26 February 2008

Rimu vyor hand

[rimu grove]Rimu Grove 2002 Pinot Noir (Nelson) – Medium-soft dried cherry, strawberry, and plum. Lightly tannic, with high acidity. The finish is seedy, and re-softens after the brief structural insurrection on the midpalate. (3/05)

Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Noir (barrel sample) (Nelson) – One year from release. Sweet vanilla, chocolate liqueur, ripe boysenberry, dark cherry, and plum skin. Oh, and mixed nuts. This is a heavy wine showing a lot of wood-influenced fetal fat, but there’s great acidity, and the finish is long and ascending. There’s even a stony undertone. Promising, as long as it handles that oak. (3/05)

Rimu & Zooty

Rimu Grove 2002 Chardonnay (Nelson) – 100% barrel fermented, whole-bunch pressed. Dense with spice (especially cinnamon) and semi-rich. Long and intense, but not showing much fruit at the moment; mostly, what one tastes is what’s been done to the fruit after harvest. It’s showing signs of mellowing, but it’s not there yet, and my belief is that the intensity of the winemaking has overwhelmed the fruit, though certainly not in an obscene fashion. (3/05)


Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Gris (Nelson) – Hot. Ripe pear with a sticky consistency. Long. Balanced in the context of a pinot gris pushed to and slightly beyond its limits, but one wishes for a little more acidity and a lot more precision. I don’t think this will have a long life, but it’s pleasant in the near term. (3/05)

Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Gris (Nelson) – Take two, this time with dinner. Sweaty and salty, with funky banana oil and rotten pear aromatics. Dried apricot, too. It’s more varietally typical with food, which is welcome, but nonetheless it comes off more like some sort of mediocre, teenaged chardonnay than a true pinot gris. Where’s the fresh, spicy pear? Alternatively, where’s the lightly fruity fennel note? And is there any acidity to be had? I just don’t think this wine is getting it done, and in comparison to the luncheon leftovers of a Peregrine Pinot Gris, it tastes and feels rather clumsy. (3/05)


Rimu Grove 2003 Pinot Gris “Vendange Tardive” (Nelson) – Pear and burnt caramel. Soft. Balanced between sugar and acidity, but just not very interesting. For too many producers, “late harvest” only means excessive residual sugar, while the wines that actually deserve the label deliver more than elevated brix. (3/05)

23 February 2008


[label]Van Winkle “Special Reserve” Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 12 Years Old “Lot B” (Kentucky) – Stone fruit and sweet wood with some burn; this is more aggressive than many in its category, with an edge that I’m moved to call bitter. I like it, then I don’t, then I’m not sure. I suppose that’s a positive note. (2/08)

Turn your head and Keafferkopf

Kuehn 1999 Kaefferkopf (Alsace) – Quite off-dry, dominated by rich spice and density, but with improved clarity and focus on the finish. Ripe and somewhat sweet apples make an ultimately futile effort at counterbalance. Unfortunately, its presence and weight render it somewhat clumsy with food, but it’s fine as a sipping wine. (3/06)

Miclo, boldhi

[stills]G. Miclo Gentiane Eau de Vie (Alsace) – Made from gentian root, a traditional element of bitters that also shows up in the now-cultish soft drink Moxie. It’s full of slate and a harsh metallic edge not unlike that of raw turmeric, with a sharpness that I don’t care for. (3/06)

22 February 2008

Beaucastels in the sky

Perrin “Château de Beaucastel” 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Coming out of its difficult phase, but only just, and as such it’s somewhat evasive. The meat-smoke, bacon liqueur elements are only teasingly in place, there’s a strong but backgrounded residue of dried plum, and the minerality at the core is left rather bare and exposed by the wine’s reluctance to rise from its sleep. As such, the structure dominates. This needs some more waiting. (2/08)

Coudoulet your hands on me

Perrin “Coudoulet de Beaucastel” 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Bursting with ripe fruit, all fresh and upfront but with a solid pulse underneath. There are hints and shades of the earthier/meatier aspects, but they’re pretty much buried under the berried fruit right now. A lot of fun, nicely balanced, and surpassingly drinkable. (2/08)

Perrin in pink

Perrin & Fils 2006 Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé “Réserve” (Rhône) – Solid salted berry flavors, red and glowing with energy. It’s strong for a rosé, but not imbalanced (as so many southern French rosés are, in favor of their alcohol). But it lacks much bite, verve, or really much of anything on the finish. Short finishes aren’t exactly unusual with pink wines, of course. Overall, it’s tasty but simple. (2/08)

Original Sinards

Perrin & Fils 2005 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc “Les Sinards” (Rhône) – Young Rhône whites are such difficult animals. I really think that whether or not one likes them is as much due to the whim of the moment as it is to their inherent qualities. Tonight, this wine tastes slightly baked with a drizzle of burnt butter. Oak? I don’t know, and the web is unhelpful; perhaps a bit. Tomorrow, the fat but hard-to-identify stone fruit and desolate brown desert landscape could be compelling. It becomes a little less awkward with food. But in general, I’m disinclined to be positive. (2/08)

Venise beach

Perrin & Fils 2005 Muscat Beaumes de Venise (Rhône) – Very fruity, fresh, and fun, tending more towards the concentrated, bright, spring-like fruit elements than the more exotic flowers or perfumes. The best BdVs have a core of crystalline minerality which this lacks, but it’s hard to criticize this wine much. Even average muscat is still pretty good. (2/08)

If the Storrs are all closed

[label]Storrs 1998 Zinfandel Lion Oaks (Santa Clara County) – Absolutely gorgeous, with gentle, earthen maturity and richly complex fruit buoyed by bright acidity and no lack of still-intense – and ripe – red berries. In perfect balance now, but a few more years certainly won’t hurt. (2/08)

Here today, Pagani tomorrow

Ridge 1999 Zinfandel Pagani Ranch (Sonoma County) – On the downslope, with coffee and earth dominating. There’s a remnant of the old coconut aromatics, but it’s fading. Drink up. (2/08)

...and his boy wonder, primitivo

[label]Perry Creek 1999 Zinfandel “Zin Man” (Sierra Foothills) – Pine needles, with its regional wildness still present but caged, as age wears away at the surface and exposes the gentler interior. This has lasted well, though I’m not sure it has actually aged. (2/08)

York town

Ridge 1999 Zinfandel York Creek “Late Picked” (Napa Valley) – Off-dry prunes, the usual volatility, licorice, unsweetened chocolate, and drip coffee. The more of this style I taste, the less enamored I am; pushing it all the way to Essence level would be preferable, because without those layers of sweetness the classic late-harvest zin flaws of desiccated berry and nail polish remover are fully exposed. (2/08)

Fur Côtes

[bottle]Tablas Creek 2005 Côtes de Tablas Blanc (Paso Robles) – Lushly aromatic and broad, edging towards fat, yet with a firm enough grip to retain its hold on balance. It’s not exactly riesling, though. The usual stone fruit has mostly given way to nut oils, but it’s an appealing wine nonetheless. (2/08)

Run Willi, run

Willi Schaefer 2004 Riesling 01 05 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Still fresh, crisp, lightly sweet, and fun, though there’s the beginning of a skin-bitter edge to the juicy apple fruit. Drink soonish, I think. (2/08)

Castellani Anderson

Castellani 2003 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” San Michele “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Dense and concentrated, with a good deal of ripe structure and a dried-fruit darkness at its core. Licorice over strawberry, perhaps a bit blacker at heart than a Valpolicella (even a ripasso) should be, but then that may be the vintage. Add this to the tiny handful of appealing 2003 reds from Western Europe. (2/08)

My three sons

[bottle]Perrin & Fils 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône “Réserve” (Rhône) – Imbalanced in favor of a grating tannin, leaving the spiky red fruit hard and unresolvable. Not much fun. (2/08)


Terres d’Avignon “Kermit Lynch” 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Smooth. A Provençal laborer dressed in his best suit, but managing to look charming rather than uncomfortably tarted up. As reliably quaffable a wine as you’ll find in the Rhône, and still at a bargain price. (2/08)

21 February 2008

Doon messiah

Bonny Doon “Ca’ del Solo” 2005 Sangiovese (San Benito County) – Hard, then tart, then absent, with a big burst of strawberries scraped from the tongue with a rasp of tannin, giving way to a puckery sourness, and eventually skipping off to parts unknown. The loony (and unfortunately given the source, unfunny) mysticism on the label won’t save the wine from its flaws. (2/08)

January, Lefebvre airy, March

[beer & bottle]Lefebvre “Barbãr” Blonde Ale au Miel (Belgium) – I’m a lot more tolerant of unneeded sweetness hanging about the brewery than I am the winery, and so I suspect I like this fine, polished effort more than some. It’s grainy and summery, with an appealing grace note of meadow flowers. (2/08)

Lefebvre “Floreffe” Triple Ale (Belgium) – Sticky and somewhat dull, with more weight than presence. However, an important caveat: this is served at the wrong temperature, so judgment must remain reserved. (2/08)

Lefebvre “Blanche de Bruxelles” Bière Blanche (Belgium) – Silky and nicely balanced, but bringing the aromatics to the fore and leaving the core beer in the background, which might be controversial. I like it. (2/08)

16 February 2008

Muri head

[barrel]Muri-Gries 2005 Lagrein (Alto Adige) – A baby. Very aromatic, resembling a pinot in its structure but something more akin to a cru Beaujolais/syrah blend in taste. Finely-grained and highly adaptable with food despite an initial austerity. Ultimately, quite pleasant. (10/07)

When you taste the Southern Right for the first time

Southern Right 2006 Pinotage (Walker Bay) – Big, explosive fruit that presses and shoves its way onto the palate. Dark berries and smokier chocolate notes are paired with the usual unfortunate furniture polish aromas, but here they’re more subversive than irritating, and seem to drift all the way into the background with food. I rather like this, though it’s no good as a cocktail. (2/08)

An ill Zind blows no good

Zind-Humbrecht 2002 “Zind” (Alsace) – Heavy and, truth be told, tasting very much like chardonnay grown in Alsace. The flavors are fair enough, with a heavy metallic edge to the weighty, spiced stone fruit. And there’s some acidity, balanced with a little bit of residual sugar. But mostly, it’s powerful to the point where you’ll want some sort of palate version of earplugs. (2/08)

Mallo out

Frédéric Mallo 2005 Sylvaner (Alsace) – Quite vegetal, which might not be bad in a sylvaner, but with competing edgy and softened aspects that detract from the wine. It can’t seem to figure out what it wants to be, but I suspect where it came from is underripe fruit. This might be appealing with tomato salad, but otherwise… (2/08)

Nonino, Nanette

Nonino Friuli Sauvignon Blanc Grappa (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Obvious, boisterous fruit, good balance, and nice to drink. But it’s far less interesting than grappa from many other grapes, at least from this producer. A parallel to many wines made from the same grape? Maybe. (10/07)

13 February 2008

Piesporter creek

St. Urbans-Hof 2005 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese 26 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Gorgeous sweetness, crisp-ripe rapple, green grapes. Balanced and incredibly acidic, but the weight of the fruit more than makes up for it. Clear and crystalline finish. Gorgeous. (2/07)

Laurentiuslay Stallone

St. Urbans-Hof 2005 Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese feinherb 28 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Ripe and sweet green apple, elegant, soft, yet very long, with hidden concentration. There’s a great future here. (2/07)

Piesporter control

St. Urbans-Hof 2005 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese 13 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Flowers, banana, papaya. Very youthful. (2/07)

Doc Ock Bock

St. Urbans-Hof 2005 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 14 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Sulfur, melon, and gravel. Clean and hard. Like a waterfall over rocks. (2/07)

Keith & Dennis

St. Urbans-Hof 2006 Riesling 45 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Banana cream, strawberry, and Rainier cherry. Not my kind of riesling. (2/07)

Gunderloch Lomond

Gunderloch 2005 Riesling Kabinett “Jean-Baptiste” (Rheinhessen) – Pineapple, ripe grapefruit, pomegranate. Lightly sweet with good acidity. Fresh and clean. (2/07)

Vait a Weil

Weil 2005 “Estate” Dry Riesling (Rheingau) – Very concentrated, intense, aggressive, and dry at the finish. Slate and paper. (2/07)

Noé valley

Noé Pedro Ximénez “Muy Viejo” (Jerez) – Caramelized prune, raisin, and plum. Very fruity. Soft but full and lush. The exterior is painted with chocolate. (2/07)

Zero Moscatel

Lustau Moscatel Superior “Emilín” (Jerez) – Excruciatingly sweet. Watery with minor volatile acidity. Crisp. Finishes with burnt turbinado. (2/07)

Elliot & Patrick

Gould-Campbell 2003 Porto (Douro) – Spiced raspberry. Medium-sweet. Light tannin. Honestly, this wine is almost hollow; a shell of a vintage Port. (2/07)

Go-to girl, Gondagai

Thorny Devil 2003 Shiraz (Gondagai) – Blueberry, blackberry, bitter leather and thyme. Long, tannic, and nasty. (2/07)

12 February 2008

He shoots, Giscours!

Tare “Giscours” 1970 Margaux (Bordeaux) – All tobacco and leather and first, then adding chocolate and black dirt. Structured, with drying tannin, but persistent. Blended peppercorns dust the finish. Beautiful, and still in the prime of its life. (2/07)

Two live Ducru

Borie “Ducru-Beaucaillou” 1970 Saint-Julien (Bordeaux) – Gorgeous coffee and old black fruit. Leafy tobacco. Well-aged, silky, yet retaining a certain masculinity. It’s not at the absolute top of its game, but it’s awfully good. (2/07)

Pope Clement

Pape-Clément 2004 Pessac-Léognan Blanc (Bordeaux) – Ripe gooseberry, melon, and fresh grapes. Sweaty and very dense. Good acidity, a bit of skin tannin. Striking but a bit overdriven right now. Age might sort things out. (2/07)

No Émile?

Coutet 2000 Graves “Cuvée Frédéric” (Bordeaux) – Wet stones, ripe green and yellow fruit. Very mineral-infused. Quite good. (2/07)


Coutet 1997 Sauternes-Barsac (Bordeaux) – Big. Apricot, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other sweet-oriented spices. Still lithe and beautiful, but showing signs of maturing along a very pleasant path. (2/07)

Capitain & Tennille

Capitain-Gagnerot 2004 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune Les Gueulottes (Burgundy) – Sweet, candied peach, apricot. Soft, with abrupt fruit, and the finish is only long because it’s sticky. Ugh. (2/07)

Some people call me

Maurice “Domaine de Prieure” 2002 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune (Burgundy) – Sour and stewed. Herbs, bark, leaves, and dirt. Dried-out finish. (2/07)

Holy Roman

Louis Latour 2004 Corton-Charlemagne (Burgundy) – Very sulfurous, showing melon, underripe apricot, and cinnamon bark. Fat and obvious. This doesn’t appear to have positive places to go. (2/07)

Grancey Butler

Louis Latour 2003 Château Corton Grancey “Grand Cru” (Burgundy) – Pinot noir chewing gum, texturally. Thick tarragon, strawberry, and melon wrestling in the heavyweight class. Strong and over-polished. (2/07)

Yves & H2O

Laurent-Perrier Champagne “Cuvée Rosé Brut” (Champagne) – Srawberry, raspberry, red apple. Floral. Very light. (2/07)

Patrick & Lalou

Duval-Leroy 1997 Champagne “Blanc de Chardonnay” (Champagne) – Ripe lemon curd, skins, and incredible intensity. Clean, with bubbles taken down to powdery fineness. (2/07)

Lenoble rot

Lenoble 1998 Champagne “Grand Cru” Blanc de Blancs (Champagne) – Lemon and massive appleness. Bright and sharp, though perhaps a bit obvious. (2/07)

David & Brown

Duval-Leroy Champagne “Rosé de Saignée” (Champagne) – Raspberry and heirloom apples (in other words, tarter and more flavorful than most), light-styled, clean, and crisp. Biting and complex. (2/07)

Are you Strong enough to be my wine?

[bottlel]Rodney Strong 2004 Chardonnay (Sonoma County) – Candy caramel (in other words, not the serious stuff) and synthetic apricot with a harsh, battery-like acidity. No good, but I think the bottle has suffered heat damage somewhere along the line. (2/08)

07 February 2008

Vini, vidi, Vece

Le Salette 1999 Amarone “Pergole Vece” (Veneto) – Prunes. Structured and balanced, with a gorgeous purity of immensity. Just terrific. (2/07)

From the oven

dal Forno 2000 Valpolicella “Superiore” (Veneto) – Ultra-dense, dark, and chewy. Nuts, roasted violet-tinged fruit tending towards the ultraviolet. Stunning or too much? It’s hard to say. (2/07)

Just a Secco

Secco-Bertani 2003 Valpolicella Valpantena “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Dead fruit on the nose. The palate is flat, sour, and tannic. Yuck. (2/07)

Sua street

Suavia 2005 Soave Classico (Veneto) – Soft, floral, wimpy. (2/07)

Nicene Crede

Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede Brut (Veneto) – Soft and yeasty; a pleasant froth of melon and honeydew. Pretty but ultimately insignificant. (2/07)

Capitel idea

Anselmi 2003 Capitel Croce (Veneto) – Dry lemongrass, lime leaves. Very, very ripe, but carrying good acidity, which renders it sharp and clean. An excellent effort from this bizarre vintage. (2/07)

San clause

Anselmi 2005 San Vincenzo (Veneto) – Clean and fresh, showing lemon and crisp Golden Delicious apple. Summery and pretty. (2/07)

Piazza Sammarco

Castello dei Rampolla 2003 “Sammarco” (Tuscany) – Thick with the blackest fruit, thick with wood, and full of chocolately tannin. Stunningly-structured, but imbalanced towards rigidity. (2/07)

Little Poder

La Poderina 2001 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany) – Structured and mineral-laden, with a cedar overlay and a general absence of fruit. It tastes like old wood (by which I don’t mean “made in”), and decays rather abruptly in the glass. (2/07)

Judy Tenuta

Tenuta di Trinoro 2004 Rosso Toscana (Tuscany) – Elegant and spicy, with medium wood and some buttered popcorn. The rest is all red fruit, though. (2/07)

Tenuta di Trinoro 2004 Rosso Toscana “Le Cupole” (Tuscany) – Herbs, dark fruit. Thick, slightly soupy. (2/07)

Camigliano Bowles-Parker

Camigliano 2001 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany) – Leather, powdered graphite and lots of earthiness. Striking. Very dry, but intense. There’s a future here. (2/07)

Lady di

Argiano 2001 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany) – Ungenerous. Graphite and sour, sour cherries. Soft and wussy underneath a surplus of tannin. (2/07)

NC State

Argiano 2004 “NC” (Tuscany) – Weird. Grey earth and paper. Flat and tough. This is actually wine, right? You know, made from grapes? (2/07)

So far, so good, Solengo

Argiano 2003 “Solengo” (Tuscany) – Rich vanilla milkshake with a chocolate drizzle. Far too internationalized and boring. (2/07)

Cammi Granato

Foradori 2002 “Granato” Vigneti delle Dolomiti (Trentino) – Good but slightly spiky acidity, strawberry seeds, and clean. Nicely balanced. Short, but with a classic feel. Still, I can’t help but think there should be more here. (2/07)

Keep a Vinaia on you

Vinaia 2005 Pinot Noir (Trentino) – Boring, flat strawberry residue. Uninteresting. (2/07)

Go Bulldogs!

Gonzaga 2001 “San Leonardo” (Trentino) – Ripe tannin, leather, tobacco, green leaves, green pepper, and blackberry dust. In other words, Bordeaux. It’s good enough, but loses credit for being of another place, rather than its own. (2/07)

Bukkuram, Dano

de Bartoli 2001 Passito di Pantelleria “Bukkuram” (Sicily) – Old flowers, coriander-spiced licorice, and leaves. Light, elegant, and moderately sweet. Good acid balance. Very slighty sun-baked. Good, but it’s been better. (2/07)

Pantelleria raid

Giovi Grappa Moscato di Pantelleria (Sicily) – Perfumed and stinging (in a good way), then softens and broadens, before narrowing to a more focused finish. (2/07)

Bon Giovi

Giovi Grappa all’Ortica e Limone (Sicily) – Bitter, sour, sweet, and sweaty. Really complex, and yet harsh at the same time. It wants to be loved, but actual love is problematic. (2/07)

Etna, I'm glad I met ya

Giovi Acquavite di Fichidindia dell’Etna (Sicily) – Gorgeous, sweet honeysuckle and spiced pear over oatmeal. Good balance. (2/07)

Ceuso lounge

Ceuso 2001 “Ceuso” (Sicily) – Solid leather, black fruit, dirt, oak, and chocolate. Too international and anonymous for my taste. (2/07)

Don't give me any Lipari

Hauner 2003 Malvasia delle Lipari “Passito” (Sicily) – Mixed cereal grains, oat bran, dried apricot, and corn nuts. Fat. Really strange, and while I’m inclined to blame the vintage, there might well be something else at work. (2/07)

Ole & Salina jokes

Hauner 2004 Salina Rosso (Sicily) – Dill on the hose, with raw cherry and walnut. The palate is like a firepit, with a charcoal char vying with cedar woodmoke. Rough, wild, and dirty. And not that good. (2/07)

Salina content

Hauner 2004 “Carlo Hauner” Salina (Sicily) – Complex, with earth, dried honey, flowers, and leesy minerals blending into stone fruit. Long and intense. Wow! (2/07)

Fiddling while Siciliy burns

Liotro 2004 Nero d’Avola (Sicily) – Juicy black and red berries, fennel fronds, some herbality. Simple. (2/07)

Iziola mio

Liotro 2006 Inziola (Sicily) – Viognier-like. Mildly aromatic honeysuckle and ripe pear. Pleasant. (2/07)

Limbara rock

Cantina del Vermentino 2000 Colli del Limbara “Galàna” (Sardinia) – Odd, woody nose precedes big black fruit. Tar and leather, with ripe, hard, dense tannin and a powdery finish. There’s more acidity apparent at the end, which is welcome. (2/07)

Tàmara paste

Cantina del Vermentino 2004 Cannonau di Sardegna “Tàmara” (Sardinia) – Chewy, juicy, and wet. Slightly hollow, however, and roughens up on the finish. There’s lots of polish, but I’m not sure what’s being polished. (2/07)

Rouges Gallura

Cantina del Vermentino 2005 Vermentino di Gallura “Funtanaliras” (Sardinia) – Almond, pink grapefruit, and green notes. Clean on the finish, with a salty accent. (2/07)

Hey, Arakèna!

Cantina del Vermentino 2004 Vermentino di Gallura “Arakèna” (Sardinia) – Soft peach, nectarine, and apricot. Some papaya. There’s vanilla and a soft, fluffy finish of good length. (2/07)

Boxing Elena

Cogno 2001 Barolo Vigna Elena (Piedmont) – Very rosy, and quite tannic, but gorgeous throughout. Graphite, blackberry, and black cherry come the fore on the finish, which is, admittedly, a little odd. But it’s impossible to dislike this wine, and I’m not sure why one would try. (2/07)

Out, Damilano spot!

Damilano 2001 Barolo Cannubi (Piedmont) – Gorgeous aromatics. Strong tannin. Some softening towards reddish fruit, and finishing spicy (barrel-spicy?) It starts promisingly enough, but then… (2/07)

Travaglini guide

Travaglini 2001 Gattinara (Piedmont) – Aromatic roses. Lithe and medium-bodied. Soil notes, soft but growing a bit, then closing up again on the finish. Not bad, not good, just sort of indifferent. (2/07)

Cogno uno

Cogno 2002 Barolo (Piedmont) – Very tannic and a bit thin, with tight red fruit over thin sheets of graphite. Dry and highly linear. (2/07)

Rive gauche

Araldica "Il Cascinone" 2004 Barbera d’Asti "Rive" (Piedmont) – Smooth caramel, soft red fruit, freshly-finished wood desk, and furniture polish. Finishes like burnt sugar. (2/07)

The key to Acclivi

Comm. GB Burlotto “Verduno” 2001 Barolo Acclivi (Piedmont) – Nicely aromatic, classic rose and tar, heavy and not that great, yet oddly promising. If that makes sense. It doesn’t to me. (2/07)

Bocchino ball

Eugenio Bocchino 2004 Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont) – Soft roses, rough finish, plus vanilla. Eh. (2/07)

Uncle Nebieul

Benotto 2002 Monferrato “Nebieul” (Piedmont) – Silky and firm, with light tar, fresh violets and roses, and a beautiful structure. Morels, plum skins and a fine acidity come to the fore on the long finish. Very nice. (2/07)

You will be assimilated

Borgo di Colloredo 2001 Biferno Rosso “Gironia” (Molise) – Juicy, ripe strawberry, blackberry, and black cherry. Some dark chocolate indicates an oak influence, and the finish is long and early, with good balance. A good wine, though perhaps just a touch slick. (2/07)

Borgo invasion

Borgo di Colloredo 2003 Aglianico Terre degli Osci (Molise) – Big, black fruit. Chewy, with good acidity. Softer than many aglianicos, but still hightly structured. Lingering black minerality, some asphalt, and fermented flowers combine on the finish. Good, but not better than that. (2/07)

Albareda after dinner

Mamete Prevostini “Albareda” 2003 Sforzato di Valtellina (Lombardy) – Big blueberry and blackberry. Fruity and showing surprising signs of freshness. Powerful, spicy, and a little bit hot, with a long finish. In its idiom, it’s actually somewhat balanced. Not for the faint of palate, though. (2/07)

Always somethin' there to Romagna

San Valentino 2003 Sangiovese di Romagna Terra di Covignano (Emilia-Romagna) – Seeds, dark plum residue, graphite, and earth. Firm and structured, with huge tannin. It may have a good midlife, but it’s difficult before then, and balance is an issue. (2/07)

Sannio electronics

Feudi di San Gregorio 2005 Sannio “Falanghina” (Campania) – Fruity. Lime, grapefruit, and great acidity, but turning weirdly synthetic on the finish. (2/07)


Terredora di Paolo 2005 Aglianico (Campania) – Hard. Tar, leather, blood, and iron…isn’t that what everyone wants in their wine?...with slightly herbal, green tannins quite present. Difficult, perhaps even slightly brutal, but then aglianico often is. (2/07)

Dora, Dora, Dora!

Terredora di Paolo 2005 Fiano di Avellino Terre di Dora (Campania) – Lovely, soft limestone with the texture of fresh white bread. Long and dry. Good. (2/07)

Primitivo culture

Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” 2003 Gioia del Colle Primitivo (Apulia) – Good balance, wild black fruit, structured and big with slightly sour acidity. Thick, strong tannin, but it’s ripe. Quite good, though it’s tough and somewhat rustic in its youth. (2/07)

Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” 2003 Gioia del Colle Primitivo “Riserva Speciale” (Apulia) – Dense and polished, with walnuts and baked hazelnuts, plus dark black fruit. Winemaking is layered over the top, including vanilla, dark chocolate, and espresso bean. Long, moderately internationalized, but still fairly good. (2/07)

Teres sheet

Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” 2004 Gioia del Colle “Teres” Murgia Primativo (Apulia) – The misspelled grape is on the label, though I don't know the reason. Soft and fresh, with fluffy pink strawberry fruit. All fun, very soft, but good acidity makes it light and quaffable. (2/07)

Joey Fatalone

Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” 2005 Gioia del Colle Bianco “Spinomarino” Murgia Greco (Apulia) – White ash, intense and exotic, showing melon, lilies, and dandelions. Very complex and perfumed. Fairly long. Slightly sweet? It doesn’t detract; this is a really impressive wine. (2/07)

Kerner & Loewe

Stiftskellerei Neustift Abbazia di Novacella 2005 Valle Isarco Kerner (Alto Adige) – Flowers, leaves, and herbs, with lime and grapefruit. Crisp, juicy, and fruity. Fun. (2/07)

Stiftskellereis & stones

Stiftskellerei Neustift Abbazia di Novacella 2005 Pinot Grigio Valle Isarco (Alto Adige) – Very soft and round. Appealing apple notes on the finish, but by then it’s too late, as there’s been a general lack of character up to that point. (2/07)

Roger Castelfeder(er)

Castelfeder 2004 Lagrein (Alto Adige) – Cold chalk and powerded red fruit (cherry, strawberry, cranberry). Lithe and balanced, but standoffish beyond the point of difficulty. A chilly wine. (2/07)

Notes ahoy!

Big barrage of notes coming. No photos. It's like a core dump, if anyone reading actually remembers what that is (if you don't, don't ask).

I've never Menetou I didn't like

[grapes]Pellé 2005 Menetou-Salon Morogues Blanc (Loire) – An excellent melding of bright, cold fruit and high-minded greenness, sharp, clean, and intense. Really, really good, if fairly direct. (2/08)

4 paths diverged in a wood

Richou 2006 Anjou “Les 4 Chemins” (Loire) – Very angry and numbed when first opened. But the more air it gets, the better it tastes. Eventually, there’s wedge-shaped fruit – black and red berries that don’t quite achieve the exuberance of cherries – around which is wrapped a fine, ripe garland of thyme. The balance is excellent, and this appears to have the structure for short-term aging. (2/08)


[label]Oppigårds Winter Ale (Sweden) – A coffee/tea blend, with drying hops married to dark, dry grains and cereals. The hops dominate the aroma. Good, aggressive beer, but not something you want a lot of. (1/08)

What a fine Fruehmess you've made!

Gerard Metz 2004 Pinot Gris Fruehmess “Vieilles Vignes” (Alsace) – Diagonal. Strata of crystal pear and quartz alternate, perhaps dusted with a little bit of freshly-ground coal. A very pressurized wine, tight and a little bit angry, but seemingly without a target. At the least, it’s interesting. (2/08)

Let them blow

[bottles]Patricia Green 2006 Pinot Noir Four Winds (Yamhill County) – Very appealing from the first sip, with oscillating golden beet and dried cherry given a mid-level acidic sizzle. With air, it collapses just a bit, losing its way on a finish that seems to dry out a bit, but before that happens it’s a lot of fun to drink, even if it doesn’t make many demands or promise much more than it gives. Drink it quickly, I guess. (2/08)

Working in a Colmar mine

Schoffit 2004 Pinot Gris Colmar “Tradition” (Alsace) – If this wine had any acidity, it would still be mediocre, but it would taste less silly. The fruit is more peach than pear, more candied than crystalline, and though there’s a shiny polish on the exterior, it’s the sort of thing you drink, forget, drink again, and still can’t remember. (2/08)


[bottle]Cusumano 2005 Nero d’Avola (Sicily) – A solid wall of dark, tannic fruit (the former dominating the latter) and then…well, nothing. Nothing at all. Just that immense, oppressive density, signifying nothing. Age might help, but I’m not hopeful. (2/08)

Moon over Sonoma

Moon Mountain 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County) – Acrid and styrofoamy, showing all the unpleasant characteristics of underripe and overcropped sauvignon (I don’t know if either is actually true, but that’s what it tastes like) with no compensatory verve or life. Just a beverage, and no more. (2/08)

Shot from a cannonau

[bottle]Sella & Mosca 2004 Cannonau di Sardegna “Riserva” (Sardinia) – Showing the beginning stages of a faint browning in both color and taste, but still a fun stew of sun-dried fruit, perhaps a bit of tomato skin, and a gravelly texture. One of my favorite red wines for things that usually go better with white. (2/08)

05 February 2008

Come to an a-gris-ment

[bottle]Peregrine 2004 Pinot Gris (Central Otago) – Ripe and lush, with fine spiced pear and flaky minerality. Round and rich, yet medium-bodied thanks to lingering acidity. The finish is quite lovely. This is probably the best pinot gris we’ve tasted on this trip. (3/05)

Moutere, I'm in love

Neudorf 2003 Pinot Noir (Moutere) – Reductive and tight, with leafy earth tones and waves of beautiful graphite. Very structured and narrow up front, but it grows on the palate, showing strawberries inside a smooth velvet interior. The finish is even more expressive, bringing spiced grapes and spicier black cherries in an ever-expanding blend. Beautifully balanced and ageable…in fact, it needs age. (3/05)

Drink Like a Pirate Day: Noirrrrr!

Neudorf 2003 Pinot Noir (Nelson) – Made from younger vines. Mineral-infused (mostly graphite), with strawberry, raspberry, and nicely crisped apple. Excellent balance. For fun, good quality drinking over the near term, this satisfies. (3/05)

Brightwater investigation

Neudorf 2004 Riesling (Brightwater) – “How many grams of residual sugar here?” “No grams.” Clever answer. There’s ripe lemongrass, but mostly there’s a slate-dominated minerality, plus a long, clean finish. Nicely done. (3/05)

You've tried that, now trytis

Neudorf 2003 “Botrytis Selection” Riesling (Nelson) – 100 grams of residual sugar. Wet and shy, with lime, grapefruit, and light minerality. And then, it builds. It’s OK now, but the length and subtle concentration of the finish suggest an improved future. (3/05)

Mercaptan, my captain

Neudorf 2003 Chardonnay (Nelson) – Mercaptans and butter, followed by much more appealing orange and tangerine, with a bright and balanced finish. This isn’t doing all that well at the moment, but a little time might help. (3/05)

Kina speaker

Neudorf 2004 Merlot Rosé “Kina” (Nelson) – Medium-weight blueberry and raspberry. Fruity, soft, and fluffy. Not at all serious, and it occurs to me that I’ve never had a rosé of merlot that I’ve much liked. (3/05)

Out with the old...

Neudorf 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Nelson) – Green peas and other Kermit-tinged vegetables, spicy gooseberry, and white plum. More crisp than rich, but not in an entirely appealing way. A misstep. (3/05)

03 February 2008

Pira review

[bottle]Roagna 1993 Barolo Rocca la Pira “Riserva” (Piedmont) – Lovely, leafy aromatics over nuts and grain. Softly structured and long, like a rich memory of autumn. (1/08)

La Rocca & a hard place

[bottle]Roagna 2000 Barolo La Rocca e la Pira (Piedmont) – Beautiful and deep, with dark flowers, skins, and seeds forming both the aromatics and the structure of the wine, plus dark (unsweetened) chocolate melting on the finish. Yum. (1/08)

Rionda lay

[bottle]Roagna 2003 Barolo Vigna Rionda (Piedmont) – Stunning aromatics of roses and old goat cheese rind (not ammoniated, just that beautiful melding of farmhouse and dairy). It is, however, strikingly tannic and imbalanced right now, though it’s long and full enough that I think there’s actually promise. It’ll be a long time coming, though. (1/08)

Foggy dew

[label]Chinati Vergano Chinato Nebbiolo (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo from someone in Barbaresco, cinnamon, cardamom, rhubarb, quince, and more. Finely-honed and bitter, with weedy ash and leaves…but in a good way…and showing medium-bodied dark fruit throughout. (1/08)

Luli lulay, my little tiny child

[label]Chinati Vergano “Luli” Chinato Moscato (Piedmont) – Moscato from Bera, plus cinnamon, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, quince, and more. Fascinating, exotic nose, white chocolate, and while its sweeter than most chinati I’ve tasted, the balance is good. Exciting and fruity. (1/08)

Americano abroad

Chinati Vergano “Americano” (Piedmont) – Grignolino d’Asti (from cascina ‘tavijn), vanilla, kumquat, abisinthe, and other stuff. Sweet and bitter, with starched cherries and great balance. Fascinating. (1/08)


[bottle]Roagna 2000 Barbaresco Pajé (Piedmont) – Roasted nuts, flowers (mostly dandelions), and red fruit. Soft, gentle, and delicately complex, with precise but insistent acidity on the finish. Captivating, and partially so because it’s clearly not all there yet. (1/08)

Alba mater

[bottle]Roagna 2006 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont) – Acidic, lightly-fruited, and lightly tannic. I must note for the record that almost everyone around me loves this. I think there’s something off about it, but it’s not (obvious) TCA, so I keep fairly quiet. Based on other vintages, certainly, this is not what the wine’s supposed to taste like, so I’d suggest dismissing this note for now. (1/08)

Solea flare

[bottle]Roagna 2001 Langhe “Solea” (Piedmont) – A blend of chardonnay and nebbiolo. Yes, that’s right. And it’s a white wine, too. Exotic red fruit aromatics (plus strawberry and red cherry) and fat peach encased in a cylinder of acidity…there’s chardonnay at the exterior of this wine, but the core is all nebbiolo. It’s structured and a heck of a lot of fun, though I wonder if it might be more enjoyable for blind-tasting games than it is a surpassing use of the raw materials. (1/08)

Classico music

[label]Montesecondo 2005 Chianti Classico (Tuscany) – Moderately intense strawberry stands out amidst otherwise violet-hued fruit. Structured, long, and authentic, with balance and purity. (1/08)

Rospo Douthat

[label]Montesecondo 2005 Toscana “Rosso del Rospo” (Tuscany) – Sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and some cabernet franc. Tobacco and blackberry with light red pepper. Long and balanced, with fine structure not yet divested of a lingering edginess. It’s not generous (though generosity is hardly a typical attribute of the cabernets anyway, except in the fucked-up New World), but it does lean more than a shade towards the tannic at the moment. Rather obviously it needs age, and plenty of it. (1/08)

Isabella Toscana

[label]Montesecondo 2005 Toscana Rosso (Tuscany) – A field blend of sangiovese and canaiolo. Buzzy, light, semi-fresh strawberry and some meat. Simple. (1/08)

Sunbeams & Mounbè

[bottle]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Barbera “Mounbè” (Piedmont) – Soft but still somewhat wild, with huge red fruit married to shocking acidity. Long, gorgeous, and intense. A stunning throwback to an almost-lost style of barbera, but breathtakingly of-the-moment as well. In other words, neither traditionalist nor modernist could fault this wine. Wow. (1/08)

Nibiô & tuck

[bottle]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Monferrato Dolcetto Nibiô Terre Rosse (Piedmont) – Nibiô is, essentially, what we might call an heirloom dolcetto in the States. Barky, sour, and wild; full of meadow flowers, charred forest, and dark soil. There’s a fascinating complexity here, with a long finish deep into its crescendo before it finally comes to a halt. Raw and untamed, for sure. (1/08)

Dan by the sea

[bottle]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Monferrato Bianco “Montemarino” (Piedmont) – Reserved and tight, showing almonds and little else. It seems to be balanced, and it feels “big” under the clamping structure, with a long, chewy finish…though what one masticates is unidentifiably insubstantial. Highly ungenerous. Time? A lot of it, if so. (1/08)

Filagnotti by nature

[bottle]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2006 Gavi “Filagnotti” (Piedmont) – The nose is sour and leafy, perhaps a bit sauvage, but the palate shows great acidity washing over white minerals. Great presence. Long and solid, with a nutty, almost fino-like element to the finish. (1/08)

Gavi to get

[bottle]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2006 Gavi (Piedmont) – An intense nose of tropical fruit that drifts away on a salty breeze, to replaced by white melon. The finish is, itself, fairly saline. There’s an interesting, twisted form to the wine that I can’t quite grasp. (1/08)

Little sweet Jessica

Cappellano 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont) – Big, rose-dominated flowers in the blackest soil, with a satiny texture. Long and structured, with a slight preference towards acidity. Dolcetto for the long haul, certainly, and quite accomplished without tasting like there’s “accomplishing” going on, if that makes any sense. (1/08)

A foggy day in Vietnam

Cappellano 2003 Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont) – A touch of brett and a moderate amount of hard tannin eventually give way to fruity, seedy blackberry and a crisp finish of surprising lightness. Now that’s an outcome I didn’t expect from the initial impression. I think it’s good, but honestly I have no idea where it’s headed. (1/08)


Thomas-Labaille 2006 Sancerre Rouge “Authentique” (Loire) – High-toned rose hips and red licorice. Fruity and supple, easy to like. Too many red Sancerres choose between rough rusticity and an over-polished international sheen; this sits nicely in-between, with none of the excesses at the wings. (1/08)

Why does it hurt?

Desvignes 2005 Morgon Côte du Py (Beaujolais) – Difficult nose. Very intense on the palate, with hard structure and venison scented with mint, rosemary, and thyme. Thudding. Not at all for drinking now, except perhaps in one’s home dungeon. Later? Yes, definitely, but much later. (1/08)


Michel Tête “Domaine du Clos du Fief” 2006 Juliénas (Beaujolais) – Gently-spiced meat, orange rind, and beet. Fruity, then strong; this is pure fun with a serious side for the curious to discover. (1/08)

Iché fingers

Iché “Château d’Oupia” 2006 Minervois (Languedoc) – Very light mercaptans, funky and difficult throughout. Tannic, as well. I don’t think this is ready for the spotlight quite yet. Maybe the wine is in mourning for its creator, who died last year. I know I am. (1/08)

Pinon for the fjords

Pinon 2006 Vouvray “Tradition” (Loire) – Melon and chalk. Upfront, pretty, and appealing. Macadamias on the finish. I find it hard to dislike, but I also wish there was more structure. (1/08)

Salt & Pépière

Ollivier “Pépière” 2005 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Granite de Clisson (Loire) – Strikingly mineral, even for Ollivier, but there’s more: blood orange rind, tiny white berries bursting with cold fruit, salt-infused sand. A touch distended on the finish, but otherwise wow-ish. (1/08)


JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2006 Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay (Beaujolais) – Salted gravel, lemon leaves, and orange blossom. Aromatically, this is approaching viognier territory at the moment, though it’s too light and lively to actually be viognier. (1/08)

L's bells

Luneau-Papin 2005 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” “L d’Or” (Loire) – Shells and grapefruit rind. Big. Elegant but insistent, and quite long. Really, really striking. (1/08)

Roll out the Barrouillet

Roussel & Barrouillet “Clos Roche Blanche” 2006 Touraine Sauvignon “No. 2” (Loire) – Lightly sweet? “No,” says the importer. OK…rich, then. Fat and oily, even. There’s a foundation of chalk, and melon comes into play as well. It’s pure, a bit heavy, a bit short. A slightly perplexing performance. (1/08)

Gangster's Paradise

Radikon 1999 Collio “Oslavje Riserva” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Even more than the ribolla, this is pure red wine in white form. Mixed chocolates and zillions of unidentifiable fruits coalesce into a huge, full-bodied, beautifully supple nectar. This is as rich as a wine can be without relying on either extreme residual sugar or oak (or both), but it’s far from heavy. Stunning. Stunning. (1/08)

Oslavje, I hardly knew ye

Radikon 2001 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Hugely complex, showing waxed almonds and other nuts, mixed Indian spices, corn…well, this is the sort of thing where I could go on all day. I won’t. Massively intense and intensely interesting, but still so, so young. (1/08)

Gialla fella

Radikon 2001 Venezia Giuli Ribolla Gialla (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Big, full and ripe. I see almost no way to not view this as a red wine, except…well, it’s white. Rainier cherries come at you amidst a solid wall of complexity, and there’s an endless, fairly tannic finish to deal with as well. This wine is not yet unthreaded from its tangled youth, either. (1/08)

Lagrein belt

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2004 Lagrein “Riserva” (Alto Adige) – Quartzy minerality, cold verbena, and mint. Pretty, in a very Teutonic way, with a lovely finish (perhaps that comes after the Teutonic beauty finally warms up). (1/08)

Young Tyroldego

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2003 “Tyroldego” (Alto Adige) – If I gave out points (which I don’t), this one would get 100 of ‘em just for the label pun (for the less geeky, that’s the teroldego grape from the Südtirol, the name of the Alto Adige region amongst German speakers). Dusty and dark, with chewy cherry and fennel, plus a bit of peanut. Balanced, long. Perhaps a bit stiff, but otherwise solid. (1/08)

TT boy

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2006 Blaterle (Alto Adige) – Or possibly Blatterle. There seems to be some disagreement between labels past and present, marketing materials, the web, dubious sources, and authoritative sources. I certainly can’t adjudicate. Anyway: papaya dominates a big, fat nose to which acidity and structure are joined much, much later. There are falling apple leaves, as well. This wine is all about cold-climate diffidence, and that’s pretty much how I feel about it. I’m still waiting for my blat(t)erle epiphany. (1/08)

The Swiss mint

cascina ‘tavijn 2006 Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato (Piedmont) – Exotic florals and bitter candy. A strange combination. There’s a lot of lurid fun to be had, though it’s a little more structured than the last vintage I tasted (2004), with a long, spandexy finish. Hey, no one promised slavish conformity here… (1/08)

Ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-bera

cascina ‘tavijn 2005 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Slightly medicinal, with big, fun acidity in the form of crisp apples fresh from the tree. It’s an acid that bites with the faintly bitter tang of underripeness. All red fruit on the finish. Old school! (1/08)

American Grigno(lino)

cascina ‘tavijn 2006 Grignolino d’Asti (Piedmont) – Small, tight, and slightly angry. Albino wine – all bones and shells – with white-pepper tannin. Quite acidic, too. Wants, needs, cries out for: food. (1/08)

Nero fiddled

Occhipinti 2006 Siccagno Nero d’Avola (Sicily) – Fennel fronds, crumbled tar, pomegranate, and layers of soil. I’ve never tasted anything like this. But we’re not done, either; there’s espresso bean, licorice, and gorgeous black fruit as well. Fascinating. Every time I go back to the glass, there’s something else to discover. This may have the best acid balance of any wine I’ve ever tasted, which gives the wine a soda-like intensity of tactility that marries perfectly with the rich tapestry of aromatics. It practically buzzes with electricity. Beautiful. Just beautiful. (1/08)

Pinocchio & frappato

Occhipinti 2006 Il Frappato (Sicily) – Terrific soil aromatics, huge (but ripe) acidity, red strawberry-dominated fruit and red apple skins. Flowers, too. Long, building, and incredibly impressive. Great wine, and still in the first flush of its youth. (1/08)

Leave the body, take the canelli

Bera 2007 Moscato d’Asti “Canelli” (Piedmont) – Not moscato d’Asti as it’s commonly understood, but an almost passito expression…and not gassed, but rather allowed to spontaneously referment. Plus – unlike the vast majority of similarly-labeled wines – meant to age. Its delicate bead is soft yet surprisingly persistent, and the palate is rich with melon and grape. None of the usual flower-truck-crashing-into-a-perfume-shop stuff here. The strength and, it must be said, seriousness of this wine are as surprising as they are profound. Absolutely terrific. (1/08)

New from Ronco

Bera 2005 Barbera d’Asti Ronco Malo (Piedmont) – Pure red fruit with deeper nut and soil tones pulsing from the core. Long, structured, and beautiful. Really excellent. (1/08)

Serra smile

Bera 2005 Dolcetto Monferrato Bricco della Serra (Piedmont) – Very floral, with good, chalky tannin and fine acidity that slices up black cherry skins. The finish is long and drying, with the dust and shells from freshly-ground peppercorns and other lingering floral suggestions. Good…only just…though there’s a potential future upside. (1/08)

Arcese puffs

Bera 2006 Canelli “Arcese” (Piedmont) – A field blend of cortese, arneis, and favorita. At first, it’s soupy and reductive, and when the next impressions are marshmallow and banana, I’m a little concerned. Thankfully, it veers back towards normalcy, showing soft white roses and a slightly firmer, more acidic finish. I’m not in love with this wine, though. (1/08)

01 February 2008

The upside-down "e"

Trimbach 2000 Gewurztraminer “Sélection des Grains Nobles” “Hors Choix” (Alsace) – Made from the first botrytis-seeking pass through the vineyard. The resulting grapes were picked 23.5% potential alcohol, but the finished wine is 13%, leaving 170 grams/liter of residual sugar. The wine is dark, dark bronze, and absolutely lush with botrytis, showing a huge brown-sugar-encrusted, baked lychee palate with iron flakes and as endless a finish as I’ve ever experienced. Truly unbelievable. (5/06)