The wine of the evening was the 1967 Monte Real Blanco Reserva Semidulce, but we also had a great Champagne and three great reds.
The Bollinger 2004 Grande Annee has perfect ripeness right now, making it suitable for drinking now, but less so for cellaring. It is very ripe for the vintage, actually we would have expected it to be more youthful. But you don't have to wait for perfect ripeness for that. Grande Annee is an archetypal Champagne and has an expressive nose with blossoms, vanilla, some caramel and phenolic notes. It has medium body and is very balanced and elegant. 18.8/20 points.
Ripe white wines from Rioja are among the greatest white wines in the world. The Riojanas 1967 Monte Real Blanco Reserva Semidulce needs many hours in the decanter and then rewards with herbs, burnt caramel, liquorice, blossoms, some beet syrup and a slight residual sweetness. The wine has full body, balance, a long finish and is complex and mineral. 19.3/20 points.
The Weingut Steintal was previously called Weingut der Stadt Klingenberg and then Weingut Benedikt Baltes. With the focus on Pinot Noir, a quality competitor for Weingut Fürst has grown up in the Franconian red wine island. The Steintal 2017 Großheubacher Bischofsberg Spätburgunder Großes Gewächs is very modern, with a strong barrique influence. The wine has a sweet nose with Greek coffee, some iodine, whiskey and earthy and malty notes. The wine has full body, balance, a medium-long to long finish and lots of potential. Strawberry, cherry and charcoal are found on the palate. The wine is very young and will need a few years for the barrel to integrate. 18.8/20 points.
There are few great Blaufränkisch, also called Lemberger in Germany, compared to Austria. The top in Germany is Schnaitmann's Fellbacher Lämmler Lemberger. We are happy to see that there is more and more competition: The Philipp Kuhn 2017 Blaufränkisch Reserve has blueberries, blackberries, blossoms, full body, good structure with noticeable tannin and a long finish. The wine is spicy, sweet, precise, clean, clear and elegant. 18.3/20 points.
This top-of-the-line Blaufränkisch shows the high durability of the grape variety in Austria: the Ernst Triebaumer 1997 Blaufränkisch Ried Mariental seems much younger than expected. Initially, the wine is slightly animal and needs plenty of air in the decanter. The wine has liquorice, dark fruit, full body, still noticeable tannin, structure and a long finish. The wine is dense, deep and complex. 18.8/20 points.