27 February 2009

Existential Hengst

[turckheim]Zind-Humbrecht 1997 Gewurztraminer Hengst (Alsace) – Rich and very intense, with lychees – perhaps with a touch of tinned quality to them – making the classic aged-gewurz shift to bacon. There’s also roasted cashew, papaya, and guava…exotic notes for an already exotic grape, and no doubt a result of the way this grape and terroir have been pushed to, and perhaps a little beyond, their limits. This is also seen in the wine’s powerful sweetness, and “powerful” here is meant more as a description of the intensity of the sugar than the quantity of it, because there’s a quite acceptable balance – especially for a ’97 – marred only by a shading of surplus alcohol, and this allows a throbbing, powdery minerality (stones and coal) to show through. This is a highly tactile wine, its texture a little over-shared and slutty, but I like it nonetheless. As for maturity, I see no reason it won’t hold for a good while, but I’d think about drinking it soon for maximum impact. And I mean that last word wholeheartedly. (2/09)

Mr. T

Ken Forrester 2005 “T” Noble Late Harvest (Stellenbosch) – From 375 ml, 100% chenin blanc, 115.7 g/l residual sugar, 14.5% alcohol. Holy Mother of God, is this sweet. Pure syrup of botrytized chenin, represented as mixed tropical fruits, dried apricots, and blended sugars and honeys of every sort. Aromatically, hints of a pan-Mediterranean fruitiness and herbality add complexity, and the acidity’s not bad at all, though of course it trembles in, and cannot emerge from, the shadow of this much sugar. Very, very, very long, and not just as a result of stick-and-cling. Intense and frankly fantastic, but in a highly particular style that will definitely not appeal to everyone. I’d love to revisit this in a few decades. Also: not even close to cheap. (2/09)

Montelena Olin

[vineyard]Montelena 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – 14.01% alcohol. Those were the days, eh? Though I can’t help see the precision of the number as a sort of jibe. Anyway…the wine’s highly structured, but everything else is quite advanced (especially the color), and I think drinking is in order over the next few years. Tobacco, gravel, and cassis liqueur are present, but the dominant impression is a dusty austerity. Restrained, but not I think by middle age, but by its basic nature. A good, not great, Montelena. (2/09)

Massachusetts milkshake

Occhipinti 2006 Il Frappato (Sicily) – Red and black raspberries, a touch of volatile acidity, and a nudge of brett. Very pointed and angular. A fun, sprightly wine with zing and zip (though watch those prickly biochemical issues), and one that slashes and hacks through food in a most enjoyable way. This is a very different wine than the one I tasted a year ago, and I don’t know whether to blame evolution or deviation. Or both. In this incarnation, however, an important caveat: it’s not really worth its tariff, which is significant. (2/09)


[label]Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” Rauchfetzen Ale (Massachusetts) – Light on the smoke, and fairly insufficient otherwise. It’s an easy quaff, but it doesn’t mean anything. On the positive side, it’s more drinkable as a standalone than most brews in this style. (2/09)

Blanche Dubois

Josephine Dubois 2004 Chablis Montmains 1er Cru “Terre Minerale” (Chablis) – Seashells bracket an otherwise flatlined nose. The palate is sweet’n’sour, with a weird finish of stale cracker and old clam juice. I’m inclined to give up on the wine, but as it warms beyond the usual Chablis temperature range and airs it improves a bit (not that surprising for a Chablis, I suppose), becoming slightly more appealing, cohesive, and recognizably Chablisienne. (Is that the word?) It never really rises above mediocrity, but it’s not bad either, and as with most Chablis time is likely to clarify matters. (2/09)

Star Tours

[label]Reynaud “Château des Tours” 1998 Vacqueyras “Réserve” (Rhône) – Open several days, with a few glasses absent by the time I get to it. Darkly concentrated blackberry and even darker smoke liqueur, with a counterpoint of walnut soda. Open-ended, by which I mean the initial impression of fruit does a reverse dovetail and leaves an ever-increasing gap as the wine progresses towards the finish. A fruit microbomb, not sophisticated in the least, but not truly explosive either. Freshly-opened bottles have been impenetrable, and given the state of this wine I see absolutely no reason to open any more at this stage. (2/09)


Château la Nerthe 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Corked. (2/09)


Jasmin 1996 Côte-Rôtie (Rhône) – Corked. (2/09)

26 February 2009

Fromm the cellar

[vineyard]Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Towering, for sure, but more of a concrete edifice than a true work of architecture. There’s dark fruit with concentrated aromatics, black earth, a fine and very adult appeal to the head as well as the heart, but there’s also layer upon layer of structure (almost all of it a silkily ripe tannin), and while it does not overwhelm the wine, it dominates it. This is not a pinot for zinfandel lovers, as so many modern interpretations are, but it just might be a pinot for Bordeaux lovers. (2/09)

Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Intense and brooding, with a mille-feuille of tannins enveloping the dark berry fruit. There’s acidity, too, and the wine’s no modernistic leaden monster, nor is it particularly thick or hard, though a physical sensation of depth is its primary characteristic. But I’d consider drinking rather than holding this wine, and even then with the right, structure-scalpeling food. (2/09)


Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2002 Riesling (Waipara) – Melon, mandarin, and metal. There’s some well-balanced sweetness, but an acidic sharpness is really starting to bare the edge of its blade, which amps up the overall intensity. Very appealing. There’s plenty of life left here, and the structure to support it. (2/09)

Albares necessities

[vineyard]Dominio de Tares 2003 Bierzo “Albares” (Northwest Spain) – There’s a struggle here, in that a wine that wants to be lighter and more aromatic tries to, but cannot, escape an inherent gravity that no doubt comes from the vintage. There are hints of enticing crushed-petal aromatics, but they’re sensed only through shadow and density, rather than in full burst and bloom. It’s a good wine, but the weight it carries can’t quite be supported by its skeleton or flesh. (2/09)

Palmela Anderson

Quinta da Romeira de Cima “Tradição” 2002 Palmela (Portugal) – A friendly whoosh of fruit…berries, plums, and so forth…smoothly presented. Starts and finishes fully-rounded, without discernable flaws. Of course, this roundness comes at the cost of additional complexities, but this is a fine value at an excellent point in its evolution. (2/09)

Pasta Fasoli

[grapes]Fasoli Gino 2006 Bardolino “La Corte del Pozzo” (Veneto) – Headier than most Bardolino, without sacrificing the crisp edge of cool acidity and the bitter touch of skin that give the wine its essential character. Berries here are a mix of bright and dark, smelling as if freshly-crushed directly underneath one’s nose, with a brisk prickle and zip darting back and forth. Quite good. (2/09)

Show don't tell

Rosemount 2002 “Show Reserve” Shiraz (McLaren Vale) – No shrinking violet, this wine nevertheless avoids the usual shiraz flaws of over-concentration, soy, stew, and burn. And yet, to little purpose does it avoid them, because while it’s a fruity, fun drink with a healthy dollop of palate weight, that’s all it is. In other words, it’s a basic shiraz for everyday drinking…except that it’s not presented or priced as one. Could we at least get a dusting of pepper here? A clod of earth? Some leather? Any texture at all? (2/09)

Coverting to Robles

[vineyard]Tablas Creek 2005 Rosé (Paso Robles) – While this may be drawing the curtains a little bit, the show that’s still visible is quite entertaining. There’s a bunch of different explorations of the concept of orange (including the blood variety), then a pale red-berry rush of fruit, and later an autumnal sunset viewed through a rippling window from the comfort of a soft, fraying easy chair. It’s still hefty for a rosé, but the virtues of its twilight are now readily apparent. (2/09)

Lini back

Lini “Labrusca" 2007 Lambrusco Bianco (Emilia-Romagna) – White flower petals, sweet green melon. Light and lively, but old-timey…an incandescent bulb radiating white light with a touch of yellow. Fun. (2/09)

Metz & calories

[vineyard]Gerard Metz 2005 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Lychee, dried peach, and pear with some stickiness, as one would expect from the variety. There’s a juicy counterbalance in the form of something that feels more like pineapple juice (from a can, not directly from a pineapple) than pure acidity, which by its nature doesn’t quite integrate with the wine’s varietal aspects. Yet it’s a nice enough wine, with good length. Maybe time will help bring the disparate parts together, but I’m doubtful. (2/09)

Langhe than any bird ever flew

Vajra 2006 Langhe Rosso (Piedmont) – Fuzzy and a bit fusty, with the soft particulate texture one might expect, but brooding in the darkness of a troubled adolescence more than usual. Vintage effect? Bad bottle? There’s usually more appeal here. (2/09)

Martian fonts

Font-Mars 2007 Picpoul de Pinet (Languedoc) – Juicy greenish-yellow fruit, intense and insistent but not sharp. Some leaves and twigs complete the picture. A guzzler. (2/09)

Dog days

[vineyard]Dog Point 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Sophisticated and polished. There’s minerality here under a blizzard-textured storm of pale fruit, edged by green yet more richly-hued at the core. Recognizably sauvignon, perhaps even recognizably Marlborough, but atypical in the best sort of way. (2/09)

Flightless wine

EMB “Kiwi Cuvée” 2006 Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France Sauvignon Blanc (Loire) – Soft-tart green apple. Clean and simple. But the name is an abomination, and all involved should be profoundly ashamed of themselves. The French – rightly – have a hair-trigger reaction when it comes to protecting their appellations, brands, trademarks, and patrimonial nomenclature. The existence and tolerance of this wine is thus the rankest hypocrisy. (2/09)

Tohu are you? Tohu? Tohu?

Tohu 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – A textbook historical summary Marlborough sauvignon, combining the brash green of the old and the sweeter tropicality of the new. Not particularly exciting, to be sure, but highly representative. (2/09)

Go south young pinot

Montana “Brancott” 2007 Pinot Noir (South Island) – A wretched nose of rotting garbage and moldering stew makes it very, very hard to put this wine in my mouth. But I persevere. And the palate isn’t all that bad. A little strawberry, some red cherry, perhaps a bit of raspberry, light and relatively friendly, though edging towards unwelcome lozenge flavors. But ugh, that stench. (2/09)

Felluga caviar

Marco Felluga 2006 Collio Ribolla Gialla (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – As ribolla goes, this is a medium-light version…which is to say, it would be somewhat leaden were it a different grape. There’s a decent amount of crispness, but the wine will never be light on its feet. Wax, candleflame, preserved lemon, green leaves, and the barest hint of a brown, gravelly minerality. But it’s also fairly short, and somewhat insubstantial. (2/09)


Martini 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – Artificial blackberry syrup, in taste and texture. The damage done to this name by the new owners is unforgivable. (2/09)

Sweatin' to the Rainoldis

Rainoldi 2002 Valtellina “Superiore” Sassella “Riserva” (Lombardy) – Buttered toast with a slight char. Red fruit that’s been sitting in the sun too long, with a nice bite of amaro and barely-restrained aggression, but why does it taste like nasty old oak diluted with brackish water? Barely drinkable. (2/09)

J.S. Trimbach

Trimbach 2005 Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – Apricot skin around a mostly transparent sphere of some light-minded metal. Good structure. Light, friendly, simple. (2/09)

Lohr of the ancients

[vineyard]J. Lohr 2007 “Wildflower” Valdiguié (Monterey) – Lightly sweet without much else to show for it. Chewy, almost gritty berries, with a nice tartness that carries through and a good bit of grip. Its insubstantiality is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it hasn’t been messed with…but only somewhat. (2/09)

Say it ain't so, Joe

Mas Saint Joseph 2006 Costières de Nîmes Rosé (Rhône) – Baked orange and…is that caramel? Tastes heat-damaged. (2/09)

Pouilly your resources

Jadot 2006 Pouilly-Fuissé (Mâcon) – Faceted chardonnay, clean and simple, with not much in the way of it. And not much else to it, either. This isn’t really a complaint – it’s a perfectly decent quaff – but I do wish it was a little less boring. (2/09)

23 February 2009

Rebula alliance

Blažič 2006 Rebula (Goriška Brda) – Useless at first sniff, but with air grows fuller and waxier, showing a good measure of dry honey. However, oak masks whatever “fruit” this wine possesses, and the underlying grapes aren’t ripe enough to support this level of wood layering (though I don’t know that I’d like the result of the alternative much more). I’d like this particular wine a lot more without the wood, I’d wager. (10/07)

Bjana boat

Bjana 2002 Brut (Goriška Brda) – An intriguing blend of rebula (a/k/a ribolla gialla) and chardonnay. Alas that the wine does not live up to the intrigue (and in any case, I’d need some convincing that rebula is a good grape for sparkling wine production). Very lightly sweet with somewhat obvious fruit. Fizzy, pleasant, big, and unrefined. Not even really a brawler…more of an oaf. But a friendly one. (10/07)

St. Thomas

Santomas 2002 Refošk “Antonius” (Sergaše) – The grape, in case it isn’t obvious, is known as refosco back in Italy. Buttery, and a touch stewed as well. Rough red fruit (cherry, strawberry) and some hewn-then-charred wood, though the wine’s overall demeanor is not particularly wood-dominated or wood-influenced. Easy drinking, for sure, but it lacks polish and, more importantly, the full realization of its potential. (10/07)

16 February 2009


Neely 2005 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Picnic Block (Santa Cruz Mountains) – 777 clones on 5C rootstock in “the poorest soil on the property.” Dark blackberry, blueberry (both with seeds intact), and broodberry. No, that’s not a word, but it applies here. Lush indeed, but very well-balanced, and frankly gorgeous. Is that a little tail of licorice? Long, vivid, and intense. Impressive. (9/08)

The other Santa Cruz Ridge

Neely 2006 Chardonnay Spring Ridge “Holly’s Cuvée” (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Very restrained. Apple and apricot, but not just the fruit…skins and other plant-parts as well. There’s good acidity and a lot of minerality. Medium-bodied, steady-state, pure, and fabulously balanced, but this needs more time to develop into what it’s becoming. (9/08)

Where's the ivy?

Neely 2005 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge “Holly’s Cuvée” (Santa Cruz Mountains) – A blend of clones 115 and 777. Intense cherry…really more like an explosion thereof…with just a hint of tar. Vivid. Beautiful texture and huge, deep-black minerality. Starts bright and blinding, then turns structured in the middle, and finishes with supple gentility. (9/08)


Foxglove 2007 Zinfandel (Paso Robles) – 15% petite sirah, 14.6% alcohol. Big boysenberry fruit, with a nicely bitter espresso edge. A little short aromatically, but eminently drinkable. (9/08)

Le bloc pique-nique

Neely 2007 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Picnic Block (barrel sample) (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Anise. Red fruit with black skins, or so it seems; definitely not the other way around. Beautiful acidity, long, silky, and supple. A fine particulate texture pairs with flawless structure. (9/08)

...and now you don't

Varner 2008 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Hidden Block (barrel sample) (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Actually, not even really a wine, as it was pressed just yesterday. Crisp apple with a touch of milk-soaked strawberry. Light. (9/08)

Big Block

Varner 2007 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Home Block (barrel sample) (Santa Cruz Mountains) – From a three year old François Frères barrel, still the 115 clone. Balanced fruit with light tannin. A mix of black and red cherry, strawberry, and perhaps some more exotic berries that I can’t quite put a name to. Very long. Grey soil. A persistent bit of wood influence lingers late on the finish, but it’s very minor in comparison to the new-wood sample of this cuvée. (9/08)

Home tries

Varner 2007 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Home Block (barrel sample) (Santa Cruz Mountains) – From a new François Frères barrel, 115 clone. Still wood-marked. Elegant. Spicy cherry (again, the wood influence). Seems lighter-styled. (9/08)

Spring, sprung

Varner 2007 Chardonnay Spring Ridge Home Block (barrel sample) (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Still thick and lush. Peach, apple, lees. Opaque. (9/08)

11 February 2009

Fromm here to there

[vineyard]Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Black roses, dark cherries, and morels still full of earth; this was a brooding wine in the first flush of its youth, and it’s a brooding wine now. There’s really quite a striking amount of soil here. While the tannic portion of the structure has softened and integrated with the fruit to an extent, it’s still quite present. But as the wine aerates and the more vivid fruit aromatics start to fade, the earth starts to seem infused with lead. And it is a heavy wine…there’s no mistaking that. I don’t know what to think about this wine’s future; based on the structure and the amount of youthful fruit it had at release, it should be nowhere near maturity. But based on this performance, some suspicion seems warranted. It’s a very compelling wine, albeit decidedly far to one end of the pinot noir spectrum, but I do wonder if the vaunted/feared Fromm structure might have been too much for this particular wine. (1/09)

Oh say can you Cie?

Chaussard (Briseau) “Nana, Vins et Cie” 2006 Coteaux du Loir “You Are So Beautiful” (Loire) – A chameleon. For a while, it’s volatile and prickly, all tinny treble tones. Then it deepens, reaching its most appealing stage with exciting aromas of slightly underripe reddish-green berries gently crushed directly under one’s nose; the seemingly brittle exterior is supported by a good deal of pressure within. It broadens further with even more air, but as it does the fruit gains a vinyl sheen dusted with a fairly significant abrasion of fireplace ash, turns to darker berries, then sort of gives up on itself. I’ll say this: you won’t be bored. (1/09)

Crimson & Cluver

[label]Paul Cluver 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Elgin) – The varietal signature is correct, with a fine mix of dark fruit and the herbed tobacco notes so essential to cabernet’s individual character (despite what much modern winemaking would suggest), and winemaking residue is moderate for a New World wine – coffee dust, some present but unobtrusive oak – but the overall package is sludgy. In some fashion, this was pushed beyond where it was willing or able to go, and the result is tiring. (1/09)

Plan B

Costières & Soleil “Sélectionné par Laurence Féraud” 2005 “Plan Pégau” (Rhône) – Decrepit when first opened. It never really gets much better. Could be a bad bottle, but there’s just something about its malaise that makes me doubt it. Spirty-porty in a stale blueberry sort of way, with gravelly tannin and pointless density. Finishes with indifference. I’m no Pégau-hater, but this is a very poor performance for this wine. (1/09)

A plea for marsanne-ity

[label]Tahbilk 2006 Marsanne (Victoria) – Friendly, appealing yellow fruit. Simple and clean, with fair acidity and not much in the way of additional interest, but definitely quaffable. (1/09)

Hartley worth mentioning

Hartley-Ostini “Hitching Post” 2006 Pinot Noir “Cork Dancer 6.1” (Santa Barbara County) – Very difficult when first opened, with a whiff of must. This eventually blows away, but the wine left in its wake is ungenerous to the extreme. Roughshod berries, trampled and faded, with the aroma of an old pickup truck are about all there is, though the wine does show hints of blossoming an hour or so down the road. I’d suspect a very low-level cork taint, but the wine’s performance – improving over the course of a dinner – doesn’t quite match that suspicion. (1/09)

05 February 2009

London arenas

[label]Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2003 “RO2X” (Sierra Foothills) – An interesting tribute to the partially-oxidized style of wine one can find all over Europe, but rarely (except by accident) here. The grape is roussanne, and its Californian interpretation is most definitely on display here, as despite relatively restrained rancio there’s a great deal of lush golden fruit of an intensity not usually found in its old world models. This upsets the balance somewhat, but that could just as easily be a matter of expectations. I find this wine most enjoyable, and wholeheartedly support further experiments in this direction. Plus, anyone who loves a good pun as much as me has to like the name. (1/09)

The powerlessness of 3

Ridge 2007 “Three Valleys” (Sonoma County) – 76% zinfandel, 8% petite sirah, 7% syrah, 6% grenache, 3% carignane. 14.3% alcohol. Monotone berries, ranging from deep red to deeper black, dusted with a bit of black pepper but otherwise fairly anonymous. A heavy wine…not hot, but ponderous and lifeless. Boring. (1/09)

Perrusset, Perrussat, mama-coo-sa

Perrusset 2002 Mâcon-Villages (Mâcon) – Rich with complexity. Mushrooms and beige earth, old mirabelle plums, and a bright, dust-infused texture. It crescendos quickly, then fades almost as quickly, which is less a knock than a realistic response to the potential of the terroir. This is probably not fully mature, but it’s drinking beautifully right now. (1/09)

Don't squeeze the Charvin

[vine]Charvin 2006 Vin de Pays Principauté d’Orange “à côté” (Rhône) – If the Charvin Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a concerto, and the Côtes-du-Rhône is the orchestra without the soloist, this is the first scribbling of the composer on an otherwise blank page. Suggestions of Rhône-osity come in the form of dark, earthy undertones, a bit of leather and smoke, a hint of herb…but none of these ideas are developed or fleshed out. In other words, the wine lives up to its position in the hierarchy. It’s quite drinkable and seems admirably unspoofy, but this is a wine for enjoyable quaffing en pichet in an Avignon bistro, not for shipping across the ocean to acquire a series of markups and a marketing budget. Still, if you have to drink something, you could do a lot worse. A lot worse. (1/09)


Palmer 2006 Pinot Blanc (North Fork) – Aromatically, this is quite enticing, showing ripe pear and vaguely citrusy notes with a little bit of spice and greengage plum. Unfortunately, the palate’s dominated by an off-putting synthetic quality. While there’s structural balance, it’s impossible to get past the plastic. A shame, because things were promising there for a while. (1/09)


[vineyard]Neil Ellis 2007 “Sincerely” Sauvignon Blanc (Western Cape) – Slashing, biting, and razoring as sauvignon is occasionally wont to do, but while it edges right up to the precipice of underripeness, it never quite completes that dive, and the result – while tongue-numbingly sharp – is a sort of cheap thrill ride for the palate. Green, most assuredly, but in a good way…though it’s no cocktail sipper, and will require sharply acidic food to tame its wilder impulses. (1/09)


Ken Forrester 2008 “Petit” Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – While the whitish-yellow fruit here is fairly soft, it’s a good deal heftier and more present than base-level chenins usually are; this would appear to be a signature of Stellenbosch chenin, which picks up weight that it rarely attains elsewhere except in extreme late-harvest conditions. It’s not overweighted, though, and at a good price it’s a quite fair bargain. It doesn’t endure careful attention, but it’s not intended to. (1/09)

When it was 2006, it was a zinfandel year

Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Upon first opening, a huge rush of bubbles and massive volatility seems to indicate an in-bottle refermentation. I put it aside and open something else. Two days later, it’s still a little prickly. A full week later, at room temperature – something I would not generally recommend – it has come into full form, shedding some of the wood along with the volatiles and knitting itself into a far more cohesive and more “winy” wine, full of dark, wild berries and that pine bark-edged touch of pruniness, twisted and sauvage, that so often seems to mark the region. I’m not sure what was going on at first opening, though. (1/09)


[vineyard]Verdi 2006 Oltrepò Pavese Riesling Renano “Vigna Costa” (Lombardy) – Riesling turned far enough up on the volume dial that there’s feedback; the weight is similar to a very ripe Wachau, though the aromatics veer off in a different direction. Chalk dust on the wind, dried grapefruit zest, and glacial water. Finishes balanced but heavy. Quite enticing, but I admit I wasn’t quite prepared for the heft. (1/09)

Go Ouest, young man

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2005 Syrah “Les Côtes de l’Ouest” (California) – Big and pleasantly blundering. The roasted coffee overlay isn’t too dominant, and the stew of sun-baked red fruit underneath is quite pleasant. It’s neither long nor particularly complex, but then that’s not really the point. (1/09)


[vineyard]Delta Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Another bargain pinot noir from one of the few countries that seems to be able to do it well. Here, however, the blood orange and beet characteristics that seem so prevalent across the range of New Zealand’s pinot noir terroirs are left a little exposed by a not-quite-sufficient quantity of berries. In the presence of better overall fruit, these characteristics add a dollop of interesting complexity to such wines. Still, this isn’t bad, and will do quite well in a pinch. Finishes with a touch of bitterness. (1/09)

Slim Johann

Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – A little past its best, with the almost-always-present (save 1997 and 2000) bite of the wine’s structure starting to take precedence over the strappy, lychee and peach fruit. (1/09)

The 47 Society

Marietta “Old Vine Red Lot Number 47” (California) – It’s hard to say if this perennial blend lives up to its ancestors’ reputation (the oldest I’ve tasted was, if I remember correctly, the 18, though not in its youth), because it seems difficult to see the appeal of holding it long enough to find out. Big but not overblown California berry fruit, with a bit of softening in the cellar and a good measure of approachability. And that’s really all there is to say about it. (1/09)


Aubert “Chateau Hoyt” 2005 Côtes de Castillon “Cuvée Prestige” (Bordeaux) – Corked. (1/09)