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Monday, March 01, 2004

Rieslings and Thai food

My friend Claude Kolm, of the Fine Wine Review, brought fantastic Reislings to the Thai dinner I cooked Saturday night. This was the second dinner that I've been to that Claude provided most of the wine, and they've simply been marvelous.

I am not really very good at wine, you see. I don't think I am experienced enough or knowledgeable enough to really tell the difference between varieties, flavors, and aromas. Food is my thing, but wine, I have so much to learn yet. But the real problem is, I believe not too many people are good at wine either. It's all a form of collective pretending. People who cannot taste the subtlety in food have absolutely no chance at picking out subtlety in the tastes and aromas in wine, and I KNOW so many people who couldn't pick a truffe blanche out of a pile of chocolates to save their souls. That, however, never seems to stop them from forever pondering on the oak and tannin and cassis in this and that wine. Bullocks.

And I'm not just talking about preference here. Everyone is entitled to their own, of course. Even I have some preferences. I know, for example, to switch to drinking beer when someone opens a bottle of California Chardonnay. I also know that most bottles of Cabernet or Bordeaux I like I cannot afford, at least not on a day to day basis.

Claude is one a few whose wine palate I trust. He is an attorney by profession, but somehow manages to spend a few months a year tasting wines in France, and has done so every year since the 1970's. I don't know how he does it, really. All I know is, all the wines he's poured for me have been wonderful, and he has a way of explaining wine that makes me go, "ah I can see that".

Here's the note Claude sent on the wines
For the record, the wines (all Rieslings) were:
1999 Eistelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Kabinett halbtrocken. Full of stones, a classic Karthäuserhof and drinking very well now.
2001 Zind-Humbrecht, Herrenweg de Turckheim (thanks to Maureen) -- Seemed to me to need more time for the acidity to integrate.
2001 Gunderloch, Nackenheim Rothenberg *** (Auslese trocken) (thanks to Ed) -- probably should have been served ahead of the Z-H and I found it a little closed down but still very enjoyable. Auslese trocken is a very difficult wine to make, but there are some masters of the genre, and Gunderloch is one of them.
2001 Wwe. Dr. Thanisch (Thanisch Erben) -- The QbA's (German Rieslings that don't say Kabinett, Spätlese, etc.) from 2001 and 2002 from good estates are declassified Spätlesen and Auslesen and work perfectly with food. I thought this wine particularly attractive.
2001 Schloss Wallhausen, Felseneck Kabinett. I was disappointed by this wine, it was ok but just didn't show much class.
1997 Schloss Lieser, Lieser Niederberg Helden Spätlese. Classic Mosel delicacy with crispy, flighty fruit. The 1997 vintage is one that almost everyone (producers, importers, critics) underrated, and the wines are singing now. My favorite of the evening.
2000 Wegeler, Bernkasteler Doctor Spätlese. 2000 was a crappy vintage in which good producers nevertheless could make very good wines. The power of the Doctor here contrasted with the delicacy of the previous wine.
2000 Wegeler, Geisenheimer Rothenberg Auslese. A sweet finish. I generally think the 2000s should be consumed now, but I was surprised that this one will still need substantial time to show all its colors.

Claude Kolm/The Fine Wine Review
P.S. My favorite of the night was the same as Claude's. Well, I guess I'm glad I'm not such a wine idiot after all. –cheers, Pim


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