who got the flintstone? we got the flintstone!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Many years ago, at a tasting of new releases from an Oregon pinot producer, a bottle of riesling was offered as a curiosity. At the time it was more than a decade old, perhaps as much as 15 years past its release date. It had originally sold for $3 or $4 (yes, it was that long ago). And it drank beautifully. It was then that I learned that riesling, as much or more than any other variety grown in the Northwest, can age almost indefinitely.

Fast forward to this announcement from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, that came in over the e-wire yesterday:

“Among Old World Riesling producers of Europe, riesling is renowned for its capacity to age beautifully for decades. For centuries, aged rieslings have been the benchmark of quality. This spring, Eroica, a partnership between Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington and Dr. Loosen estate of the Mosel, will be among the first American Riesling producers to offer aged vintages for the U.S. marketplace when it re-releases its 2007 Eroica Riesling, which has been cellared for an additional five years of bottle age, and 2001 Eroica Single Berry Select, ten years post-vintage. Eroica (Chateau Ste. Michelle) will re-release a limited quantity of 2007 Eroica Riesling to restaurants in select markets across the country, including New York, Washington DC, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland and Northern and Southern California.”

“In Germany we have a long tradition of drinking aged riesling,” says Ernst Loosen, owner and winemaker of Dr. Loosen estate. “It is important to show the United States how beautiful mature riesling can be, especially with food like Asian and Indian curries. We want to demonstrate the versatility of riesling, not only that they can be made from dry to fruity styles, but also that riesling can be aged for decades.”

“Winemakers Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen have worked shoulder to shoulder to identify cool sites at higher elevations and transform riesling viticulture practices to allow for long hang time, the period late in the growing season when fully ripened riesling grapes develop maximum aromas and flavors without excess sugars while retaining high acid and low pH – factors essential to aging. Young Eroica vintages show beautiful bright fruit with crisp acidity and enhanced minerality. Over time, the wine begins to evolve and mature.”

“The 2001 Eroica Single Berry Select Riesling is an ultra rich, concentrated yet elegant wine with intense aromas of dried apricot, honey and sweet spice. Appealing flavors of ripe pineapple, white peach and honey are complemented by a long smooth finish tinged with clove. With more than a decade of age, the wine is taking on a beautiful amber gold color. 
The winery plans to make this an annual program, releasing the new Eroica vintage along with a 5-year aged Eroica Riesling each year.”

PG: This new program gives consumers the opportunity to taste for themselves what I experienced at a sit-down vertical about three years ago. At that time, I sat in on a blending trial with the two winemakers, and after we finished, we opened several older vintages of Eroica as well. A short time later, I tasted through every vintage of the Single Berry Select. On both occasions, the older bottles were expressive, evolved, and better by far (in terms of complexity) than the new releases.

As Ernie Loosen opined, “I always compare riesling with pinot noir – the two grape varieties that act most intensely on soil, microclimate, inclination, exposure. Riesling is very sensitive on these things; you can express certain climates, certain vineyards in this way. For me it’s not the most important thing to have the most primary fruit. If a wine shows everything now, what will it show in 12 months? I like sometimes to have some reductive wine in the plan, which gives it ageability. On its own, maybe not so attractive. But this flintstone, reductive aroma sometimes gives beautiful ageability.”

For more on this topic, check out these vids...
Eroica Aging
Late Release

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does it age well in the bottle, too?

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