26 June 2008

KJ, no way

[label]Kendall-Jackson 2005 Chardonnay “Vintner’s Reserve” (California) – The wine: massively inoffensive, and thus among its peers (mass-market chardonnay for people who want “a glass of chardonnay”) it’s actually decent, and lacks the clumsy flaws of many of its competitors. Big, yellow doofus fruit is pretty much all there is, but it’s probably enough. The label: well, that’s a different story. First, there’s the long-ridiculous “Vintner’s Reserve,” which never meant anything (there’s no non-reserve) and is now, amusingly, copyrighted. Good luck with that one, Mr. Jackson. And then there’s the wildly insulting “Jackson Estates Grown,” of which much is made on both the front and rear labels. I get a kick out of Jess Jackson’s definition of “estate grown”: “[…] this indicates that my family either owns or controls the vineyards […]”. That’s right: “estate,” chez KJ, now means vineyards that they don’t own. Vineyards from which they buy fruit. You know, the thing a négociant does, the opposite of which the concept of “estate” fruit was invented to indicate. If Jackson and his crew weren’t so damned litigious, I’d use the word that comes immediately to mind here. (6/08)

Meet me in

[logo]Barton & Guestier 1999 Beaujolais “Saint-Louis” “Tradition” (Beaujolais) – Wretchedly dead, with spiky acidity and the gross remnants of its makeup smudged all over its face and decomposing body. (6/08)

To the left, to the left

[vineyards]Plouzeau 2006 Chinon “Rive Gauche” (Loire) – Straddles some sort of middle ground between the bistro-style Chinon of yore and the more serious, earthier, complex kind of which wine geeks are enamored. I’m unsure if the middle ground works here. It’s not light enough for chilly glugging, but it doesn’t stand up to intense scrutiny either. Overall, it’s a pretty drinkable wine, with black fruit residue, a bit of black rock, perhaps an herb or ten, and no lack of crispness. But it will require the right mood. (6/08)


[label]Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” “Steve Stewart’s Firth of Forth” Ale (Massachusetts) – Apparently a Scottish-style ale, but it’s lighter and more refreshing than anything I’ve tried in that idiom…and lower-alcohol, as well. Taken on its own merits, it’s an excellent beer, with waves of flavor and decent complexity, but never losing its balance. (6/08)

[label]Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” “Old Rusty’s” Red Rye Ale (Massachusetts) – Toasty, almost bready, with crispness and a good deal of force. Sort of like drinking a silo, but in a good way. I like this beer. (6/08)

The Hess-ians are coming

Hess Collection “Hess Select” 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (California) – This used to be a fairly un-screwed-with cabernet, not complex or all that interesting, but quite emblematic of what the fruit tastes like before some misguided soul tries to give it “points.” And I guess it still is. Dark fruit, some cedar, some leaves, a supple structure (that, at least, indicates some effort towards mass-marketing), and a generally pleasant finish. Nothing that will rock your world, but at the right price, this is quaffable. (6/08)

Optima illusion

[grapes]Nobilo “Vinoptima” 2003 Gewurztraminer “Reserve” (Ormond) – “Welcome to Vinoptima, the world’s best Gewurztraminer,” says the web site. Uh-huh. It’s certainly priced as if it is. It’s served blind, and the reaction from my dining companions, including at least one certified gewürztraminer fetishist, is…indifference. There are fields of roses, honey-covered (but raw, not roasted) almonds and hazelnuts, but these fields are choked with rank weeds. Vegetal and green throughout. The finish is blessedly short. This wine is grossly overpriced, and not even good. The Nobilo family should be embarrassed...by both the wine and the hubris. (4/08)

Cherry liqueur

Dönnhoff 2004 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 13 05 (Nahe) – Hugely aromatic and bright. Dried apple skins, dried white flower petals. Very precise, with great acidity. Clear and clean. The finish is lengthy and well-supported. This is why one drinks German riesling. (4/08)

Samuel Morse

Brunier “Vieux Télégraphe” 1994 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau” (Rhône) – Sweat and leather, with a guillotine of hard-edged blackberry. Tight and highly ungenerous. A long series of brooding minor keys, without the promise of resolution or light. (4/08)

Maugiron business

[vineyard]Delas Frères 1997 Côte-Rôtie “Seigneur de Maugiron” (Rhône) – Silky, though a bit obvious in its play for affection, with meat powder and a big, somewhat bewildering spike in the middle. The finish is short. And is that wood, or just syrah’s famous faux-oakiness? Whatever it is, it grows more prominent with air. (4/08)

Hey, mann!

[vineyards]Heymann-Löwenstein 2005 Winningen Uhlen “L” (Schieferformation “Laubach”) 20 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Very sulfurous. Hugely concentrated. I get banana skins, and after that…I’m just not sure. I don’t know if this wine is ready for me, or I for it. (4/08)

The Würz of times

Merkelbach 2006 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese 011 07 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Sulfur. Luscious, with creamy makrut lime and some nicely-preserved acidity. For a BA, however, it’s medium light, and the finish is a little abrupt. It could just be too young, though. (4/08)

David Michlits

Michlits 2005 Pinot Noir Rosé Frizzante (Burgenland) – Geez, pick a language. Strawberry, watermelon, and minerality form the aromatic cohort, with a candied element emerging and eventually dominating the finish. A dull, indifferent wine with no tactility to its sparkle. (4/08)

Spar + Worf - (-off)

Brun “FRV100” (Beaujolais) – Grapey, light berries, with fun fruit and purple flowers in abundance. Pure joy. (4/08)

Sun god

[vineyard]Te Whare Ra 2004 Riesling (Marlborough) – Windy stones, but otherwise shy, with little more than the hint of underground lime and steel. Builds on the finish. Classic, dry, and intense, but it’s not for youthful quaffing. (3/05)

Take this job and Chauvet

[hand]Quartz Reef “Chauvet” Méthode Traditionelle (Central Otago) – Apple and geranium, with a complex and floral nose flittering atop a crisp palate of lemon, more apple, and somewhat obvious froth. Long and lingering, precise throughout, but it could use a bit more refinement, bubble-wise. (3/05)

So Whare, so good

[vine]Te Whare Ra 2004 Gewürztraminer (Marlborough) – Bitter lychee skins, pear juice, and rose petals. Lightly sweet. Lacks intensity. (3/05)

Falcon crest

[winery]Peregrine 2003 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Plum, dark red fruit, earth, graphite, and nuts. Complex, elegant, and gorgeous in the broad-shouldered Gibbston style. (3/05)

The quality of being Mel

[vineyard]Melness 2004 Riesling (Waipara/Canterbury) – Wet sea-stones, pineapple pie, ripe apple, and soda water thick with minerality. Lemon rind on the finish. Really interesting, though I don’t know if it’s fully-knit yet. (3/05)

Back in Black

[winery]Black Ridge 2003 Gewürztraminer “Late Harvest” (Central Otago) – Sweaty feet, spiced lychee, and some fetid notes on the finish. Everyone but me hates it. I don’t think it’s good, but it’s at least interesting. (It’s worth noting that the “foot” element was something I noticed at the winery, as well.) (3/05)

23 June 2008

Riesling rising

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – Dry as a bone…a bone that’s been etched by fierce buffets of flaked iron and sandstone. Excellent. (6/08)

German fox

Allemand 2001 Cornas Reynard (Rhône) – Decanted without having to ask, it’s still (as expected) quite firm, with dark black earth soaked with dried blood, finishing lush with iron-rich flavors of both. Very mineral-dominated, with excellent structure. Grows with air, though in the end we run out of wine before that unfolding is complete. Balanced and long, but not at its best at this stage. (4/06)

Virtual reality

Villard 2004 Condrieu Le Grand Vallon (Rhône) – Lush honeysuckle, peach blossom, plus pear and peach syrups. Long. Thick and slightly lurid, with a dry bite on the midpalate. There’s fair acidity, which is about all one can expect from most Condrieu these days. It gets better with air. Not up to Christophe Pichon’s standards, but pretty tasty. (4/06)


Blot “La Taille aux Loups” Montlouis Pétillant “Triple Zero” (Loire) – Flat and chalky, aromatically unexciting, and yet absolutely palate-cleaving. This is an…aggressive…choice for a by-the-glass pour, and (as I’ll find out later), it’s not alone in that regard. (4/06)


Villeneuve “Château de Roquefort” 2003 Côtes de Provence “Les Mûres” (Provence) – Rough strawberry, mixed cherries, and earth. Very, very, very concentrated, with ripeness and intensity to spare, plus a sharp, scraping acidity (how’d they get that in 2003? never mind, I don’t want to know) that cleans up after the wine’s gone home for the day. Striking. Good? Maybe. (4/06)


Darroze 1974 Bas-Armagnac (Southwest France) – Warming alcoholic heat, but balanced and supple. Concentrated black raspberry with notes of walnut. And…is it? Yes, it is. A touch of cream (4/06).


[bottle]Skalli 2004 Vin de Pays d’Oc Merlot (Languedoc) – Soupy cherry and unshowered foot. Ick. (4/06)

19 June 2008

Two first names

[vineyard]Scott Paul 2006 Pinot Noir “La Paulée” (Willamette Valley) – This takes a little while to rev up the engines, and drinking it now isn’t all that rewarding an experience. But it’s very, very good under its thick, downy blankets of youth; dark fruit, satiny earth-flecked morel, and a plush texture yet to be revealed. Wait for it. (6/08)

The witch, Paul Gascoigne, and the poplar

[label]Martilde 2004 Oltrepò Pavese Barbera “la Strega e la Gazza e il Pioppo…” (Lombardy) – This is probably the most “difficult” barbera I’ve ever tasted, though not in a bad way; it’s simply ridiculously young, and impossible to get at through layers upon layers of puff-pastry tannin. There seems to be a core of intense, fierce fruit, and the acidity is considerable, but right now this is a wine of structure, length, and the promise of duration. (6/08)


Nadal “Avinyó” Cava Brut “Reserva” (Cataluña) – Almond, certainly, with an appealingly dry scrape to the bubbles; it’s not delicate or fine, but it is highly quaffable, with a little lagniappe of light-skinned complexity. If you’re interested. (6/08)

Supérieur, it's said, never gives up her dead

Nacef “Haut Nadeau” 2005 Bordeaux Supérieur “Réserve du Propriétaire” (Bordeaux) – Snore. (6/08)

Yes, I sea the otter

[label]Otter Creek “Sea Otter” Baltic Porter (Vermont) – I’m not quite sure what’s “Baltic” about this, but as a Porter it’s a good one, if salty (maybe that’s it), with a range of browns and a certain malted crispness. (6/08)


Mallo 2005 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Saint-Jacques” (Alsace) – A surprisingly solid effort from this often-underperforming producer, with spicy intensity supported by a strewn handful of rocks; the zing helps support a structure which clings just enough to the exterior of this wine. Nicely-turned. (6/08)


[painting]Coudert-Appert “Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois” 2006 Fleurie (Beaujolais) – Fine-grained, soft, yet insistent and unyielding. Dark-masked fruit that retains red-fruited lightness, elegant earthiness, beautiful poise, and a beautiful finish. Goodness. (6/08)

COS, bee, show

[label]COS 2005 Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily) – Reliable as hell, showing pie fruit and mixed powdered peppercorns in clay, with a not-insignificant swath of cèpe. Open, but with structure; this could age for a little while, I think. The problem is not drinking it in the interim, because it’s quite tasty. (6/08)


Ehrhart 2004 Pinot Gris Brand (Alsace) – Steely black quartz and pyrite, with a dense lacquer of intensely-mineralistic pear and spice. Firm, intense, striking. This is served to me as a dessert wine of sorts, but the tiny bit of sugar is completely overwhelmed by structure and extract; you’ll notice it, but you won’t mind it. Should be stunning in about fifteen years. (6/08)

The fine line

[vineyard]López de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” 1997 Rioja Rosado (Center-North) – Old library plus fruitwood-smoked skins and rinds, with the memory and contextualization rather than the actual existence of fruit as it is commonly understood. Breathtakingly opinionated and highly controversial. I both love and hate it, and see no contradiction in those responses. (6/08)

Drunken stork

Mallo 2004 “Special Delivery” Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – Clean, water-washed stone fruit leaning on the lighter, crisper side of things, with a bit of citrus and a light tarragon note, but with weight and spice coalescing in the denouement. Tasty. Not complex, but quite enjoyable. (6/08)

A winged barn

[bottle]Barnard Griffin 2005 Syrah Port (Columbia Valley) – 500 ml. The problem here is that the wine is much, much more “syrah” than “port,” and I’m not sure smoky, leathery blueberry is the best canvas on which to draw sweetness and fortified intensity. It’s not at all a bad wine, and in fact the form of it is quite enticing, it’s just that the wine seems misguided from conception. Perhaps with a very carefully-selected food. Cheese, certainly, over dessert…and something that can take the sweat and toil of syrah in stride. (6/08)

Elba grease

Fondiari “Mola” 2005 Aleatico dell’Elba (Elba) – 375 ml. Certainly my first wine from Elba, and one of the more unusual aleaticos I’ve tasted (bet you don’t read that phrase every day). It’s got the bright, keening, slightly herbal red fruit with laser-sharp acidity one expects, and the zippy fruit-derived sweetness, but there’s also a stronger-willed, brown-rock substance to its foundation, and an intensity rarely found in a wine that’s usually lighter and more lithe than this. It’s definitely an alternative expression of the grape, but I really enjoy it. (6/08)

20 + Bullwinkle + a needle pulling thread

Brun “FRV100” (Beaujolais) – In the pantheon of sparkling pink beverages, this is the pirate king; assertive, boldly-iconoclastic, rebellious, and showy. The purplish fruit with a heady, freshly-pulled beer froth never “forms up” into a traditional wine structure, but instead comes in waves and eddies of texture and intense flavor. It is, it is a glorious thing. (6/08)

Sylvia Majoli for NPR

Sella 2006 Coste della Sesia “Majoli” Rosato (Piedmont) – Difficult. There’s a leafy, semi-exotic red fruit character here that should be compelling, but the wine just doesn’t bring its qualities to the palate, instead preferring to sit in the corner and brood. It was much better tasted at the source, which suggests either damage or bottle shock, but in this form it’s never going to be a crowd-pleaser. Or, for that matter, a me-pleaser. (6/08)

Charmes life

[label]J-M Burgaud 2006 Morgon Les Charmes (Beaujolais) – Light to the point of insignificance at first sip – a shocking thing for a Morgon – this gains weight, flexibility, and complexity with food. Dark berry vines writhe and heavily-salted minerality abounds. There’s very little point in opening this wine until it knits, and it should improve for a half-decade with little effort, but it’s wan right now. (6/08)

Carapace & skeleton

Edmunds St. John 2003 “Shell and Bone” Red (Paso Robles) – 13.8%. All shell, no bone. It’s white-hued and brittle, showing almost nothing at this stage, with a very long finish full of the promise of…wait, what’s that? What did it say? It’s not quite audible. If you own this, do not drink it now. I have 100% confidence in its future based on its youth, but its present is a different story. (6/08)

Second to none

Roussel & Barrouillet “Clos Roche Blanche” 2006 Touraine Sauvignon “No. 2” (Loire) – Really enticing in a way I’m not quite sure how to characterize. I’m not the world’s biggest CRB sauvignon fan (though unabashedly a fan of many of their other wines), thinking that the chalky Touraine-ness often overwhelms the sauvignon, making the wine taste like a clumsy, somewhat challenged chenin with less balance. Here, however, it all comes together, with a bright green glow from within that enveloping sheathe of chalk and aspirin, balanced and full-bodied yet with flair and a deft finish. The price might be that it’s not ageable, but that’s just a guess. (6/08)

Even a blind trail finds a nut once in a while

Wild Earth “Blind Trail” 2006 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – There’s no way a Central Otago pinot at this low price point can be any good. And yet, it is. What voodoo are they working? The usual dark, slightly charred and heavy plum, beet, and blood orange fruit is buoyed by fresh acidity but an otherwise complete absence of structure. It’s drinkable now, it won’t be drinkable very long from now, but it’s certainly quite representative of the Otago terroir. How in the hell did they do this? Was Sam Neill, who played the Antichrist and makes wine in the Central Otago, involved? (A: no, he was not. But Michelle Richardson, who’s as much of a winemaking star as star-abhorring New Zealand can generate, was…at least when this wine was made. She’s since moved on.) (6/08)

The truth Ornellaia

Marchese Lodovico “Ornellaia” 1996 Bolgheri “Superiore” (Tuscany) – A slick European playboy in an impossibly expensive suit, with a jutting jaw, gelled hair, and a just so shadow of precisely-manicured whiskers. Yet the suit, the hair, and the grooming wrap an entity without substance or interest. And worse, aside from the first highly-appealing impression, closer study reveals that the guy just isn’t that attractive after all. It’s all artifice. It’s all for show. It doesn’t mean anything, and you certainly don’t want to have a conversation with it. (6/08)

What you call Corno, we call maize-o

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1997 Colli Orientali del Friuli Galea Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – A little more advanced than other bottles I’ve tasted, though I still wouldn’t call it ready (and I attribute the difference to normal bottle variation). Parchment, bones, tea, grey-white soil, dried apricot chip, and more. What begins with brittleness and spines smoothes and rounds as the wine lingers. Just beautiful. (6/08)

For MR and MR

Telmo Rodríguez “MR” 2002 Málaga Moscatel (Málaga) – Classic muscat with more intensity and brilliance than usual, though it’s in no way a light wine; sun shines from the core, almost blindingly so, lending warmth and presence. There’s more spice than normal, and a dense, rounded texture. Delish. (6/08)

After Luke

Edmunds St. John 1997 Syrah Durell (Sonoma/Carneros) – Man, is this good. An intricately-plucked funk bass line propels low-toned, leathery fruit though a series of earthy, fruit-scowl verses and leathery, whip-strap choruses to a rousing climax of fruit-stained saddle, black trumpet, and a hurricane of pepper dust. I’d be inclined to drink this now, whatever it’s future. (6/08)

Witters don't use drugs

Edmunds St. John 2007 Gamay Noir Rosé Witters (El Dorado County) – Vivid, light red fruit with a persistent, perhaps insistent drone; it’s that midpalate monotone that slightly reduces the appeal of this wine for me, though it would be fine in any context other than that of its predecessor. Which is, actually, praising with faint damn, because that’s some august context. (6/08)

Roussanne front

Edmunds St. John 2004 Roussanne Tablas Creek (Paso Robles) – Corked, and possibly heat-damaged as well. A shame. (6/08)

Saturday Night Fever

[vineyard]Pratello 2006 Garda Classico Groppello “Discobolo” (Veneto) – Spoofy Garda? That’s what it seems to be, anyway, with tortured fruit of great tartness forced to wear a tuxedo and dark, dark makeup. One might even call it blackface. This wine is a struggle from bottle to gullet, and not for one moment is it enjoyable. (6/08)

Lacrescent moon

Champlain Valley “Montcalm” Lacrescent (Vermont) – Sweet white peach, crystals, and slightly abrasive acidity. Very, very short. For a Vermont wine, this is decent. (6/08)

Isola-ted incident

[bottle]Argiolas 2006 Isola dei Nuraghi “Serra Lori” Rosato (Sardinia) – Simple strawberry fun, but turning a bit more candied than before while losing some of the vivacity it once possessed. I’d drink up. (6/08)


[vine]Torbreck 2006 “Cuvée Juveniles” (Barossa Valley) – 14.5%. Heavy and ponderous. Charbucks coffee grounds, dried-out fruit, soup, stew, and leaden weight. Could this be heat-damaged? (6/08)

Mugwi shot

[wines]Tohu 2006 Sauvignon Blanc “Mugwi” (Marlborough) – Concentrated gooseberry with makrut lime rind and salt. A bit puckery. This has a lot more character than Tohu’s regular sauvignon, but I don’t know if it’s a more appealing beverage or not. I’m just unsure. (6/08)

There once was a wine from Sonoma

[bottle]Limerick Lane 2004 Zinfandel Collins (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. Assertive, perhaps even aggressive, showing walnuts (heavy on the skins), hazelnuts, wild blackberries, and perhaps a bit of espresso bean. Solid, somewhat blocky, and youthful; age might help, as the balance is reasonable despite a lot of clumsy adolescent stumbling at the moment. (6/08)

Little burnt houses for you and me

Augé “Domaine des Maisons Brulées” Vin de Table Français “Le Herdeleau” (Loire) – Pinot noir and gamay, bringing the qualities of each to the fore: the brighter, racier red fruit of the latter with a deeper, blue-black berry (in comparison, that is) from the pinot. It’s sort of like a well-behaved older brother and a fidgety younger brother managing to coexist peacefully for a time. Nicely balanced, perhaps ageable, but I don’t have much experience with these sorts of things. It’s better than any Passetoutgrains I’ve tasted, though I admit I haven’t done extensive research in that category. (6/08)

How much beer could a Pennichuck chug?

[label]Pennichuck “Feuer Wehrmann” Schwarzbier (New Hampshire) – Just enough char and brood for typicity, but not so much that the beer becomes oppressive. This isn’t a “fun” drink, but it’s a good one, with a sticky, tar-like swirl amongst a vague hickory smoke…like catching the whiff of a distant neighbor’s grillfest. (6/08)

Pennichuck “Saint Florian” Doppelbock Lager (New Hampshire) – Lager? Does that account for the watery finish to an otherwise appealing intensity of fermented stone fruit and spice? It’s not bad, exactly…it’s as if a way has been found to make bock more of a thirst-quencher than a sipper…but I think I’ll stick with the ales for now, thanks. (6/08)


[bottle]Dominio de Tares 2003 Bierzo “Exaltos Cepas Viejas” (Northwest Spain) – Overwhelmed with coconut and vanilla, which completely obscure any other characteristics in the wine. Just no good. (6/08)

Sergeant Schultz

Klinker Brick 2005 Zinfandel “Old Vine” (Lodi) – 15.5%. Soupy oak and the harsh burn of Scotch, spice, and not much identifiable as fruit…mostly a browned-out anonymity that might, once, have been grapes. (6/08)

Louis sings

[bottle]Roagna “Opera Prima XV” (Piedmont) – The first Roagna I haven’t much liked. There’s some nice aromatics – leafy and dark, with a lot of wet earth involved – but the wine seems forced, troubled, even a bit harsh. Extended aeration doesn’t seem to help, either. It tastes like the outcome of difficulty and strain, rather than a smooth transition from grape to glass. (6/08)

It's full of stars

Mittnacht Frères 2006 Gewurztraminer “Terre d’etoiles…” (Alsace) – Pretty classic, with most of the sugar absorbed (though it’s there) into a nutty, stone fruit liquid without too many blobby edges. A bit of minerality infuses the expected spice, and there’s actually some acidity as well. Simple, but quite tasty. (5/08)


Mittnacht Frères 2006 Pinot Gris “Terre d’etoiles….” (Alsace) – Good, showing red fruit alongside ripe pear and a certain low-grade crispness. There’s cold minerality, too, which should be further exposed with a little time. Not too much, though; this is a tasty quaffing-style pinot gris, with good balance and not too much residual sugar. (5/08)

The meading of life

[label]Picassic Pond Hálfsætt Traditional Mead (New Hampshire) – Strikingly transparent, with raw honey front and center. It’s not like eating honey itself, but it seems devoid of mitigation or trickery along the way to getting an alcoholic version of same. Terrific. (5/08)

Picassic Pond Elderberry Melomel (New Hampshire) – The flavor’s OK, sort of a tarted-up version of honey with black fruit notes and a little surplus acidity, but the smell is fetid and atrocious. (5/08)

Picassic Pond Pumpkin Spice Mead (New Hampshire) – Not bad, but the obscuring spice (which is more anonymous than pumpkin-y) mostly just serves to fatten the mead rather than add anything of true complexity. (6/08)

I like you boy, you've got Saaz

Carlsberg “Jacobsen” Saaz Blonde (Denmark) – A Belgian-style blonde ale with Czech Saaz hops. And in fact, there’s a slightly spicy, zingy edge to the usual Belgian ale smoothness (with its own measure of spice), yet the overall impression is one of light and refreshment. It doesn’t have the complexity of great Belgian ale, but it’s a good beer. (5/08)

10 June 2008

Aprés moi, le Delu

[diagram]Scholium Project 2006 “Heliopolis” Delu (Suisun Valley) – Utterly fascinating. It’s got the blast door-crashing-down weight of some of the nuttier Friulian wines (which I like), a cyclone of minerality and dried-past-individuality “fruit,” and a long, claypot finish. I wouldn’t want to drink a whole bottle of it, because it’s just too much, but it’s really compelling in smaller quantities. (5/08)

Bouches & bulles

Trévallon 1996 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône (Provence) – Wow, is this drinking well. Still structured, but in a loose-fitting way, letting the complex and somewhat mature fruit revel in its newfound freedom. Dark, chewy, but full of space and transparency through which shows the ultraviolet glow of an ancient soil. A bit of meat thrown to the lions. And confidence. Lots and lots of confidence. (5/08)


Rougier “Château Simone” 1998 Palette (Provence) – 375 ml. As usual, lovers of the freshest, fruitiest wines would think this was about a century older than it is. I love it. It’s like drinking an Egyptian ruin, sand-etched and with a few of the features permanently lost to time, but yet wholly recognizable in form and function. (5/08)

Greenore red

Greenore “Single Grain” Irish Whiskey (Ireland) – Peat, herb, smoke, nut, and barrel, with a lot more complexity than I’m used to; I’ve never turned the same attention to Irish whiskey as I have to Scotch whisky, so this is a bit of a revelation. It’s incredibly smooth, but more “alive” than most that I’ve tasted. (5/08)

Albert Poujol

[winery house]Poujol 2006 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault Rosé (Languedoc) – Heavy (due to alcohol; I feel like I’ve made this criticism about so many southern French rosés, even I’m getting tired of hearing myself say it), with slightly lurid strawberry…but the flowers rather than the fruit, and a finish more like strawberry Kool-Aid than I’d like. What happened here? This used to be more identifiable as wine. (5/08)

Brut force

Boxler Crémant d’Alsace Extra Brut (Alsace) – More austere than a crémant should be, reminiscent of the older style of exceedingly ungenerous crémant that does the category no favors. It tastes sort of like paper. So I guess there’s something Boxler isn’t brilliant at, which I suppose is somewhat of a relief. (5/08)

The Rhine of the ancient mariner

[vineyard]Buitenverwachting 2005 Rhine Riesling (Constantia) – A dry, windswept plain of stark minerality, or perhaps like drinking plate glass. With such an endless (but featureless) horizon, I’d like a little more persistence on the finish, but this is a pretty good wine anyway, and there would seem to be potential. (5/08)

Emery High

[bottle & label]Emery Muscat “Efreni” (Rhodes) – Pure muscat, with all the perfumed sweetness that entails, but with a sort of mirrorball minerality shining from within, which lightens what would otherwise be a fairly thick wine. Extremely tasty. (5/08)

Away, away with rum, by gum

[bottle]JM 1997 Rhum “Vieux Millésimé” (Martinique) – Not just sugar and wood, but also smoky and marshy, with a great deal of complexity that very nearly overcomes the weight of the alcohol. No rum connoisseur I, but this is the best I’ve tasted. (5/08)

Arlington National Cemetery

Bertagna 2005 Bourgogne “Les Croix Blanches” (Burgundy) – Really quite tasty, full of spicy red fruit of a zing akin to carbonation, slashed-up rocks, and the promise of a leafier elegance on the finish. Very good. (5/08)

[Title pun censored]

[vineyard]Babcock 2005 “Big Fat Pink” Shiraz (Santa Ynez Valley) – Sticky fake plums. Definitely blush style, even though I don’t know what the actual residual sugar is, and I don’t care for it at all. (5/08)

Yamahai, yama low

Miyasaka “Yamahai 50 Nama” Ginjo Sake (Japan) – I’m not enough of a sake expert to competently discuss the differences. Rather light on its feet, overall, with polish (pun intended) but a general simplicity; the sort of sake you’d drink quickly, on the way to something with a little more verve. (5/08)

Yó, Adrian

Avinyó Cava Rosat “Reserva” (Cataluña) – The crisp pink fruit is there, but the almond-like nuttiness remains. It tastes dirty…not in an unclean way, but in that you can actually taste a soil-like bass note. Thus, it portends heaviness, but turns more agile with food. (5/08)