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WTN: Beach wines?


David McDuff
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Quick notes on a few wines enjoyed over the course of a recent week at the beach. A touch more detail can be found at: Wines at the Beach.

Traisental Grüner Veltliner “Hugo,” Weingut Huber 2007

$10. 12% alcohol. Stelvin. Importer: Boutique Wine Collection, Philadelphia, PA.

Certainly the beachiest of the bunch. Relatively generous yields show through in Hugo’s relative lack of concentration but I challenge you to find another $10 Grüner Veltliner that shows as much quality as this. Crisp, fresh and light, it bursts with flavors on the citrus and grassy side of the GV spectrum. Not at all vinous or serious, just a good, refreshing quaff and a worthwhile alternative for anyone tired of drinking inexpensive Sauvignon.

Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese, Carl Schmitt-Wagner 2005

$17. 9% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Terry Theise Selection, Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY.

It was hard to pass up at the price but this is the second ’05 from Schmitt-Wagner that I’ve been a little under whelmed with in recent months. A soaked through cork hinted at the possibility of poor provenance, which may explain the dulled flavors of the wine. It wasn’t without appeal, showing pleasant, baked apple fruit. But its length was shorter, its acidity softer and its minerality less pronounced than I would have hoped. More than drinkable but less than memorable.

Touraine “Cuvée Gamay,” Clos Roche Blanche 2007

$16.50. 12% alcohol. Neocork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.

After reading rave reviews about this on a couple of my regular wine blog reads recently, I expected to be wowed. Instead, I was a little let down, a particularly coincidental experience as I’d just defended Clos Roche Blanche on one of those sites. High expectations are always hard to meet, so I should say that this was far from bad wine. It was just a touch flat, showing hints of the aspartame character I sometimes find in direct, simple Gamay as well as a touch of the plastic flavor I’ve found in some wines – is it just my imagination? – sealed with Neocork/Nomacorc. An off bottle? I’m not sure, but I’d love to see CRB (and other producers) switch to screw caps instead of synthetic stoppers.

Champagne Verzenay Grand Cru Brut, Jean Lallement & Fils NV

$40. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Terry Theise Selection, Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY.

Without question, this was the wine of the week. Even though the price has crept up closer to $50 in some markets since I purchased this, it’s still a damn good value in grower Champagne. Creamy, succulent and showing lovely phenolic concentration up front, it finished with a grippy, pithy twist of the tongue, showing fantastic acid backbone, even a suggestion of a little tannin. Flavors of yellow peaches led into fresh raspberries and cream. The finish brought a return to peaches along with red apples – the skins rather than the flesh. Really compelling bubbly.

Chinon “Les Picasses,” Olga Raffault 2002

$20. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner, New York, NY.

We took this and the Lallement to dinner at a Rehoboth restaurant called Nage. My wife summed it up something like this: “That Champagne was delicious. This is… hmmm… hmmm… this is good wine.” The young sommelier, who had never tried Chinon before, found it sour. You know what? They were both right. Leaner and quieter than I expected and, yes, even a little sour on the finish but an excellent food wine. Red currant, black tea, thyme and olive characteristics were carried on a narrow frame. Delicate tannins, high acidity and a little on the austere side, albeit quite supple in feel. This one requires some devotion but is worth the effort.

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