Friends of Flatiron, We hope everyone started their week off right with an enjoyable MLK Day. We have got two very interesting and very different tastings lined up this week and some exciting offers planned for the newsletter. Here is what we have on the docket: In-Store Tastings: Wednesday 1/23, Tasting of Turkish wines with Blue Danube Wine at 5pm: Our favorite arbiters of taste in the world of Eastern European wines return! We will showcasing a few new additions to our selection including a Georgian Rkatsiteli from Wine Thieves as well as a few others from Slovenia and Hungary. $5/tasting Friday 1/25, Bordeaux tasting with Wilson Daniels at 5pm: Arguably one of the most important importers in the game, Wilson Daniels is a company that brings some of the world's most sought after wines to our shores. Join us for a jaunt to both banks of Bordeaux with a tasting of wines from Chateau Clarke from Listrac-Medoc, Chateau Malmaison from Moulis-en-Medoc and Chateau des Laurets from Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion. $5/tasting In our weekly newsletter we've got the hotly anticipated 2016 Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Lioco Wine Company, the 2nd to last vintage for legendary winemaker John Raytek. Also on offer are a number of cuvees from Cote-Rotie stylistic contrarian Jean-Marie Stephan as well as an opportunity to purchase the cellar staple 2014 Oddero Barolo, a must-have for any Italian wine lover. Cheers! Your Friends at Flatiron Wines SF Don't want to miss a beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it's also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine. We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site's sophisticated technology isn't functioning as described. ;)
This post is still very preliminary, as the wines are still in barrel and I haven’t even tasted barrel samples. Still, there is plenty we already do know, and plenty of well-respected commentators have already given useful guidance on the characteristics of the vintage. After I’ve tasted — I will taste plenty on February 6 — this post will link to a new post with my own impressions from tasting. So, stay tuned for updates and, until then, below is a summary of everything we already know. What’s the big picture on the 2017 vintage? What’s the one thing I need to know? At this point, most commentators are saying that they like the vintage very much. We’ll break that down for you in further detail below. It’s also a very abundant vintage. After nearly a decade of below-average yielding vintages, the Burgundians will actually have some wine to sell — the most since 2009. What was the weather like in 2017? It was a warm year. I was in Europe for much of that summer, and I can recall some extremely hot days! But Burgundy itself was a little more moderate than elsewhere. There was enough cool weather early in the growing season that at one point in May they were about three weeks behind where they usually would be in terms of bud maturity. Between May and August there were plenty of hot days, but also quite a few moderate days and just enough rainfall to avoid drying out the vines. If there is a “good" kind of global warming, this was it! It was certainly warm enough that harvest was on the early side. People started bringing in their whites at the end of August and their reds the first week of September. Conditions during the harvest were mostly dry. Basically, the weather didn’t provide any of the challenges that we’ve seen in recent year, with frosts, hail, excessive mildew, and whatnot. That’s why quantities ended up so high. There was a scary moment of frost in April, but it didn't end up doing any serious damage. What kind of wines were made in 2017? The French call this a “solar” vintage, a vintage of the sun. By all accounts, the wines are definitely ripe, but not to the same extent as vintages like 2009 and 2015. Commentators also note quite a bit of “freshness”, and a little less concentration than those vintages. As a result, people are calling the vintage “classical”, and many are observing that it is very transparent: each site produced wines that really taste of the site. Reading around, I get the sense that it is a lot like 2014, but better, thanks to a little more density and slightly riper fruit. Is 2017 a better vintage for red wines or white wines? Unusually, 2017 appears to be a very high quality vintage for both red and white wine. Since it is a relatively warm vintage, I was expecting it to be better for red, but the commentators I follow consistently note how amazing the whites have turned out — better than the 2014s in many cases, they say. We’ll have to see how the wines turn out when they are finished, but it seems likely that whites will have a slight edge over the reds. Don’t the large yields in 2017 mean that the quality must be low? No. Lesser producers may have produced more dilute wines, but the producers that we work with — those that are the focus of America's more respected importers and commentators — do what they need to do to optimize yields and ensure good concentration in the berries. Many performed green harvests, for example. I have not seen any reports of any decent producer making dilute wines in 2017. Did the 2017 vintage turn out differently in Burgundy’s different regions or villages? No doubt, as this is always the case! I will need to taste around before getting a full picture, because the commentators haven’t offered much yet in this regard, and some of what they say is a little inconsistent. I read somewhere that the Chablis did not have enough acidity, but somewhere else it was described as “classic”. One person said that Nuits-St.-Georges was his favorite village of the vintage; another said that it was a weak spot. We shall see. What exactly do the commentators say about the 2017 vintage? Here are some key quotes from some of the most followed commentators: Burghound (on red wines): "The better 2017s are also well-balanced wines built for medium to occasionally extended aging yet they should also be approachable young if youthful fruit is your preference. Before I offer more detail, the short answer is yes on both accounts that the 2017s deserve a place in your cellars and there is no reason not to buy what you can afford as the wines should be generally available given the more generous quantities.” Neal Martin (Vinous): "there are some quite brilliant whites that, many growers are beginning to opine, equal or even surpass the haloed 2014s. The 2017 reds are very good, often excellent, and from time to time, bloody awesome.” Julia Harding MW (Jancis Robinson): "A lovely vintage north to south: wines singing their heart out." William Kelley (robertparker.com): On whites: "For white wines, 2017 should be taken more seriously: classically balanced and beautifully defined by site, these white Burgundies are less tangy and tensile than the 2014s, but they approach and sometimes surpass that vintage in quality.” On red: "The reds are supple, charming and expressive, characterized by melting tannins and comparatively low acidities. Reminiscent of a richer, more sun-kissed version of 2007, or a cleaner, more concentrated 2000, the 2017 red Burgundies will offer more immediate pleasure than the more serious, structured 2016 and 2015 vintages, though they are unlikely ever to rival those years for depth, longevity and complexity." Steve Tanzer (Vinous; on white wines): "The largest white Burgundy crop since 2009 has yielded pliant, elegant, pure wines with considerable aromatic appeal and early accessibility, along with the balance and stuffing for at least mid-term aging.” Tim Akin MW (Decanter): On Chablis: "If you like classic Chablis for medium-term drinking, the answer is yes. Prices will increase on 2016 in many cases, but these wines remain comparative Burgundian bargains.” On reds: “Supple tannins and lots of sweet fruit on the reds.” On whites: “Focus, freshness and minerality on the early-picked whites." So, what is the bottom line on this vintage? Should I buy them? It sure looks that way. This is a vintage of good to excellent wines with abundant quantities, both red and white. Meanwhile, 2018 is looking like a vintage that will be too ripe for many Burgundy lovers. Probably, with global warming, we’ll have many more vintages like 2018 in the future. So the question becomes, how many more “classic” vintages like 2017 will there be in the next few years? And when they come along, what will the prices be like? If you’re the sort of loyal Burgundy consumer that buys in just about every vintage, this is clearly not one to skip. And even if you dabble in only the good vintages, 2017 seems like a solid candidate for your attention. Great! When can I get started? Note that a few Chablis, Macons and region-level wines are already available. Village-level and up wines from the Cote d’Or will start to arrive this summer, in 2019. A full tsunami of 2017s will hit in the Fall of 2019, though we will continue to see late releases throughout 2020. But you can get started buying the wines before their arrival thanks to our pre-sale program that we’re launching this year, in combination with a number of pre-sale tasting events, many of which are free or nearly free, in both our New York and San Francisco shops. To make sure you’re hearing about the details for these events, sign up for our newsletter (when given the chance, be sure to indicate your interest in Burgundy.)
As the grand finale for Riesling week, we're delighted to share our wine maps of Germany and the Mosel. For more information about German Riesling, please peruse our Riesling Q&A blog. And, if you are interested to explore German Riesling IRL, feel free to check out some of the top German wine producers--all at Rieslingfeier this weekend--here!
Hello again Friends, It’s Riesling Week in NYC. And this week culminates with Rieslingfeier, the celebration of all things Riesling. Thank goodness it is finally here! The Grand Tasting and Gala Dinner are officially sold out, but we hear there's a waiting list and if you'd like to be added you can call the shop at (212) 477-1315. And even if you can't make the festivities, we have a sure-fire way to help you through the weekend: Almost every featured producer's wine, for sale with deep discounts. If you're new to Riesling and don't know what all the fuss is about, look no further: Josh wrote a nifty blog to get you acclimated and answer your questions. And if you're ready to dive into the deep end of the pool with the rest of the Riesling fanatics, I encourage to you choose a couple of the bottles below. Taste for yourself what all the fuss is about. This is also an opportunity to get a sneak peak at some of what will be tasted on Saturday or re-live your tasting experience from the comfort of your own home. If there is a wine you taste this weekend that is not on the list please reach out with your requests. I'll do my best to hunt them down for you. Cheers! Clara Alzinger Alzinger is located in the Wachau region of Austria, and the family owns parcels in the two greatest vineyards of the region (Steinertal and Loibenberg), where they grow mostly Riesling with exemplary skill. Alzinger, Riesling Durnsteiner Federspiel, 2017 Refreshing and brisk, this has plenty of waxy yellow and green apple and stony minerals to create a very balanced and polished wine. (Dry) Alzinger, Riesling Ried Loibenberg Smaragd, 2017 This is concentrated and richly textured, but with fresh acidity and enough fruit to remain very balanced. This is a good candidate for the cellar, but its exotic profile is delicious even when young. (Dry) Breuer Georg was at the forefront to produce a drier style of wine in his hometown of the Rheingau, Germany. Georg Breuer, Rheingau Riesling GB Charm, 2017 This fragrant wine reflects over a century of winemaking tradition. Peach and lemon mingle with stony minerality for a juicy and refreshing quaffer. (Slightly Off-Dry) Dönnhoff Arguably the best winemaker in the Nahe, Germany. Dönnhoff, Riesling Estate, 2017 This entry level Estate Riesling is pure elegance. It is graceful and lithe in texture, with racy acidity and ample stone fruit and citrus. (Slightly Off Dry) Dönnhoff, Riesling Trocken Kreuznacher Kahlenberg, 2017 Full of the smoky, stony quality we love in great German Rieslings. It has great finesse and great fruit — a mélange of ripe apple and tropical guava. (Very Dry) Eva Fricke The darling of the Rheingau in Germany. Eva didn't grow up in a vineyard, but has quickly risen through the ranks of amazing producers. Eva Fricke, Riesling Rheingau, 2017 Her entry level wine lacks for nothing. It is full of verve, with a lithe texture and bursting with yellow apples, nectarines and a dry finish. (Slightly Off-Dry, finishes Dry) Eva Fricke, Riesling Dry Kiedricher 2017 Stony, flinty smoke, kumquats and lemon peel. This wine is so ethereal a sip is like drinking air. (Dry) Eva Fricke, Riesling Off Dry Lorch Wisperwind Aromatic ripe tropical fruit on the nose. Silky texture, broad mid palate filled with pineapples and ripe peaches, the lifts-off with searing acid to produce and incredibly balanced, yet full bodied wine. (Off-Dry) Gunderloch 6 generations of winemaking and 300 years on the land give a leg up to this classic producer from the Rheinhessen, Germany. Gunderloch, Riesling Dry Estate 2015 Classic Riesling tertiary notes of petrol, damp earth and candied lemon peel pop out of the glass. A dense palate with plenty of acid and a smoky finish. (Dry) Gunderloch, Riesling Niersteiner, 2014 From the coolest part of the hillside, allowing delicate notes of unripe peach, orange zest and lemon juice to dance around like a Prima Ballerina. The 2014's have sold out everywhere else, get a bottle while you still can. (Dry) Gunderloch, Riesling Kabinett Jean-Baptiste, 2017 A crazy deal for such an amazingly juicy, vibrant wine. Pickle brine, just picked peaches explode with mouth-filling texture. This is happy wine. (Slightly Sweet) Gunderloch, Riesling GG Nackenheimer Rothenberg, 2016 Vineyards so rocky and steep the land is nearly impossible to work, which hasn't stopped the Gunderloch's from excelling at it for 130 years. Layers upon layers of peachy, chalky, lemony, flinty, waxy wine portray what makes this site and this family the best of the best. Drink now or cellar. (Dry) Jurtschitsch Vanguards of the natural wine scene in the Kamptal, an Austrian region known for elegant and aromatic wines. Jurtschitsch, Riesling Zobinger Heiligenstein Erste Lage, 2016 Showcasing the prettiness of the Kamptal from the get go: Barely ripe nectarines, heady orange blossom and minerality lingers on the finish for as long as you can wait to have the next sip. (Dry) Hirtzberger Franz Hirtzberger hails from the Wachau in Austria and is as meticulous in the vineyards as the cellar. He doesn't control the environment around him as much as coax its potential into being. Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Federspiel “Steinerterrassen”, 2016 Floral aromas abound on the nose, a bright lemon zing and a mid palate peachiness with a slightly lighter bodied than the rest of the line up. The best dry riesling I have found for the money. (Dry) Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd “Setzberg”, 2016 The highest altitude vineyard holding giving it the brightest acidity with true potential for very long aging. The nose is floral with hints of lemon and unripe peaches. The minerality and spice abound with slight petrol and the finish is long. This will go great with food now, but really sing with a couple years of bottle age. (Dry) Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling Smaragd “Hochrain”, 2016 I was lucky enough to drink a 2006 recently. All I can say is BUY THIS BOTTLE and WAIT. The 2006 nose was spicy, earthy, truffle-y, orangey with honey and butter scotch exploding like pop rocks on my tongue. The 2016 is already so delicious and zippy, but poised to show the same evolution as its 2006 counterpart. A dry magical riesling worth waiting for. (Dry) Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling "Singerriedel" Smaragd, 2016 Singerriedel vineyard, one of the best in the Wachau, rises steeply right behind Weingut Hirtzberger. Very special attention is given to the site, and the family has been rebuilding the stone terraces for 20 years. The reason for their great efforts is the extreme minerality of the soil, comprising gneiss, mica, schist and other primary rocks. This unique terroir provides us with the foundation for our greatest Riesling Smaragd. The Austrian equivalent to Trimbachs's Alsace masterpiece Clos Ste. Hune. (Dry) Egon Müller Considered by many to be the greatest producer of Riesling from anywhere. Although his home base is in the Mosel, Germany, he making wine to express terroir around the world. Chateau Bela (Egon Müller), Riesling, 2016 From Slovakia, this is another one of Müller's farflung Riesling endeavors, and easily his best value wines. It is bone-dry, and has soaring acidity. We love it! (Dry) Kanta (Egon Müller), Riesling Adelaide Hills, 2014 Concentrated and intense in texture, this has a bit of the oiliness commonly found in Australian Rieslings, but well-integrated acidity and bright, tropical fruit to round things out. (Dry) Egon Müller, Riesling Spätlese Scharzhofberger, 2016 (super limited) "Scents of white peach, white currant, lime and grapefruit lead to a lusciously fruited palate strongly citric in its bright juiciness but with less naked sense of electric acidity than his other wines. There is even a hint of creaminess to the texture. A mingling of ripe honeydew melon with alluring, honeysuckle-like inner-mouth perfume further enhances the sense of advanced phenolic evolution.... To cite deftly integrated acids and residual sugar doesnt begin to do justice to what is displayed here. And yet the finish, as long-lasting as it is, comes off as restrained and tucked in at the edges, no doubt pointing to a wine very much in need of bottle age to show its true potential." David Schildknecht, Vinous (Medium Sweet) Nikolaihof Thought to be the oldest winery in Austria, with the first documents of wine production dating back to 470 A.D. This Wachau estate was also one of the first Biodynamic farms in Austria. Nikolaihof, Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel, 2017 “This is just excellent wine, Nikolaihof as we love them to be; lively, sorrel-y, ped-pod and chervil; just on the right side of funky, full of soul and energy. But it’s a reflective sort of energy, suggestive of reverie even as it chugs and puffs.” Terry Theise, Importer & Author (Dry) Selbach-Oster Possibly my favorite Mosel estate. Johannes Selbach is renowned for his ability to take a snap shot of a vineyard at one place in time with every bottling he makes. Selbach-Oster, Riesling Kabinett Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, 2017 “More middle, more umami, the same sense of deep-shade, a weird cool heat. Sure that’s crazy but this wine is massive yet inferential, not so much deep as subterranean.” Terry Theise (Off-Dry) Selbach-Oster, Riesling Spätlese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, 2017 Slate, lime, apple, butter-vanilla, rich, almost chewy earthiness, great depth and very full-bodied. (Off-Dry to Medium Sweet) Selbach-Oster, Riesling Auslese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, 2017 Auslese or "Special Harvest", are grapes from even riper, select bunches of berries, sometimes infected with Botrytis (Noble Rot). Tropical notes of pineapple and mango with hints of marmalade are layered in with the rest of the slate, cream and earth, very full-bodied. (Sweet) Selbach-Oster, Riesling Beerenauslese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, 2017 (375ml) Beerenauslese or "special harvested berries", individual berries picked at optimum ripeness, usually infected by Botrytis. Rich full-bodied, all of the tasting notes above with a magnifying glass on each aspect. This is a flavor generator and can age forever. (Very Sweet) Selbach-Oster, Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, 2017 (375ml) Trockenbeerenauslese or "dried special harvest berries" are only picked when infected with botrytis. This is one of the most decadent, intense, complex, longest lived, wines in the world. A whirlpool of marmalade, saffron, lemon, honey, butterscotch, cream, slate, salt, earth, mushroom, and a never ending finish. (Lusciously Sweet) Want to understand that idea of "terroir-transparence"? Try your own comparative tasting with friends. Taste through all 5 prädikat levels from a single producer and a single vineyard in a single vintage. Spreitzer A beautiful and ancient, family-run, sustainably-farmed estate in the Rheingau, Germany. Weingut Spreitzer, Rheingau Riesling 101, 2017 Aromatic white flowers with a titillating blend of tropical fruit and citrus. A perfect pairing to spicy asian food. (Medium Sweet) Von Winning This family estate in the Pfalz in Germany produces wines of great clarity and polish. High-density planting and organic and biodynamic farming combine with historical traditions beautifully. Von Winning, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling 1er Lage Trocken, 2017 An incredibly chewy Riesling, thanks to extended lees aging. This is a minerality bomb, with just a hint of lime leaf and salt. A long, lingering dry finish. (Dry) Von Winning, Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Riesling 1er Lage Trocken, 2017 More silky in texture than the Paradiesgarten, this has ample and limpid clarity, with a bright acidity and more of that incredible minerality. (Dry) Von Winning, Kalkofen, GG, 2016 Grown on chalky soils, there is a sensation on the palate almost like a still Champagne. Pure mineral elegance with just a slight nuance of citrus and green apple skin. (Dry)