Besides clearly being a pleasurable experience, tasting old wines also gives us a chance to put notions of good and bad years into perspective. Riesling in particular is never short of pleasant surprises!
Anything to do with the good old days is often associated with nostalgia. There’s always an element of this when opening an old bottle of wine. However, it’s combined with real excitement, as this particular brand of time travel is always a thrilling experience!
We’ve selected four wines for this issue – three Rieslings and a Pinot Noir. The youngest was harvested in 2014 (Wintrange Felsberg Riesling by Henri Ruppert) and the other three wines were produced before 2010 (the 2008 Remich Primerberg Privilège Riesling from Domaine L&R Kox, 2008 Ehnen Kelterberg Pinot Noir from the Kohll-Reuland estate, and 2009 Palmberg Riesling from Caves Berna).
Once again, the main takeaway from this tasting is that wines produced from the finest terroirs have great ageing potential. None of the wines opened for this section of the magazine have ever shown any defects. On the contrary, age adds a new dimension to the wine. For example, Rieslings’ expression of their terroirs’ minerality gets even better with age. The three wines produced from this grape variety showed great finesse, purity and depth. Each one was a delight in its own unique way! As for the Pinot Noir, the wine’s breadth and the finesse of its tannins were remarkable.
It was also very interesting to note that the relevance of perceptions regarding good or poor years is ultimately relative. For instance, 2008 bore all the hallmarks of an awful year and 2014 was not much better due to variable weather. However, a wet summer is not prohibitive for grape varieties that ripen late. And ultimately, Riesling wines can benefit significantly from just-ripe grapes with moderate sugar levels. Although sure to be somewhat sharp in their early years, with time, they can develop outstanding finesse. With no help from the weather, the results are all down to the winemakers’ efforts, so hats off to them!