Vintage Pairs Events

Vintage Pairs Round 5, 1 Mar 2016

In this round of Vintage Pairs Blind Tasting, we served:


Carl von Schubert Maximin Grünhaus Abstberg Kabinett - 2009 & 1990

Historically “kabinettwein” was wine set aside in a cabinet – a designation for superior quality. Today its sits on the bottom rung of the ripeness ladder from Kabinett (a fruity, fresh, delicate wine) up to Trockenbeerenauslese (late picked lusciously sweet wine from individually selected grapes dessicated by the sun and wind, or by botrytis). But ‘kabinett’ is one of my favourite categories precisely because of its refreshing delicacy. Being part of the Prädikatswein, the must is not chaptlised to make it.

Carl is the fifth generation von Schubert at this ancient estate – the Maximin Grünhaus. The ‘Abstberg’ vineyard gave its wine to the abbot, a sign of its special quality.

2009 and 1990 are both sunny vintages, making slightly more generously fruity wines than is strictly typical. The grapes were healthy and the wines are lovely.

Most people (including me) tend to drink kabinetts on the young side while their fresh fruitiness is emphasized, but as you can see (I hope!) they can also age nicely.

Both 100% Riesling, 2009 – 8.5% abv, 1990 10% abv.


Domaine J-L Chave Hermitage Blanc - 2004 &1993

The Chave family have been farming here since the 15th century, and today are rightfully best known for their wonderfully pure, wild, mineral-driven red Hermitage. But they are also the lead protagonists for white Hermitage.

If Riesling sits to white Burgundy’s left, white Hermitage sits to its right. While there is often good mineral acidity here, the wine is not driven by its texturally. The key here is glycerin, which gives the palate a rich mouthfeel without an excess of alcohol burn on the finish.

The wine is ideally suited to France’s most classic heart attack dishes, Lobster Thermidor, riz de veau broiled in butter, and so on. I also like it with hard cheeses, and sometimes for a dish that asks for a red when I don’t feel like one.

The Chaves believe in the symphony of the hill’s various terroirs rather than the fashion of single vineyard bottlings. Chave Hermitage Blanc has always tasted to me like a very complete wine.

80% Marsanne, 20% Roussane. 2004 – 14.5% abv, 1993 – 13% abv


2011 Château du Moulin-à-Vent Moulin-à-Vent ‘Croix des Vérillats’ & 2000 Château du Moulin-à-Vent Moulin-à-Vent (magnum)

At the top of the Beaujolias quality pyrmid sit the so-called ‘Cru Beaujolais’ from the region’s top villages. Moulin-à-Vent sits perhaps at the top of this, and has long been regarded as a village to produce the most ageworthy Beaujolais.

At its heart is the Château du Moulin-à-Vent, established 1732, with its collection of prized vineyards, which since 2009 has been owned by Jean-Jacques Parinet. Significant upgrades to viticultural practices and vinification have been made. This estate, already since the 2009 vintage, has caught the attention of Allen Meadows (Burghound), and David Schildknecht (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate).

Here the wine – 100% Gamay – is made with the same care, attention, and style, as Burgundy’s neighboring Pinot Noir region.

The structure might point to Burgundy, but the fruit is still very Gamay. A wine to serve blind! ;-)

Both 100% Gamay, both 13% abv


Marchesi Antinori ‘Solaia’, Toscana IGT - 2004 & 1995

Both - 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 20% Sangiovese
2004 – 13.5% abv, 1995 – 13% abv

‘Tignanello’ is perhaps the Antinori’s more widely known ‘Super Tuscan’. It has been made since 1970, and is based on an 80% Sangiovese / 20% Bordeaux varietal blend. ‘Solaia’, a smaller production, higher-priced wine from the same estate, shows the inverse proprtions – 80% Bordeaux varietals and 20% Sangiovese.

2004 and 1995 were both difficult vintages that required a lot of vineyard work – ’95 because green harvesting was necessary to ensure the final harvest was ripe, and ’04 because of a high amount of rain required very strict selection at harvest. Solaia, in big years like ’06 or ’97 can show Napa-cult-like weight, exuberance, and alcohol, but in trickier years like ’04 and ’95 can show much more like its conceptual progenitor, Bordeaux.


Colgin ‘Herb Lamb Vineyard’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 2006 & 1994

Anne Colgin shot to success in the 1990s with her eponymous estate. She was already very well connected in the industry through her work as a charity auctioneer and with Sotheby’s, but this was matched by the exceptional quality of this low-productiuon estate from the very first vintage, 1992. It took little time for Colgin to be established as a ‘cult wine’, though as an indication of how infant the California fine wine industry is, Colgin is already considered a ‘classic’ estate.

‘Herb Lamb’ is not a serving suggestion (though it isn’t a bad one!), but the name of the man who owns the vineyard that supplied the fruit for this label from 1992 to 2007, after which the arrangements ceased. As the only wine they produced from 1992 to 1998 it was a significant association – the wine that built the reputation. (‘Cariad’ debuted with the 1999; ‘Tychson Hill’ with the 2000; ‘IX Estate’ with the 2002 which also saw Syrah come on stream).

2006 and 1994 are both fairly classic vintages in Napa – 1994 especially. Herb Lamb Vineyard production was around 150 cases a year.

Both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2006 – 15.2% abv, 1994 – 13.6% abv

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Vintage Wine Bottle size Score
2009 Carl von Schubert Maximin Grünhaus Abstberg Kabinet 750ml WA 89
1990 Carl von Schubert Maximin Grünhaus Abstberg Kabinet 750ml --
2004 Domaine J-L Chave Hermitage Blanc 750ml WA 95
1993 Domaine J-L Chave Hermitage Blanc 750ml WA 88
2011 Château du Moulin-à- Vent Moulin-à- Vent ‘Croix des Vérillats’ 750ml BH 92
2000 Château du Moulin-à- Vent Moulin-à- Vent 1500ml --
2004 Marchesi Antinori ‘Solaia’, Toscana IGT 750ml WA 96
1995 Marchesi Antinori ‘Solaia’, Toscana IGT 750ml --
2006 Colgin ‘Herb Lamb Vineyard’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml WA 96
1994 Colgin ‘Herb Lamb Vineyard’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml WA 96

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