October 23, 2008

Evolution 1.5: RED

Some of you will remember that this summer we began a bold and innovative long-term study at the Lab. We acquired a case of each of Red Burgundy and New Zealand Riesling. We set out to taste them on a precise schedule, one bottle every six months, to chart their progression over time.

And like Galileo, the Wright Brothers and Rodney Dangerfield before us, we were mocked for the audacity of our vision. A reader informed us:
I can't say I'm agreeing that a $22 NZ Riesling, nor a $22 bottle of red Burg are "serious" and something to seriously age.

I don't know of anyone intentionally ageing (sic) NZ riesling in their cellars (German and Austrian are by far the two choices), and those $22 red Burgs are to be drunk young...they'd sell for more it they were meant for (or could improve with) ageing (sic).
---- Jack, July 15, 2008
We didn't defend ourselves then, nor will now. Because, my friends, I know how to do this...

Wait a second. "I know how to do this?" You didn't think I seriously thought that would work ? Of course, it doesn't. So here's the rationale for our selections.

The white, a 2005 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Lebecca Vineyard Riesling, may be from New Zealand, but it has been heralded as exceptional by legendary Australian wine writer James Halliday (amongst others), who noted (ironically in this context) that the wine has, "the texture of Mosel auslese." It was designed by the winemaker to reflect a pure expression of the Riesling grape and the local terroir. It is certainly built to age, even if it's drinking beautifully now.

The Red is a 2001 J. Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romaneé. My assistant found the current release, the 2005 vintage, on Wine-Searcher for $55. So not only does it qualify as "serious" according to Jack's (somewhat ridiculous) definition. But it also counts as finding a great bargain on a good wine from a minor vintage from a solid producer.

Today we plan open our first bottle of the Red in the Lab. So we will also be testing my value-oriented procurement strategy. But I've always been successful buying producers I respect regardless of the generally perceived quality of the vintage. So it's a test I'm pretty sure I'll pass. Plus, I'll be grading the exam myself.

4 comments:

Edward said...

Both sound like very admirable and cellar worthy wines. I love the 'clarity' of Kiwi pinot. I paid close to $A100 for my bottles of 05 Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romaneé, so $22 is an outrageous bargin.

Chief of Lab Research said...

Thank you, Doctor.

Joe Manekin said...

Hmmm...Pyramid Valley riesling to my taste is certainly an odd bird. Lots of people love it, though I prefer the PB. More fruit purity and better balance IMHO. As for the CC, I'd be curious to try some of their village VR. I am aging some of the '05 Bourgogne rouge, which to my palate and that of my colleague who purchased it, should cellar well for at least 7 years or more.

Manager, Oenology Studies said...

Old/New,
I'm highly biased about PVV. I love their whole book. The soon to be out Home Grown Pinots are freakin' stunning.

I'd defend the Lebecca by saying that I think it's really expressive of it's vineyard. And it's not an ordinary vineyard. Interesting to taste the Lebecca next to the Rose. Same vineyard but with different spacing, pruning.

You'll need to come by the Lab soon. Either for the next installment of the C-C Evolution, or for a vertical of the the Vosne-Romaneé. We're collected 1988, 2001 and 2005 to taste side by side. Doc, you can come too!

cheers,