ALBERT BOXLER | Riesling Grand Cru “Brand” 2015
(Alsace, France) $79
You must drink this chilled on a warm evening sometime (very) soon. Bone dry and spring-loaded with vibrant pristine flavors, it’s a mouthwatering, mouthfilling kaleidoscope of fruits, minerals, spices, and exotica. Drinking riesling from Brand (one of the great Grand Cru vineyards of Alsace) is like listening to exciting jazz, the music going in every direction and yet ribbons of soulful harmony tying it all together (and wrapping you up in it at the same time). For wine lovers, the name Albert Boxler is synonymous with mind-bending deliciousness. From 40-year-old riesling vines planted in granite. (13.5% abv)
94 points KM
Available at Kermit Lynch
Coco Chanel, Joan of Arc, and Sleeping Beauty all have important connections to the same famous wine region. What is it?
C. Loire Valley
In Champagne bottles, the punt (the indentation in the bottom of the bottle) is intentionally larger than other bottle styles, so that it forms a handhold for pouring the Champagne into glassware.
Answer: False. The punt in a Champagne bottle is usually larger than in regular bottles, but the reason is to prevent the Champagne bottle from exploding. During the second fermentation, which ultimately gives Champagne its bubbles, six atmospheres of pressure are built up inside the glass wall of the bottle. The Champagne bottle’s prominent punt allows for more even distribution of pressure inside the bottle, preventing an explosion. Originally, however, the punt was a way of preventing the jagged pontil mark—the point left over after a glass bottle was blown and shaped—from scratching the surface of a table. Later, when bottles were made using a mold, the punt was kept to add stability to the bottle when upright, and in the case of Champagne, to disperse the pressure inside the bottle over a larger surface of glass area.
Here are some great wines we want to turn you on to.
GONET-MEDEVILLE Champagne Premier Cru Brut NV (Champagne, France) $42
Crystalline crisp, spicy and vivid. I love Champagnes that dance in your mouth. 93 points KM
WALT “Savoy Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2015 (Anderson Valley, California) $75
Long, supple, earthy and spicy. The famous Savoy vineyard is known for exquisitely silky pinots. 93 points KM
THREE STICKS “Walala Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2015 (Sonoma Coast, California) $70
This pinot has sheer beauty plus a core of dark richness. Kinetically alive on the palate. 95 points KM
RIDGE “Monte Bello” Red Blend 2014 (Santa Cruz Mountains, California) $199
Beautiful foresty aromas reveal a cabernet that’s both tightly concentrated and wonderfully lifted and fresh at the same time. Sock it away for a decade.
95 points KM
EISELE VINEYARD Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Napa Valley, California) $499
Breathtakingly expensive. But SO breathtaking as a wine. It has a lit-from-within ethereal quality that only the greatest cabernets possess.
98 points KM
Most vines are composed of two parts: the part above ground, the scion (SIGH-on) and the part that’s mostly below ground, the rootstock. The scion is grafted onto the rootstock. The scion is a particular grape variety. So a scion could be cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay or a thousand other varieties, for example.
The Indescribability of Albariño
Albariño (al-bar-EEN-yo) is the great white grape of Rías Baixas in the province of Galicia in northwestern Spain. Albariños are light, snappy, dry white wines with terrific crispness. They aren’t full-bodied like most chardonnays, they aren’t green like a lot of sauvignon blancs, and they aren’tas fruity as rieslings can be. Rather, albariños have their own clean, fresh character with just a hint of peaches or almonds. Because fishing is the major industry in Galicia, it comes as no surprise that albariños are made with seafood in mind. Throw some shrimp on the grill, open a bottle, and you’ll see just what we mean.
“Dear Karen, you’ve written that, “The vintage date always refers to the year the grapes were grown and harvested.” But what if a winery is making an ice wine or eiswein and harvests the grapes in January of the following year?” —Roger C., Cheshire, CT
Roger—great question. You are right, ice wine or eiswein (made from grapes frozen naturally on the vine) is sometimes harvested in January. But when it is, the wine’s vintage date will nonetheless be the preceding year. According to my friend Johannes Selbach, proprietor of Selbach-Oster in the Mosel region of Germany, the “growing year counts, not the actual harvest date.” Eiswein from a great producer, by the way, just might be the most ravishing sweet wine in existence.
Send your questions/comments to AskKaren@winespeed.com.