As mentioned in a previous blog, I like the Bottle Apostle in Hackney because it represents what is good in the world of wine retail i.e. an independent retailer sourcing interesting bottles directly from producers. So I was lured out for a tasting on a World Cup night and missed the humiliation of France by Mexico. Having spent a lot of time time in both countries I am fond of each but given the way France qualified I was fine with the result.
The tasting of Von Buhl Estate wines was led by the enthusiastic Christoph Graf (pictured right). It was the promise of Forster Pechstein Riesling Eiswein 2007 being opened that persuaded me to attend. I had not tasted this previously (in any vintage) but had been told, by a critic I rate highly, that it should be on my ‘to drink list’. I wasn’t disappointed and its intense finish was still resonating when I got home and checked on the sleeping kids. In fact it sustained through the highlights of the world cup games and if I hadn’t felt the need to clean my teeth before bed would probably have still been there when I woke up. A really wonderful example of noble rot that is becoming rarer due to climate change. I hope to live long enough to try it when it is in its prime and will look out for older vintages in the interim.
It was good to see the room full as these type of events are often loss leaders (although it gets quite hot for storage in the basement and they should find a better home for the wines that are there). The manager Tom has told me that they can sell out cheese and wine evenings but anything more specific tends to be more difficult. I hope they persevere because tastings like this are a public service as well as good marketing.
Three hours of tasting and discussion followed. I had already eaten but everyone else appeared more than happy with a succession of Vietnamese dishes to accompany the wines. I like to drink Riesling with South East Asian food and have had some great bottles at David Thompson’s Nahm at the Halkin. It was interesting to see the demographic profile of tasters, (young couples embodying the gentrification of Victoria Park and the increasing interest in wines among this age group). At times I found myself as intrigued by body language and social displays as I was by the wine.
I enjoyed comparing the Forster Pechstein Riesling Grosse Gewachs 2008 with’ its joined-at -the-hip’ sister Grand Cru, Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Grosse Gewachs 2008. The former, edgy when young with nice apricot notes and an underlying saltiness attributed to the black basalt (pitch stone) that gives it its name. The Ungeheuer, more traditional, fruit forward and intense floral notes, but for me less precise than the Pechstein.
A 2005 Ungeheuer was decanted but remained tight and is likely to become more approachable and relaxed over the next 5 years. I would like to try it in its tertiary stage because I am intrigued by the complexity and subtlety these wines have towards the end of their life. Many of the wines at this tasting were enjoyable but I constantly found myself thinking of a decade ahead when they are in full song.
For future tastings and workshops check out the website here.
The Bottle Apostle, Victoria Park Village, 95 Lauriston Road, Hackney, London E9 7HJ Tel. 020 8985 154