TN: Lots of Rieslings, mostly with choucroute

Saturday Betsy played matinee but was off in the evening. We attended a Table d'H=F4te dinner at a local church- my friend Alex, a former Parisian restaurant owner, cooks a dinner for 40 as a fundraiser for social action programs. This month he was using his Alsatian grandfather's choucroute recipe.
First course was white asparagus with 3 sauces (mayonnaise, vinaigrette, ands honey mustard). Really delicious, though the asparagus was a tad stringy. For this course I had brought the 2000 Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Muscat. Just a hint of sweetness, big bold Muscat nose of flowers and lychees (with a little musk/muskmelon). Long and rich on palate, with flavors of pineapple and peaches. A bit overpowering for the asparagus, Muscat is somewhat traditional but a lighter style might have shown better. Still, an unusual and tasty wine. B/B+
The kraut was served with 3 types of sausage, as well as potaotes and some smoked pork chops Alex had done. My choucroute wine was the 1997 Trimbach Cuv=E9e Fr=E9d=E9ric Emile Riesling. I was a little worried this might be in a closed state, but not at all. Big nose of flowers, spice, and smoke. The fruit on the palate is outfront without being overbearing - white peaches and apple, a tinge of lemon/citrus. Minerality on finish. Good when opened, got better during night. Strong (despite vintage) but balanced acidity. Yum yum. No hurry, but drinking well now. Brilliant with the choucroute. A-/A
We also shared with neighboring diners. In reciprocity, we got some nice tastes. Our friends Joe & Rachel had brought the basic 2002 Trimbach Riesling. Lemony, more sharp than the CFE, but a nice clean Riesling with lots of appeal. B/B+
Dolores on the other side had brought the 2003 Darting Ungsteiner Herrenberg Sp=E4tlese. This tasted more Auslese than Sp=E4tlese. Big & rich with tropical fruit. A bit flabby though, might have been better by itself than with the choucroute. B-
Another couple proffered the 2003 Two Hands "The Wolf" Riesling. A real pleasant surprise (while I think of Clare Riesling as pretty good, I had found some Two Hands reds a bit much for my palate). But this was a light, dry, pleasant Riesling with good balance, nice tart Granny Smith apple fruit leading a good finish. B+
At some point my friend Marc gave me a taste of a 2002 D=F6nnhoff Sp=E4tlese. I hope my probationary membership in Winegeeks International isn't revoked when I admit that I didn't note the vineyard (mea culpa, mea culpa). He said he got at Rochambeau (I doubt they have more than one); I'll find out when I go buy a couple. Delicous wine, jampacked with minerality. Good fruit, bright acidity, very appealing. A-
Nice evening, fantastic food, great friends (old & new).
Sunday I fixed up some leftovers for dinner as Betsy got home. Warmed up some dal and some "bright rice." Sliced up some cold chicken with some curried mayo, served over Boston lettuce. The wine was a simple Rheingau, the 2002 Petit Chapeau Riesling. Petit Chapeau is Daniel Johnnes negociant label, while I've liked his French wines this was my first German. Medium-bodied, with light sweetness and clear peach fruit, a little earthy note on nose. Not complex, but clean and easy, and the light RS balanced the curry, the raita, and the spices in the rice and dal quite well. B
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency
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Thanks for the interesting notes, Dale. Jean has recently discovered that, after 15 years of professing her dislike of Rieslings, she does indeed like many of the off-dry Rieslings that we've tasted recently. Now, if I can only get her to like aged white wines...
Mark Lipton
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Mark Lipton

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