Wine mixed bag: Riesling, Claret, Argentina

My regular tasting group’s informal “bring a bottle” evening. Some interesting wines, including 2 contrasting Rieslings from the same German producer, one in a traditional off-dry style, one a “trocken” or dry style. The Catena Alta is perhaps Argentina’s top wine, and very impressive too. The ’92 Cantemerle is an old favourite that I’ve been enjoying for several years, proving that good producers can make very nice wines even in fairly poor years. The wines were served blind.

Weingut Antoniushof (Nahe) Riesling Auslese (Trocken) 1992
Beautiful, subtle Riesling nose of wax, herbs, tropical fruits and lemon with a little green-bean edge. The palate has almond flavours, a very steely, mineral presence and quite restrained fruit flavours of apple and citrus. Medium bodied, the finish is fine and long. This seems a little more herbal and less luscious than when last tasted 2 years ago, but a fascinating wine from a very small-scale producer.

Château Cantemerle (France, Haut Médoc) 5th growth 1992
Medium ruby colour. Still a lovely, classic Claret nose of firm blackcurrant fruit, cedar and little spicy notes. The palate is really quite lean now: the richness and creaminess so evident 2 or 3 years ago has been replaced by tight, curranty fruit flavours, some savoury oak and firm background tannins. With food it is still enjoyable and has real finesse, finishing quite long and pure, but along with another bottle drunk recently, the evidence suggests it is fading gracefully.

Nicholas Catena (Argentina) “Alta” Malbec 1996
Very, very dark crimson colour. Superbly ripe and lush dark chocolate and vivid blackberry fruit. Really plush and opulent on the palate it is also very peppery and powerful, the richness of fruit pushing through into a long, sweet finish. There are nuances of dried-fruits (someone else suggested Chinese dried plums) and a tobacco warmth, but really this is all about the sheer quality of fruit. Excellent.

Weingut Antoniushof (Nahe) Hüffelsheimer Steyer Riesling Auslese 1989
Medium gold colour. Tiny bit of free sulphur blows off. Quite complex nose of melon, pear, fig and straw. Developing petrol notes. Medium-bodied, the palate is medium-sweet with apple acidity keeping it quite fresh. The fruit is ripe and well-defined, and there is good balance and length. This wine needs another few years to really hit its stride.