28 May 2009

Radikon job

[grapes]Radikon 2002 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – While it’s never entirely clear what sort of wine one is going to get when one removes the tiny, Virginia Slims-sized cork from a bottle of Radikon, anticipation of the unexpected more than makes up for the lack of predictability. That said, any expectations one might have for this bottle are pretty much detonated at first sniff. And no, I do not mean that negatively. This wine is as explosive as the beverage can get…not in the goopy, thermonuclear fruit device fashion so popular among certain subsets, but in its mushrooming billows of complexity and evolving structure. Deep bronze in color and in sheathing, then wrestling free of its jacketing with lava flows of slow-baked stone fruit (leaning towards the tropical…let’s say papaya, more for the fun of naming an actual fruit than from any commitment to organoleptic accuracy), then pulsing in gravitic undulations of aromatic expansion and structural contraction. To a certain extent, most wines made in this fashion are “red wines,” but this is redder than most, and the deep, autumnal aromas that dance around the perimeter lavishly Burgundian. Honestly, this is breathtaking, a sure-fire cure for vinous ennui, and sufficient reason all by itself to make wine a part of one’s life. (4/09)

The Rust is yet to cum

Monastero Suore Cistercensi S.O. Trappiste 2007 “Coenobium Rusticum” (Lazio) – Placed on the “orange wine” spectrum, this is the fresh, lively fruit bomb with the heart of a proto-star. The metals on the surface are polished and nearly 100% reflective, the fruit within is intense and leans on crispness and an almost pineapple-like vivacity, and the wine’s acidity is far more prominent – though I can’t necessarily say it’s quantifiably greater – than is typical for wines of this ilk. Along ilk-ish lines, then, this wine laughs while others ponder, sings while others hum, and dances while others prepare for bed. It’s a wine with a sense of humor – now look at the name of the owner of the vines, and figure that one out – and while it’s more complex and contemplative than the vast majority of the world’s wines, within its cohort and context it is the joyful, playful fountain of youth. It gives you hugs, though it whispers philosophy in your ear while it does so. How can one not love this wine? (4/09)


[label]Storrs 1999 Zinfandel Rusty Ridge (Santa Clara County) – Singing. Full-throated but domesticated berries – a mélange – with layers of toast and old pepper, antique wooden furniture, and the lovely blended aromas of sprightly green trees sprouting amidst the charred husks of a burned-out old-growth forest. While the fruit’s not fully developed and “mature,” the wine is, and despite the lack of a hurry to uncork it, I can’t imagine it being much better than it is right now. It’s not wood-free, but it’s really quite lovely. (4/09)

Mad Larose

Cordier “Château Gruaud Larose” 1988 Saint-Julien (Bordeaux) – A touch surly at uncorking, its fist clenched around an angry little core of hard fruit. Over the course of about an hour (undecanted), it unfolds to somewhere a bit shy of full expression, uncovering layers of tobacco, fresh oak ash, fired rosemary, the darkest cassis powder, and other assorted blackish aromas, along with the expected low-toned funk. At the peak of its evolution, it’s really quite attractive, though I would by no means call it an entirely complete or balanced wine (the tannin’s too prominent, the fruit’s a little charred, and the complexities are more at odds than harmonic). And then, the fist re-clenches and the wine turns to charcoal. While I find this a most enjoyable wine when caught at the right moment, I would be very wary of its future; it most certainly has a long one, but it will likely be filled with unresolved bitterness. (4/09)

Clean Jean

[vineyard]Miquel “Domaine de Barroubio” 2004 Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois (Languedoc) – There are zillions of sweet muscats that taste more or less the same, and the intersection of those descriptions (freshly-crushed flowers, exotic perfumes, fresh oranges, highly approachable sweetness) is less interesting than the rest. Here, it’s a transparent, quartzy minerality and a good deal of lightly-herbed sea salt; both are decidedly background material to the usual muscattishness, but they’re there, and they make all the difference. As for this particular bottling, it’s starting to bronze a bit – both color and flavor – which tames its exuberance but replaces it with a certain maturity of character. Very nice. (4/09)

That's a lato sweet wine

[bottle]Maculan 2003 Breganze Torcolato (Veneto) – 375 ml. Very, very sweet peach and ambered pear, a little metal, a lot of baking spice, and the finishing impression of ultra-filtered maple syrup (that is, clearer than grade A light amber). Perhaps not as crisp as one would want, but still very appealing. (4/09)

Maculan 2003 Breganze Torcolato (Veneto) – 375 ml. See above, re: organoleptics. The wine’s a bit fat, or perhaps blowsy, which I suppose is a vintage artifact, and thus it lacks the nerve that, for me, has always set it slightly apart from and above the typical flaws of Sauternes-style wines (most specifically, Sauternes itself). This is not a wine to age...not that Maculan Torcolato benefits all that much from more than a few years’ aging in even the best vintages. (4/09)

Maculan 2003 Breganze Torcolato (Veneto) – 375 ml. Better than the previous two. The aromas are identical, but the structure is ever so slightly firmer, which really helps the wine’s form. Still, it will never be a great Torcolato. It will have to settle for being very good. (4/09)


Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Forward fruit with some stick and tack, its berries redder and a little more syruped than might be expected (the wine isn’t heavy, though it is big), its structure mostly hand-waved, its finish a diminuendo of simplicity. It’s zin. It’s very, very, very cleanly-made. It’s good, but read between the lines. Or, read the lines themselves. Either’s good. (4/09)


[winemaker]Easton 2002 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) – Deeply infused with the aromas of the pine forest, both the cold, airy soil and the resinous overgrowth. The fruit, dark as always, has contracted a bit, losing none of its intensity but a measurable quantity of its breadth and roundness. And there’s pepper, too…black, almost Tellicherry-esque pepper. This is a wine with something to say, and the story it’s telling is about where it’s from. (4/09)

Easton 2002 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) – More subdued than the previous bottle, with a leathery and very nearly buttery pressure on its fruit that never quite relents. It’s good, but it doesn’t speak as clearly as its predecessor. I set it aside for a day, just to see if there’s low-level TCA, but if anything it expands on day two, yet still without delivering the full expression of its fruit. (4/09)

27 May 2009


Txomin Etxaniz 2007 Getariako Txakolina “Getaria” (Northwest Spain) – Somewhere between perlant and pétillant, and yanking the promise of electric greenness so far to the left that the wine turns to a blinding shade of white…slashing, shocking, but never alighting. I dig it. There’s more than can be done with this grape, and I’d call this txakolina 1.5 (that is, not quite the 2.0 of Ameztoi), but even this much is awfully appealing with the right chill and the right food (saline, with a shell or carapace, and not otherwise doused with flavorants). (4/09)


[bottle]Roederer Estate Brut (Anderson Valley) – This is the most reliably attractive Champagne-style sparkling wine from the U.S., until one is willing to spend a good deal more, and has been for so long it’s almost boring to repeat the recommendation. But why not? Good work should be rewarded. No, it’s not an exciting wine, but it delivers the classic blended-Champagne tastes amped up to about 15, as one would except from California (even from a cool-ish appellation), yet never heavy or ponderous. No, it won’t make you turn away from Champagne if price is no object. And if it is? The appeal starts to mount. (4/09)

You taste like strawberries

Brezza “Tenuta Migliavacca” 2005 Freisa (Piedmont) – I love the exuberant fizz sometimes found in freisa, but this is a bit much for the unwary, and of the four people it’s served to, two reject it out-of-hand. That caveat aside, I still love it, though the XXXL froth comes with its burden of volatile acidity, which somewhat masks the neon strawberry zing. In no universe could this be called a serious wine. But why would you want to? (4/09)

Michelin fail

[vineyard]Studert-Prüm 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese ** 11 04 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – 375 ml. Makrut lime leaf and iron dust, extremely sweet, and not acidic enough. In a vacuum, that wouldn’t be so bad, but knowing what it is kinda detracts from the impression; in that absence, it tastes a lot like a vendange tardive Alsatian riesling from a middle-tier producer in a middling year. Knowing the vintage mitigates the disappointment a bit, but this is still not a wine one will want to have bought in quantity. The finish is shortish, as well. Still, there’s hardly anything wrong with it, it does speak (to an extent) of its place and its grape, and one could drink a lot worse. (4/09)

Wine on the wing

[vineyard]Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2007 Riesling (Waipara Valley) – Bright apple-lime fruit, lightly sweet, with mirror-reflective silver-foil minerality and the perfect amount of acidity. Surprisingly long for a wine that attempts to give of itself so early, yet experience suggests that this portends complexities to come. A very fine example of everything it is: the grape, the place, and the producer. (4/09)

Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2007 Riesling (Waipara Valley) – Exactly…exactly…the same as the previous bottle. This is why we like screwcaps. (4/09)

Kumeu are you?

[grapes]Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Sulfurous and a little clumsy. Very, very sulfurous, in fact. Difficult to assess. 24 hours later, things haven’t changed much. (4/09)

Kumeu River 2005 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Take two. Sulfurous, but less difficult than the previous bottle. Still, it doesn’t add up to much. This exact wine was very enticing six months ago, so it has obviously entered some form of hibernation. Optimists (and those who’ve had well-aged Kumeu River chardonnays; I have, and they’ve been wonderful) will assume it’s a normal closed period. Pessimists will eye the screwcap with reductive suspicion. I don’t know which is the correct assessment, but I do know the wine’s in no mood for a party at the moment. (4/09)


[bottle]Westport Rivers 2003 “Westport” Brut (Southeastern New England) – Significantly riper-tasting than usual, which is both good and bad. It’s good because this particular bottling is designed to be the fresh, friendly one, and that much crisp, apple-dominated fruit is welcome. Bad because it masks the sophistication the wine can sometimes show. Good because this isn’t, due to the mesoclimate, a wine that performs at a predictable level of quality every year. And bad because…well, I don’t have anything else. It’s a good wine, but as ever a little too much of the appeal comes from its surprising source. All that said, I do enjoy it, and an happy to serve it to others. (4/09)

Lini on me

Lini “Labrusca” Lambrusco Rosso (Emilia-Romagna) – There is, of course, plenty of deeply unserious Lambrusco. And then there are the serious, almost flagellant kind that seem to be a counter-reaction to the first. One is a travesty, the other is unnecessary. This bottling seems to live somewhere in the middle, with a fair amount of structure to its bursting, bubbly red fruit, and only the slightest touch of residual sugar. It’s very good, but not (for my palate) quite as groundbreaking as the Bianco. Still, one could hardly do all that much better. (4/09)

Almansa genius

[vineyard]Almanseñas “La Huella de Adaras” 2005 Almansa (Levant) – Purple fruit, focused and cylindrical, into which hints and allegations of black dirt cannot penetrate far. It’s young, yet it already seems to be all the way to wherever it’s getting. Juicy and gluggarrific. (4/09)


Balland “Les Beaux Jours” 2007 Coteaux du Giennois (Loire) – Dried fruit (the candy, I mean, but not sweet in quite that way…though there’s a certain fruit-sweetness to the wine, and maybe even a micro-touch of residual sugar) and dusty, light-washed minerality. Enjoyable. (4/09)

Clan of the bitter beer

[bottle]Orkney Brewery “Dark Island” Dark Ale (Scotland) – Bitter. And yes, dark. Very complicated, by which I mean something slightly different than “complex.” Peaty, smoky, maybe even angry. Good? As one can see, I’m uncertain. (4/09)

Orkney Brewery “Red MacGregor” Ruby Ale (Scotland) – Bitter. And yes, red, but a dark red. Even more complicated than the dark ale, with more of a dried fruit character amidst all the swirling storm clouds. There’s sand here, I think. Good? Yes, probably, but not for everyone. (4/09)

Fraфch hopping

Williams Rose “Fraфch” Heather Ale (Scotland) – Tastes much as described: strong ale with the taste of the brushlands. Interesting, though I don’t know that I’d want to drink a whole lot of it. (4/09)

Face the Fache

Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon (Ain) – There are only so many ways to say “soda pop for adults,” but it’s still the best characterization. More so here, perhaps, because the wine’s sweetness and fruit are slightly more candied than normal. It’s still a more vibrant and present wine than the more mineral-driven Bottex, and for my tastes just a wee bit better, but the gap is smaller in this release that it sometimes has been. (4/09)

Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon (Ain) – Second note, same as the first. (4/09)

Green & growing

[cellar]Agriverde “Riseis di Recastro” 2005 Terre di Chieti Pecorino (Abruzzi) – Surprising depth of flavor, rather than just texture (the problem I’ve had with other pecorinos), mostly in the almond and/or dry stone fruit range, but definitely preferring the former. Hums along with significant volume. Very tasty. (4/09)

Call a Cabes

Gardiès “Mas Les Cabes” 2007 Côtes du Roussillon (Roussillon) – Sour, stewed, and clearly the victim of some sort of damage. (4/09)

Jugie & jury

Alliance Minervois “Jacques de la Jugie” 2006 Minervois La Livinière “Cella Vinaria” (Languedoc) – Were there a Minervois Nouveau (and for all I know, maybe there is), I suspect it would taste a little like this: the dark, soil-infused leather of Minervois in a surprisingly light, crisp, approachable way. I find this a little shocking in a Livinière-labeled bottling – I expect extra layers of density and difficulty at this age – but it’s hard to deny the wine’s appeal. (4/09)

Marcobrunn polo

[estate]Schloss Schönborn 2005 Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Kabinett 019 06 (Rheingau) – Extremely sweet, with wet acidity; this could be an auslese by its character, though it wouldn’t be a very good one, because it lacks much aside from the basic fact of its structure and a swoosh of tropicality. The problem is that it’s not a very good kabinett either; even by modern standards, it’s hellishly large. Only by ignoring classifications can the wine’s actual appeal be assessed…and there, it’s tasty enough. Maybe age will help, but I suspect not all that much of it. (4/09)

Far from Faller

JM Raffault 2006 Chinon Clos des Capucins (Loire) – The parts are mostly there…slightly bitter cherries, a certain rusticity, herbs, earth, some cold mushrooms…but they never really coalesce into anything particularly interesting. The rusty, brackish fruit just sort of sits there, wan and underdeveloped. Maybe time will help. But probably not. Kudos, however, for the ridiculously heavy and over-designed bottle, which is going to increase the bicep strength of retailers everywhere, should they wish to stock this wine. (4/09)

Mr. Drink!

Boisson “Domaine du Père Caboche” 2007 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse (Rhône) – Appealing red-faced fruit (cherries and plums) with some vague gestures in the direction of matters darker, earthier, or more herbal. But it’s mostly about the fruit. Fun. (4/09)

Beer czar

Otter Creek “Imperial Series” Russian Imperial Stout (Vermont) – Sweet and sticky. Burnt sugar, espresso bean oils, molasses, thick malt, etc. (4/09)

Schoen new heitz

[vineyard]Schoenheitz 2004 Riesling Herrenreben (Alsace) – Very intense, somewhere between molten steel and lava, with vibrant metal-jacketed apple and a powerful palate impact. May be a bit too much for some, but it’s dry and vibrant, and appears to have the requisite stuffing and length to age. (4/09)

Chiroubles in mind

Pacalet 2005 Chiroubles (Beaujolais) – Electrified gamay. Crisp light purple fruit, zippy and zingy, with a strong charge as the dominant textural element. This is a wine that refuses to sit still. Really, really good. (4/09)

Shake your Gabutti

Cappellano 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba Gabutti (Piedmont) – Corked. (4/09)

Simonsig says

Simonsig 2005 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Ancient and madeirized, likely “thanks” to its closure. (4/09)

Librandi old-fashioned

[bottle]Librandi 2007 Cirò Bianco (Calabria) – Rocky outcroppings of golden stone and a rich complexity of sun-baked fruit. Intense, perhaps even just the slightest bit heavy, but quite appealing nonetheless. (4/09)

That's Sogrape

[bottle]Sogrape “Vinha do Monte” 2006 Alentejano (Portugal) – Dark, earth-clad berries with a fair amount of internal darkness. The structure, while still present, is already showing the initial signs of erosion. But the wine’s in a very good place at the moment, with or without food. (4/09)

Heretics of Doon

Bonny Doon “Ca’ del Solo” 2008 Muscat (Monterey County) – Friendly and approachable, more in the fashion of an Alsatian or northeastern Italian muscat than something sweeter, with balanced perfume and a pretty finish. (4/09)

Chapterhouse Doon

Bonny Doon “Ca’ del Solo” 2008 Albariño (Monterey County) – Very light, yet a little sticky as well. Yellow-skinned fruit and light floral notes, not so much almond, and a crisp-creamy finish. More or less boring. (4/09)

16 May 2009


Veritas 1997 Shiraz Hanisch (Barossa Valley) – Black raspberry and black cherry, both coated with bitter chocolate. Then, there’s crème de cassis, licorice liqueur, bubblegum, and a significant spike of acetone. Texturally, the wine’s sticky to the point of being gummy, an absolute harlot with its fruit, and rather massive. All that said, there’s a certain insane balance to the wine, and those for whom “more” has no upper bound will probably love the geysering sluttishness of it. But it’s definitely not my thing. (3/05)

Cullen the herd

Cullen 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (Margaret River) – Dense and a little roasted, with razor-like tannin and a certain alcoholic weight (though there’s only a bit of heat). Coconut, blackberry, and…not much else; the center is hollow, there’s volatile acidity hanging about (and sure to get stronger), and the wine finishes with both feet and a large portion of its torso in the grave, though it’s still swinging its fists as it descends. A bit brutal to drink, honestly, and it appears to have suffered the fate so often predicted for modern-style wines (though what it was actually like young, I have no idea). Some at the table opine that it’s actually having a mid-life crisis, and while I concede their greater experience with the wine, I don’t see it based on what’s on display. (3/05)

Hail 5

Mount Mary 1997 “Quintet” (Yarra Valley) – Teeming-with-life earth, black cherry, cedar, and raw tobacco with a black pepper edge. More black fruit follows in dark waves, but then the wine transforms itself, turning crisper (specifically, more malic) along the way, until tannin clamps down hard on the finish. Starts brilliantly, finishes less so…perhaps just a stage. Or perhaps not. (3/05)


Rockford 1993 Shiraz (Barossa Valley) – The spiced vanilla of American oak (at least, I assume) with milk chocolate liqueur, blackberry, blueberry, and black pepper. Juicy, chewy, and longish, but a bit hot. Fatuous. Yet, somehow, I don’t mind it. I wouldn’t want to drink it in quantity, though. (3/05)

Ain't it?

James Irvine 1994 “Grand” Merlot (Eden Valley) – Huge, structured, full-bodied, and yet balanced in a very New World, thermonuclear fruit device fashion. Blackberry, blueberry, and plums abound, but there’s also an appealing graphite texture and pretty fair acidity. The wine is just massive, which makes the fairly abrupt fade on the finish a little disappointing, if not entirely surprising. In its style, this is quite impressive. (3/05)

In the beginning

Castagna 2001 “Genesis” Syrah (Beechworth) – Fetid and sweaty Worcestershire soda, blended with herbs and earth. Long, spicy, and black-peppery, with layers of drying tannin. Weird enough that I can’t decide whether or not I like it…except, of course, for the fact that I appreciate its very weirdness. (3/05)

Hope, eternal

Ridge 1987 Zinfandel Lytton Springs (Sonoma County) – 13.4% alcohol. Does that even count as wine in California anymore? Sweaty, dark, and dusty. Minted plum with a hint of smoke. Lightly-tarred tannin. Very slightly volatile. Structured, long, and still quite intense. This is in the prime of its maturity, and absolutely delicious. (3/05)

Old, faithful

Ridge 1987 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – All of 13.7% alcohol. It hardly seems possible. Mixed pepper dusts fall upon sweet strawberries and light plumminess. There’s an earthy funk to it as well, plus a slight edge of drying apple-walnut bitterness on the finish; this is a wine that’s just past maturity and is starting to show signs of minor erosion, despite its still-considerable appeal. It’s often said that zinfandel ages into something akin to claret. Not so in this case; the antecedent I’d choose is Burgundy, or perhaps a light-minded Oregon pinot noir. A lovely old wine fading into its sunset, but still vibrant with deep, fruit-toned colors (3/05).

Jean-Luc Picasses

Olga Raffault 1995 Chinon Les Picasses (Loire) – Peaty earth and chalk dust with a light herbaceousness plus a dense (but not powerful) core of black cherry. Great acidity. Long and complex. While this is showing signs of its eventual maturity, it’s definitely not there yet. (3/05)

Who wants to be?

Charles Heidsieck 1990 Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs “Blanc des Millénaires” (Champagne) – Reggiano rinds, stale lemon, green olive, and slightly sweaty socks. As bad as the previous sounds, I actually kind of like the result. Later, a little zing of black cherry skin appears; unusually so, considering that this is a chardonnay-based sparkler. Very good, but I wouldn’t hold it much longer. (3/05)

Two grins

Peregrine 2003 Riesling (Central Otago) – Performing even better than at the winery. Dried apricot, deep black minerality, tarragon, and light residual sugar. Medium-bodied with preliminary bursts of complexity, terrific balance, and a long, drying finish. Very, very promising. (3/05)

Non-petty thief

Huet 1999 Vouvray Brut (Loire) – Gentle. Light lime and quinine powdered with chalk and spiced aspirin. This is like smelling Loire-dust. Very long, with a fine crescendo. Lovely. (3/05)


Loimer 1997 Langenloiser Spiegel Grüner Veltliner “Alte Reben” (Kamptal) – Ripe and fairly mature, with celery and sweet apricot. Is there botrytis in this wine? Cream-textured and rich, though perhaps lacking some length. Tasty. (3/05)

Not Steve Croft

Stonecroft 2000 Gewürztraminer (Hawke’s Bay) – Dead cheese (not just rotten, but an actual corpse), celery, and stinky armpit. Blessedly short. A truly awful wine. (3/05)

Cross the footwear

Sandalford “Estate Reserve” 2003 Verdelho (Margaret River) – Fruit buds and crushed flower pollen with an anise-like herbality (fennel fronds, perhaps). Good acidity. There’s a nice, light, fresh quality to this wine, though it doesn’t lack flavor. (3/05)

The cat in the vat

Tyrell’s 1992 Semillon “Vat 1” (Hunter Valley) – Lemon, apple, creamy tangerine. There’s a sweetish aspect, and some crystallization on the finish. Beeswax, as well? A little goofy, but decent enough. Perhaps it’s just not old enough? Too old? I can never tell with these wines (3/05)

With juice

Cave des Vignerons de Saumur 2003 Cabernet d’Anjou “Réserve des Vignerons” (Loire) – Candied strawberry and red cherry. Juicy, light, and balanced. Pleasant, but not really more than that. (3/05)

12 May 2009

Here's to my sweet tokaj

Radikon 2005 Venezia Giulia “Jakot” (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Fresh and light. Makrut lime poured over rocks. Simpler than the other wines, with a straightforward flavor. Already seems fairly complete. Long. (10/07)

Radikon 2006 Venezia Giulia “Jakot” (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Pine, fresh bread, and papaya. Well-balanced and long. Perhaps a hint of reduction as well, which seems unlikely for this wine; perhaps I’m misidentifying something. (10/07)

Radikon 2003 Venezia Giulia “Jakot” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Explosively aromatic, though precisely what’s in the shrapnel is difficult to pin down. Dried fruit, perhaps. Lush, fun, and fulsome. (10/07)


Radikon 2004 Venezia Giulia Merlot (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Fig, bubblegum, and some volatile acidity. There’s agreement on this latter point, and so we try again from a different container. (10/07)

Radikon 2004 Venezia Giulia Merlot (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Meatier and fuller than the first sample, with no significant volatile acidity. (10/07)

Radikon 2003 Venezia Giuli Merlot (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Perfumed. Black cherry, blueberry, nut skins. Big tannin, yes (in that, it’s reflective of its year), but there’s a vintage-specific sort of balance to the wine. Long. Very good. (10/07)

Orange pesto

Radikon 2003 Venezia Giuli Pignolo (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Very tannic, with dusty, dark berries. Needs a lot of time, but given the gravitational core of concentration within, it could be a stunner. Or it could fall apart under the weight of its structure. It’s difficult to say at this stage. (10/07)

Radikon 2004 Venezia Giuli Pignolo (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Meat with a hint of char, herbs, and softer tannins than the 2003. Lighter and more angular. Somewhere in between this and the 2003 would seem to be the ideal range for this grape’s inherent qualities, but then again these wines aren’t (to my knowledge) being released, so who knows? (10/07)

Cole Oslavje

Radikon 1997 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje Riserva Ivana” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Smoked, sun-baked minerals (seriously) and mirabelle plum. Youthful and so, so long. Piercing, and yet prettily sweet (not, I think, from residual sugar). Brilliant. (10/07)

Radikon 2002 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Spicy and full-bodied, lush with cream , but with a contrapuntal midpalate bite. Strong and complex. Tastes more vibrant, somehow, than it does in the U.S….not that this result is much of a surprise, given the fidgety vulnerability of its chemistry, which can seem to be (but is not) belied by its brash iconoclasm. (10/07)

Radikon 2005 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje” (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Tannic (big surprise), sauvignon-dominated, and full of fruity tropicality. (10/07)

Radikon 2005 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje” (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Take two, from a different barrel. And, of course, completely different. Very floral, round, and full-bodied, with peaches. Also, dried honey laden with beeswax (which is also a textural impression). Huge, but complete. Rather impressive. (10/07)

Radikon 2006 Venezia Giulia “Oslavje” (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Grapefruit. Big – actually, almost fat – with solidity and length. There’s a significant vinyl element (both aromatic and textural) that I don’t quite understand, though. (10/07)

Gialla de Laurentiis

Radikon 2001 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – A bit shy (do these wines even have a closed period?), with a comparatively silky texture and a softer finish than has been the norm in other vintages. Lovely and balanced, but reticent. (10/07)

Radikon 2007 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Tight and yet as beautifully weird as expected; no reason not to jump in with both Dadaist feet and fight through the cobwebs. Tannin is the initial impression, followed by apricot and cream, then a sweet, brioche-like character. Very long and dense, but identifiable components are mere teases at the moment. The wine’s still hard, though its future character can be glimpsed. (10/07)

Radikon 2006 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Matchstick, chamomile, minerals, and the light bitterness of over-steeped tea leaves. (10/07)

Radikon 2005 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Fruit salad heavy on the pineapple, with tannin and spiky acidity. Citrusy and linear. Needs to settle down. (10/07)

Radikon 2004 Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla (barrel sample) (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Golden. Apples and citrus, with clean tannin. (10/07)

04 May 2009

Iron oxide

[label]Storrs 2005 Zinfandel Rusty Ridge (Santa Clara County) – 15.2%. Plum, heather, lavender, plus the twists and tangles of wild vines. Chewy, with good acidity. Balanced. The finish is supple. Quite good. (9/08)

I don't know. What is B times R?

Storrs 2001 “BXR” (San Francisco Bay) – Plum soup, dark chocolate, and green tannin. There’s good length and palate presence, but the wine’s too thick for its own good, and then there’s that irritating underripe shade to the structure. I have never cared for this wine, in any vintage. (9/08)


Storrs 2006 Chardonnay Christie (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Honeyed peach candy and thick butterscotch, long and huge. A wine of vivid neon. Huge. Let me say that again: HUGE. There are some nods to balance, but this is a stew rather than a broth; those who prefer that sort of texture will love it, others will most definitely not. Stylistic issues aside, it’s a very impressive wine. Personally, I could drink about a thimbleful of it. (9/08)

If the Storrs are all closed

[label]Storrs 2007 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Fig, peach, and ripe, velvet-textured apple. Very structured, with a long finish. There’s a little zing of alcohol and bit of oak, but this is the most balanced chardonnay I’ve yet tasted from Storrs, who often seems to craft much thicker versions of this variety. (9/08)

Honored George

Storrs 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (San Lucas) – Light, yet with a certain intensity of grapey fruit, plus melon. Nice balance. Tasty. (9/08)

Lychee wind

[label]Storrs 2006 Gewürztraminer Viento (Monterey) – Lychee soap, crystalline pear, honeydew melon, and plenty of acidity with just an edge of skin bitterness. Turns more floral as it lingers. Really nice. Balanced, with both tension and length. A return to the gewürztraminers I used to like so much from this producer, after a few weaker efforts. (9/08)

Not Connecticut

Storrs 2006 Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains) – Strawberry, red cherry, and plenty of heat (it’s 15.2% alcohol, which may theoretically be supportable in a much better-endowed pinot, but just doesn’t work here; excess heat has been a problem with many of the Storrs pinot noirs). There’s some crispness that makes an attempt at lightening, but overall the wine’s just too hot to enjoy. (9/08)

Up the Creek

Storrs 2005 Two Creek (Santa Clara County) – Grenache, syrah, and grand noir, 14.4%. Smoke liqueur and red licorice with apple rind and a significant haze of heat. Eh. (9/08)

01 May 2009

Marcoux plotters

Armenier “Domaine de Marcoux” 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Vieilles Vignes” (Rhône) – An explosion, but the shrapnel’s a quilt and it takes place inside the warm snuggles of a down comforter. Dark fruit, lush and supple, is just teetering over towards a meatier stage, and there’s plenty of rich, fertile black earth underneath, with the occasional morel in evidence. However, a stylistic warning: there’s also a soft, pillowy layer of vanilla and dusted chocolate, which soften and modernize the otherwise beautifully-supplied wine into something a little more anonymous than I’d like. It’s a fabulous wine, no doubt, but it would be better without the makeup. (4/09)

Pousse café

[vineyard]Landanger “La Pousse d’Or” 1999 Volnay En Caillerets “1er Cru” (Burgundy) – Way too young for whatever it wants to be. It certainly doesn’t lack muscularity, with a grainy tannin and strong, dark, almost leathery fruit that certainly doesn’t immediately recall Burgundian pinot noir…though later, as acid and brighter notes come into play, some semblance of order is restored. Still, it’s…well, I don’t know. This could go either way, it seems. It’s not what one wants right now, for sure. (4/09)

Steven Seagal

[logo]Kreydenweiss 2006 Riesling Andlau “Au dessus de la loi” (Alsace) – Fleshier than the “basic” Kreydenweiss riesling usually gets, but there are some incipient love handles as well; the wine slides right past perfect poise to a slightly slovenly slouch. It’s a minor issue, though, and there’s still time to regain form. The raw materials of stone and bone carry a little more heft as a result, with something that might charitably be called fruit (apple or pear; it’s unclear) draped from the limbs. A good entry-level riesling, better (or perhaps more accessible) than Kreydenweiss’ usual, but as a result needing a little more wary attention. (4/09)

Are you Cerdon?

Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon (Ain) – After dabblings and dalliances with other similarly-constructed pink sparklers, it’s nice to come home to the best of the bunch. More strawberry and less grey minerality than I remember, perhaps, but the marriage of bursting fruit and delicate sweetness is just…well, it’s better here than elsewhere. I’m not a huge fan of $22/per, which is why I’m only an occasional imbiber these days, but that has nothing to do with the wine’s quality. (4/09)

The Visitors

[label]Victory “V Twelve” Ale (Pennsylvania) – Incredibly dense and heavy, but not out of balance in its powerful, alcoholic style. Almost tropical, almost sweet…but then again, neither of those things. Just a big, boozy, bruiser that tastes like some sort of Québécois pastry, with bubbles. (4/09)


Dei 1991 Rosso di Montepulciano (Tuscany) – Dead, decomposing, and in no danger of reanimation. No, I didn’t expect a different result. (4/09)


Wolaver’s “Ben Gleason’s” White Ale (Vermont) – Bitter for no beneficial reason, more like an orange rind beer than a true white ale. The texture’s right, but the flavors are all wrong. Wolaver’s is usually a very solid label (more solid than the owner Otter Creek), so this result is a little surprising. (4/09)