Luxembourg produces a rather substantial amount of wine, at least given the country’s miniscule size. But, apart from one single producer the rest is easy drinking decent stuff at best, and quite horrible at worst. This wine maker I am talking of is Aby Duhr. In his Chateau Pauque in the Mosel village of Grevenmacher, he creates incredibly interesting wines. The man is among the founders of Domaines et Traditions, a group of serious winemakers from Luxembourg, which produce selected cuvees for this label, and is active in the grand jury europeen. All of this taken apart, what interested me since I first tasted his wines in December 2009, was what the rest of his production tastes like.
So, after returning from London for a few weeks, I drove down to the Mosel to taste a few wines. We started with a flight of ’08 Rieslings. Whilst this was a more or less difficult vintage on the Mosel, Duhr managed to create wines, which still show an incredible balance, and body. Among the finest examples was a old vines cuvee, coming from two different sites. This was an incredibly powerful wine, which had dramatically reduced yields (his rendement is about a quarter of what is usual in Luxembourg) and was harvested in mid to end November. So technically, he could market this as a late harvest, but he decided not to. At around 15euro or so, this is a steal, and will develop gracefully over the next few years. Among the other great Rieslings was a stunning Sous la roche, from a newly aquired vineyard (harvested on the 20. November!), and a Grevenmacher Fels.
Moving on, we stepped over to something I tasted at Christian Bau’s phenomenal restaurant: Les Fossiles, which if I recall correctly is a Pinot blanc. We compared the ’07 and ’08, which showed the ’08 as even more dry and mineral. Both of these are incredibly well made again, and show what potential this type of grape has, in the hands of a great winemaker.
His top end cuvees- Clos du Paradis, Chateau Pauque and Clos de la falaise– are all well worth the price of around 30euro per bottle. The first and last are Chardonnays, which rival the very best wines of Burgundy in terms of power, balance, and finesse. To be honest, one of the greatest wine memories of last year was his ’05 Chateau Pauque, which I drank on NYE, without knowing what to expect. Upon opening, it showed as something of incredible power and grace. It had bags of fruit, underlined by a very fine acidity, and a very subtle sweet smoky nose from the barrel ageing. This is without doubt among the finest wines at that price, at least I haven’t found much better wine for this price.
If you can, try the Clos du Paradis. You will not regret it! It’s a pure Auxerois. A grape common in Luxembourg, but disregarded as something trivial, without much of an interest. Durh however, manages to elevate it to the very highest level. With a production of no more than 500-600 bottles per year, he makes this wine as his top cuvee. It is absolutely stunning. We tasted ’99 and ’03, with the former being more marked by evolution, possibly close to it’s maturity, and the latter displaying quite a rich basket of fruit. I would have had no clue as to what we were drinking, had he not told me that it was a 100% Auxerois. Unbelievable.
After having gone through a fair bunch of his wines, it must have been around 20 or so, we moved on to Dagueneau’s ‘04s. Starting with Pur Sang, which was quite powerful and mineral, we then moved to Damnatus Mons, without doubt the greatest Sancerre I have tried. Finally, a glass of Silex was poured. I prefer the ’07, but this was brilliant without doubt.
Last of the bunch, after 4 hours of tasting was a ’07 Chambolle Musigny from Meo Camuzet and a number of their white Hautes Cotes de Nuits “Clos St. Philibert”. The best was the ’97, whilst ’06 was quite rich, in contrast to the very mineral ’07. These were all much better than a ’07 Pernot Pulingy Montrachet, which served as contrast.
This was a beautiful afternoon. Aby Duhr should get much more attention, as he is a pioneer in Luxembourg, someone who is obsessed with what he does and does it brilliantly well. Throughout the tasting he stressed the point that he makes wines, that should be enjoyable to drink: “I want to drink my wines”. A point, many seem to forget. If you are in the area, do take the time to stop by and buy a few cases. It doesn’t get much better on the Mosel.