Boutique and Unique

Well, not quite unique but I couldn’t think of anything better that rhymes with boutique. When I wrote about Bryce McNamee’s Boutique Wine Collection, I referred to him as “young” and as “having a nice portfolio” of wines. Well, he’s five years older now and his portfolio is getting bigger and more diverse.

At a recent tasting in Philadelphia, where BWC is headquartered, I couldn’t even get to half the wines. Here are my notes on some of the wines I tasted.

*Huber is an Austrian producer that specializes in Gruner Veltliners and Rieslings, the two best white wines with food. The 2008 Hugo ($11) is fresh and clean and a good wine to get your feet wet with Gruner if you aren’t familiar with this varietal. The 2008 Obere Steigen Gruner is only $6 more but a huge leap in quality with greater intensity and mineral character. Alte Setzen ($40) and Berg ($50), both 2007, crank up the flavor more and more. For $17, the 2008 Traisental Riesling (Traisental is the region where Huber is located.) offers lots of minerality and a touch of spice. The 2007 Engelreich ($25) is a single vineyard Riesling that is rich and tangy. If you can afford it, the 2007 Berg Riesling ($50) will reward you with a buttery texture and ripe, delicious fruit. Huber makes a smattering of other varietals such as Zweigelt and Sauvignon Blanc. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($25) had good varietal character and nice mineral notes. Zweigelt was once described to me by another Austrian wine importer as “tasting the way people think Merlot should taste—voluptuous, warm and velvety.” The 2007 Huber Zweigelt ($15) is a bit leaner and crisp though quite fruity.

*alphonse mellot makes stunning sancerresAlphonse Mellot makes some stunning Sancerres at equally stunning prices in France’s Loire Valley. The 2007 Les Romains and 2008 La Demoiselle are both $80. Less impressive to me was the even more expensive ($90) Satellite. For something different, try the 2007 Chardonnay Les Pénitents ($30). Les Pénitents, recently acquired by the Mellot family, is a limestone-rich vineyard on the road to Santiago de Compostella that was created by monks (hence the name). Chardonnay is something rare in the Loire and this one shows beautiful balance—ripe and still crisp with just the right amount of oak. Also from this vineyard is a 2007 Pinot Noir ($40), that is lean (which is the style of Pinots in the Loire) and nicely perfumed.

*Domaine du Petit Metris, another Loire producer, makes one of my favorite white wines, Savennières, from two vineyards, Clos de la Marche and Les Fougeraies, both $30. The 2007 Clos de la Marche has a honeyed nose with good dom du petit metris makes excellent savennieresminerality and earthiness and a good acid balance. The Clos de la Marche from 2005, a spectacular vintage for Chenin Blanc in the Loire, is intense and elegant with amazing complexity and character. The 2005 Les Fougeraies is big and rich but well balanced.

*Dr. Hermann produces excellent Rieslings from three vineyards in the Mosel: Erdener Treppchen, Urziger Wurzgarten and Erdener Pralat. While the 2007 Erdener Treppchen Kabinett ($26) shows good minerality, ripeness and freshness, the 2007 Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett ($33) is a cut above in intensity and complexity.   The quality is closer in the 2006 Spatlese from both vineyards ($29 each), though I liked wild notes that came from the Urziger Wurzgarten

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