Two from the ’90s

Hello friends. Two of my favorite categories of wine to taste with some age are German Riesling and Champagne. Last week, I had the chance to taste incredible versions of both:

1998 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Spatlese Munsterer Dautenpflanzer

A Spatlese from a vineyard on slate and sandy loam in the Nahe, and a Thiese selection that Terry pried out of the library of Kruger-Rumpf. A whopping 84 bottles were allocated to the Seattle market, and now that I have tasted a sample, we’re down to 83. I’m moving on this quickly, because once the somms at Wild Ginger corral a sample, it’s game over. I can’t place a hold on this one, so the sooner we get an order in, the better. Please try to order by the end of the weekend, and I’ll submit my bid on Monday morning.

This is not a super-diesely aged Riesling. It’s there, but it’s more of a subtlety, a grace note to balance the nectarine, and mint, and straw, and cut-rock aromas. The palate is a rich, off-dry mouthful of rocks, fruit (mango, orange), and honey, still drinking quite primary for its 15-year age. The acid-sugar balance is pristine, and this has a deep sense of earthiness that I found irresistible. Aged Riesling remains one of the best wine values on earth and continues to be a huge part of my personal collection. Bottles like this are why.

1996 Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut Prestige Bouzy Grand Cru

It is becoming more and more rare to see Champagne from the astonishing 1996 vintage on the market, so I was thrilled to have a chance to try this at a recent importer tasting. Jancis Robinson wrote at some length about the quality of 1996 in Champagne. Here’s the money quote:

Purple Pages (Jancis Robinson): “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

Yep, 1996 was a once-every-forty-years kind of vintage, and it shows, especially in a lovely bottle like this, which comes entirely from Grand Cru vineyards in the Vesselle family’s Bouzy holdings. The ’96 vintage holds extra resonance for the domaine, as it was the year when current winemaker Delphine Vesselle took over operations after the death of Jean, her father.

A two-thirds/one-third split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this presents the glorious aromatics only possible in aged Champagne: autolytic notes of hazelnut and bread, chalky earth tones, and a saline-savory note that reminds me of nothing more than good homemade chicken stock. Intense and savory, nutty and earthy, the palate walks a nervy tightrope of beautiful acid. I suspect there’s enough acidity and stuffing here that you could open a bottle of this in 2050 and it would still drink as fresh as a May morning.

We’ll be special-ordering this from the importer’s warehouse in California, so it will likely take 2-3 weeks to arrive. I’m not sure if any other accounts in Seattle will be picking this up, so it may be a Full Pull exclusive here in town.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The Riesling should arrive in about a week; the Champagne a few weeks after that, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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