2009 German Rieslings, Etc. w/ Cantonese Lunch.

On the 6th October 2010, the Stockbroker hosted a lunch at Shang Palace for the Usual Suspects in anticipation of his birthday a few days after. He took care of all the food and, except for the 2 bottles opened after he left (i.e., Arnie’s bottles since it was his birthday that day itself), all the wines as well. We were only 8 in all that day as Miguel was in London for work.

The celebrant opening one of the many bottles he brought.

Naturally, he started us off with a glasses of celebratory vintage champagne.

2002 Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Rosé - I’ve had this bubbly several times, but the last time I posted on it was around 10 months ago, on occasion of a Veuve Clicquot pairing dinner. It is still a notably bright, vibrant lively and fairly complex, fresh strawberry-dominant champagne (with minor raspberry, cranberry, red currant and brioche notes) and a faint coffee underpinning. What I remember most about this is how clean and neatly-packed it was. Very refreshing. Nice.

A toast to the celebrant.

The Menu

After the 3 dim sums (all good), a nice, subtly-flavored Braised Beef with Crabmeat Soup was served…

…which I tried with…

2009 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett - Pleasantly bright, fresh, light-bodied, light-footed, decently crisp, focused pear, Mexican mango (Keitt), slight peach and clean minerality. Comparatively straightforward and just a touch sweeter than other kabinetts I’ve had, this is quite charming in its simplicity and is very approachable and easy to drink. Very affordable and great value for money.

The celebrant pours for us.

2009 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Riesling Kabinett - Comparatively better structure, a few shades more in body, depth, suavitée and complexity than the immediately previous wine. This is the best locally available riesling kabinett I have had thus far, so I made a mental note to buy some to keep at home.

2009 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - Lush, more generous but with notable focus, purity, precision and refinement. Nice slate/minerality in this, as well as alluring honeysuckle notes. Excellent with the Deep-Fried Prawns with Spinach. This wine is another definite buy for me.

Lapu-lapu with Crabmeat Sauce

2009 Hermann Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese - What can I say? I’ve been a sucker for Dönnhoff’s Nahe rieslings since I first tried them, and this is yet another reason why. It is extremely difficult not to simply gush about this incredibly pure and focused, exceptionally balanced and complex beauty. I can’t try to “break down” the flavors without doing it injustice. Wonderful alone and paired admirably with the slightly spicy beef course.

Stir-Fried Sliced Beef with Garlic Sichuan Sauce

1999 Joseph Phelps Insignia (Magnum) - This is only the 2nd time I’ve tried this wine, the first time, I foolishly opened the bottle when it was much too young and didn’t enjoy it at all. It was, thus, a perfect opportunity to give the wine a fair shake, as it were. One of the less bombastic (this is a good thing for me) Napa cabs I’ve had of late that displayed judicious use of wood, notable harmony and firm structure in its creamy cassis, black cherry, slight kirsch and raspberry, dark plum, a moderate dose of chocolate, bit of licorice and loam, with a touch of violets. Good balance. I liked it more than I thought I would. Nice.

Conversation over some Beggar’s Chicken.

There was another red from the Stockbroker, one I’ve had around 5 or 6 times previously that I enjoyed every single time. Unfortunately, this particular bottle was slightly corked. It happens. C’est la vie.

It did nothing to dampen the celebration though. I doubt anything could have, given the occasion we were celebrating.

Our generous host and celebrant lingered a few minutes longer and eventually left for an afternoon meeting (nb: happy thing about German rieslings is that they are generally quite low in alcohol, so one is still in fine shape after having quite a bit of them).

Many, many thanks, buddy, and, again, happy birthday.


Arnie then opened a couple of his bottles for us:

2005 Bott-Geyl Pinot Gris Sonnenglanz - Clearly my current favorite locally available pinot gris, I last posted on this around a year ago from a lunch with Aaron, J-Lab and Apa, during which I paired it very successfully with Peking Duck. My notes then were as follows:

Luscious, curvey and generously fruity from the get-go with grand cru weight and concentration. The soft, honeyed peach, lemon tarte, baked pear flavors are definitely ripe and somewhat creamy (noted by Apa), but with nice minerality, admirable freshness and balance. Its evident round fullness has precise heft and an alluringly viscous texture.

It is difficult for me not to gush about this wine, especially when paired with the 1st Way of the Peking Duck. Admittedly, I am a big fan of this estate and am yet again kicking myself for not having visited them in Beblenheim when I spent several days in nearby Riquewihr, Alsace. This wine is a joy to drink now and, I believe, can gracefully age for several years. I see no point in waiting, though. Enjoy it now with Peking duck and thank me later.

A year later, the wine is still nicely fresh, but somewhat more mellow/less forward and its spiciness has stepped up nicely. Arnie did try to order some Peking Duck to go with his bottle, but the Shang’s kitchen was already closed.As far as I was concerned, that was absolutely fine as I was already quite full. Arnie then opened another bottle to end the lunch on a sweet note:

Dutschke Sun-Dried Shiraz - This was the very first shiraz-based dessert wine I’ve ever had: very full-bodied, dense, thick, viscous (like a pedro ximenez), it was just short of a syrup of prune, raisins, crème de cassis, muscovado, vanilla/oak and slight cinnamon. Very different and interesting. I’d imagine most of the Manila Gentlemen’s Club would like to try this out with some cigars. Hopefully, I can get my hands on a bottle of this fairly quickly for such purpose.


I am happy to see that you´re in love with german Rieslings. You have tasted some wonderful wines and with looooong aging potential.

Greetings from Berlin,

Hi, Martin.

Yes, they were very nice young as they are. There is so much to love in German rieslings, and it is a joy to learn about and discover them.



I’d like to hear more about that food!

Great notes and pictures! I wish I had a lunch such as this. [worship.gif]

Noel, you live like a king! Thanks for the notes and pictures, brightens up my day.

Just out of curiosity, what language do you speak at a lunch like that? IIRC Spanish is the “official” language over there, but there are others as well.

Sure, Berry, I’d be happy to elaborate. Any dish(es) in particular?

It was a good lunch, yes. We do have pretty good Chinese restaurants here - not as good as Hong Kong, but quite good enough.

I wish I did live like a king, Peter. I’m happy you enjoy reading my drivel.

As regards language spoken during these lunches - and in general at the functions I post on - we speak in English mostly, laced occasionally with Tagalog (a.k.a., Filipino) .

Barely half of us in this group speak and understand Spanish well enough - and of us, some more than others. Only Miguel is absolutely fluent since he grew up and studied in Spain (he also speaks Catalan but says he’s getting a bit rusty at it). Spanish ceased to be the official language here many decades ago, the current ones are Filipino and English.

Best to all,


Any and all of them

Noel, if what you write is drivel, I won’t even try to characterize most of what one reads…

I see that I am hopelessly out of date re the Philippines. Oh well, live and learn!


Great notes as usual. The menu and the wine selection look outstanding.

A few weeks ago a Spanish friend came to the US and we had a 1994-1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia mini vertical and all of them showed extrememly well. With few exceptions, Insignias from the 1990’s have been great wines and you could still find them at reasonable prices in the auction market. Sometimes even cheaper than current releases. I am not sure if more recent offerings will reach the balance and elegance of the ones released in the 1990’s.

I also love German Rieslings and have purchased a few hundreds in the last three years. How do you compare the Rieslings from the 2009 with the 2007 and 2005 vintages?

Finally, could you expand on the Beggar’s Chicken?