Wine Tasting Notes: 2005 Keller "Hubacker" Riesling and 2003 Frederic Magnien Chambolle-Musigny "Amoureuses"

So, I did a little web consulting the other day for my old buddy Geoff Harner at Mosher & Company Wine Importers. How it works: I help Geoff rebuild his company website, and he fuels my creativity with some European wine (nice work, if you can get it). We met up on Tuesday morning and tasted through a couple of really nice bottles, beginning with the 2005 Keller “Hubacker” Riesling, which is produced by one of the up-and-coming superstars of German wine, Klaus-Peter Keller. The 2005 “Hubacker” is a dry Riesling, and one of four or five “Grosses Gewächs” (or Grand Cru) bottlings in the Weingut Keller portfolio. It’s interesting to point out that Keller’s wines originate from Germany’s Rheinhessen region, an area most recently synonymous for its simple German table wines, usually produced from the meager Müller-Thurgau grape. But despite the overall mediocrity of the Rhinehessen, Keller himself has been crafting world-class wines since he took over his family’s business in 2001 (Weingut Keller dates back to 1789, for the record). Wine critic Jancis Robinson describes the line-up of Keller Grosses Gewächs as “German Montrachets,” which should be an ample seal of approval for anyone who understands the depth of that compliment.

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Following the best dry Riesling that I’ve tasted this year, we progressed to Burgundian Pinot Noir, with the 2003 Frederic Magnien Chambolle-Musigny “Amoureuses” Premier Cru. Most critics would consider the 13.5-acre Les Amoureuses vineyard to be the finest among the Chambolle-Musigny’s 24 premier cru designates (Le Musigny and Bonnes-Marres rank as the region’s two grand cru vineyards, just to refresh). There are, of course, a handful of negociants who bottle wine under the “Les Amoureuses” designate, and Frederic Magnien is but one (Louis Jadot and Joseph Drouhin represent two other recognizable names). In terms of its geography, Les Amoureuses borders Le Musigny to the south, which certainly places the vineyard firmly in the shadow of its more-famous neighbor, but which may also allow Les Amoureuses wines to sometimes approach “grand cru” type levels, both in quality and in price. Knowing that the 2003 vintage was good-but-not-great (epic heat), the 2003 Magnien Amoureuses was a pleasure to drink nonetheless. As I struggled with HTML and coding issues, the wine revealed different attributes of umami on the nose, from mushrooms to soy to beef jerky, while the palate offered elements of ripe cherries and sweet tobacco. I would love to taste the 2005 vintage.

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