28 September 2007


[bottle]ca’Rugate 2005 Soave Classico San Michele (Veneto) – Delicate and lightly herbal, showing sun and air and a mild, lemony character, but not a whole lot else. It’s perfectly fine, it’s just…eh. (8/07)

The full Monte

[bottle]ca’Rugate 2005 Soave Classico Monte Fiorentine (Veneto) – While this is not entirely unlike the San Michele, there’s a clean bell-tone of fennel and fruit in the middle, plus a rounded, polished mineral core, that gives this wine the clear advantage over its brother. It’s no Pieropan (or Anselmi), but it’s a good wine in its own right. (8/07)

Perlara before swine

[bottle]ca’Rugate 2002 Recioto di Soave “La Perlara” (Veneto) – Rich spice in concentrated lemon and orange, pairing intensity and purity, yet sacrificing no lusciousness. There is a very slight thinning vs. a few years ago, but that could be attributable to bottle variation rather than age. (7/07)

Nosiola-cancelling headphones

Lavis “Bolognani” 2006 Nosiola (Trentino) – Viognier’s rustic cousin, with all the intensely floral aromatics but slightly less class, and more balancing acidity than you’ll usually find in a viognier. There’s also a drying, papery exterior that somehow seems to work in this wine. Intriguing and very good, but not particularly complex. (9/07)

Tufi luck

Teruzzi & Puthod 2005 “Terre di Tufi” (Tuscany) – Very shy at first, but as it airs it takes on layers of sun-blanched melon and almonds covered with layers of volcanic dust. It’s interesting enough on its own, but it also does an agreeable dance with food, seeping into the corners and crannies with grace and growing intensity. The finish is on the short side, but that’s a minor complaint. This wine is easy to like. (9/07)

Pigato in a poke

Bruna “Le Russeghine” 2005 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato (Liguria) – Vague gestures in the direction of old nuts and long-faded perfume. There are flor-like notes as well, though here they achieve less than they do in Sherry. Otherwise, very short and generally vapid…and given the price, a spectacularly poor value. (9/07)

Trappist family singers

[courtyard]Monastero Cuore Cistercensi Trappiste Vitorchiano “Coenobium” Vino da Tavola Bianco (Lazio) – Non-vintage, but it’s the 2005 release, and a blend of verdicchio, grechetto and trebbiano toscana. Lemon (fresh, juiced, preserved and rind) is the dominant characteristic, but in no way does this actually taste like fermented lemons…there’s plenty of grey-lit sand and flower-petal texture to it as well. There’s an austerity to the package that holds back most of the more boisterous notions. Very pleasant. (9/07)

27 September 2007


Raymond Quenard 2004 Chignin (Savoie) – Biting and overly brittle, showing iced-acid structure and bitter, rindy fruit. This bottle has character to spare, but I find it oddly repellent. (8/07)

I don't know why you say goodbye

Regli 2005 Hallauer Goldspross Riesling x Sylvaner (Hallau) – Why they don’t just call it müller-thurgau, I don’t know, but the actual grape is relegated to the fine print on the back label. Anyway, this is pretty dismal. Flat and lifeless despite pointed acidity, it takes like fermented paper which has then been stripped of all character. Plus, there’s some volatile acidity up top. It’s not awful, though the aromas are fairly pathetic, it’s more that it’s overwhelmingly dull. (7/07)

Iché fingers

Iché “Château d’Oupia” 2005 Minervois (Languedoc) – More tightly-wound than its heretical brother, and a bit difficult to discern; there’s a dark, brooking surliness to the wine that repels the inquisitive. Layers of thick tannin seem to be the vintage’s signature (8/07)

Burn them!

Iché 2004 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault “Les Hérétiques” (Languedoc) – Rough and fine at the same time, showing a dark, earthy and slightly herbal meatiness with chewy, dark fruit. But it’s not heavy; it makes few demands, and rewards simple enjoyment with…well, simple enjoyment. (8/07)

Rives gauches

Val d’Orbieu “Les Deux Rives” 1999 Corbières (Languedoc) – Stewed and horrid. Possibly heat-damaged, but that’s far from all that’s wrong here. (8/07)

24 September 2007

A striking Brézèmblance

[grapes]Texier 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône Brézème Roussanne (Rhône) – This suggests rather than delivers extreme weight, and in fact turns out rather well-balanced. Nut oils and stone fruit residues are in evidence, along with some spice and a fetid peachiness. A nice wine, crisper than many of its ilk, but with the flavors one expects. (7/07)

Roussanne, you don't have to turn on the red light

[label]Tablas Creek 2002 Roussanne (Paso Robles) – Gauzy and almost, but not quite, oxidative; I have some doubts about the provenance of this bottle. Despite that, the straw and apricot fruit remain, with fair balance and a textural context between a dense forepalate and a crispy finish is developing. There’s much to like here, and the wine expands in the presence of aggressive food, but I’ve had better bottles. (8/07)


Château La Nerthe 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Corked. (7/07)

The little mermaid

Barruol “Oriel” 2003 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Simplistic and far too gentle for its own good; there’s garrigue and bubblegum, herb and earth, but mostly there’s a lack of intensity. It improves a bit with air, but not enough to be more than pleasantly innocuous. (9/07)


Barruol “Château de Saint Cosme” 1995 Gigondas “Valbelle” (Rhône) – Heavy, sludgy raspberry with dense mocha oak, which eventually overwhelms even the intense fruit and leaves the wine somewhat void of character despite all its intense volume. It might improve with more aging, but at this point I doubt that the fruit will ever outlive the wood. (7/07)

Some people call me Maurice

[grapes]Clos du Paradis “Domaine Viret” 1999 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Saint-Maurice “Cosmic” (Rhône) – This may be the best bottle I’ve had, but it’s also the last. Oh well. Perfectly-integrated and developed earth, spice and old, animal-brushed fruit baked by sun and dried by wind, with a long, utterly pleasant finish. Terrific. (7/07)

Côtes du Ventoux and Tyler, too

[vineyard]Brusset 2005 Côtes du Ventoux (Rhône) – A fine New World syrah, with big, dark, moody black and purple fruit so dense and thick one needs a scythe to cut through its density. It feels like it should be oaky, but I don’t think it is. Though at this point, it could hardly hurt. (7/07)

Matthew, Mark, Luke...

[steve & grapes]Edmunds St. John 1995 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Very primary and mostly monolithic, despite some hints of darkly brooding earth and slowly-developing roasted fruit. There’s still a load of tannin as well, and while the quality of this wine is obvious, it’s nowhere near being ready to drink, much less anything even vaguely approximating maturity. Do it (and yourself) a favor and put it back to bed before it hurts somebody. (8/07)

Flaviens Flav

[logo]Kreydenweiss 2001 Vin de Pays des Coteaux Flaviens “Ansata” (Rhône) – Here I pay the price for a lack of confidence, figuring that an Alsatian winemaker won’t necessarily know how to make an ageable Rhône without a lot of practice. Oh, me of little hope. While this is definitely showing some signs of positive development, there’s no hurry to open it. The fruit has smoothed to a Southern Rhônish sheen of herbed strawberry, underbrush, slick leather and hints of bubblegum, but there’s a moderate amount of structure still to resolve (and the acid-averse will probably find more than they’d like here; I think it’s a terrific element that’s too often missing in these wines), and the finish is long and only hints and teases at full tertiary complexity. A fine effort, and a lot of fun at blind tastings (“it’s a red from Marc Kreydenweiss, and it’s not pinot noir…”). (8/07)

Sur le pont

Terres d’Avignon (Kermit Lynch) 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Bigger, but not denser, than the 2004, with more structure (no surprise) and a darker, dirtier turn to the fruit. It’s kinda rough going right now, but I suspect a few years’ aging will sort things out in a positive direction. (8/07)

Grist for the mill

[label]Bradford Mountain 2002 Syrah Grist (Dry Creek Valley) – 15.5%. Unmistakably syrah, and just as unmistakably Californian, with thick blueberry dominating a breath of leather and velvety tannin. If there’s oak here (and there probably is), the fruit’s soaked it all up, but the alcohol does remain a bit prickly. A lush, full-bodied but structured wine with aging potential…though watch that heat. (8/07)

23 September 2007

There once was a wine from Nantucket

[bottle]Limerick Lane 2002 Zinfandel Collins (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. On the bigger, hotter side of zin, but by no means unduly hot in context. Wild boysenberry and raspberry dominate, with soda notes in the mix, and a peppery, zingy finish that shows strapping acidity. A good wine, but it needs strong-willed food to tame its more aggressive notions. (7/07)

Karly sign, mon

Karly 2003 Zinfandel “Buck’s Ten Point” (Amador Country) – 14.5%. Tight, dried-berry Amador wildness; call it blackened zin without the Cajun spicing. Fruit tends towards blackberry and other less common, tiny and slightly bitter berries, with a slight whiskey burn that somehow doesn’t offend. It lacks ambition, but it’s tasty enough. (8/07)

Quivira with anticipation

[bottle]Quivira 2003 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Spicy zinberry fruit with a hollow middle and noticeable heat on the peppery finish. An incomplete wine. (8/07)

Nalle for one

Nalle 2003 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – 13.8%. Elegant and supple (two words rarely used to describe a zin), with gently rolling berries and a grapey interior, plus some soft, earthy layers underneath. Very pretty. (8/07)

This Oro that

Montevina “Terra d’Oro” Zinfandel “Port” (Amador County) – The usual late-harvest zin problem with overwhelming volatile acidity has been mostly tamed here, though there is a remnant. Perhaps the zin wasn’t all that late-harvest to begin with; certainly it has softer, lusher, more red-berried aromas than one would expect from Amador. Somewhat lugubrious, but pleasant enough. (8/07)

Delos, I love you, won't you tell me your name?

[bottle]Pierre Moncuit Champagne à Le Mesnil sur Oger “Grand Cru” Brut Blanc de Blancs “Cuvée Pierre Moncuit-Delos” (Champagne) – Brilliant bubbly with fine poise, creamy texture, and complexity to spare. Brioche and hazelnut are in the mix, as well as preserved lemon, old wood shavings, and a delicate aroma of faded yellow flowers. Just beautiful. (8/07)

No reply Etoile

[bottle]Domaine Chandon Brut Rosé “l’Etoile” (Mendocino/Napa/Sonoma) – Crown cap. Very fruity, with strawberries to the fore, and perhaps a little sweeter and more neon-intense than I’d like. But there’s yeasty complexity underneath, and the wine firms up a little bit on the finish…though eventually it turns every so slightly candied again. Still, not bad, though not worth the price either. (8/07)

22 September 2007

An Auxey to grind

[label]Drouhin 1986 Auxey-Duresses (Burgundy) – Feeble at uncorking, but after the aeration that older Burgundy almost always seems to need, it turns out there’s a beautiful old wine within. This has held wonderfully, with a delicate, spiced leaf aroma intermixed with old red fruit and gentle, mushroomy earth. The structure is fully resolved, though adhesion to the wine’s acidity is just starting to fray and pull a bit; the right food could counterbalance this. (7/07)

Maréchal law

[candle & wine]Maréchal 1995 Pommard Les Vignots (Burgundy) – Starting to fray, with dominant acidity and a sharp razor of tannin slicing deep into a crisp core of red cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit. Some interesting floral/earthy aromatics skid across the top, but this wine has become mostly about structure. (7/07)

Fourrier transformed

[label]Fourrier 1995 Vougeot Les Petits Vougeot “1er Cru” (Burgundy) – Shy and dried out for the first thirty minutes or so, after which it does the expected Burgundy transformation. The result: muscular, dark plum and blackberry fruit with black truffle. This is a wine with a rather firm grip on itself. Another half-hour or so down the road, it begins to close up again (its lingering intensity argues against the suspicion that it’s drying out). Leave it for a while longer. (8/07)

Chorey dinner

[label]Drouhin 2005 Chorey-les-Beaune (Burgundy) – Dark, slightly singed fruit plagued by a surplus of tannin. I don’t think it’s ultimately out of balance, but it’s going to take a long time to present itself as an acceptable dinner companion. And, though this comes as no surprise to anyone given the vintage hype, it’s a massively poor value. Update: the wine is only overpriced in certain markets. Elsewhere, it's around $20, and thus fairly reasonable given the overheated market for 2005 Burgundies. (9/07)

Grosjean, petitjean

[vines]Grosjean 2005 Pinot Noir (Vallée d’Aoste) – A difficult wine, giving nothing in a spirit of generosity (and certainly not fun). Soil and granite, some dusty red fruit in the background. Indifferent. I’m inclined to like wines that are all about dirt, and maybe this just needs some age, but it’s a bit too cranky for my tastes at this stage. (9/07)

Hallau, how are you?

Regli 2005 Hallauer Sonnenspross Spätlese (Hallau) – Mildly appealing, with lightly-structured but flat black cherries and a fine dusting of particulate white pepper. Tarragon and thyme are more suggested than present, and the wine’s a little on the wan side. Still, it’s appealing enough to be drinkable, especially with the right food…something similarly restrained and gently-treated. (7/07)

Regli 2002 Hallauer Blauburgunder “Barrique” (Hallau) – A chunky dullard of a wine, with tortured fruit buried under a pile of grape- and oak-tannin rubble. There’s a decent enough core of fruit somewhere under all that detritus, but there’s no ferreting it out now. Will it age? Sure, but I doubt it will get any better. (8/07)

More than a Hamilton

[bottle]Hamilton Russell 2005 Pinot Noir (Walker Bay) – Very, very large-scaled. It’s not that the fruit is overripe or the alcohol is prominent, and certainly this is recognizable as pinot, it’s just that the wine is massive. Also, there’s a thick, intrusive layer of oak doing its best to bury the fruit at the moment. There’s plenty of structure, and given the brilliance of their chardonnay I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it will unquestionably need plenty of age to make any sense of itself. (7/07)

Backward falcon

[bottle]Peregrine 2003 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Intensely liqueur-like, with sweet-tasting fruit hanging exposed in a wine that lacks the requisite structure to support it. I’m not sure what’s happened here, as the wine was much better balanced in its youth (though the sweet note was always present); maybe this is what passes for this wine’s “dumb phase,” or maybe things have just fallen apart around its fruity event horizon. (7/07)

Coteau, Japan

[bottle]Domaine Coteau 2005 Pinot Noir (Yamhill County) – Dense and syrah-like, not least because there’s also a healthy infestation of bretty aromas that would seem much more at home in a hefty Northern Rhône. This is incredibly dense and unyielding, and I question whether or not it’s actually pleasurable, much less a worthwhile expression of pinot. Age is unquestionably necessary, and maybe it will be a lot more appealing with proper cellaring, because there’s plenty of structure and extract underneath the funk and weight. Certainly this is what some look for in pinot noir, but it’s not really my style. (7/07)

Alma for the poor

[label]Alma Rosa 2005 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills) – These days, my typical complaint about pinots from this region is that they taste like someone spilled a combination of cherry syrup and whiskey in the fermentation vessel. This wine reminds me of my complaints from the old days: that fruit cola wasn’t something I was interested in buying at pinot prices. This wine is all over the place, showing intense but candied strawberry and raspberry, then sticky soda, then a gritty, sandy texture, haphazard structure, and an overly child-friendly finish. I sorta want to like it given the backstory (it’s the new Sanford wine), but I just can’t. (8/07)

21 September 2007

Jenny from the block

Lopez de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” 1997 Rioja Rosado (Center-North) – Such a unique wine. Blood orange through gauze, old roses, concentrated and blocky minerality, and a slightly saline, almost fishy component are supported by elusive acidity and a strong, but not hot, alcoholic texture. Fascinating. (8/07)

Serra smile

[bottle]Argiolas 2006 Isola dei Nuraghi “Serra Lori” (Sardinia) – A rosato of cannonau (grenache). Deep pink verging on purple, with a concentrated ripe berry flavor hit by little pellets of graphite and fizz, plus a keening anise note. This could pass as a light red wine, but it’s by no means overly heavy, and it avoids the common pink grenache pitfall of excess alcohol. A very good wine. (8/07)

Saladini course

[botti]Pilastri 2006 “Consenso” Rosato (Marche) – Beautiful strawberry notes dusted with the spice rack (more the dried herbs than the ground pods), with a fine, appealing balance and something on the finish that tastes like albino walnuts, if that makes any sense. There’s light complexity in its mix of fruit and spice, but it’s so juicy and drinkable that resisting a hearty quaff will be difficult. (7/07)

Drew Rosenspross

Regli 2005 Hallauer Rosenspross Rosé (Hallau) – Sticky-sweet and candied cherry. A Swiss white zin, with all the negativity that implies. (7/07)

Saignée clause

[vine]Torbreck 2006 “Saignée” (Barossa Valley) – Raspberry firewater. Scaldingly hot. Rosés are legendary for their imbalance, but this is just searing. Maybe it could be used for aggressive dentistry… (7/07)

Alouette, Château La Moutète

Duffort “Château La Moutète” 2006 Côtes de Provence Rosé “Grande Réserve” (Provence) – A fine, pure rosé of orange rind, lavender and the memory of cherry. Its aspirations require no more verbiage than that. (7/07)

Panis button

[bottle]Panis “Chateau du Donjon” 2004 Minervois Rosé (Languedoc) – Tastes off-dry, but even if it’s not it’s candied and not all that refreshing. Strawberries and raspberries abound, but it’s just too plastic for my tastes. A fellow diner comments that “it tastes like communion wine,” which is never good. (8/07)

A (Kir)wan effort

Schröder & Schÿler 2006 “Le Rosé de Kirwan” (Bordeaux) – Simple, dryly syrupy cherries with a dulling lack of structure. Better for Shirley Temples and other kiddie drinks than as a wine. (8/07)

Ang gris

[label]Terre Rouge 2004 Vin Gris d’Amador (Sierra Foothills) – 51% mourvèdre, 34% grenache, 15% syrah. Unfocused and somewhat candied, this stumbles clumsily around its lazy fruit and finally passes out somewhere in a pool of alcohol. A rare misstep from this winery. (8/07)

Nice Gammes

[grapes]Michon “Domaine St-Nicolas” 2005 Fiefs Vendéens “Gammes en May” (Loire) – Very light. Practically a rosé, and I think one should employ it as such. I assume this is gamay, because it shows the dusty-toned and slightly volatile aromatics of gamay I’ve tasted elsewhere on the fringes of the Loire, here with a clamshell mushroom character at its root. This will appeal to a very limited audience, and that’s a shame, because there’s a lot to like here. (7/07)

The Moriers the merrier

Chignard 2000 Fleurie “Les Moriers” (Beaujolais) – The most flawlessly ripe (yet crisp) berries imaginable, but presented in fractal facets glittering with brilliant acid-polished light. Tellicherry pepper and delicate floral notes seem dusted on the top, elusive but present. Breathtakingly gorgeous. Possibly the best Beaujolais I’ve ever tasted. (7/07)

Tête offensive

[chai]Louis Tête 2005 Beaujolais-Villages (Beaujolais) – Very light, but a boisterous little fruit bomb nonetheless, crisp and mildly volatile, with a keening raspberry/cherry core. (8/07)

A Fleurie of activity

Coudert “Clos de la Roilette” 2004 Fleurie (Beaujolais) – Coming along well, with an earthy, violet-hued aroma giving partial way to more interesting lavender and black truffle underneath. There’s plenty of sprightly acidity and a little bit of balancing tanning, and the finish is a long as it is pretty…though there’s hidden strength, as well. Beautiful wine. (7/07)

19 September 2007

They Blewitt

[blewitt springs vineyard]Clarendon Hills 1998 “Old Vines” Grenache Blewitt Springs (Clarendon) – High-toned raspberry and bubblegum with a lash of volatile acidity (not actively unpleasant except to the sensitive). There’s obvious alcohol, but otherwise this is surprisingly shrill, as if age had narrowed it to a shrieking point. It’s interesting enough, but I wouldn’t exactly seek it out. (7/07)

Riesling rising

[bottle]Rosemount 2005 Riesling (South Eastern Australia) – Full of varietal character, and quite drinkable in a pinch, but there’s nothing else to add to that description. It’s basically dry, with the usual high Aussie acidity scraping any remaining sugar from every interior surface, and the finish is a bit abrupt. Still, one can do a lot worse in the Rosemount stable. (8/07)

Dog days

[marlborough]Dog Point 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Classic Marlborough “savvy” riding the rail between green, chile & herb exuberance and riper gooseberry and lightly tropical fruit, with fine acidity and poise. Not great, but certainly good. (8/07)

Not the guy who invented the computer

Babich 2005 Chardonnay “Unwooded” (Hawke’s Bay) – Under screwcap, and heavily reduced. It doesn’t much matter, however, because there’s just not much here to rescue; the mild, melony fruit is wimpy and generally useless. Babich is typically a very solid producer, even at the low end, so this performance is a little surprising. (8/07)

Rough diamond

Rosemount 2005 Shiraz (South Eastern Australia) – This is the Diamond Label bottling. Bitter and somewhat rancid fruit in a synthetic key. Ugly. (8/07)

Star trek

[bottle]Voyager Estate 2003 Shiraz (Margaret River) – Flavorful, full-bodied and balanced, with affable dark berry and leather characters structured by soft tannin and a light winemaking hand. A solid performer, though there’s no complexity (at least not yet). (7/07)

TJ hooker

TJ Wines “Jonesy Old Tawny Port” (Australia) – Tastes like balsamic shiraz, minus the boisterous fruit; it’s heavy, it’s dark, it tastes of molasses and prune, and it demonstrates by counterpoint that, despite the brickbats, there’s some redeeming structure in pedro ximénez after all. (8/07)

18 September 2007

Blanck slate

[label]Blanck 2002 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg (Alsace) – Beautiful peach, pear, cashew and light lychee with a strong, crystallized mineral core and fine balance. I’ve always thought this was ageable, and now that the first throes of youth have passed, I’m even more sure. But it’s in a really good place right now, as well. (7/07)

See Hugel

[label]Hugel 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Done up in the classic Hugel style: dry (to the palate; there may be some analyzable residual sugar) with plenty of acidity and a restrained, elegant character. This restraint doesn’t always serve Hugel well in these days of critic-pleasing excess, and then some years Hugel gets it profoundly wrong, producing something wan rather than elegant. But when it all works (as it does here), it’s a firm commitment to tradition over modishness. There’s still plenty of tradition to be found in Alsace, but not much of it is exported in these quantities. Grab it before it disappears forever. (8/07)


JP&JF Becker 2001 Riesling Kronenbourg (Alsace) – A composite note. The first bottle is advanced, with creamier and more oxidative notes in concert with a quartzy mineral spice and flashing whiteness, while the second bottle is much more along expected lines, with firm malic acidity and a fresh, glacial wash over white rocks. Well-stored and with cork intact, this has years yet to go. (7/07)


JP&F Becker 2005 Riesling (Alsace) – All the riesling notes are here, but they’re vague and tentative, and there’s neither intensity nor elegance, polish nor verve. Becker’s quite capable of interesting, terroir-revelatory rieslings, but at the lower end things are weaker than they should be. This is insubstantial and diffuse, and I doubt it’s going to improve either. (7/07)

Mambourg number five

[label]Sparr 2002 Gewurztraminer Mambourg “Grand Cru” (Alsace) – Intense but not overdriven, with a burnt-mineral foundation layered with firm crystallized peach, lychee and almond and a supportive acid backbone, which completely dominates the very mild residual sweetness. Balanced, long and showing its terroir; what more could one want from a gewürztraminer? (8/07)

Sparrs and stripes

[label]Sparr 2001 Riesling Schoenenbourg “Grand Cru” (Alsace) – A softening sweetness can’t detract from the pure terroir on display here: crushed white flowers, a little chalk, a rounded and polished core that tails off a bit on the finish. Classic and ageworthy, though there’s definitely that sugar to contend with. (9/07)

Gewurz of times

Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Drinking beautifully right now, with full-bodied ripe peach and lychee sliced by strongly metallic structural elements, a quartzy rock salt finish, and balancing acidity. (8/07)

Grey villé

Trimbach 2002 Pinot Gris “Réserve” Ribeauvillé (Alsace) – Rich spiced pear, almost verging on oily, but with enough backpalate crispness to retain balance. There’s also the typical blackened quartz underbelly…a strange descriptor, I know…which sets this far apart from other pinot gris at its price point. This is a highly reliable wine (except in freak years like 2003), but 2002 verges on exceptional. (8/07)

Spiced Bs

[herrenweg de turckheim]Barmès Buecher 2004 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – As with the rieslings from this site, Herrenweg gewürztraminer has a persistent problem with structure: it’s usually absent. Worse, the grape’s development is far too often stunted somewhere in the light peach and cashew range, leaving off all the exotic, developed aromas that give the grape its necessary character. Not here. This is a frankly brilliant wine, with intense, burnt-pork spice and blackened, almost Cajun-spiced minerality balanced by fiery acidity and only a very minor dollop of residual sugar (which, given the wine’s other qualities, I may even be mis-identifying). As hard as it is to imagine from this site, this wine has to be ageable. But even if it’s not, the pleasure of current consumption is plentiful. (9/07)


[rosenberg de wettolsheim]Barmès Buecher 2002 Pinot Gris Rosenberg de Wettolsheim “Silicis” (Alsace) – Brilliant, showing far more shattered crystalline minerality than the spicy pear fruit that is this variety’s regional signature, with a long finish and only the mildest dollop of appealing sweetness. Highly-structured, and – unlike many pinot gris – likely to develop, rather than simply last and then fade, with bottle age. Just terrific. (9/07)

Hair N. Wegg

[herrenweg de turckheim]Barmès Buecher 2004 Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – The Herrenweg de Turckheim isn’t my favorite site, especially for riesling, because the wines from there are far too often wishy-washy, lacking the nerve and precision that make riesling distinctive. There’s a soft, floral aspect to the wines that, typically, falls flat in the glass, or even under the influence of a stern gaze. Kudos to Barmès Buecher, then, for marrying the expected aromatics to a firmer structure than is typical. It’s not so much crisp or brittle as it is sandpapery, and so, texturally, this is somewhat unusual, but it may be the best possible mitigation of this site’s natural tendencies. Also of note: the wine is markedly dry, so those used to a dollop of sugar (or its more abrasive cousin, ponderous alcohol) may want to keep that in mind. (9/07)

BB blanc

[rosenberg de wettolsheim]Barmès Buecher 2002 Pinot Blanc Rosenberg de Wettolsheim (Alsace) – Structured and surprisingly intense for pinot blanc, especially as it lacks the telltale thick spice of auxerrois adulteration (whether or not it actually has auxerrois in the blend, as most Alsatian pinot blancs do, I can’t say for sure). Leafy stone fruit and firm acidity form the core of this wine, with only a mildly-softening wrapping of fruit. Nice, and likely ageable. (9/07)

Bubbly Barmès

[bottles]Barmès Buecher 2005 Crémant d’Alsace Brut (Alsace) – Piercing and vibrantly acidic, though the acid dominance renders the wine more brittle than I would like. What fruit there is seems whitewashed and then coated in a fine dust of blackboard chalk. A very particular, almost old school crémant d’Alsace, which isn’t necessarily a compliment; to the extent that crémant can be made to feel like Champagne without tasting like Champagne, I think it benefits from the aspiration. This is more like sekt. Ultimately, of course, there’s an issue of preference here, but I think Alsace is less suited for sekt than it is for a richer, more complex bubbly. (9/07)

KB joys

[label]Kuentz-Bas 2004 Alsace (Alsace) – Neither lush and spicy nor overly austere, this blend rides the fine line between flavor and nervosity, and rides it well. Melon and dried lime vie with a light minerality and firm acidity for supremacy, but mostly this wine is about its fine structure. Drink it soonish. (8/07)

Kuentz-Bas 2004 Alsace (Alsace) – Simple spiced pear, apple and very mild rock undertones. Exceedingly pleasant, which of course is all this wine tries to be. (7/07)

Sparring partner

[vineyard]Sparr 2002 “One” (Alsace) – As usual, a sort of summary of Alsatian organoleptics: spice, pear, minerality and ripe apple, with a bit of crispness and a faint, drinkable sweetness. Nice. (8/07)

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