TNs: Rieslings, Burgs and Italians at Grand Sichuan

Matt Latuchie was in NY yesterday and a few of us got together at Grand Sich to drink some great wines with him. Unfortunately Matt couldn’t stay through the evening (hope you’re feeling better Matt!), but otherwise it was a very fun evening with old friends, great (and very inexpensive) food and a lot of fantastic wine, despite a couple of real disappointments.

Starting out with pork soup dumplings and pan fried pork potstickers
2002 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans
Drinking surprisingly well right now for an '02, a little reticent aromatically but it opens with air and develops a pretty floral perfume. Fresh red fruits tinged with floral elements in the mouth, very polished and silken textured with gentle tannins and bright acids.

2008 Domaine Chevillon-Chezeaux Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges
Really good. Starts out a little shrill and stemmy at first but it comes together with air, building a wonderful scent combining cherries, fresh herbs, earth and some green herbal elements; very polished and pure in the mouth conveying that sense of clarity and freshness I’m really loving in the '08 Burgs right now.

2006 Francesco Rinaldi e Figli Barolo Cannubbio
Very primary right now, offering fresh red fruits, gravelly earth and faint floral elements with a wall of tannin underneath that surprisingly becomes more noticeable as the wine airs.

2008 Weingut Keller Westhofen Brunnenhäuschen Abtserde (“Abtse®.de”) Riesling Großes Gewächs
Makes a persuasive case why Riesling needs some residual sugar (particularly when tasted alongside the Lauer Stirn). Starts out with very brightly fruited aromatics - scents of pineapple, melon, nectarines and floral elements, but it’s rather severe in the mouth, conveying plenty of power, extract and intense minerality but always coming across a little austere and lacking charm. At the $100+ price point it’s a joke, and a reminder why my GG money is going to Rebholz, Donnhoff and Schafer-Frohlich instead.

First round of spice - shredded beef with green peppers, asparagus, lamb with cumin and twice cooked pork belly
2003 Azienda Agricola Stanislao Radikon Jakot Venezia Giulia IGT
Remarkable aromatics, a kaleidoscope of honey, orange marmalade, smoke, exotic florality and tropical fruits - but then it just feels very awkward on the palate, dry, slightly disjointed with the flavour and structural components never coming together and finishing with some alcoholic heat.

1971 Kirchmayr Neuburger Solist
Corked. Gaaaaaaah!

2009 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Stirn Riesling feinherb Fass 15
Gorgeous aromatics straight away; full of exotic florality, spice, fresh pear and citrus fruits and sponti yeast funk. This is in that zone of sweetness where there’s barely any noticeable sweetness but enough residual sugar to balance the bright acids, keeping it from being austere and making it very easy to drink. Great balance and depth, delicious stuff.

2003 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese Auction (AP #21-04)
Holy freaking crap. A wow from the first sip and it only gets better. This is packed with incredibly luscious, dense Riesling fruit and vivid minerality with floral and creamy accents; Auslese-like in its richness and sweetness but with such clarity, precision and purity, and impeccable balance that makes it so easy to drink. Spectacularly great, thanks Keith!

2001 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese
Really disappointing. No idea what happened here, but it’s a long way from other experiences with this wine recently (including a very good bottle a few months ago), starting out with quite advanced honeyed flavours and feeling increasingly flat and tired with time, without any of the spice, minerality or energy that I’ve otherwise found in this wine.

2001 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese
More enjoyable than the '01 Hermannshöhle poured alongside, though not living up to the last two bottles I opened late last year. There’s a ton of stuffing here - it’s packed with raspberries and peachy fruit, spice and floral elements, but doesn’t have the precision or clarity other recent bottles have shown.

2001 Weingut Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett
Comes across more like a ripe Spätlese (given that it’s Weil and '01, that’s not a surprise) with rich yellow orchard fruit flavours mingled with developing petrol and smoky scents; medium bodied but nicely lifted by that bracing '01 acidity that keeps it very refreshing and elegant; lovely.

The really hot spice - gui zhou chicken and the searingly hot chong qing chicken, with some squid and another seafood item (shrimp?) also at the table

2001 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Full of ripe peachy and tropical fruit with the start of developing petrol notes, but for an '01 this feels surprisingly heavy and clumsy, lacking the acidity and freshness that I’m looking for.

**2001 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese ****
This is firing on all cylinders and much more aromatically open than my last bottle. A seamless combination of ripe Mosel fruit, vivid slatiness, florality and gentle honeyed and spicy notes; dense, moderately sweet yet incredibly pure, precise and focused with a clarity and freshness I’ve rarely ever seen in Auslese. Wow!

Great notes and I wish I had been able to stay longer. Worth noting that the crab cakes on the Acela up to NYC were a 50…everyone should avoid these! On a more serious note, it was great to meet everyone and I hope to sit down with everyone soon. The nose of the Egon Muller was great (it really pained me that I didn’t try any) - wonderfully deep, yet sleek tropical fruit and lots of slate. Thanks to Keith for bringing this along.

I’m on the train back to DC right now and I opted for no lunch this time!

Great notes as usual. You New Yorkers drink very well.

Im a pretty acid-tolerant guy but even for me 2008 German dry rieslings are too shrill. I have zero desire to buy any more dry 08s. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the best GGs from 2008 turned out to be huge surprises to the upside with significant age.

Sounds heavenly. How was the acid?

Ive had a few 2001 Donnhoff spatlese over the last year or so and while the aromatics are usually impresive the palates have all seemed quite closed. I think they just need more time. I assume they are not in decline. What do you think?


was the Rinaldi popped and poured? Could explain the wall of tannins. well, not that you wouldn’t have a wall of tannins with young barolo, but with a day’s worth of air the tannins become more balanced with the other structural elements of the wine. I have the '06 Brunate, and that is a lovely barolo.

Re. 01 Donnhoffs, I’ve had varying performances depending on provenance (I brought the Brucke, which was a gray market bottle imported by Dee Vine). Had a horizontal of the 01 Spatlese back in December and I really liked the Brucke, Hermannshohle and Felsenberg - thought Kupfergrube was a bit awkward. I’ve had 01 Brucke a few times in the last year, this is the first time it’s really disappointed. Here the aromatics weren’t impressive on either the Hermannshohle or Brucke, and the wines seemed rather flat and muddled.

On 08 German trockens - I have had some truly amazing experiences. All the Rebholz wines, Donnhoff’s Dellchen, and Schafer-Frohlich’s Bockenauer Felseneck have been stunningly good since release, and I don’t think the acidity is a major issue. In fact I like the slightly cooler/more herbal flavours and lower alcohols in the 08s, and find them more precise than some of their 09 counterparts. I was just incredibly disappointed with the Keller (though was also quite unimpressed by his 08 Kirchspiel some time ago), but have gone long on the other producers I mentioned. (BTW, if you find any - do pick up a bottle of 08 Rebholz Kastanienbusch or Im Sonnenschein Ganz Horn GG, which are among the greatest dry Rieslings I’ve encountered.)

The acid in the Muller was perfect. Didn’t come across as particularly high or low acid - but the balance was impeccable, and it was an astounding bottle.

Chae - yes, the Rinaldi was popped and poured.


it makes no sense to open a 08 GG from Keller right now. Give them at least 10 years, then you will love them, promised.

I think they’re in decline.

I had several times the 01 Dönnhoff “Hermannshöhle” Spätlese trocken in the last 2 years, they were babies.

These weren’t the trocken. I can’t recall having the 2001 Hermannshohle trocken, but I have had the 1998 Hermannshohle trocken a few times and it is on the downslope.

I’ve had the same thoughts about Keller in general, especially when compared to the likes you comparing! I would add Willi Schaefer, AJ Adam, and maybe Diel to your list( at least for my palate). Should I have bought Rebholz? Looks like I need to revisit the offer I received the other day.

I am still amazed at how great the Lauer portfolio is from top to bottom. They epitomize the very definition of “real” wines to me. I did not get Stirn, though. Will have to seek a couple of them out.

Schaefer for trockens? I’ve found his sweet wines superb, but haven’t gotten around to trying his 09 GG.

Adam makes some great stuff, but I’m a bigger fan of his feinherb styled wine (with a little residual sugar) rather than his genuinely trocken Rieslings. Not a huge Diel fan when the GGs are concerned - find his style too heavy and severe, and I’d much rather buy the trockens from Donnhoff, Schafer-Frohlich or Schonleber in Nahe. I’m also becoming a big fan of Kunstler in Rheingau.

As for Rebholz - yes, you should have bought. Call Stephen ASAP and beg for all he has left. The 08 Rebholz Ganz Horn and Kastanienbusch GGs are two of the greatest dry Rieslings I’ve ever encountered, and I’m very excited to try his 09s.

For sure. I had Adam’s “GG” styled Hofberg '09 awhile ago and it was good but didn’t move me. Then had the Hofberg feinherb '09 (which I’m not sure was actually labeled feinherb other than on the shelf talker–labeling at this house is really unnecessarily confusing) and THAT was the Adam I knew and loved.

The e-mail has already been sent! Hopefully there are some left.

I had Adam 2009 Hofberg Trocken the other night and man was it great. Also the Himmelreich GG 2009 from Schaefer was great. I liked it more than most tasters including the pros. It was definitely DRY and young, and short work or a small sip might not do it justice. I sat with a whole bottle for some time. Any austere thoughts were dispelled by its length and how the wine fanned out and covered. This is my initial impression from CT: …“It is amazing how a wine this young and big is so in control of itself. Seriously, when I first sipped the wine and it entered as a pinpoint, I braced myself for brashness or austerity of youth, or some heat or alcohol that a few of the GG’s have had, or maybe even the pucker factor that some of these have had. What I got instead was a pure and balanced heavenly wine that acts like it doesn’t want to be tethered to this earth.”… If that helps

they were flat and lacking in the all important acid. very disappointing.

I know I am the official Donnhoff apologist on the internet, but flat and lacking in acid does not sound right, nor does it sound anything like the bottles of both Brucke and Hermannshohle I have opened from my cellar over the last year or two.

I am sure this will be met with skepticism but Ive noticed bottlings of Donnhoff can go through stages where they seem flat and insipid but then months or years later will be racy and intense. My friends and I have noted this phenomenon a few times.

Indeed. I have seen the same phenomenon with many producers. My full throated defense of Donnhoff comes from many impressive bottles 15 years old or older. Provenance is key.

Funny how our palate is so different!

2008 Weingut Keller Absterde GG
Soaring nose of grape, mango, pear, pear preserves, passion fruit, fresh tobaco and a very light petro finale.
Mouthfeel is lip smaking beautifull acid with spit intising quality, flawors of passion fruit and lichie dominate.
The level of tropical flawors surprised me, but the acid holds the slightly vulgar aromas in balance.
This wine is long, animating and very much alive in the glass. The acid is rounder than I imagined so this has entered a new stage, where ones teeth is spared from electrocution.


Have any of you who believe 2001 Donnhoffs to be in decline recently tasted Schlosbockelheimer Felsenberg Spatlese (Auction)? It continues to be magical stuff. Perhaps my all time favorite spatlese.

Yeah. It’s dead and boring. Please sell yours to me. [wink.gif]

(Had it back in December. Thought it was outstanding, though I fall in the Donnhoff-ages-just-fine camp, and thought the 2 bottles from this dinner were outliers from my other experiences.)