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Private Collection: World of Wine

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Ben Haines 2014 Yarra Valley 'Raphaella' Syrah

Sourced from the Yeringberg vineyard in the Yarra valley, just east of Melbourne in Victoria. This is one of the finest vineyard sites in the Yarra, a region that, like much of Australia, is a Mediterranean climate. Close to the ocean, though, this area receives cold air that originated in Antarctica, making for a cooler overall temperature than much of Australia. Most known for chardonnay and pinot noir, there is a small amount of syrah here that is stylistically more in line with the  Northern Rhone than Barossa shiraz. Twenty months maturation on the lees is followed by 2 years in bottle. This is a beautiful wine, with great density and structure. Minerally, with notes of musky earth, smoked meat, pencil lead, and silt, this wine also has incredible integration of its ripe dark fruit into the dense chiseled mineral structure. Able to be drunk now, but capable of cellaring for many years, this wine is named "Raphaella" in honor of Ben's daughter, as the grapes were harvested three days after her birth, amidst what Ben calls the "surreal celebrations of life." 117 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar

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Chateau Musar 1997 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) Rouge

It was the slowest and best fermentation we have ever had at Chateau Musar, especially between the 15th and 30th September with80% of the harvest in the cellar. I tasted the wines on the 18th November. Almost all malolactics were finished and wines lookedready for drinking. Very, very beautiful wines and the white wines are just as beautiful as the reds. All wines are big and perfectlybalanced whatever the cepage – Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, Merwah and Obaideh. Definitely a vintage to followvery closely – Serge Hochar, November 1997 

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Chateau Musar 2001 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) Rouge

The harvest began on the 3rd September – one of the earliest start dates on record. The overall crop was reduced by 15% but the grapes were healthy and ripe, not overly tannic or acidic. Fermentation progressed steadily and the malolactic followed easily and naturally as it did in 2000. This vintage is marked by the dominance of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Carignan over the Cinsault. The wine was fermented in cement vats, aged in French Nevers oak barrels for one year and bottled in the summer of 2004. (from Chateau Musar website)

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Chateau Musar 2003 Blanc Lebanon Bekaa Valley

Merwah was dominant in 2003, as if it were compensating for its absence due to a hailstorm in 2002, when no Musar White was produced. The defining characteristics are a deeper colour than usual, with greater intensity of aroma and flavour. (from Chateau Musar website)

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Chateau Musar 2004 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) Rouge

Varietals were blended two years after the harvest. The blend was then placed back in cement tanks, and bottles a year later. After 4 years of bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars, the 2004 vintage was not quite ready at year 7, so its release was postponed. It is now finally available in the US market.

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Esteban Celemin Viticultor 2018 Senora Vale Albillo Real

100% Albillo Real, from Esteban Celemín’s vineyard that he planted in 2014 with clonal selections from surrounding, ancient ungrafted vineyards. The soils in this plot are particularly chalky – unusual in the area, where most soils are clay or sand. In 2018, he harvested this vineyard last, seeking to get the greatest amount of ripeness and concentration possible from these younger vines. Farming is organic, with some biodynamic treatments, and vinification is very traditional: the grapes are foot trodden, then pressed slowly and gently with a basket press into five old 225L French oak barrels, where native yeast fermentation takes place and the finished wine ages for 10 months. In contrast to Las Avutardas, Señora Vale shows slightly brighter fruit notes: white and yellow flowers, freshly sliced apples, green herbs, and Bosc pear on the nose. The palate has a juicier texture as well, with a bright seam of chalky minerality surrounded by notes of bosc pear, butter, and apple. Like Las Avutardas, I think this is a great choice for anyone who enjoys the white wines of the Rhone, or even Chardonnays from warmer sites.

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Lopez de Heredia 1991 Rioja Bosconia Gran Reserva

Soil, soil and more soil. Husky structure and flavors of mushroom and rye-like savory notes and an intense brooding mineral character. It has been uniformly praised by the critics (see John Gillman and Josh Raynolds) and, with the last bottle I tasted, I joined the chorus. cb

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Lopez de Heredia 1991 Rioja Tondonia Gran Reserva

This is my favorite of the current release Gran Reservas. It has gorgeous, delicate aromatics of cherry, strawberry, tobacco, light smoke and subtle soil notes. The palate is impeccably balanced, harmonious and silky with good tang to sweetness. The finish is long, pretty, and aromatic. cb

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Peciña, Hermanos de 2001 Rioja Reserva

This Reserva is a fine example of what a great vintage Peciña had in 2001, showing aromas and flavors of strawberry, cedar, flowers, and baking spices. There is an almost luxurious quality to the palate with plush fruit, mushroom, soft silky tannins, as well as beautiful acidity and a floral lift to the finish. This Reserva bottling speaks of the singularity of Rioja Alta and in particular of Peciña's village, San Vicente, where most of their best holdings are located. After two days open, nothing had changed about this wine; if anything, it was more crystalline and concise. How's about a traditional age-worthy Rioja at a very reasonable price? cb

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Remelluri 1999 Rioja Gran Reserva

From the oldest vines on the property, this wine is aged for 27 months in a combination of two and three year old French and American oak. This Gran Reserva showed some evolution but was still fresh on the couple of occasions I tasted it recently. It showed cassis, dark, brooding tobacco, cocoa, minerals, and spice. It was also very precise and lengthy on the palate. It will continue to age beautifully. cb

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La Rioja Alta 2001 Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial

This is only the 3rd vintage that the Ardanza has been classified as "Reserva Especial" during the long history of the La Rioja Alta winery. The other two vintages were 1964 and 1973. That being said, this cuvee lives up to expectations and is a testament to a fantastic vintage. Ardanza is full-bodied, sweet, tangy and savory, with strawberry/plum fruit, mushroom, and notes of herbs from the generous helping of garnacha in the blend. On the palate it is well structured with gorgeous velvety tannins and excellent balance and length. As the great wines of Rioja do, this will surely cellar very well and would stand up to just about any food that you could throw at it. I specifically would pair this with game-birds with a sweet and savory sauce. cb

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Busch, Clemens 2008 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Erste Lage Fahrlay

From 60-65 year old vines on a blue slate parcel within the Marienburg. Traditionally this has finished off-dry but in this vintage Busch allowed the native yeasts to completely ferment the wine dry (the 2009 vintage will be GG, as the style fits the parcel well). Sternly mineral with notes of anise. Profound and bigger than the Marienburg GG, with more intense fruit on the mid-palate but flavor profile is similar, leaning toward grapefruit and tangerine. Really taut and compact but there's so much stuffing here -- it's really just a baby! -jfr

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Busch, Clemens 2008 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Grosses Gewächs

The Pündericher Marienburg is the primary site farmed by Clemens Busch and the separate bottlings such as Fahrlay, Falkenlay, Rothenpfad and Felsterrasse are all individually named parcels within the larger vineyard. This standard Grosses Gewachs comes from 30-35 year old vines. The aroma is unbelievably subtle: not powerful or rich but loaded with depth. Of course there's fruit here along with anise and floral notes, but they're singing backup to the intensely mineral lead. The palate is profoundly mineral along with the expected flavors of tangerine, white peach, apricot, decent extract and stunning purity. More restrained than the Fahrlay, but will also be hitting its stride sooner. -jfr

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Immich-Batterieberg 2010 Mosel Batterieberg Riesling

From the famous dynamite-derived Batterieberg vineyard in Enkirch, this is perhaps the most imposing wine of the vintage. Very tightly-coiled, this needs much time in the decanter or cellar to unwind, but when it does the results are magnificent. According to Dan Melia it is "chiseled, fine, balanced, mineral-driven, and just packed with flavor in a way that only 2010 can achieve." If you are choosing just one dry-styled wine to cellar this vintage, look no further. -jfr

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Immich-Batterieberg 2011 Mosel Batterieberg Riesling

Batterieberg is a 1.1 hectare monopole of the estate's. It abuts the Mosel and is surrounded on all other sides by Zeppwingert. It's made up of blue and gray slate with quite a bit of quartz as well. In the cellar we tasted three components that would eventually be blended: one from stainless steel tank, one from barrel and one from barrel that only had wine from 80 year-old vines. It became clear that Batterieberg isn't about plush fruit, it's about precise, cutting minerals and herbal, minty garrigue-like tones. Six months later in bottle, the fruit has started to inch forward but the crunchy quartz and slate notes remain the wine's defining characteristics. Epic dry wine with unreal aging potential. -jfr

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Merkelbach, Alfred 2012 Mosel Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese Urglück

Urgluck! While the Merkelbach brothers have always vinified and bottled separate parcels, until 2012 the only way to know this was to look at the AP number for each wine. This vintage was the first time since the law of 1971 that they used the named Urgluck (an old vineyard name that was absorbed into the greater Würzgarten in that year). The vines are 80-90 years old and the wine is one of the finest we've ever tasted from these humble, soulful bachelors. This is real-deal Mosel, so light yet so creamy and textured. -jfr

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Schaefer, Willi 2014 Mosel Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett

Schaefer's 2014 Graacher Himmelreich does not disappoint and although it's currently delightful; it has tremendous aging potential. The nose reveals itself in stages of peppermint, cardamom, cinnamon, petrol, and smoky tones. The palate is lifted by a resplendent core of minerality that shows incredible length and finesse with filaments carrying notes of tart lemon sorbet and cotton candy. Masterful and sublime Riesling Kabinett!

- David Salinas

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