Now that our annual F&W Classic in Aspen is over, I finally have the time (and focus) to recap some of the highlights of the thing. First up, our sister mag Travel & Leisure's contributing wine editor Bruce Schoenfeld's annual pre-Aspen dinner. As always, a gang of sixteen or so wine folks—makers, writers, drinkers, etc—convened on the-restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named in Boulder on Tuesday night, preparatory to making the trek up to Aspen. And as always, everyone brought along fabulous—or at least would-be fabulous—wines. Here's the lineup of whites (reds tomorrow), with prices for those that are current releases. (And many thanks to my pal and fellow wine blogger Jeremy Parzen for the loan of his terrific photographs!)
2004 Domaine Joseph Cattin Hatschbourg Pinot Gris Not a wine I'd had before, this was potent, off-dry Alsace Pinot Gris, with an oily, luscious texture, dusty spice and dried peach flavors, and an odd, slightly varnish-tinged aroma that made me wonder if it had a bit of VA floating around. "Intriguing" might sum it up best.
2006 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf de Pape Blanc Les Crau ($55) A blend of Clairette (40%), Grenache Blanc (30%), Bourbolenc (15%) and Roussanne (15%) from roughly thirty-five year old vines. The nose here was subdued, though some steely apple (yep, steely apple—only way I've figured out how to describe it) and floral notes crept out. The wine itself was full-bodied, lush, with pear and sweet spice notes. Very pretty stuff, and will be better with time, I'd guess.
2006 Zarate Albariño ($22) Crisp, as Albariño should be, with an appealing briny note, and surprisingly full-bodied. I liked this just fine, but it didn't strike me as quite as complex as Pazo de Señorans, say, or Fillaboa.
1983 Kirchmayr Gumpoldskirchner Cuvée Solist Konig Altwein My first reaction here was roughly, "What the hell is this stuff?" and my second was roughly, "Well, whatever it is, it's fantastic." Partly that's because at my corner of the table it was too dark for me to read the back label clearly. But because I am a skilled reporter, I stood up and walked over to a light. It was a blend of—wait for it—Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, and Neuberger; it was dark gold in color; and it was blow-you-away good, with deep resinous and stony aromas, a rich but focused presence, lingering stone fruit characteristics, and notes of minerals, honey, and nuts.
2000 Lucien Albrecht Clos Himmelreich Riesling Clos Himmelreich is a two-hectare monopole of Albrecht. I didn't love this as much as some people did, but I enjoyed its orange-rind scent and its power; it had an odd raspiness to the texture, almost tannic, that didn't thrill me.
1989 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco Reserva ($45) Oh, those old Lopez de Heredia whites. I love them, even if they occasionally suffer from a certain amount of bottle variation (which, of course, all older wines tend to suffer from—more on this when I get to the 1988 Bordeaux tasting in Aspen). This blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia hit all those notes that make old white Rioja so appealing: wax, resin, almonds, citrus zest (sort of lemon oil, here, actually), and still retained some green apple as well. Plus the winery has a fellow with a really excellent beard on its home page.