2001 Weingut J. & H. A. Strub Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese

I wish I could tell you that my first real, vivid recollection of wine was a Mouton Rothschild, a Dönnhoff, a Pétrus. That I grew up ingesting Gerber along with Guigal and macerated baby food with a nightcap of Dow’s. But though I tasted small sips of whatever my family was drinking at the time, my inaugural introduction into the wonderful, wild world of wine was a casual interaction some ten years ago, a sip of fate that would make an indelible impression on my tongue and soul.

It was probably about 2002. No, I wasn’t 21. No, my parents didn’t know. But it was summer, July, and we had just finished a beautiful dinner with some family friends, capping the evening off with a cherry clafoutis. Unbeknownst to all (this, I cannot stress enough) I was alone outside briefly, long enough to grab the last of a glass and change my palate forever.At first sip, the J & H.A. Strub is unremarkable. It has all the hallmarks of a fine German Riesling– a pale, sun-kissed  straw yellow color with slight saline, a mineral touch on the tongue with a cool, rich texture, a sweet bouquet of apples and stonefruits, and a clean, sweet finish. But that’s what makes it so alluring to anyone, especially a 13 year old flirting with the noble Riesling. Throughout the course of an evening, it simply rises above itself with a defined flavor evocative of late summer– apple orchards and a solid citric aroma. It may not be special or expensive, but it is solid, a refreshing alternative to other sugar-laden Spats, and a surprising contender to most Mosels, harkening from the lesser known Rheinhessen region of Germany. At its best, it has a round, honeyed lingering finish. While it lacks the firm acidic bite of the 2001 Gunderloch Spätlese Nackenheimer Rothenberg and does little to step outside its varietal character, it is remarkably resilient to temperature changes and opens up quickly after uncorking. Delicious, a phenomenal example of its vintage and a good team player. The consistency is what counts here. And eight years later, I haven’t looked back.

2001 Weingut J. & H.A. Strub Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese
MSRP $18.99
90/100

1952 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles

As I write this, my heart is pounding. I think one of the most common misconceptions is that the older a wine is, the better it is. And while I know that that’s not completely true, having suffered through many a corked wine that is simply “over the hill,” part of me wonders how I’m going to follow this particular specimen. And likewise, I wonder if another misconception along similar lines is that the older the critic, the better the writing. While this may seem somewhat presumptuous, both my writing and this wine deserve your full attention. We drank this at dinner a few weeks ago, paired with a medium rare steak and roasted garlic rosemary red potatoes. Most wines pair well with steak, but this 1952 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles renders a ribeye superfluous.This wine tastes like meat in a bottle. If the sci-fi filmmakers of the B-movie genre had tasted this, they surely would have abandoned their food pill conceptions for a food shot. We didn’t decant this, yet roughly five seconds after pouring this, we started to smell meaty, mushroomy scents emanating from the ruby red wine. The wine was rich burgundy in color with little cloudiness and sediment. The first taste yielded a rich and tangy flavor with a substantial mouthfeel, full in the mouth with a bloody, metallic edge. It truly had similar qualities of a rare steak on a wood-fire grill, wafting smoky flavors not unlike the smells outside in the October, New England air, woodsmoke fires, wet leaves, crisp air, and all. Bacon lovers, start saving up. You’ve never tasted porcine goodness like this before.
Of course, every rose has its thorns, and in this case, every steak has its mad cow disease. Consumed within the hour, it was a beautiful thing to behold. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and when the flavors faded, we truly began to see the effects of its age. These flavors had very little staying power, cruelly taunting us with the pure flavors of fall only to whisk them away a mere hour after pouring, leaving behind a tasty, yet weak flavor compared to the manly symphony of muscle and power we’d tasted moments before. While mimicking the classic flavors of a steakhouse, it was simply too fleeting to stand a multi-course dinner. If these flavors had remained consistent throughout the meal, it would be rated much higher. It seems as though it is nearing its aging window, though I cannot say for sure how it will taste in future years.

1952 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles
MSRP $499
85/100

Hello, world!

Hello, readers, friends…ladies and gentlemen of the press,

The inaugural post of a new website is always the hardest. So much to say on a blank slate and so many ways to begin. To make it short and sweet: we are here to pontificate on one of life’s greatest pleasures- wine. As delicately and deliberately as I plan, I can never predict what will happen and what will be written. Like uncorking a beautiful bottle of Mouton Rothschild, each sip, each swirl brings a host of surprises and senses to discover.

Without further ado, I’ll commence with a quote from one of my other guilty pleasures, Matt Groening’s Futurama. As Hedonism Bot says, “I apologize for nothing!” and hopefully, there will be no need to.

In vino veritas!

Jess