Any wine-grower will tell you that Luxembourgian wines are generally drunk when they are too young. This new section, which will feature in all subsequent issues of Vinorama, reports on a special tasting session bringing a group of experts together to put some old Luxembourgian Moselle vintages through their paces. It may well encourage people to be a little more patient!
An invitation was sent out asking guests to meet at the Concilium building in Stadtbredimus, home to the offices of Vinorama. A first-class team responded, gathering around a huge oak table with a fantastic view of the river lock below and the Primerberg vineyard further in the distance. The group comprised three tasters with exceptionally well-honed palates and an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine. All represent Luxembourg at blind tasting competitions at which contestants are required to identify the grape variety, designation of origin, producer and year of unlabelled wines served to them. For these men, this challenge is by no means a mission impossible.
Hervé Amann manages the wine department of wine and spirit producer, Pitz-Schweitzer (Hosingen, www.pitz-schweitzer.lu). He selects wines for inclusion on a list that is both impressive and exciting. Hervé is passionate about visiting wine regions around the world to unearth hidden gems and wine-growers with character. While gastronomic restaurants form the majority of his customer base, his selections are also available to private customers exclusively in Luxembourg. In March, Hervé Amann and his wife Zaiah won a round of the French wine-tasting championship held in Bourgueil – their first taste of success!
I was surprised at just how good the wines I drank were
Guy Bosseler is a retired teacher and an extremely skilled taster with an incredible memory and huge passion for wines. He is much more interested in the profoundly intellectual exercise of blind tasting than its competitive dimension. In 2014, he came third in the Masters Europe (the European wine-tasting championships) held at the Mondorf spa resort.
Valentin Niro is also a genuine wine enthusiast and seasoned taster. He is a retired sales representative who now spends much of his time tasting wines from around the world. Like the other two, he enters all the wine-tasting championships and has had a good deal of success, ranking 9th last year in the Chablis round of the French wine-tasting championship.
The three friends were unanimous about the wines we gave them to taste. “I made some great new discoveries, confirming the positive view I have of Luxembourgian wine,” smiles Hervé Amann. “I was surprised at just how good the wines I drank were, particularly the Vinsmoselle Pinot Blanc,” admits Valentin Niro. “There were two wines that I would like to have in my cellar – the extraordinary Chardonnay by Schmit-Fohl and the Clos des Rochers Auxerrois. Both these wines inspired some incredible feelings!” adds Guy Bosseler.
Unfortunately, wines tasted for this section are, by definition, no longer available for sale. However, it is entirely up to anyone lucky enough to have such gems in their cellars to watch them age and flourish!
Domaine Vinsmoselle, 2012 Charta Schengen Prestige Pinot Blanc
Hervé Amann, Guy Bosseler and Valentin Niro agree: “Its nose is surprisingly rich, intense and floral! It is also very impressive in terms of substance – it is slightly rich but also very fresh with some nice bitter flavours that do not dry out your mouth. This is a very fine wine best served with dinner rather than outdoors on a terrace. It is impressively harmonious with wonderful minerality and mildly smoky aromas. This Pinot Blanc is intense and very pleasant. It is definitely at its best now.”
Clos des Rochers, 2001 Grevenmacher Fels Auxerrois.
Valentin Niro: “Look at the colour – it is oxidised.”
Guy Bosseler: – Yes, but it is definitely not dead! I really like these old wines. It has notes of oxidised Chardonnay and a touch of orange zest. I think this is a fantastic wine and I would like to have some in my cellar! I’m imagining it with poultry liver pâté which I make myself – this is making my mouth water!
Hervé Amann: – I know what you mean, Guy. Often the challenge for these old vintages is to find a good pairing. They can be fabulous when you find the right combination!”
Domaine Mehlen-Molitor, 1981 Palmberg Riesling
Hervé Amann, Guy Bosseler and Valentin Niro are unanimous: “Admittedly, it has lost some of its fruitiness, but despite its age (a ripe old 38 years), it is not oxidised. It is lively in the mouth and not flat. It reflects the quality of the fantastic Palmberg terroir. It’s a pleasant surprise to see such an old wine in such good condition!”
Domaine Schmit-Fohl, 2009 Ahn Hohfels Chardonnay
Hervé Amann, Guy Bosseler and Valentin Niro are unanimous: “What a magnificent wine! It is perfectly balanced and very mineral, with some wonderful resinous notes. This Chardonnay is very fresh with a fine structure and very good length in the mouth. It is very lively and the harmony between the grape variety and maturation is perfect. It is reminiscent of a Rully or – let’s push the boat out – a Côte de Beaune! Although it lacks the volume, its aromatic palette is similar to a Coche-Dury (editor’s note: a prestigious estate in Meursault). It is a great wine for tasting. The Schmit-Fohl estate is definitely doing some very good work.”
Domaine Alice-Hartmann, 2011 Wormeldange Koeppchen Les Terrasses Riesling
Again, Hervé Amann, Guy Bosseler and Valentin Niro are unanimous: “This wine has reached its peak and is indisputably one of Luxembourg’s first-class Rieslings. In terms of substance, it ticks all the boxes! This fantastic Riesling has been made with great finesse – it is perfectly developed. It is fresh and lively in the mouth with its pineapple notes and not too sweet, which is a big plus. This is a fine example of a Riesling from a great Luxembourgian terroir!”