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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

A Top 10 White from the Cellar

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Frédéric Émile 1990

James Suckling
Posted: December 18, 2009

I had a late lunch yesterday at home with my tasting coordinator, Rosanne Quagliata, and I decided a glass of white would go well with the vegetable soup I made the day before. I made the soup with chicken stock and fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, green beans and potatoes. I love eating fresh soup during cold winter days in Tuscany.

I have a cellar just below the kitchen. So I popped down to pull some whites. I decided to go for bottles that I had forgotten about—aged ones that were questionable in quality. Unfortunately, I had to go through a number of them to find a good one. Most were from ultraripe years and had already lost their freshness and zest. They were slightly oxidized and flabby. They included: Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo 2003, Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino Radici 2003, Moccagatta Langhe Chardonnay Buschet 2004 and Planeta Chardonnay Sicilia 2000. On top of that the Vie di Romans Sauvignon Isonzo del Friuli Piere 2001 and Jacqueson Rully 1er Cru Grésigny 1995 had bad corks!

I was getting desperate! My soup was getting cold as I went down each time to find a good bottle. Finally, I pulled my last bottle of Trimbach’s 1990 Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Émile from Alsace. This French wine appeared in the magazine's Top 10 Wines of 1995, more than a decade ago, but I knew it would be fantastic. And it was! The Riesling showed wonderful aromas of petrol, dried pineapple that evolved to lemon rind, honeydew melon and flint. The palate was rich, fresh and dense, even a little waxy. It was delicious. 93 points, non-blind. Shame it was my last bottle.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Émile 1990 (96, $27, Top 100 of 1995: No. 10).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated whites from Alsace.

Jonathan Rezabek
Chandler, AZ —  December 18, 2009 9:51am ET
I bet Rosanne felt privileged you were pouring her the dregs of your cellar. Good thing you found something after all that.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  December 18, 2009 7:26pm ET
Shame on you for not keeping track of the cellar James. The rest of us common folk use Excel spreadsheets and CellarTracker to make sure we don't miss a window! Just teasing... It's happened to many of us....
James Suckling
 —  December 19, 2009 11:01am ET
My cellar is a mess! The wines I poured weren't intended to be dregs, but I made up for it with the Trimbach Riesling! I wonder how many other "timebombs" are down there :(
Jordan Horoschak
Houston, TX —  December 19, 2009 2:08pm ET
James, on a random "white wine" topic... I noticed that you have not provided final, bottle tasting scores for Yquem since 2003. Any reason for this? Is the chateau not providing you with samples after the initial barrel tastings?

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