30 January 2009

Man, dog

[vineyard]Dog Point 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Sophisticated. None of the edges and raciness that used to define Marlborough sauvignon blanc are here; this tastes significantly more like an Old World sauvignon, though what it does take from its location are a certain size and intensity. Acid is tamed but well-balanced, the fruit moves through gentler, more yellow realms (rather than the usual green), and there’s a soft, almost sandy texture that brings to the fore a very appealing mineral foundation. The finish is supple and long. Very, very good. (1/09)


Robertson 2007 Gewürztraminer “Special Late Harvest” (Robertston) – Quite sweet, without enough balancing acidity, but the wine’s pleasant and varietally correct: peach, lychee, oil, and syrup, with a fuzzier apricot note (botrytis? yes, according to the label). Fairly short. And yet, it’s not a full-blown dessert wine by any means. Call it an aperitif gewürztraminer in the mode of the less expensive VT versions an Alsatian restaurant might serve while you’re studying the menu. Like so many of those: drinkable, pleasant, but not all that great. (1/09)

Broquel welch

Trapiche “Broquel” 2005 Bonarda (Mendoza) – Grape, red cherry, and strawberry jam, lushly fruited with significant, but not overwhelming, oak. Finishes sticky. Balanced in its goopy New World idiom, though I do have suspicions about the acidity, but absolutely one-note and as varietally and geographically anonymous as a wine can be. (1/09)

Etxe fingers

Hillau “Domaine Etxegaraya” 2002 Irouléguy (Southwest France) – Clinging to relevance. Sharp-tongued animate blackberries, a sort of meat residue aroma, some fairly luscious darkness, but it’s all on the verge of drying out. This would likely be much better under another closure than its synthetic cork, and while this is the best-preserved of the four bottles thus far, given the circumstances it would have been better to drink it at release. (1/09)

Not so buena

Montebuena 2006 Rioja (Center-North) – Corked. (1/09)

Come to Pipa

Castellani “Collezione Ca’ del Pipa” 2004 Valpolicella Classico “Superiore” San Michele “Ripasso” (Veneto) – Corked. (1/09)

On the Vergelegen

[vineyard]Vergelegen 2005 White (Stellenbosch) – 2/3 semillon and 1/3 sauvignon blanc. Ripe, intense, concentrated, and with its eyes firmly focused on white Bordeaux, though I don’t know if it would be easy to conflate the two. Figs, dried straw, and white nectarine, with hints of wood influence and fine acidity. Very powerful, yet balanced, with a slightly leesy texture and a finish of majestic length. Turns creamier as it warms, while retaining its poise. Very, very impressive. (11/08)

Constance craving

[bottle]Klein Constantia 2004 “Vin de Constance” (Constantia) – A dessert wine of vine-desiccated muscat de Frontignan (a/k/a muscat blanc à petits grains), and a wine that made South Africa’s worldwide wine reputation well over a century ago. Klein Constantia is part of the country’s original wine estate, dating back to the late 1600s, and in its current incarnation has resurrected the style and the name. But not, I fear, the quality that made the reputation (though I wasn’t around in the 1800s and thus can’t really know for sure). The nose is gorgeous and openly muscatty, with additional complexities in the form of cooked apple, spiced plum, cinnamon, and nutmeg. But as it turns juicy on the palate, it thins, and the finish is wan and disappointing. Good, but decidedly not great, and much more fun to sniff than to sip. (11/08)


Villiera Méthode Cap Classique Brut Rosé “Tradition” (Stellenbosch) – Soft strawberry with a brace of acidity trailing in its wake. Short, though. Dry, clean, and pleasant, but most certainly not special. (11/08)

Re(a)d all over

[glass]Signal Hill 2006 Rosé de Saignée Blanc de Noir (Constantia) – Sources differ on what this is made from. Some say petit verdot, while the usually definitive Platter’s Guide has it as shiraz with pinot noir and cabernet franc. But I’m going to go with the winery’s web site, which says it’s cab franc. If it was no good, it wouldn’t matter…but it is. Very flavorful, with dark strawberry and cherry, hints of blacker fruit, and a good layer of spice (but not of wood). Casts a significant shadow. Wavy and delicious. The winery claims aging potential, and I wouldn’t bet against it. (11/08)


[barrels]Signal Hill 2005 Syrah (Stellenbosch) – Very confident, with a grainy structure, solid leather, blackberry skins, and a welcome hint of bacon. Balanced, long, and promising, but there’s just a little something missing. Perhaps it’s that the wine’s initial swagger isn’t quite matched by its raw materials, which are a little more timid than the wine’s proud bearing seems to promise. (11/08)

Bayly bread

Peter Bayly 2004 “Cape Vintage Port” (Calitzdorp) – Tired, roasted, and dried-out. Already. Less actively unpleasant than just…eh. (11/08)

Galpin ghost

[barrels]Bouchard Finlayson 1998 Pinot Noir Galpin Peak (Walker Bay) – Soft fruit, grey minerality, drying structure, and a keening sweet-fruited character that is, for me, often found in New World pinots as they develop. It’s balanced, but showing indications of fading, and there’s no sign of the lovely autumnal complexity that makes aged pinot so compelling. Good, but just barely hanging on to that status. (11/08)

Joan Wilderer? Joan Wilderer?

Wilderer Pinotage Grappa (Paarl) – Like wines made from the grape, a giant explosion of fruit. Kind of a doofus spirit, or perhaps it could more charitably be termed a beginner’s grappa, and yet it ends up being appealing despite its simplicity. (11/08)

18 January 2009

Le Pew

[harvest]Pepe 2001 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Abruzzi) – Smells, unmistakably, of kriek lambic, with all the sourness and brett that implies…and not some easy-drinking Lindemans bottling either, but an extreme, take-no-prisoners Cantillon version. The texture is of drying soup, with fantastic minerality enveloped in lanolin. Very complex and strikingly long, with fine balance. Not that this is any surprise, but the wine is very divisive; among a half-dozen tasters of this bottle, about as many despise it as adore it. (12/08)


[vineyard]Dillon “Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion” 1974 Graves Blanc (Bordeaux) – Molten aluminum, creamy, and very long. A touch of brown sugar hints at the age, but this has held up extremely well. Very, very good wine, but drink up. (12/08)

Louvière blinds

Lurton “Château La Louvière” 1979 Graves Blanc (Bordeaux) – Young-tasting, believe it or not. Lime with hints of Sprite – the wine’s a bit slurpy – but this eventually resolves to tonic and sorbet. Filaments of metal drift through the finish. Precise. Very good, but almost excellent. (12/08)

Star power

[bottle]Gros “Domaine de Montbourgeau” 2000 l’Étoile “Cuvée Spéciale” (Jura) – Racy minerality in a wind tunnel. If there was such a thing as chalkfruit, this would have it. Intense and pear-textured (but not -flavored), with a tartness that really emerges as the wine airs. Extremely good. (12/08)

Berres do it, bees do it

CH Berres 2001 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese 12 02 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Raw iron and light petroleum, perhaps some aluminum. Shockingly primary (almost raw, actually); this not only is far from maturity, it’s not even close to closing up yet. (12/08)

Slough it off

Scholium Project 2007 “Naucratis” Lost Slough (California) – Verdelho. Given a sufficiently open mind, this actually seems like it might be wine: sweet mango and persimmon, albeit with the texture of a smoothie. Drinkable, but you won’t want much of it. (12/08)


Scholium Project 2006 “The Prince in His Caves” Farina (California) – Sauvignon blanc, and for a change with this producer the cépage is actually reflected in the wine, which smells of sweat and asparagus, tastes like green pepper, and is dominated by a fierce, off-putting acidity. (12/08)

A roll of the Eurydice

Scholium Project 2007 “Eurydice” Rocky Hill (California) – Pinot gris, according to the web site. I’ll take their word for it. All I can get out of this wine is wax and fat…and not the “fat” that critics use to suggest a lack of balancing acidity. No, I mean actual fat. Stale fat, too. But mostly, it smells and tastes of wax. This is a practical joke, right? Some sort of oenological funnin’? (12/08)

Detzemer collector

Rauen 2004 Detzemer Maximiner Klosterlay Riesling Auslese Trocken 7 05 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Makrut lime, fresh coconut, and papaya. Bright and sunlit, and while the wine is good in a tropical sort of way while it lasts, the finish is disappointingly short. (12/08)

Lot's wife

Blanchard Vin de Table de France “Lot 1” (Loire) – A mysterious wine. A bit of online research leads to the following: sauvignon blanc and, believe it or not, cabernet (franc or sauvignon, we don’t know) vinified white. The thought behind the closure is equally mysterious: a crown cap under a wax capsule. Kind of irritating. OK, so how about the wine? Bewildering is what it is: foamy, powdery, and sweet, with a bit of lime. Very, very strange. (12/08)

Ferdinando's hideaway

[vineyard]i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1997 Colli Orientali del Friuli Galea Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Fairly advanced for this bottling, which has spent some time in a warmish store (Vintages, Belmont Center) and might have been displayed standing up for a time. All this really means, though, is that the wine is a lot closer to full maturity than pristine bottles: honeysuckle and fine-grained pollen with a lovely milky texture and very good length. (12/08)

Lini tower of Pisa

Lini “Labrusca” Lambrusco Bianco (Emilia-Romagna) – Fragrant. Green apples, acidity, and fun lightness. My first white Lambrusco; I didn’t even know they existed until I saw this bottle. (12/08)

Putting the Rijckaert before the horse

Rijckaert 2006 Bourgogne Blanc (Burgundy) – An austere skeleton of a wine, clean, direct, and stark. Nice enough, but it sacrifices any hint of complexity for directness. (12/08)


Leeuwin “Prelude Vineyards” 2000 Cabernet/Merlot (Margaret River) – Red pepper, dark cherry, and cassis, with a dash of eucalyptus. Good weight and balance. Admittedly a little green (not altogether unpleasantly so, but it’s right on the edge), and already showing some early signs of development. Somewhere between OK and good. Probably not much of an ager, though. (3/05)

Margan for error

Margan 2003 Semillon (Hunter Valley) – Herbs and grass, with a semi-hollow middle but surprising length. Tingly, especially late. It seems insufficient, but I’ve learned the value of humility when it comes to assessing young Hunter semillon; I’m not aware of any other wine that blossoms out of its youthful ugly-ducklingness to such an extent. (3/05)

17 January 2009

Quintaine coup

Guillemot-Michel 2001 Mâcon-Villages “Quintaine” (Mâcon) – Seems fully mature, with concentration at the core and aromatic frippery around the perimeter. White truffle, faded but good, white peach, (dry) honeysuckle, and a dust-in-heavy water texture. Lengthy finish. Really quite enticing, though it tastes a lot more like Guillemot-Michel than it does chardonnay. As for whether or not it tastes like a Mâcon, that category is almost too debased for comparison. (1/09)

16 January 2009

Swans crossing

[vineyard]Swan 2000 Pinot Noir “Cuvée de Tois” (Russian River Valley) – Perhaps not all the way to wherever its going, but it’s in a strangely bipolar place now. The palate is light, crisp, and pure, full of red cherry and sharp raspberry acidity. But the nose, while it has some nice earthen elements, also speaks loudly and repetitively of smoke and cola. None of it is anywhere close to bad, and it’s a compelling enough wine to go back to again and again in an attempt to make some sense of it, but it’s just weird. (1/09)

First Cazin

Cazin 2005 Cheverny “Le Petit Chambord” (Loire) – Starbursting yellow fruit with crisp streaks of green, then layers of light chalk and dried honey, and a finishing sheen of very light sweetness. Nicely balanced, very pretty, and as fine a bargain as you’ll find in these difficult times. (1/09)

Chatelard, put out the light

Rosier “Château du Chatelard” 2006 Fleurie “Les Vieux Granits” (Beaujolais) – Cold, almost icy minerality, with a chilled blackberry boisterousness that never quite manages to escape an enveloping gauze. I’d be interested to see how this develops, because it’s a middle-tier Fleurie right now, but all that minerality would seem to have serious potential for future rocky goodness. (1/09)

The Young's & the restless

[vineyard]Young’s 2000 Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley) – 13.8%. Light and coconutty. The wild-vine intensity, often expressed as something almost piney, of the region is nowhere to be found, except in a vague suggestion of fresh spring bush growth. Fresh, friendly strawberry (seeds intact) comprises the entirety of the fruit. I’m not sure aging did anything for this wine. In fact, I’m convinced holding on to it was a mistake, as it was much better, richer, and more textured in its youth. (1/09)

As the Crozes flies

Desmeure “Domaine des Remizières” 1999 Crozes-Hermitage “Cuvée Christophe” (Rhône) – Sour and fecal, in a way few wines are these days. Significant Band-Aid as well. It’s like a masterclass in brett. Underneath – way underneath – there’s leathery meat-fruit that’s significantly lighter than one might think, and good structure. But there’s no getting past the ass. (1/09)

Tours de France

Reynaud “Château de Tours” 1998 Vacqueyras “Réserve” (Rhône) – Mute as if it’s corked, though the exact nature of the flaw – other than the absence of the wine – isn’t fully clear in the time we give the bottle. We put it aside. Twenty-four hours later, I’m told it has blossomed into something dark, rich, and full of fruit (as it’s understood in Vacqueyras, at least), but still youngish. Oh well. (1/09)

Anything you want, Rugate

[garganega grapes]ca’Rugate 2006 Soave Classico San Michele (Veneto) – More jagged than cohesive, showing more seams, cracks, and edges than is typical for this wine, its green plum, honeydew, and tart watermelon rind core are given the usual (for the appellation) dusting of powdered sugar in solution, though the wine doesn’t come of as more than anecdotally off-dry, and may in fact be analytically sugar-free. In a way, the discontinuities lend the wine appeal, but it’s not everything it could be. (1/09)

Hillau, I hate you, won't you recork your wine?

Hillau “Domaine Etxegaraya” 2002 Irouléguy (Southwest France) – Harsh and scraping, like raw banana skin-flavored sandpaper. A victim of its synthetic cork. (1/09)

Tell me no secrets, I'll tell you Noëllat

Michel Noëllat & Fils 2006 Bourgogne (Burgundy) – Corked. (1/09)

Arcese poofs

Bera 2006 Canelli “Arcese” (Piedmont) – Pours with a near-explosion of tiny bubbles, which take a while to recede. Uh-oh. The nose is, at first, absent, then quivering with volatility, then once again absent. And there’s a staleness to the wine. First approximation: corked and refermented. An hour later, the secondary-fermentation stink starts to emerge, as does the wretched reek of TCA. The poor wine, which is usually full of appealing life, never had a chance. (1/09)

Don't be a Daumas

Guibert de la Vassière “Mas de Daumas Gassac” Rosé Frizant Brut (Languedoc) – Cherry Kool-Aid, and not in a good way. Completely candied and confected. Two sips are about all you’ll ever want. (1/09)

Zelt up

[vineyard]Selbach-Oster 2007 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese “Schmitt” 020 08 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Electric green apple soda. Lightly sweet, with makrut lime lacings. Flawless balance and poise. A really gorgeous wine. Wow! (12/08)

To heck with the cherry

Dönnhoff 2003 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 005 04 (Nahe) – Tangerine fatness at first sniff, which firms up to a long, columnar midpalate with only a little clinging fat. The finish is short. Everything in this wine happens way up front, and while it’s not bad for an ’03, it’s a little like a tin recreation of a riesling rather than the real thing. Eh. (12/08)

Schoenheitz, shown lows

Schoenheitz 1998 Riesling Herrenreben “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Not all that sweet, in what used to be the traditional style for Alsatian VTs, with a stark, arctic character. This could be a lot more generous, but it’s possible that the wine’s just closed up. The finish is pretty short, though, and so I’m not overly optimistic. (12/08)

Wiebelsberg, wobbled

Kreydenweiss 1997 Riesling Wiebelsberg “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Hand-carried from the domaine, carefully cellared, and…corked. Ugh. (12/08)

John Jacob Franz Karl Schmitt

Franz Karl Schmitt 1996 Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling Auslese 10 97 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Moderately sweet. Lime, green apple, limestone, and shards of metal…perhaps mostly iron. Yet, in the end, not all that interesting. (12/08)

Rottland hum

Leitz 2007 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese Trocken “Alte Reben” (Goldkapsel) 014 08 (Rheingau) – Tastes Austrian, in a diffident sort of way. Not particularly precise, but instead rather creamy, with intensity and power both present and in reserve. A solid block of riesling. Let it age. (12/08)

Two-star general

[vineyard]JJ Christoffel 1997 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese ** 09 98 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Extremely creamy, as these wines tend to be. Full of orange sorbet, smoothed out to remove the crystallization, and while there’s not enough nerve to prevent the drying finish from turning a little bloated, it’s definitely an OK wine. Just not really beyond that. (12/08)

Take this wine and Schoffit

Schoffit 1997 Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Théobald (Alsace) – Brown, volcanic, and ancient. A fossil in amber. The cork seems fine – plump, moist, minor staining only on the bottom – but clearly something went massively wrong here. An eighty-year-old riesling unearthed from someone’s basement. (12/08)

If the Zusslin fits

Zusslin Crémant d’Alsace Brut (Alsace) – If stones shed their skins, they could have been fermented into a wine much like this. Sharp and hollow, with traces of apple and a loose froth. Lacks presence. (12/08)

Harth & home

Schoffit 1997 Riesling Harth “Cuvée Prestige” (Alsace) – Windblown sand and dust, but old dust. Intense, with surprisingly good acidity (neither the site nor the year are exactly known for crispness), with tart melon rind dominated. The finish is sharply attenuated, and dries out rather quickly. And so, the wine ends up a little disappointing. (12/08)

Etna, I'm glad I met ya

Benanti 1999 Etna Rosso Rovitello (Sicily) – Prominent tannin is just starting to integrate, but this is still a stridently-structured wine in the forepalate, with a good measure of the wine’s signature ash not exactly bringing the softness. A silky fireplace wine of red fruit in an old oak drawing room, warming and delicious, with fine presence and a texture that grows more appealing as the wine aerates. Though there is a limit: at the end of a few hours’ sipping, the “closed for business” shingle is once more hung on the nail, and the wine’s qualities retreat behind a forbidding pressure door of tannin once again. This could use a longer nap. (9/08)

Capitelli idea

Anselmi 2005 “I Capitelli” (Veneto) – Light peach cream. Delicate on its feet. Fun. (9/08)

Peter North

R. López de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” 1981 Rioja Blanco (Center-North) – Served too cold, but that’s easily resolved, and the wine improves as it rises through the degrees. Wax, old maple furniture, immovable slabs of granite, and gentle hints of old lemon lead to a candle-flame finish. A little subdued vs. other semi-recent tastings, but still nice. (9/08)

10 January 2009

Waipara the slate clean

[vineyard]Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2006 Riesling (Waipara Valley) – Vivacious and exciting. Lime, green apple, very ripe lemon, perhaps some other bright and sunny fruit…presented in crystal-clear digital sound. It hasn’t developed any analog richness yet, but it’s young. Quite long, with a steel spine driven straight through the center of the wine. The balance of acidity and sweetness is flawless. Very impressive. (1/09)

Sur Lie you jest

Ollivier “Domaine de la Pépière” 2006 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Drier, in some ways, than the starkest Trimbach or Beyer riesling, yet the core of this wine is friendlier and more appealing…a gently-lapping shell-covered seashore rather than a rigid column of iron. And it’s crisp without being severe. Deployed to accompany a scallop ceviche, it sings through the gaps and spaces, rather than cooperating in a duet of equals, and I think is even better for it. (1/09)

Travers the country

[vineyard]Brusset 2004 Cairanne Coteaux des Travers (Rhône) – Fruity and forward, to the extent that I’d be hard-pressed to identify it as a French wine, much less of its place. There’s little structure, but I wouldn’t go so far as the call the ripe strawberry bubblegum fruit formless…it’s just that there’s mostly the simple fact of the initial burst of yum, and then, well, not much else. This feels like a laster rather than an ager, and maybe not even the former. But why wait? Certainly one drinks this because it’s big and fruity, and because one considers those the sine qua non of wine construction. (12/08)

The Hureau of the wolf

P&G Vatan “Chateau du Hureau” 2005 Saumur-Champigny (Loire) – Blackberry in vibrant bursts not always seen among Loire reds…but not to worry, there’s soil, herb, and bite still to be found, along with a significant dusting of black pepper. Forceful. Very good, with potential. (1/09)

Pistol, pistol, pistol

Unibroue 2004 “Trois Pistoles” (Québec) – Tastes denser than it did in its youth, with more of a chocolate liqueur, spice-laden character than it originally possessed. Still quite heavy. Did it benefit from age? Well, it changed a bit. But is it better? I don’t know. (1/09)

Unibroue 2004 “La Fin du Monde” (Québec) – Unlike the Trois Pistoles, this beer did not benefit from a few years’ aging. Lemony and completely swimming with lees, this has tarted up but has also lost the layered richness that defines it. (1/09)


[bottle]A Donkey and Goat 2006 “Tamarindo” Roussanne (El Dorado) – For about five minutes after opening, toasted fruit aromatics rush from the glass, heralding a weighty but not overblown palate. And then, as that initial burst of uncorked goodness diffuses, it goes immediately and completely to hell…overwhelmed with volatile acidity, for starters, and bringing up some nasty, decaying animal scents from the cellar. (“Smells like a cow vomited and then died on top of it,” opines one drinking companion.) Really terrible, and an absolutely horrendous value. (1/09)

Flic a Bixio

Bixio 2005 Prosecco (Veneto) – Wretched. Acrid, nasty, volatile, bitter, and just plain no good. (1/09)

Pichler of the litter

[vineyard]FX Pichler 2005 Grüner Veltliner Loibner Klostersatz Federspiel (Wachau) – Explodes out of the glass, but I don’t know that there’s as much shrapnel in the blast as I’d like. It’s certainly quite aromatic, drifting into unusual realms of quince and Rainier cherry, and then returning to the familiar homeland of liquefied celery and heady minerality. Its presence on the palate is weighty and impressive. And yet, and yet…it decrescendos on the finish, tailing off to an acidic void. Oh well. (1/09)

Failure to Plan

Costières & Soleil “Sélectionné par Laurence Féraud” 2005 “Plan Pégau” Vin de Table (Rhône) – Corked. (1/09)

Big old txakolina, don't carry me too far away

Arabako Txakolina 2007 Txakoli de Álava Txakoli “Xarmant” (Northwest Spain) – Filled with the spike and needle of bubbles, quite acidic, and elusive in its bare-bone, eroded-sand fashion. I love the tactility, but the wine within is a little too absent for me. (1/09)

Bravery & Vallières

JM Burgaud 2006 Régnié Vallières (Beaujolais) – Straightforward gamayness, light and red-pink-purple-fruited, with an engaging appeal. There’s not really much more to say. It’s good. It’s tasty. It’s highly drinkable. It’s no more than that, though. (1/09)

Muga-chaka, muga-muga-muga-chaka

[vineyard]Muga 2007 Rioja Rosado (Center-North) – Seems gentler than it is; a fading salmon sunset with a surprising depth and weight to it, rich with old pinkish fruit, guava, and a bit of persimmon. Then there’s apple skin, which adds a bit of tannic complexity, and a finely balanced acidity, and a mild oxidation, yet the wine remains well-knit and beautifully formed. A sophisticated rosé. (1/09)

Alta states

Piñol 2005 Terra Alta “Sacra Natura” (Cataluña) – Surprisingly advanced, but perhaps due to that advancement drinking even better than it did in its flavorful but noisy adolescence. Dark fruit with a significant lean towards maturing, pie-like complexity, black earth, and a nutty/spicy zing doing some light lifting underneath. Fun. (1/09)

Pinon the donkey

Pinon 2006 Vouvray “Cuvée Tradition” (Loire) – Shy to the point of invisibility. Only the barest suggestion of waxy whiteness is perceptible, with a very light patina of sweetness. Either drink it in a sensory deprivation chamber, or give it the time it deserves. (1/09)

Cumberland farms

Bergström 2006 Pinot Noir “Cumberland Reserve” (Willamette Valley) – Open a bit longer than the ideal, perhaps, because the stemmy greenness has come to dominate the nose. The palate is pure enough, with good acidity and a crisp, red-fruited microburst of fruit, but the finish returns to tones of green and brown. Iffy. (1/09)

My darling dear, love you for all time

Brick Angel 2006 “Littlefoot” St. Barthelemy (Napa Valley) – Half petite sirah, one quarter each zinfandel and syrah, 15.1%. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. (1/09)

Pépe Le Peu

Pichot “Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette” 1997 Vouvray (Loire) – Not bad for thirty-year-old Vouvray. Wait, what’s that? OK…well, it’s advanced, then, with significant bronzing and a concentrated maser of brittle lemon in the middle, nice sweetness, and a fine dusting of chalk. It never really rises to any sort of complexity, but it’s good enough, if a bit ponderous by the dregs. Probable culprit: the cork is rigid, and wet from bottom to top. (1/09)

Ramí Martin

[vineyard]COS 2007 “Ramí” (Sicily) – A blend of insolia and grecanico. An exotic nose of je ne sais quoi. Really, I have absolutely no idea what to call these aromas. They’re lovely, though. The palate is wet and clean, but not up to the promise of the nose, and with aeration (an hour or so) the wine gets a little bit ponderous. It does seem to need a bit more chill than the weight might otherwise indicate. (1/09)

09 January 2009


i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 2001 Colli Goriziano Brazan Brazzano di Cormons (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Waxed peaches. Quite flowery. Texturally, waves of luxurious satin envelop the tongue, and get sexier with each passing minute. While this isn’t fully mature, it’s drinking beautifully right now. (11/07)

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1997 Colli GorizianoBrazan Brazzano di Cormons (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Reddish fruit at the core, surrounded by wet wax and bronzed, metallic jacket. A triangular wine, drinking as well as it’s ever going to…which makes it the rare Clivi white that’s truly ready. (11/07)

I am the great Corno di Rosazzo

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1997 Colli Orientali del Friuli Galea Rosso Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – 100% merlot, planted at 2000 vines per hectare. Earthy/gritty tannin, granular cherry and strawberry, and then a finish with the rough, friction-y texture of old leather. A bit of whiskey barrel sweetness emerges on the finish, but the wine isn’t hot. It is, however, in need of drinking. (11/07)

Galea sayers

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 2001 Colli Orientali del Friuli Galea Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – While it appears to broaden in the glass, in fact this wine is a lot less forward than it was a year earlier, so those holding some will now likely need to wait out its maturation. Herbs and a fine minerality are at the core, with a crescendo to a feathery finish that, nonetheless, remains full of mineral solemnity. (11/07)

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1999 Colli Orientali del FriuliGalea Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – From a warm vintage in which some of the berries started to desiccate, then recovered some of their plumpness just before harvest. This has opened a bit since my previous tasting, and the dominant characteristic is that of honey without its sweetness, lightly dusted with dried sage. Long and round, but still too young. There’s a very mild and pleasant oxidation on the finish, which I find to be entirely typical of these wines, and in fact hardly unknown among tocais in general. (11/07)

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 1997 Galea Corno di Rosazzo (Colli Orientali del Friuli) – Mostly open, but I still wouldn’t say it’s on the far side of maturity. Wax and oxidation layered with late-autumn leaves and a long, sandy finish. Letting its hair down, and those with a quantity will want to start sampling from their collection. (11/07)

Brazan it out

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 2003 Colli Goriziano Brazan (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – A little better than the ’03 Galea, with a more cohesive form. Grapefruit and other assorted citrus rinds are present, along with some alcoholic numbness of the finish. It’s big. After a few hours of air and warmth, the nose is much improved, adding fig, melon, and cantaloupe to the fruit salad. But while it’s the more drinkable of the ’03 whites, at least at the moment, it’s still fundamentally deformed by its vintage. (11/07)

Galea-force winds

i Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso 2003 Colli Orientali del Friuli Galea (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – A little bit sulfurous at the moment. The nose is heavy and alcoholic (it was, as everywhere else, a very hot year for grape-growing), and not showing much under its twin assaults of lead and SO2. The finish suggests mint, but it’s tight. Solid, fat, long, but formless. However…after two hours in a warm (that’s European “warm”) room, a little bit more has emerged, including some ripe melon and a harder edge to the structure. It’s still a fat, flabby wine, though. (11/07)

02 January 2009


In 2008, I tried an experiment. I attempted to post a note on every single wine that I tasted that year. Every single wine. You can see the results below. So how did I do? And why might others want to reconsider before attempting a similar exercise in verbosity? Head over to oenoLogic – itself an exercise in verbosity – for the details.