1. Because these wines were fairly old and possibly a bit oxidized, I served them at cool room temperature (low-60's) in order to enhance the aromatics and reduce and bitterness the oxidation might have. In a couple of btls, the cork punched down into the wine when I took the Ah-So to it. But there was no pronounced browning on any of the wines that indicated any of the corks had failed.
2. I am a big fan of old/mature Alsatian GWT's. Around '69, I found a stash of the '59 ClosGaensbroennel GWT at HappyHollow in KansasCity. A very expensive (for me) wine at $18/btl. I tried a btl and was blown away by it; went back and bought a bunch more. I had my last one in the late '70's and it was still a beautiful old lady.
GWT has a very distinctive aroma to it that transcends terroir. It can sometimes be very powerful, very hair-oil/ Vitalis; some describe it has lychee...though the fresh lychees I've had don't have much aroma that I could tell. It can sometimes be a bit off-putting to some people. It is the ideal/only accompainment to classic Alsatian weenies & kraut.
But has GWT ages, it loses that youthful intensity and develops a beautiful/complex old GWT aroma; elegant, a bit spicy like cinammon & nutmeg, very perfumed...old GWT is about the only way to describe it. It's an aroma that I search for and love in GWT w/ some age on them.
3. My customary rant on Alsatian wines: When I first started drinking wines, I was quickly drawn to Alsatian wines and fell madly in love with them. They were dry and very aromatic; great to go w/ my weenies & kraut and tart flambee. And, best of all, they were....cheap. White wines you could drink on a daily basis, with all sorts of things. You could find good/great Alsatian Riesling/GWT typically for less than $5. And, even though they were cheap, many/ most aged incredibly well. It was a wonderful world to be in.
We bought a ton of the Dopff Au Moulin GrandCru Schoenenberg Riesling and Eichberg GWT, both VendageTardive. Back in those days, VT just represented "late harvest", slightly richer & bigger than the bottom-end Dopffs (which were also amazingly good). And...best of all, those VT were totally dry. Both of those Dopffs aged amazingly well and easily went out 20 yrs. The cost all of $4.99 at Boulder's LiquorMart. Did I mention they were...cheap.
Next came along the '76 BottFreres, imported by Draper&Esquin. GWT/Riesling/Muscat. They were two levels, SelectionneEspeciale and ReservePersonnelle (the VT level). Alas, the prices had escalated badly. The SE were about $6 and the RP about $8. Again, we bought a ton of them on special order.
And there were some other amazing ones in there in the late '70's. The Hugel ReservePersonnelle (VT llevel) and Selectionne au JeanHugel I recall. The Trimbach special cuvees. They were all delicious, food friendly, drinkable in large quantities....and don't forget....cheap. Zind-Humbrecht....never done did hear'ed of them.
The Rieslings were a special case. They were dry and very acidic in many cases. But they aged incredibly well, taking on that gout de petrol/valve oil character you get in old German Mosel. My criteria back then for buying Alsatian Riesling.....the more austere and they more hurtey they were to drink young, the better they would be with some age on them. Worked amazingly well.
And then something happened. Something very bad. The Z-H's appeared on the scene. The low-end ones were quite good; classic/traditional Alsatians...low alcohol, dry, good acidity..though not so cheap any more. And then there were the Z-H GrandCrus. Different in style. Higher in alcohol, lower in acidity, often with a bit of RS; rich & lush and fat; extracted, mouth-filling wines. And the VT level?? Quite sweet..2%-8% RS. Not so good anymore w/ weenies & kraut. And frightfully expensive...sometimes in excess of $20. Look at those gawd-awfull prices on the Z-H's above.
But...wait....it gets worse. These gross abberations/characterizations of Alsatian wines started to get rave reviews from certain Monktown attourneys...and scores in the mid-upper 90's. Leonard Humbrecht was labeled as the world's greatest winemaker. Before long, these high alcohol, off-dry, low acidity, highly extracted, fat/porky wines became to be thought of by consumers as "classic" Alsatian wines. They were amazing wines to taste and marvel at their extraction levels...but they did not go w/ my weenies & kraut. I had serious doubts that these abominations would age nearly as well os those of yore.
But...wait....it gets worse. Other Alsatian winemakers took note of the scores these Z-H's were receiving out of Monktown. They decided they could get those same high scores and charge those same prices. What were once the exception now became the norm. The whole genre/style of Alsatian wines changed...and not for the better. Prices sky-rocketed. $50-$80 Alsatian whites...gimmee a break. My consumption of cheap Alsatian wines and weenies & kraut plummeted. A heavy/depressing gloom descended over LosAlamos.
So... I organized this tasting w/ very low expectations...given the number of Z-H's I had included. In the prelims, I tried several btls of the low-end Z-H's GWT & Riesling Reservves. They were totally dead & gone. I held out little hope for the village designates and the GrandCrus as well. But...surprise...some of these Z-H's were not only pretty good, but some had aged amazingly well...far better than my expectations. In some cases, it was obvious from the first pour that the wine was gone. The color was not just golden/burnished brown, but had definite brownish tones. Oxidized...which I attrubute to cork failure (nearly all the corks were crumbly, difficult to extract, even w/ an AhSo, some fell into the btl...though the fill levels were good on all). But some of the others had evolved into beautiful examples of old Alsatian wines. Shows how much I know about Alsatian wines I guess.
So....where do I stand now vis a vis Alsatian wines??? I try most of the low-end Alsatians that come down the pike. They're generally richer & lower acid than the ones I recall. Some of them are pretty decent, actually. I buy the low-end Z-H's and find them to be OK. I almost never buy the Z-H's GrandCrus because of the price, certainly not the VendageTardives as they're too sweet to go w/ my weenies & kraut. The Z-H SGN's remind me too much of the Calif freezer IceWines and I'm skeptical they evolve into something like a great Mosel BA or TBA. I like the Marcel Deiss, Kreydinweiss, DomaineWeinbach. Sometimes the prices are more than I want to pay.
But when I want a good GWT to go with my weenies & kraut, I generally turn to the AltoAdige. Where I think some of the most traditional/old-timey GWTs are being made these days. Particularly the Abbazzia. I like the Claibourne & Churchills from Calif. I think the lean/mean Rieslings from AdamTolmach, which get low marks out of Monktown, have the potential to age into great old Riesling.
But it's a sad/sad world out there. Gawd..I miss the good/old days of Alsatian whites. End of rant/fini.
4. Babcock: I had another btl of this same wine a week earlier and they oxidation was pretty noticible and it was pretty shakey condition. This btl was totally different, w/ no signs of nutty/oxidation whatsoever. Easily, the best example of an old Calif GWT I've ever had. What a shame Brian abandoned GWT. I think probably the Claibourne& Churchill GWT's have the potential to age as well as this one.