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Harkey’s Wines and Spirits

March 12, 2010

The first time I met Bob Harkey was in November of 2007 at a BU wine class. These are the wines he brought.

1. Geraovassiliou,  Malagousia, Epanomi in Greece, 2003, 12.5%, $20

2. Karl Steininger, Gruner Veltliner, Loisium, Kamptal, 2006, 13%, $23

3. Gebhardt, Sommerhauser Olspiel Silvaner Kabinett trocken, 1997, Franken, 1997, 11%, $20

4. Oremus, “Mandolas” Tokaji Dry, Furmint, 2003, 13.5%, $15

5. Donnhoff, Riesling, 2004, 9%, $25

6. Joh.Jos. Prum, Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett, Riesling, 2002, 8.5%, $20

7. Joh.Jos. Prum, Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese, Riesling, 2002, 8%, $30

8. Joh.Jos. Prum, Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett, Riesling, 2002, 7.5%, $40

9. Salzl, “Seewinkelhof”, Zweigelt Selection, Burgenland, 2005, 13%, $15

10. Chateau Musar (Gaston Hochar), Lebanon, 1990, 11.5 to 13.5%, $40

11. Paul Anheuser, Kreuznacher Narrenkappe Riesling Eiswein, 1998, 7%, $30 per 375ml

12. Seidel-Dudenhofer, SD-Selection, Grauer Burgunder Beerenauslese Alsheimer Fruhmesse, 10%, $30 per 500 ml.

Maybe “enough said” or “you get it” would do the trick at this point because just one look at that selection and you get the idea that it might be fun to taste with Bob. But I’ll say a little more. Most educational (and tasty) was the horizontal of JJ Prum; the Donnhoff particularly fetching and memorable; the Zweigelt, Gruner and Eiswein serving as good reference points in their respective categories; everything else a bit tough to put into perspective though certainly memorable and I wouldn’t have changed the line up at all. How else to learn about Chateau Musar, dry Furmint and Franken Silvaner but through shock and awe?

Bob was charged with bringing wines from Germany and parts east thereof so it was perhaps inevitable that he’d bring something we’d never seen before. Granting this rather agreeable inevitability Bob brought wines that in all cases satisfied the intellect (afterall this was a class) and in many cases satisfied the appetites and emotions of the taster (at any wine class considerations of these satisfactions should be defenestrated). He was also a very friendly guy and had an interesting take on the wine industry. It was as if he had an outsider’s perspective on the wine industry despite the fact that he operated a business that was very much an insider’s attraction. He pays no attention whatsoever to the wine press and relies completely on his own palate in deciding which wines to buy. He has been doing this for a very long time and obviously does an outstanding job. He had some interesting things to say about tasting and some discouraging things to say about wine industry salesmanship. Overall though he presented the very encouraging view that in staying true to oneself one could find success.

Next time I saw Bob was in 2008 at his shop in Millis. I was on a mission to find a unique Pinot Noir. I ended up with a bottle 1999 Wittman Westhofener Steingrube Spatburgunder Beerenauslese. Mission accomplished. It was one of the hits of the night, though I’m pretty sure it would have been dwarfed by the 1985 Domaine Maume Mazis-Chambertin had that bottle not been corked. It was quite sweet of course but not as heavy as I thought it might be.  A singular red dessert wine in my experience. It was bright and fruity and had hardly any of the tertiary aromas that I expected from it’s 9 years of age.

Next time I visited the shop I got an old Mosel Beerenauslese for a gift. Bob has a great selection of old German wines and an incredible knowledge of the territory. It was hard to choose so I let him do most of the work. Trying to make excuses for why I don’t remember what I bought, eh? I didn’t taste it, maybe that’s why I can’t remember; the report back from the gifted was very enthusiastic though. I also got an interesting closeout, a 2000 Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris Reserve, which for 9 bucks was great with grilled salmon steaks that had been marinated with lemon, ginger and a rather sweet teriyaki sauce. The wine was in need of that crutch of a good pairing because it was all baked apples, smoke and spice and in dire need of a little acidity. It’s amazing what a good pairing will do for a faltering wine.

Anyways. I think Boston wine drinkers (and German wine drinkers especially) would do well to google “Harkey’s Millis”.

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