Best of the Best 2002: Wine: Best International Estates
Langwerth von Simmern (Rheingau, Germany). Once upon a time, the wines of the Rheingau were the most famous in the world, selling for more than Lafite or Montrachet. The vineyard most responsible for this reputation was Erbacher Marcobrunn, whose praises were sung by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since the 1970s, most examples have only hinted at the estate’s celebrated past. But Langwerth von Simmern’s return brings some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards back to the forefront of the wine maker’s art. Both the 1999 and 2000 vintages saw some stellar releases here, and 2001 is rumored to be even better. Suggestions include Erbacher Marcobrunn 2000 Spatlese, Hattenheimer Wisselbrunn 1999 Beerenauslese, Erbacher Marcobrunn Trockenbeerenauslese 1999.
Importer: Old Vine Imports, 707.769.1745
A New “Super Second”
Chateau Pavie (St-Émilion, France). Chateau Pavie is the most recent acquisition of Gerard Perse, who also owns La Clusiere, Monbousquet, and Pavie Decesse. Perse, an industry outsider and supermarket mogul, has managed with meteoric speed to take these perennial underachievers to new heights for the appellation. His methods are simple: a vast infusion of cash to renovate or equip the wine making facilities, the help of two of Bordeaux’s leading enologists, and a drastic reduction of yields in the vineyards. With the purchase of Pavie, Perse owns one of the appellation’s most coveted pieces of land. And with just three vintages under its belt since the acquisition, Pavie sells for more than $100 a bottle, a price tag that many “super-seconds” with decades of impeccable reputation don’t command. The wines from all four estates are unapologetically modern, with a lavishly opulent style, copious amounts of oak, low acidity, and soft tannins. The locals may cringe, but the international press applauds. Suggestions include Chateau Pavie 1999 St-Émilion, Chateau Pavie 2000 St-Émilion (futures).
Importer: Various importers