I’ve spent the last couple of days here at the Riesling Rendezvous, a spectacular event hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen. It’s a gathering of some of the finest riesling producers from around the world, with the likes of Pierre Trimbach, Egon Müller, Helmut and Gabi Dönnhof, Johannes Leitz, Christine Saahs, Johannes Hirsch, Stephen and Prue Henschke and Judi Cullam all in attendance. Not to mention a number of eminent wine personalities, including Stuart Pigott, the master of ceremonies and spiritual guru of this event, seen here in his customary sartorial splendor as Stephen Brook looks on and Caroline Diel tries not to. Needless to say, we’ve been tasting some outstanding wines.
Today happens to be my birthday, and to kick it off this morning I attended a tasting of older rieslings. When your first wine of the day, at 9:00am, is 1988 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund, you know you’re in for a good day. Unbelievable purity and finesse, with a silky intensity and haunting clarity of fragrance — this wine demonstrates why Nikolaihof Steiner Hund is one of my favorite rieslings in the world. The wine immediately following that was Trimbach’s 1995 Frédéric Émile, and while this showed its typical class and expression, it wasn’t quite in the league of the Steiner Hund. Not to take anything away from the Frédéric Émile — the wine was terrific — but it just showed how special the first wine was. A collection of other wines followed, including a lovely 1998 Steingarten from Orlando Wines, which seemed to me at a perfect point of drinking; a delicious Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese from 1983, which showed classic, old-school elegance and grace; a terrifically impressive 1989 Semi-Dry Riesling from Dr. Konstantin Frank; and a trio of heavy hitters to close the tasting — Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Spätlese 1998, Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese 1988 and Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Auslese Goldkapsel (auction) 2001.
As I’m hooking up with my friend Brian later on today, it’s guaranteed that many more quality beverages are going to be appearing in my near future. I can’t wait.