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Sunday, September 13, 2009 at Absinthe Restaurant, San Francisco, CA
Prejudices exist to be discredited, and one that’s particularly annoying is that white wines—particularly ones released at $50 or less—aren’t riveting enough for vertical tastings.
Granted, most white wines aren’t worthy, but neither are most reds. It takes a wine that offers both real longevity and real complexity to be worth sitting down to a three-hour vertical.
Anyone who was at Absinthe on Sunday night certainly got the message. The outstanding menu provided a perfect backdrop for four flights of Trimbach's Riesling Frédéric Emile dating back to 1979. True believers of Freddie Emile would anticipate a truly memorable evening. But we suspect that most wine lovers would not. After all, “The Fred” isn't even Trimbach's best Riesling (that honor goes to the iconic Clos Ste. Hune). And it’s too cheap (released in its normal cuvée at about fifty bucks) and too available (3000 cases in a good year). But that doesn't keep it from being France’s second best Riesling and a wine that ages for decades, revealing stunning nuance and complexity.
First flight (with Heirloom tomatoes, manouri cheese, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar): 2001 FE, 2001 FE 375th Anniversary Cuvée, 2000 FE
Second flight (with dried apricot and sage pate with house-made mustard, cornichons and crostini): 1996, 1995 and 1990 FE
Third flight (with slow-cooked port confit with braised red cabbage, pancella, baby mustard green salad and mustard oil): 1986, 1985 and1979 FE (all recently shipped from the domaine)
Fourth flight (with cheese): 2001 and 1998 Vendange Tardive and 1990 Selection des Grains Nobles
The overall quality of the wine was stunning, as was the condition of the bottles. The only real disappointment was an advanced bottle of 1996. But that was offset by most of the older bottles being surreally young. At the end of the evening, we polled the group for firsts, seconds and thirds, and four wines were the clear favorites:
1990 Frédéric Emile (24 points: seven 1st place votes and one 3rd place vote)
2001 Frédéric Emile 375th Anniversary Cuvée (23 points: four 1, four 2nds and three 3rds)
1990 Frédéric Emile SGN (14 points: one 1st, four 2nds, and three 3rds)
1995 Frédéric Emile (ten points: two 1sts and two 2nds)
Longtime client and student of Trimbach’s Rieslings, Harry Hollander, quickly posted amazing notes on the tasting on Cellartracker. We commend them to you: http://www.cellartracker.com/event.asp?iEvent=8600.
We’re already thinking about our next foray: either a similar vertical of Clos Ste. Hune, or maybe even a face-off of The Fred with his much more famous brother.
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