Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Alexander » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:01 pm

Nope...no Cali love. Thought about Scholium and Thackrey, but ultimately decided that I like them because they're antithetical to everything I hate in CA - not because they're actually in my top 5. I don't want to hijack or veer off the subject, but it brought up an interesting point: What are my top 5 favorite CA wines? I pretty much stopped buying domestic wine for personal consumption after college, but made a point to grab as much new stuff while surfing in SB/Ventura last month. No across-the-board amazing new producers but 5 unexpectedly great wines:

'06 Lane Tanner Julia's Vin. Pinot (my new favorite CA wine)
'04 Huber Dornfelder (This has been great for 3 consecutive vintages)
'04 Palmina Arneis (Big, creamy arneis...weird, but good.)
'04 Diatom Huber Chard (Nothing to add to the mountain of critical praise already heaped on this wine)
'07 Rancho Sisquoc Riesling (Surprisingly well-structured)

-AL
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby henjef » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:28 am

Lyle and Keith:

Thank you for the heads-up on Renaissance. Never heard of them until now, but it appears our palates are similarly aligned so I must try them. I see from their website that they focus on a mixture of Cab and Rhone varietals. Any suggestions on which wine makes the best introduction to this producer?

Many thanks,

Jeff
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby mobiusmodx » Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:34 am

Schafer-Frohlich - The wines just get better and better every year. The 07's have been revelatory for me.

Keller - I know, cliche. But, the wines are stunning, top to bottom. The 07 Spat GK, Kabinett, and von der Fels, not to mention the GG's like Hubacker, are utterly bonkers wines. Heck, even the QbA was stunning.

Donnhoff - Again, cliche. But the '01 Felsenberg Turmchen and '02 Brucke are wines I will not soon erase from my memory.

JJ Prum - I know, not original, but 1971 Wehlener GKA was a wine that made me swoon. Perhaps the greatest Riesling I ever had. Too bad the wines aren't very giving young, in my experience.

Roblet-Monnot - I had an '02 Volnay St. Francois at a super-fancy dinner in London with a colleague. This wine almost outshined the stupendouos meal. Even the humble 05 Bourgogne Rouge was incredible stuff. But, I must admit to not having had that much high-end Burgundy.

Patricia Green - Absolutely incredible, delineated, balanced Pinot Noir. The Old Vines and Eason in '06 were out of this world.

Copain - Not a Syrah guy, but their Pinots are really terrific.

Francois Cazin - The 96 Cuvee Renaissance was a bonkers wine and the 02 was really awesome as well. Huge huge fan.

Scholium Project - Sylphs and Cena really changed my view on California Chard and Sauv Blanc. A mad genius, incredibly kind, and super fun. Drinking with him on his porch was def the highlight of the year for me.

Guy Breton - I really love Descombes, Desvignes, Breton, and Lapierre, almost equally. But I just had the 06 Breton Morgon VV three days ago. Holy cow. Still thinking about this wine.



Honorable Mentions: Pascal Boulay (simply for the out of this world 05 Comtessa), Nigl, AJ Adam, Lapierre/Descombes/Desvignes
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Keith Levenberg » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:39 am

Lyle Fass wrote:Keith,

I expected all from you except I am puzzled with Adam. I love the wines but have had more misses than hits. But when they hit, they hit me over the head they are mindbogglingly good. A 2007 Hofberg Spatlese was average and lowish in acidity last night.

Rennaissance is a must for anyone who hasn't tried it. I saw someone commented there was no CA love. Rennaissance is top notch and easily the most interesting earth-driven California Cabernet out there,

Keith, If I also may ask, a brief one or two sentence on why you like each guy on your list. Always a treat coming from a wordsmith such as yourself.


Haven't really had a miss from Adam yet although I will admit that their drier wines are more distinctive and interesting than the standard sweet Spatlesen, and it's on that basis I'd pick Adam if I could have no other German producer in my cellar. They don't use sugar for the slutty appeal but have enough sugar to give them perfect balance and avoid the uber-trocken trend. I think the pendulums on both sweetness and trockens have swung too far in their respective directions and Adam is the only producer that seems to get it "just right" in that Goldilocks sense for me.

So here's my requested commentary on the rest...

Alzinger - could also have picked Knoll, but went with Alzinger on the basis of recent Steinertals and the value pricing of their lower-end bottlings. Every time I have one of these wines I wonder why people waste their money on Clos Ste. Hune. It's basically a tax on people too lazy to learn about Austria.
Clos Rougeard - if Le Bourg were in Bordeaux it would cost $1,000 a bottle.
DRC - Even when it DOES cost $1,000 a bottle, it's almost worth it.
Haut-Brion - Pepys' 17th C. description of a "good and most peculiar taste that I never met with" is still on the money. No other wine tastes like it, not even La Mission. (The closest thing to a poor-man's version is probably the pre-Magrez Pape-Clements.) The other FG's taste like Bordeaux, just a little better (or a little worse) than others, while Haut-Brion (and Cheval-Blanc) taste like their own thing.
Lopez de Heredia - bottle variation is admittedly frustrating but when it's on you wish like every wine you opened could be like it.
Renaissance - what I just said about Haut-Brion in Bordeaux is equally true of Renaissance in California.
Giuseppe Rinaldi - I give Rinaldi the edge over Conterno. Conterno might be more finessed but Rinaldi is as close as it comes to the picture of Barolo in the dictionary.
Salon - It's not Champagne, it's Salon!
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Keith Levenberg » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:47 am

henjef wrote:Lyle and Keith:

Thank you for the heads-up on Renaissance. Never heard of them until now, but it appears our palates are similarly aligned so I must try them. I see from their website that they focus on a mixture of Cab and Rhone varietals. Any suggestions on which wine makes the best introduction to this producer?

Many thanks,

Jeff

The first I'd try is just the regular, non-designated Cabernet. If they still have the '99, it's an incredible bargain and a great intro to what Renaissance offers. The wines are built to age so sometimes the "better" bottlings are so tannic that they don't show as well as the basic one. The '99 Vin de Terroir is an exception, though, and already shows exceptionally well.
Here's a description from the winemaker describing the differences in style among the various bottlings, though it may be a little out of date in that I understand a new one has been added.
http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/sho ... ostcount=4

I do prefer their Bordeaux varieties to their Rhone varieties but that's a fundamental preference I have w/r/t to the grapes, so if you're a syrah guy your mileage may vary.

Additionally the same winemaker, Gideon Bienstock, also has a personal label Clos Saron where he makes pinot noir and some other random things. Their '07 Home Vineyard pinot noir is one of the best California pinots I have ever had.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Lyle Fass » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:07 am

Alexander wrote:Nope...no Cali love. Thought about Scholium and Thackrey, but ultimately decided that I like them because they're antithetical to everything I hate in CA - not because they're actually in my top 5. I don't want to hijack or veer off the subject, but it brought up an interesting point: What are my top 5 favorite CA wines? I pretty much stopped buying domestic wine for personal consumption after college, but made a point to grab as much new stuff while surfing in SB/Ventura last month. No across-the-board amazing new producers but 5 unexpectedly great wines:

'06 Lane Tanner Julia's Vin. Pinot (my new favorite CA wine)
'04 Huber Dornfelder (This has been great for 3 consecutive vintages)
'04 Palmina Arneis (Big, creamy arneis...weird, but good.)
'04 Diatom Huber Chard (Nothing to add to the mountain of critical praise already heaped on this wine)
'07 Rancho Sisquoc Riesling (Surprisingly well-structured)

-AL


Really interesting list. Tell me more about Huber Dornfelder. I only know about it from my German experience as it is hugely planted in the south but also the Mosel and Rheingau. It is pretty much everywhere. The Germans love it. Most of the ones I have had are dark wines with kind of goofy fruit but with potential. Like Petit Verdot a little bit.

Diatom is good and I respect what they are doing with the whole inox thing but the high alcohol on those wines kills me. Sometimes you cannot taste it but it's something I don't understand. Why plant Chardonnay if you know it's gonna be a 16% wine. Maybe grow something different? Early ripening?
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Lyle Fass » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:22 am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
Lyle Fass wrote:Keith,

I expected all from you except I am puzzled with Adam. I love the wines but have had more misses than hits. But when they hit, they hit me over the head they are mindbogglingly good. A 2007 Hofberg Spatlese was average and lowish in acidity last night.

Rennaissance is a must for anyone who hasn't tried it. I saw someone commented there was no CA love. Rennaissance is top notch and easily the most interesting earth-driven California Cabernet out there,

Keith, If I also may ask, a brief one or two sentence on why you like each guy on your list. Always a treat coming from a wordsmith such as yourself.


Haven't really had a miss from Adam yet although I will admit that their drier wines are more distinctive and interesting than the standard sweet Spatlesen, and it's on that basis I'd pick Adam if I could have no other German producer in my cellar. They don't use sugar for the slutty appeal but have enough sugar to give them perfect balance and avoid the uber-trocken trend. I think the pendulums on both sweetness and trockens have swung too far in their respective directions and Adam is the only producer that seems to get it "just right" in that Goldilocks sense for me.

So here's my requested commentary on the rest...

Alzinger - could also have picked Knoll, but went with Alzinger on the basis of recent Steinertals and the value pricing of their lower-end bottlings. Every time I have one of these wines I wonder why people waste their money on Clos Ste. Hune. It's basically a tax on people too lazy to learn about Austria.
Clos Rougeard - if Le Bourg were in Bordeaux it would cost $1,000 a bottle.
DRC - Even when it DOES cost $1,000 a bottle, it's almost worth it.
Haut-Brion - Pepys' 17th C. description of a "good and most peculiar taste that I never met with" is still on the money. No other wine tastes like it, not even La Mission. (The closest thing to a poor-man's version is probably the pre-Magrez Pape-Clements.) The other FG's taste like Bordeaux, just a little better (or a little worse) than others, while Haut-Brion (and Cheval-Blanc) taste like their own thing.
Lopez de Heredia - bottle variation is admittedly frustrating but when it's on you wish like every wine you opened could be like it.
Renaissance - what I just said about Haut-Brion in Bordeaux is equally true of Renaissance in California.
Giuseppe Rinaldi - I give Rinaldi the edge over Conterno. Conterno might be more finessed but Rinaldi is as close as it comes to the picture of Barolo in the dictionary.
Salon - It's not Champagne, it's Salon!


First on Adam. The skin contact he uses also gives the wine amazing texture. Agree on the sugar. If you like that Steinmetz and I'd say Clemens Busch might be up your alley. So many of the better Clemens Busch wines have not been brought in to the country yet but once they are you will really dig them.

I attended a Haut Brion Acker vertical in March of 2007 and it was a fascinating experience as the wine is truly "made in the vineyard" as Burgundy is and not "made in the winery" as most Bordeaux is these days. The youngest was maybe 2002 and the oldest was 1982 maybe. What was interesting was that the wines showed little or no fruit young, but were still captivating as that character was still there. That unique character. Then as it ages the fruit comes up to the surface and then at around 15 years old the fruit takes grip and is glorious. Red fruits usually and so pure, juicy and bouncy in style. Mix that and some Haut-Brion character and you have the highest quality and most unique estate in Bordeaux by far. It is one of my favorite estates. I even thought their 1997 was killer.

Clos Rougeard I love but not like others do. I have never swooned. I actually like Baudry way more.

The one sip of '71 Rinaldi Brunate Le Coste I had had me wondering about my allegiance to Conterno and Mascarello.

Salon is good . . .but really hard for me to put a Champer on my top ten. Like the wines, but what I like is the best of the best so I haven't really bought much to drink on my own. That's my problem in Burg and Bordeaux too. Here I come Irouleguy where the best costs you maybe $25. :lol:

Oh the CSH tax line was pure Levenberg. I think Trimbach is like the Dom Perignon of Riesling. Everybody knows it, its a brand, its good, can be very good, but ultimately there's a ton more out there that is better and cheaper. All it takes is a bit of research.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Keith Levenberg » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:31 am

Love both Clos Rougeard and Baudry but in a different way. I consider Le Bourg more of a peer of Cheval-Blanc than of anything else made in the Loire, sort of the same way you don't really compare Dagueneau to, say, Vatan or the Cotats.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Lyle Fass » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:49 am

henjef wrote:Lyle and Keith:

Thank you for the heads-up on Renaissance. Never heard of them until now, but it appears our palates are similarly aligned so I must try them. I see from their website that they focus on a mixture of Cab and Rhone varietals. Any suggestions on which wine makes the best introduction to this producer?

Many thanks,

Jeff


The Cabernet wines are the way to go here, plus the amazing vin de terroir.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 6-4-09; Top Ten Producers

Postby Andrew Hall » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:38 pm

I forgot my top Bdx - La Conseillante.

I was on a pretty anti-Bdx kick and rah-rah for regional, obscure French wines. My friend and I were bopping around France, dining at ***s and having a great time with the somms who would geek out when I asked for 'something I've never heard of.' When we were at Pres d'Eugenie, the somm sort of shook his head at this and then smiled. Yes, it was a definite somm uptick on the cost, but that Conseillante (85, I think) just rocked our worlds. Bdx in a svelte, sexy package with underlying mineral and velvet. Hooked from there. Hardly every buy it to age, but you can find various older vintages at relative bargain. It can also be very chimerical - one bottle of '88 was an obtuse, tannic mess and another in a few years was plush and leather mini-skirty.

Haut Brion is more regal, more elegant, but La Conseillante just resonates with me.

Dammit. I think I will check on a 2001 just because I tripped over in the cellar the other day and now it haunts me like a beautiful women hastily glanced.

A.
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