Enough is Enough: the 2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Riesling

1 Sep

I went sort of crazy yesterday at MacArthur Beverages in DC.  I’ll be leaving the East Coast for a while and headed to California to do some contract legal work, so I figured that to celebrate the occasion I should buy some fancy wines:

From left to right: 2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Riesling, 2010 Broc Cellars “Cuvee 12.5″, 2006 Paolo Bea “Rosso de Véo” Sagrantino, 1996 Christian L. Remoissenet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, 2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet, and 2006 Ridge “Monte Bello” Cabernet.  I didn’t buy the Broc or Paolo Bea at MacArthur; I also bought during my trip to MacArthur, however, a bottle each of Gruet Blanc de Noirs and Brut sparking wines and a bottle of Broadbent Vinho Verde.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to start going through these wines.  As Mary Kate and I were having turkey, I decided to go for the Riesling first.

Much has been written about Trimbach and the Frédéric Emile.  Trimbach is a venerable Alsatian institution known for its Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  Their Cuvée Frédéric Emile, named after one of their forbears who was instrumental in improving the quality of Trimbach wines back in the late 1800s, is one of Trimbach’s top bottlings: the mythical “Clos St. Hune” is rarer and dearer and, alas, was unavailable at the store.  Frédéric Emile comes from the south- and south-east facing Geisberg and Osterberg vineyards, where the average age of the vines is 45 years.  The soil is a combination of marl, limestone, sandstone, and “fossil-flecked Muschelkalk”, which translates to shellbearing limestone.

The Frédéric Emile poured light straw and had light viscosity.  The nose was powerful and smelled tangy and full of minerals; ripe tropical fruits and bright citrus; something definitely floral, too, but all surrounded by petrol, petrol, petrol.  On the palate, this wine was almost overwhelmed by minerals, clay, and petrol, with acidity coming on only after it was swished around in the mouth.  Dry, with the only discernible fruit being maybe some pineapple or tangerine.  The fruit was definitely in the backseat to the minerals and petrol, however, and while I could appreciate that it was a very serious, well-constructed wine, I could also agree with the professional reviewers (for instance, the Wine Advocate and IWC) that this wine seemed to be entering a trough from which it would only emerge years down the line.  I should like to try older vintages of this wine; they should be extraordinary.  Drunk young, it was almost like a punch in the face (a soft one, yes, but still a punch in the face).

2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Rieslingavailable at MacArthur Beverages for $49.99.

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9 Responses to “Enough is Enough: the 2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Riesling”

  1. Aaron Nix-Gomez September 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Joon, you did go nuts. Glad to see you hitting my favorite store. What sort or stuff are you drinking out west?

    • vinicultured September 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      Nuts is the polite word to use, Aaron. MacArthur is probably my favorite wine store in the world, and it appears to be yours as well (for good reason). Haven’t had any wine yet here (just got in at 11:30 pm yesterday) but I do love Central Coast wines: Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills, etc., such as Stolpman, Qupe, Beckmen, Au Bon Climat. I think I’ll be drinking a lot of those (along with some of the bottles I stashed away in my checked bag!).

  2. Shea September 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    Awesome purchases, they should do you well over the years.

    I’ve had the 2002 Frederic Emile and it is still a baby. These are tight tight wines that, in the best vintages, probably need upwards of 20 years before they are ready. I completely agree that in their youth these drink like being whipped with electric wires, but the promise is incredible. It is also a question of stylistic preference as Trimbach is hardcore ‘protestant’ wine versus the more opulent and fleshy ‘catholic’ producers like Zind-Humbrecht. I personally love the diversity of styles, but is key to know what you’re getting in to.

    Glad to hear you are moving back to California – I miss it tremendously!

  3. Shea September 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    P.S. Paolo Bea may be my favourite producer in Italy, or at least amongst the very top. I look forward to the writeup of that wine.

    • vinicultured September 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      Yes! The promise is incredible, as you say. By no means did I think this was a bad wine at all–it has so many great elements, but I don’t know if they’re knit together just yet (at least in my book).

      Interesting dichotomy between Protestant and Catholic wines! I’ve never thought about wines that way. The only alcoholic beverages I’ve dichotomized is Jameson and Bushmills (and I, being nominally Protestant, prefer Bushmills and especially Bushmills 10). I think you’re right, though–sounds like an interesting features piece waiting to be written.

      And Paolo Bea is fantastic. I had two bottles of his San Valentino and should do a write-up if I can rouse myself. I can’t wait for the Sagrantino.

  4. Wine Rising September 8, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Dude, I had the Frederic Emile about two weeks… it’s amazing! When I wrote my review I said that it was the best bone-dry Riesling I have ever tasted.

    • vinicultured September 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      You have taste buds of steel, my friend! I think the complexity and seriousness are there, but I think that at this point they’re too overwhelming for my tastes! I would like to try another bottle a few years down the line.

      • Wine Rising September 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

        Yeah, I was sure to add that many people may find it to be too much, but I have spent years drinking acidic Mosel Rieslings, so I was almost able to wrap myself around it. Almost.

      • vinicultured September 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        In a way it reminded me of white Chateauneuf-du-Pape; both are serious, serious wines.

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