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the farnsburg offline – May 2004

There was no official scribe – so as I’d apparently managed to write something down for most of the night – I was deployed. Eleven lucky souls arrived late-afternoon Friday at Farnsburg – a restaurant and guest-house with a bit of a wino reputation… plus buffalo in the fields.

Eleven turned out to be a perfect number – no-one felt left out as the pours were relatively generous doubling the impact of the generosity of the participants – what wines!. We even had representatives of the London Rhône Fanciers Club in the shape of Charles and Nigel – who flew in that afternoon (I presume by private jet) to make it a true ‘offshore’ offline.

The notes will naturally reflect my preference for watery, thin, green and acidic Burgundy, but you should get the idea… 🙂

Apero im Grand Cru Keller
Amuses et mis en apetit
1982 and 1988 Krug Champagne

This cellar is a little bit special – this place is also doubles as a wine-shop – so many gems.
1982 Krug The nose is a little yeasty and animale; dried Italian ham, and high toned blood orange notes. The palate is a revelation for an ’82 – so young, sharp and fresh – lovely acidity. Tastes younger than a 1990 Winston Churchill I had in December. Lovely, complex champagne.
1988 Krug An obvious family resemblance on the nose, just shows a little extra high tones vs the 82. The palate is slightly fresher and has more intensity on the mid-palate – again lovely complex champagne.

Loup de mer auf Chardonnay Schaum
1982 Roumier and 1992 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne
1986 Domaine de Chevalier (Graves) Blanc
2000 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche

A lovely dish – nicely presented too. The three whites were all served together La Tâche followed.

1982 Roumier Corton-Charlemagne Deep gold. The nose retains a hint of toast, un-salted butter and sea-shells. There’s admirable depth, it’s all tertiary now – I can’t pick up any fruit – but impressive all the same. The palate has some fat, perfect acidity and a creamy finish of good length. Shows quite young – only with time does the nose become more diffuse and eventually the palate goes too – but this was a super wine for 45+ minutes.
1992 Bonneau du Martray, Corton-Charlemagne Medium gold. The nose doesn’t have the depth of the Roumier but shows a wider horizon of creamy citrus fruit and a faint, high-toned soapy note. The palate, just like the nose doesn’t show the depth of the Roumier wine, but there’s a wider range of creamy fruit driven flavours – super length too. I like fruit – so I personally prefer this wine – despite it probably not being the ‘better wine’. Held up well in the glass – solid as a rock 2 hours later.
1986 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc Golden colour. The nose is typical aged white Graves – I hate it – sorry can’t help it, smells like estery, slightly oxidised paint stripper (I quite like young Graves!). Smooth silky palate that doesn’t have the impact of either of the ‘Charlies’. Seams quite a linear delivery – quite long though.
2000 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche Together with a few 1997’s, this is one of the few wines you can really enjoy now that have been produced since 1995, despite it only being released a year ago. It was actually an hour before I started to taste this, I was just captivated by the scent. Medium ruby colour with a cherry red rm. The nose assaults the palate with an incredible green, spicy note – seems to have a lavender component – quite unlike the tasting just over a year ago. Slowly the ‘green-ness’ becomes more focused as cedar and amazingly becomes more intense. After 90 minutes there’s a whiff of smoke and finally white pepper, blood-orange and red berry-fruits – that’s closer to what I remember! The palate is impeccably balanced with intense fruit red and black berries. Very long. The palate can’t quite match the amazing intensity of the nose – but this is the real deal and a real honey. I think that even some of our ‘Rhône Monsters’ liked it!

Farnsburger Jungschweinsrücken mit Kartoffelküchlein
1983, 1985, 1990 Château Margaux
1962 Château Beaucastel

Quite the greatest cut of pork, thickly cut, pink, yet still with a ‘crackling’ exterior – they must be happy pigs – you can seem them free-ranging in the fields…
1983 Château Margaux Deep, deep colour. Heavy macerated fruit nose that somehow retains a sense of minerality, a hint of smoke too. Massive, slightly backward palate. Not fat, but there’s amazing focused intensity on the mid-palate. Super length. Showed well but definitely needs a few more years tucked away.
1985 Château Margaux Deep colour. The nose has deep, bloody fruit and shows higher tones vs the 1983. For me this shows much more accessible intensity and interest than the 1983. Don’t get me wrong the ’83 is a great wine, but this showed à point – perfect tonight.
1990 Château Margaux We had to have one – and it turned out to be this one! We were lucky that the taint was at a very low level so we had a ‘there it is’ then ‘it’s gone’ experience. The nose is thinner and higher toned than the previous two – similarly the palate doesn’t seem as broad or fat. It’s actually quite linear an concentrated and I still enjoyed drinking it.
1962 Château Beaucastel My first 1962 – and what do you know, there were four of us with ’62 as birth-year! We drank this one up pretty quick in case it fell apart – it looked fragile. Medium ruby colour with a trace of orange, quite hazy but I never worked out whether that was the wine or the handling. The sweet nose has hints of the sea-shore. Equally sweet palate with good length. We all agreed, this would be perfect with a medium-rare steak.

Gallowayrinds-Entrecôte an Syrahjus
1999 La Landonne 1999 La Mouline 1999 La Turque 1999 Rostaing… 1999 Ogier, Belle Helene 1986 Vega Sicilia, Unico

Dream meat – we gave it 99 points. The ‘Syrahjus’ was deep brown and very intense – but the wine was a perfect accompaniment.

1999 La Landonne Virtually saturated with a purple rim. The nose is incredibly similar to the La Tâche (which has been open for nearly 2 hours) – glasses side by side, the fruit of this shows just a little blacker with more pepper. Forward but very velvetty tannin. Long and really very, very fine.
La Mouline Same colour. Hint of gunflint with high-toned, red-shaded fruit. Less obviously tanninc that the Landonne – the balance seems close to perfect – a very glossy, well polished wine – I loved it. One of those that just slips down un-noticed – then you’re sad because there’s none left
La Turque Same colour again. Deep, deep nose – there’s a little creme brulee and subtle pepper accompanying the black fruit. The tannin wraps your mouth in velvet – fabulous wine – my second favourite of the three (like I’d complain if I ‘only’ had the Landonne!). Rostaing…. Don’t know what happened here – I seem to have missed this one (HIC!) Normal (ish) service is resumed…
Ogier, Belle Helene Dark, almost saturated colour. The nose is a deep red/black blend with sweet mushrooms, spice and a slow to develop tar note. This is really essence of wine – incredible intensity of fruit. For me the experience doesn’t have the ‘seamless’ plate of either La Mouline or La Turque. You can feel this wine going down like a digestif – really incredible.
1986 Vega Sicilia, Unico Deep ruby colour. A little fat on the nose. a compelling yet understated palate. All I wrote was – an Armani suit – no tie. Lovely wine that fit perfectly with the hour (was bottle 16!) – very impressive
1967 Fonseca Medium, medium-plus ruby red. Porty nose (not in a negative sense – this is Port!). High-toned with almonds and raisins. Admirable depth of fruit on the palate and very long. Too high alcohol for me though, so I donated it to a needy cause (Nigel I think).

Aprokosenjalousie
1990 Château d’Yquem
1998 Pincészete, Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos Muskotály Aszú

I think I liked the desert and I’m sure I ate it all…

1990 Château d’Yquem Remember my white Graves experience – well this is just a more complex (admittedly) slightly de-tuned “estery, slightly oxidised paint stripper” wine. The extra beeswax note doesn’t save it. Superb complexity and length on the palate. That’s two Yquems I’ve had ’83 & ’90 with consistent experiences. Taking the positive from this – I know I don’t need to worry about the cost…
1998 Pincészete, Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos Muskotály Aszú Being easily led by the slutty-types (wines) this restored my palate. The nose jumps at you with a gorgeous, unctuous marmalade and apricot mix. The palate was so balanced; concentration, acidity and sweetness that it actually came across quite simple. I loved it. We christened it an LA wine. Great front – not much behind

A Cheese selection came and went – don’t quite know where exactly…
The 1:00am Wine – Rainer felt we need the extra:
2003 Deidesheimer, Hohenmorgen Riesling Auslese – Pfalz Pale yellow. Lovely apple and pear sweet nose. Complex with baked apples and a nice attack. Light in the mid-palate with understated acidity and good length. This wine served an admirable purpose – those that were considering driving ordered a taxi after wine number 20 – even though it was only 10% alcohol

The Farnsburg breakfast was also rather fine – and much needed by some of the team. The sun was shining so Victor was going to 2003 German tasting in the afternoon(!) Biggest thanks go to Marc Breitenmoser for his organisation – smooth as clockwork – a special evening. Also big thanks to Andreas Putzi for the food, service with a smile and courses that coupled so well with very big wines.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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