed with resiny, forest floor characteristics, and medium body. Drink it over the next 2-3 years. This is a ridiculously priced bargain!” Try with braised beef short ribs! 2000 Finca Villacreces Reserva, Ribera de Duero ($28.99) 91 points Robert Parker: “One of the best kept secrets of Ribera del Duero, Finca Villacreces produces a sexy red from 75% Tempranillo and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aged 14 months in new and one-year old French casks, this 2,000-case cuvee exhibits a deep ruby/purple color along with a bouquet of smoky hickory wood, barbecue spices, vanilla, black currants, cherries, melted asphalt, and licorice. The complex aromatics are followed by a delicious, fruit-driven, opulent, medium to full-bodied offering with no hard edges. Drink it over the next 5-7 years.” (04/04) Buen Cata y Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett
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