August 11, 2017
Klaus-Peter Keller is considered by many to be one of the best German winemakers; Jancis Robinson calls his wines the “Montrachets of Germany”. But he doesn’t make just high end, hard to find wines; he also makes entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank. The organically farmed vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine River have been in the Keller family since 1789. The soil on these rolling hills is limestone rich, adding mineral intensity, vibrant aromatics, and glass-like purity.
We’re tasting two new arrivals from Keller tonight: 2016 Riesling Trocken and Scheurebe Kabinett (Scheurebe is a cross of Riesling and Sylvaner). These are pre-orders, just arrived, so we’ll be tasting them for the first time too. Keller doesn’t disappoint!
Tiberio Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo 2016, Abruzzo, Italy
When Riccardo Tiberio found a 60 year old plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines back in the late 90s, he knew he had stumbled upon something special. Most Trebbianos in the region are made from the far less exciting Trebbiano Toscano, but Riccardo knew what the grape was capable of achieving through masters like Emilio Pepe and Valentini. In 2000 Riccardo bought the 8 hectares of old vines, along with 31 more acres suitable for farming. He then planted indigenous varieties matched to the different soils of the vineyards: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Abruzzese, and Aglianico, were planted along with Pecorino and Moscato di Castiglione clones from ancient vines in the area. The first vintage was released in 2004, and in 2008 Riccardo turned over the winery to his daughter Cristiana, who now makes the wine, and son Antonio, he farms the vineyards. At this point the farming is a mixture of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic, depending upon the site. Cristiana has quite the resumé, having worked with Jacques Selosse, Nicolas Joly, and Egon Muller, to name just a few.
The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is from 52 year old Montepulciano vines (selection massal) planted on 4 hectares of limestone at 1200 feet elevation. The fruit is picked early to preserve freshness and acidity, and then left in tank with only 20 minutes of skin contact, which is surprising, given its vibrant color and depth of flavors. This is a wine for the dinner table; it’s concentrated, fine-grained, and full of cherries, rhubarb, raspberries and spice, with a dash of orange zest and flowers. This is a rosé to drink year round, and will in fact evolve over the next year, if you can put some away for later.
North Hill Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Eve and Bill Holloran purchased a heritage vineyard in Dundee and another large parcel of land in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA in 1999. Their first harvest was 500 cases of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, produced in a converted horse barn. Bill is in fact credited with starting the “garagiste” movement in Oregon. Since 2005, Mark La Gasse has been the winemaker here, and Vincente Mora has managed the vineyards since 2013. Farming is sustainable, organic and biodynamic.
North Hill is a 2nd label for Holloran Vineyard that offers a very drinkable, solid Willamette Pinot Noir at a solid price. It’s elegant, smooth, balanced, and food-friendly.