Even Wine Ramblers do have a birthday. Just recently, it was the birthday of THE Wine Rambler and also of my co-Rambler Julian. My birthday is already a few months past, but there is still something to report on: When I met our Munich branch as part of my birthday celebrations, I found myself presented with a special gift.
Co-Rambler Julian likes to hunt for aged wines on eBay (great if you are in Germany, imppossile in the UK because of legal restrictions), and for my birthday he managed to find a bottle of a suitably aged Riesling from a Mosel winery that has my personal seal of approval.
It was a bottle of a Reinhold Haart late harvest Riesling that Julian had served me years ago that had opened my eyes to the quality of sweet Riesling, and in particular to aged sweet Riesling. Over the years, the sweetness fades into the background, revealing layers of previously hidden flavour - at least in good wines.
The Haart Riesling I was presented with was an Auslese from the year 1999. Good Riesling can age way beyond that, so I had no doubts this wine - assuming it had been stored properly - would be in prime drinking condition. The bouquet was almost textbook aged Riesling: aromas of paraffin and petroleum gave a nice balance to caramelised fruit, peach and, mostly, canned pineapple, but also herbs and mineral coolness.
What I like about the Haart wines from the Goldtröpfchen vineyard is how accessible and enjoyable they are to drink - without lacking in complexity and surprise if you look for it. I have served them to absolute wine beginners and seasoned drinkers, something you cannot do with all types of wine as some really glorious examples will scare away those who look more for enjoyment than complexity. This wine has both, and as Julian rightly said "there is always something unexpected to explore".
The Auslese started juicy and ripe, with lovely peach and caramel flavours. Then, suddenly, a second wave of sweet and bitter raspberry hit us, turning into dry raspberry towards the finish. And as if that wasn't enough, herbs and tobacco flavours and mineral showed up, followed by an unexpected, yet delightful, last goodbye of dry raspberry.
We seem to have picked the right moment to open the wine, as it appeared to be in perfect harmony. Needless to say, I was very pleased with this gift from my Munich partners in wine.