Being a wine merchant in the UK one gets to go to tastings in some pretty extraordinary locations; few are finer, however, than the space at the top of the Millbank Tower: a lofty eyrie dwarfing the Tate Britain at its feet. Above is just one of the many vistas that present themselves from its windows.
As tastings go, this was a humdinger. A "range tasting" of one of the UK's largest and most quality-focused importers, there was on offer table after table of seriously fine wine.
Alas, I didn't have nearly long enough to try all that I wanted, but still, I have a super-solid clutch of wines that I really want in my own collection...and can only, therefore, recommend to you.
First up, an Alsace domaine. I cannot now remember what prompted me to purchase a case of 2005 Riesling Grand Cru Muenchberg from Ostertag some years ago but my, the plaudits with which I have been covered every time I pull the cork on a bottle. It is simply a fabulous expression of both grape and vineyard.
And Riesling is not the only fruit that resides within the perimeter of the mighty Muenchberg vineyard. Ostertag also bottles a Pinot Gris from the site. Pinot Gris can verge on the Viognier-like and tarty when overblown, but the wine below delivers varietal character in spades whilst offering mineral tension, finesse and precision.
Plus...I have included two other wines from Ostertag's 2015 harvest: another Riesling from a a non-grand cru site that, nevertheless, had so much to say for itself that I wondered how a wine could have greater character and presence. And lastly (or, rather, firstly (at least in the list below)) a wine from a long-undervalued grape that is finally emerging onto the global stage of quality grapes.
N.B. These wines are dry.
N.B.x2. These wines come boxed in 12s, but - for a small consideration - we could ask Octavian to repack into after-market cardboard 6-bottle cases if desired.
2015 Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Ostertag
£141 in bond a dozen Drink 2017-21
Rich aromas of delicious-smelling green fruits. And there's a herbal note that encouraged me to write down the word "angelica". Not sure why. Palate is rich too, and dense with it. Pure, green fruits in a long linear form. Really long wine. And I am loving the freshness of those fruits. A stunning iteration of the grape.
2015 Riesling Heissenberg, Domaine Ostertag
£234 in bond a dozen Drink 2018-26
A dry nose redolent of spiced Riesling aromas. A touch of earthiness to this firm, pithy scent. The palate is dense and dry and linear. A spicy wine and the earthiness of aroma is repeated in the wine's texture across the tongue. It gains in grip, gathering intensity to the throughput. A very long and textural wine. Fabulous!
2015 Riesling Muenchberg Grand Cru, Domaine Ostertag
£324 in bond a dozen Drink 2019-30
Citrus aromas - majoring on lime - unite with scents of fresh herbs in the nose of this wine. Wisps of dry spice complicate things. The palate is dry and really spiced, giving flavours of toasted lemons. There's great drive to this wine. A dry, very spicy example; long and becoming full of grip and dense mineral interest. A stunner.
2015 Pinot Gris Muenchberg A360P Grand Cru, Domaine Ostertag
£402 in bond a dozen Drink 2019-28
Nose is a rich thing that gives up varietal aromas of spice and spiced apricot. A stunning presentation of the variety, this is full of mineral interest, with dry, earthy spice at its core. It becomes intense at the death (kiss me, Hardy?). A very long wine closing in busy density.