Rangen Riesling Rocks, Revisited

Vinted on November 15, 2017 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review

Remember when I waxed all smitten-like over a tasting of Rangen Alsace Grand Cru Riesling?

Well, I do. Rangen view 2017

I was so smitten, in fact, that I did  something that I’ve only ever done twice in ten years, which was to reach out to the U.S. PR agency dealing with Alsatian wines and ask them to book me on a media jaunt to the area, so that I could get my feet directly on those Rangen rocks. Which, luckily for me, they did.

Rangen steps 2017In a classic case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for-vuz-you-just-might-get-it, I then had to scale the greater-than-45-degree slopes of Alsace’s southernmost (and by far its steepest) Grand Cru vineyard site, though the view (and the tastes) about 450 meters up were well worth a little breathlessness (PSA: if you consider yourself not exactly physically fit, you might want to skip a visit to Rangen). Think the Mosel, only steeper (yes, the vineyard workes use ropes to secure themselves from falling to their deaths during harvest), or the Douro (only with less terracing and more danger to life and limb). The only marring comes by way of the factories along the nearby Thur river, a holdover from the `50s. Otherwise, this spot between Thann and Vieux-Thann is thoroughly picturesque.

Rangen has a few other characteristics that distinguish it from the rest of Alsace’s (many) GC sites. It might be one of the oldest of the region’s Grand Crus, with the origin of its name being lost to posterity (the first recorded reference goes back all the way to the Thirteenth Century). The rocky soils are about 330 million years old, the result of older mountain ranges and volcanic extrusions all mixed up together. This makes for a harder-than-average vineyard soil, with dark components that help to retain heat, with a more fragile subsoil that allows deep penetration by the vine roots.

You’d think that, with the steepness, naturally low yields, and the fact that it takes new vines closer to seven years to produce fruit here (versus three years in more forgiving environments), that harvest would be a total bitch. But there’s an even bitchier aspect of the Rangen for those that tend it…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 13, 2017

Vinted on November 13, 2017 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 11 Domaine Bruno Hertz Riesling Rangen de Thann Hospices de Strasbourg (Alsace): Turpentine & flint that are magically drinkable. $NA A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Domaine Maurice Schoech Harmonie R Rangen de Thann (Alsace Grand Cru): The color of lemon rind, the headiness of lemon blossoms. $52 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Gundlach Bundschu Vintage Reserve (Sonoma Valley): A little Cab Franc – & a lot of opulent cocoa – can go a loooooong way, folks. $125 A >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Cadaretta Southwind Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla): Bring a high tolerance for wood spice, & lots of patience. But worth it. $75 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Rain Dance Vineyards Nicholas Vineyard Estate Riesling (Chehalem Mountains): The apple-limes answer to your Thai dinner question. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • Domaine Papagiannakos Skin Contact Savatiano Vareli (Markopoulo): Probably how all Retsina-bound grapes really ought to be made. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Olianas Vermentino (Sardegna): Enough hint of a sea breeze to make you contemplate moving permanently to a Mediterranean island. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Vivanco Seleccion de Familia Reserva (Rioja): Aptly named, as there’s a lot of life left to live here; the familia has good taste. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Neyen Espiritu de Apalta (Apalta Valley): Soft, silky, and smooth almost to a hedonistic fault; the operative word being Almost. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley): This one is punching above the welterweight class with complexity & balance 1-2 combo. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
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All Reference Books, Great And Small (November 2017 Wine Product Roundup)

Vinted on November 8, 2017 binned in wine books, wine products
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine 2018

image: amazon.com

This month’s wine product review roundup requires you to get your reading glasses, as we’re taking a look at two upcoming wine reference book releases, one of them tiny (and insanely useful), the other heavy and large (and maybe a lot less useful).

First up is the venerable Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine, 2018 edition (Mitchell Beazley, 336 pages, about $17). This tiny marvel is updated annually, and at this point I struggle to say anything about it that I’ve not already said in my usual yearly boot-lickingly obnoxious recommendation of this mighty mini-tome. No wine reference book series even comes close to packing as much utility into such a small package, and doing it so consistently. That I know so may of the contributors probably only makes my endorsement seem even more boot-lickingly boot-licking, but that won’t stop me from highly recommending it. Again.

In the interests of offering a balanced appraisal, I will say that the supplemental material in last year’s 2017 40th Anniversary edition is, in my view, superior to this most recent release; so if you own that one already, you may want to skip this one and see what the 2018 edition has to offer.

Next up is a new edition of the much larger, heavier, and visually impressive Larousse Wine (Hamlyn, 656 pages, about $60). Headed by technical consultant Master Sommelier Georges Lepré, with a team of contributors that are primarily French-based or French-wine-focused, you’d think that a book with 800 photographs and 37 maps would be insanely useful. And you’d be half right…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 6, 2017

Vinted on November 6, 2017 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 15 Vina Cobos Cocodrilo Corte (Lujan de Cuyo/Valle de Uco): Did you know that cloves & dark plums could be sexy? Well, it's true. $29 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec (Mendoza): Old vines + know-how + a lot of smoked meat = a can't-go-too-wrong Malbec pick. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Nieto Senetiner Blend Collection Cabernet Franc-Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza): Friendly, fruity, fragrant, & f–king quaffable red. $13 B >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Zuccardi Santa Julia Reserva Malbec (Mendoza): Witness your incredibly addictive gateway drug to juicy, spicy Argentine reds. $14 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Luigi Bosca Finca Los Nobles Cabernet Bouchet (Las Compuertas): Rustic, funky, eclectic, and, above all else, sternly genuine. $70 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Meyer Fonne Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sporen Vendange Tardives (Alsace): Death by marmalade might actually be a very good way to go $NA A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Meyer Fonne Pinot Gris Hinterburg de Katzenthal Cuvee Eloi (Alsace): Heady, honeyed, late of harvest, & basically just heavenly. $NA A- >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Meyer-Fonne Riesling Kaefferkopf (Alsace Grand Cru): If lemons went camping & used flint fire to toast their apple-&-pear dinners. $NA A- >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Meyer Fonne Riesling Vignoble de Katzenthal (Alsace): Vines that almost literally storm the castle have gorgeously calm souls. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Stephane Aviron Morgon Cote du Py Vieilles Vignes (Beaujolais): The only thing old about this lively delight are those vines. $24 B+ >>find this wine<<
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