February 25, 2010

Tasting wines with Dr. Katharina Prüm

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Tonight I attended a dinner at the China Club organized by my local wine shop, tasting the wines of Joh. Jos. Prüm.  We were fortunate to have Dr. Katharina Prüm, the current-generation winemaker from the family, in attendance as she swings through on her Asian tour.

The menu tonight seemed to match the food well, and was pretty yummy in and of itself.

Roasted suckling pig accompanied with barbecued pork and jelly fish (化皮乳豬拼叉燒海蜇) - a great way to start the meal.  The jelly fish came with a sauce that made it more flavorful than the usual stuff.  The suckling pig was pretty good, but the char siu was the clear winner.  There were strips of succulent fat, and the honey glaze on the outside was awesome.

Baked stuffed crab shell (焗釀鮮蟹蓋) - a disaster.  One of the worst stuffed crab shell I've had recently.  The filling was hard and tough, and I had to put effort in scraping it off the shell.

Crystal king prawn in "Szechuan" sauce (川汁玻璃大蝦球) - these were pretty huge and impressive when laid out in front of us.  Taste was OK, but we wondered whether these were soaked in soda powder to achieve that translucence.  The sauce was OK...probably more appealing to foreign palates as it's similar to the shrimp cocktail sauce...

Braised shark's fin soup with shredded chicken (紅燒雞絲翅) - I don't (normally) eat shark's fin so I gave up my bowl.

Sautéed minced pigeon served with fresh lettuce slice (生菜片鴿崧) - pretty nicely done, and so much better than the minced duck I had a few days ago.

Sautéed shrededed beef with onion (中式牛柳條) - clearly a dish that appeals to foreign palates, but well-executed and delicious.

Fried rice in "Yeung Chow" style (楊州炒飯) - pretty decent actually.  The rice grains were dry enough and had enough bite.

Braised e-fu noodles (干燒伊府麵) - not bad.

We had some fresh fruits and fortune cookies to finish the meal... Fortune cookies?!  I didn't realize we were in an American Chinese restaurant...

The wine lineup of the evening was spread across vintages, vineyards as well as ripeness categories.

2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett - very young and fresh, with notes of pear, minerals, green apple, banana and tropical fruits.

2007 Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett - classic nose, slightly pungent, with notes of plastic, polyurethane, a little minerality, and a bit of marmalade on the finish.

2004 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett - nose of minerals, petrol, a hint of plastic, green apples and a hint of muscat grapes.  This was clearly a more complex wine compared to its younger sibling.

2007 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese - almost my wine of the evening.  Very complex, with lots of minerals, petrol and plastic in the nose.  Being a spätlese it was naturally sweeter, with a little bit of orange rind on the palate.  Beautiful and a pleasure to drink.

2005 Les Fiefs de Lagrange - inserted by the local agent coz they thought that us "local people" only drink red wine and couldn't possibly sit through an all-white dinner.  How wrong they were... This was a really funky wine... there was sweet fruit in the nose, with some vanilla and caramel from the oak barrels, but the nose was dominated by what I thought was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or some sort of a barbeque sauce.  There were notes of mint and smoke, too. 

2007 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese - very fresh and fruity, with nose of plastic and candied pomelo rind.  The wine is rich and smooth now, sweet (as auslese should be) but with good acidity. 

1995 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese - not surprisingly, this was my wine of the evening.  A huge nose of petrol, mineral, slate and perhaps a hint of white pepper?  For a wine that is almost 15 years old, the color was surprisingly pale - no doubt the result of the slow aging process as it sat in the cellars at the estate until very recently.  The wine was surprisingly dry on the palate, especially for auslese.  Katharina said that their wines are made to age, and the proof was in my glass.  What an amazing wine!  And how I would love to watch it develop over the next 10 years!

This was a very pleasant evening, leading me to immediately placed orders for my favorite wines.  Maybe I'll try to visit the estate one of these days...

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