Sat 23 Aug 2008
Lord have mercy, I haven’t done one of The Chronicle wines since May 10. I’m sorry, and I assure you that it hasn’t been for not wanting to, it’s just that MY CAMERA SUCKS AT CLOSE-UP SHOTS, and I’m embarrassed to display the results of my efforts. It does fine (sort of) with food images, but trying to capture a wine label with sharp, crisp detail seems to be beyond its (and my) capabilities. The instrument in question is a Canon PowerShot S410; I think that most people nowadays have better cameras on their cell phones.
Anyway, photographically-challenged or not, here goes the seventh in this series on posts devoted to the wines from which I learned the most, going back to when I was a neophyte trying to learn about wine and how to make notes. We’re still in my first notebook, which encompassed the wines of 1983.
The date is August 8. The wine is the Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling 1981, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. We — my first wife and I –had driven to New Orleans to visit our friend Bill Gebauer, with whom I taught English at Memphis State University from 1969 to 1974, and he gave me this wine, which he bought at Martin’s Wine Cellars. We brought the wine back to Senatobia, Miss., south of Memphis, where we were teaching, and drank it with chicken curry. Of course such a wine, with its German locutions, required a flurry of reference book checking: “Wehlener” the village; “Sonnenuhr” the vineyard; riesling the grape, naturally; “Spatlese” the second degree of ripeness of grapes in German high quality wines.
At the time, my vocabulary felt rather inadequate to describe the wine. It was certainly sweet, but very well-balanced, very lively, “with a full, round taste,” “the sweetness disguised as a kind of exceptional suave smoothness,” says my notes, “not cloying or heavy in the least.”
The price was about $12.50.
Other wines we drank from the middle of July to the first week of August that year, in our quest for the most varied wine experiences:
*Heitz Cellars Gewurztraminer 1979, California. $5.58.
*Clos du Bois Merlot 1979, Napa Valley. $9.99. (I thought the price was too high.)
*Bolla Bardolino 1980. $4.85. (“Chilled a little, it improved immensely.”)
*Weingut E. Schmitz Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett 1978, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. $6.85.
*Louis Jadot Cote de Nuits-Villages 1974. $11.65. (A disappointment.)
*Leonard Kreusch Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay Riesling (Vintage Unknown). Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. (This thoroughly undistinguished wine was from the list of Masson’s Restaurant in New Orleans. The price there was $9.50)
*Bandiera Chardonnay 1982, Mendocino. $6.49.
*Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 1978, North Coast. $5.99. (A really good cabernet. We drank it with boiled brisket, carrots and onions.)
*Henri de Villamont Pouilly-Fuisse 1982. Price unknown. (“Didn’t deliver much.”)
*Derwaltung der Staatweinguter Steinberger Kabinett Riesling 1979, Rheingau. $9.49.
*Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 1979. $2.99!!!!!
*Bandiera Cabernet Sauvignon 1980, Sonoma County. $5.59.