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Riesling Schoenenburg..... Barbera Ai Suma.....


My brother-in-law and his family were our guests for Pentecost evening dinner at home.
Dorit's efforts reached sublime levels this time. As was the conversation [ok, at times heated discussion] about the ugly situation in Israel these days.

As the dishes did not follow the traditional white-followed-by-red order, we opened the two wines at the beginning and everyone matched each dish with his/her preferred type. We actually ended up consuming two bottles of the Barbera!
1996 Sparr, Riesling 'Schoenenburg'
1997 Braida, Barbera 'Ai Suma'

Cheese souffle
Rich and piquant mushrooms soup
Shrimp and calamari risotto with huge crabs on the side
Different kind of fresh berries
Homemade crepes filled with cheese & jam

Riesling 'Schoenenburg' 1996 P. Sparr

5/2001. Bought locally Mar-01 for $34.
As is usual with Alsatian wines, unless you know the producer's style it is hard to predict whether a wine will be dry, sweetish, or anything in between. Though the back-label of the bottle stated Demi Sec [a style I am not particularly fond of], the wine turned out to be pretty dry.
COLOR: Normal light golden yellow.
NOSE: Good though not profound Riesling notes. Neither young, vineyard-fresh aromas, nor old petrol-like ones. Agreeable nose with no defects, but that's where it stops.
TASTE: Again, agreeable flavors of no great complexity. The wine is round and full on the palate. Not bone-dry, but no perceived residual sugar, so I don't know where this Demi Sec designation comes from. A bit too acidic for its low-keyed winyness and concentration.
LENGTH: Nothing to write home about.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: Medium-light bodied Riesling. Good texture wine that is far from thin. Still, not enough substance to support the harsh acidity. Not a bad wine by any means, but I was expecting more from a Grand Cru Alsatian vineyard.
OVERALL: Good-plus. A simple, decent wine that should cost 1/4 of what I paid.
MARK: 16.5/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? No.

Barbera 'Ai Suma' 1997 Braida

5/2001. Bought locally for $41.
I still remember the simple Barbera we had in Alba (Piemonte) on our first wine-trip to Europe back in 1978. At that time I thought this harsh-violet easy wine was quite nice, but that was before I discovered Barolo. In any event, I don't think I've had Barbera more than three or four times in my life, and none of them were memorable.
I bought this wine on the recommendation of the importer.
COLOR: Deep full violet-red with little clearing around the rim.
NOSE: Is this Barbera? Huge nose of intricate complexity. Red and black fruit, fields of flowers, definite coffee tones, smokiness and noticeable oak. A wonderful and enticing young nose that is amazingly complex. Wow!
TASTE: If the nose was amazing, then on the palate this wine really knocked me off. A hefty, super-concentrated wine that is full of flavors, some of which are new to me. So good and wholesome I really find it hard to believe this wine was made from the humble Barbera grapes. Tons of winyness with depth of flavors and complexity beyond imagination. Yet, at the same time, the wine is accessible and unbelievably tasty.
LENGTH: Long finish of pleasant sweetish aftertaste.
TEXTURE & BALANCE: I find it hard to put that in writing, but this Barbera was a blockbuster if there ever was one. Zesty wine with complex flavors, soft tannins and light acidity. The ample winyness and the multiple dimensions of this wine give a sense of a perfect balance in spite of the lowish acidity and tannins.
OVERALL: Outstanding! An amazing unexpected surprise. Will be most interested to note how this wine will develop in the next 4-5 years.
MARK: 19/20.aaaaaaaaBUY MORE? Yes.

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Jacob "Yak" Shaya.