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” Riesling, available at MacArthur Beverages for $49.99.