Gresser 1985 Riesling Mœnchberg (Alsace) – Rémy serves this blind and makes me guess the year. I don’t recall my specific guess, but it’s somewhere in the early nineties. Not only am I more than a half-decade off, the wine has already been open for two days (at cellar temperature). It’s striking still, showing pine flowers and cedar, plus an intense forepalate that gently softens into a lingering finish full of gritty minerality. Still, drink it if you’ve got it.
Gresser 2004 Muscat Brandhof (Alsace) – From calcaire. Crisp, with apple blossoms and a vivid acidity throughout. This builds on the palate, showing more Alsace than muscat over its length.
Gresser 1999 Riesling Mœnchberg (Alsace) – From fossilized calcaire. Odd floral and celery notes at war, with dry walnut and a grating texture. To call this wine “difficult” would be an understatement. It seems like the sort of ungenerous, eroded shell of a wine I would have predicted from many ’99s as they aged, but since I don’t believe I tasted this in its youth, it would be presumptuous to draw a direct connection in this particular case.
Gresser 2003 Riesling Kastelberg (Alsace) – From Steige schist. Windblown gravel and mineral dust, with great acidity for an ’03 (and fine acidity in any case). Full-bodied but very nice, extremely dense, and long. There’s a…well, for lack of a better term, a “deep blue” taste to this wine, or at least that’s the mind in which it puts me. Highly ageable.
Gresser 2003 Riesling Wiebelsberg (Alsace) – From grès des Vosges. Floral, with white roses in wet rocks. The sharp minerality is spiky and glassy, though shattered, and this wine gives little else of itself. Wines like this need nothing but time, and though it will probably never reach the heights of the Kastelberg, it will probably live longer and better than that wine.
Gresser 2003 Riesling (Alsace) – Classic. Green apple, drying minerality and sharp acidity. Absolutely, unwaveringly classic. And, inexplicably, a withering breed in these ripeness-über-alles times. How was this achieved in 2003? I don’t get to ask, because we’re very quickly on to the next dozen wines…
Gresser 2004 Riesling Andlau (Alsace) – Vivid. Fresh daisies, showing wet gravel refreshed with river water and flecked with iron. Balanced, crisp, and sternly beautiful.
Gresser 2004 Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – Unlike most such-labeled wines, this one is actually 100% pinot blanc, and free of the thickening but occasionally overpowering qualities of auxerrois. And it shows in the wine’s fresh, tangy apricot nature. Light and pleasant, with no aspirations of being “pinot gris-lite.”
Blackenbrook 2004 Pinot Gris (Nelson) – Far too many New Zealand versions of this ubiquitously-planted grape are indifferent, at best. In an attempt to avoid such indifference, this wine sits on its fine lees for a while…not an uncommon technique, but one that helps add character and weight when the fruit is of sufficient quality. However, 2004 was a difficult vintage for this grape, and harvest occurred on the 4th of May despite an ardent desire to let the fruit hang longer. The result is still pretty good, and I’d like to see what could be done in a better vintage. There’s light pear and light residual sugar, good yeasty/leesy weight, and a fair amount of floral spice lingering about. It finishes a little sticky, though. (3/05)
Blackenbrook 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Nelson) – Clean and crisp, with intense acidity lent just enough support to create a balanced wine. Aromas come in the form of green apple, passion fruit, light but ripe red pepper, pear juice, and dried pineapple. In other words, this wine straddles two commercially-relevant styles – the crisp, peppery sauvignon that made New Zealand’s sauvignon splash, and the more modern fruit salad version – merged with élan. It has some length, too, so it just might last for a few years. This doesn’t particularly stand out among New Zealand’s many sauvignons, but it is more deftly done than most. (3/05)