21 June 2009

Corbières me

[vine]Laboucarié “Domaine de Fontsainte” 2005 Corbières (Languedoc) – The spicy soul of a land, with the integrated depth of a slow-cooked sauce and a slow-rolling tingle of sizzling dark red fruit. Absolutely delicious. (6/09)

Home on the Grange

Luneau-Papin “Domaine Pierre de La Grange” 2004 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes” (Muscadet) – Already showing signs of maturity, its sharpness softening and its seashore minerality having coalesced into pure liquid carapace, but still quite vibrant and persistent. A passionate Muscadet. (6/09)

Earth, wild, and fire

[vineyard]Wild Earth “Blind Trail” 2007 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Such a pleasant, direct wine…sappy fruit (mostly berries), a bit of sweet earth, round-textured but with acidity, and finishing surprisingly strong. Nice. (6/09)

20 June 2009

Roque, Roque, Roque your Boutin

Boutin “Château La Roque” 2004 Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée les vieilles vignes de Mourvèdre” (Languedoc) – Fulsome, brown, and with a strangely appealing sour note that manages to lift all the less earthy notes to greater prominence. Thus are revealed dark blackberries and boysenberries, perhaps a bit of quince paste, and a peppery finish. Meaty and mushroomy as well. Quite solid with structure and balance. (6/09)

Jalets doughnut

[label]Jaboulet 2004 Crozes-Hermitage “Les Jalets” (Rhône) – Oppressively hard. tannic, and sharp-edged, with a touch of Band-Aid and a heart, skeleton, and musculature of charred blackness. Are these wines ever enjoyable? Does Jaboulet make wines for people to drink, or am I supposed to seal my driveway with this? (6/09)

Cave art

Cavalier “Château de Lascaux” 2005 Coteaux du Languedoc (Languedoc) – Dark. Rosemary and earth, blackened fruit, some tar. All muscle, but not much flesh; this vintage is a little harder than is probably good for it, with layer upon layer of ripe but oppressive tannin. Will it age into something better? Maybe. (6/09)


Wellington 2004 Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley) – 14.8%. Dark fruit infused with dark chocolate and coconut oak; as basic a recipe for zin as has ever been attempted. As such, it goes down easy and in utter disinterest. (6/09)

Drunk Addams

[vineyard]Shipyard “Pugsley’s Signature Series” Barley Wine-Style Ale (Maine) – Heady, but not rich, with a malty/grainy tang and some spicy stone fruit. Good. Not really more than that. (6/09)

Don't bock the block

Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” Helles Blond Bock (Massachusetts) – Extremely straightforward, a bit marble-textured and hard. Kinda dull, really. (6/09)

Raats in the belfry

[vineyard]Raats 2008 “Original” Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – An unoaked cuvee. Appealing, sunny fruit, showing hay, gum, and fresh apricot. The texture’s overtly creamy, and while it retains a certainly lightness of spirit, the wine would be improved by a little more acidity. There’s a long, pure finish, and despite the absence of crispness, I really enjoy this wine. (11/08)

Raats 2006 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – The difference between this and the “Original” is the élevage; some of this wine is barrel-fermented, a “world-classing” technique to which my initial reaction is dismay. Chenin shouldn’t need makeup to achieve greatness. And yet, here’s the first volley in South Africa’s attempt to prove me wrong, and I’m already wavering. There are the expected elements of cream, butter, and a more luxurious texture, but there are some surprises as well. For one thing, a salty, iron-rich minerality is brought to the fore. And while the finish is even thicker than in the “Original”, there’s a clear sensation of a greater quantity of balancing acidity. It’s all very mysterious. I still think I’d rather drink the “Original”, but this does make a compelling case for itself. (11/08)

Laubade to the bone

Laubade 1964 Bas-Armagnac (Armagnac) – Warm chocolate and caramel fading into a late-evening fire, plus rich brown sugar. Melting and intense. Fantastic. (11/08)


Savanna “Dry” Cider (Elgin) – As dry as the label promises, with a fine bitter edge. Not great, but quite drinkable. (11/08)

Hansa cross Africa

Hansa Marzen Gold (Norway) – Wait a minute. We were just in Norway. As a matter of fact, in Bergen, where this beer is allegedly made (though I’ve no idea if this particular bottle was actually brewed there; it seems unlikely). I’m glad I didn’t taste it there, and I wish I hadn’t tasted it here in South Africa. It’s horrid, like Miller Genuine Draft but with less flavor. Ugh. (11/08)

MCC Hammer

Villiera Méthode Cap Classique Brut “Tradition” (Stellenbosch) – A little sweet, almost tasting as if there’s muscat in the mix (I don’t believe there is). Simple and quaffable, but no more. (11/08)

Klippen the hedge

Blaauwklippen 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch) – Dried-out black fruit with structure. Boring. (11/08)


Blaauwklippen 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Coastal Region) – Sweet and lightly tropical, but far too bland and easy. Characterless.


Blaauwklippen 2006 Merlot (Stellenbosch) – Blueberry softness. Boring. (11/08)

16 June 2009

d'Anger, Will Robinson!

d’Angerville 1993 Volnay Clos des Ducs (Burgundy) – Earthen, with dark fruit and strappy tannin. Some mature flavors, and some less so…is this a wine in clear need of additional age, or is it showing a slight tannic imbalance that will be exacerbated as time marches on? I’ll leave the debate to those who own some, but despite the chew it’s pretty extraordinary right now. (9/08)

Poyferré godmother

Léoville Poyferré 1990 Saint-Julien (Bordeaux) –Tobacco, cassis, dark black fruit, and still-immense but balanced structure. Rather fantastic at the moment, though obviously well short of maturity. (9/08)

Carillon my wayward son

Louis Carillon 2002 Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er Cru (Burgundy) – Gorgeous texture, very tactile (to the point that it almost feels like there’s residual sugar, though obviously this is highly unlikely), melony, long, and quite complex. Impressive. (9/08)

Noun from verb

Gerin 1999 Côte-Rôtie “Champin Le Seigneur” (Rhône) – Dense, chewy leather, and earth studded with peppercorns. No “fruit” as such, but who needs it? Basically, you either like this sort of thing or you don’t. I do, despite believing – apparently mistakenly – that I’m not a huge Gerin fan. (9/08)

Joly good

Joly 1989 Savennières Clos de la Coulée de Serrant (Loire) – Chalk, dry honey, complex minerality, and a long, very dry finish. Good acidity. A very good wine not all the way to maturity, but getting there. (9/08)


Couhins-Lurton 2001 Pessac-Léognan Blanc (Bordeaux) – Stones and grass with a deft grace note of oak. Fuller-bodied than this note suggests, though the finish is short. (9/08)


Trimbach 1993 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – Metal (mostly iron) with huge acidity and receding complexity. Very slightly oxidized on the finish, and while the wine’s still quite intense, I think it needs to be consumed…though with extended aeration, it does freshen a bit. (9/08)


Edmunds St. John 2001 Syrah (California) – Smoked meat, a little bit of brett (a first from this wine, at least in my experience), blackberries, and a dusting of char. Smooth and elegant in the context of California syrah…which isn’t, in a wider context, all that smooth and elegant. Still, I like it, and this is the first bottle that, to me, seems like it might be sniffing around the edges of maturity. (9/08)

Release the Hunds

Nikolaihof 2003 Riesling Steiner Hund “Reserve” (Kremstal) – Steel, wet aluminum…but also, some pointy alcohol. Good balance otherwise. A bit of a victim of its vintage. (9/08)

No Guff

Guffens-Heynen 2000 Mâcon-Pierreclos “Le Chavigne” (Mâcon) – Very dry and structured, mild oak…and not much else. Seems OK, but there’s not a whole lot of “there” there. People whose palates I trust insist that these are good, atypically-Guffens wines to which I’m regularly unfair, but I’ve yet to see it. (9/08)

But we will not count Le Coste

Rinaldi 1999 Barolo Brunate “Le Coste” (Piedmont) – Corked. (9/08)

Butt no

Raveneau 2003 Chablis Butteaux 1er Cru (Chablis) – Corked. (9/08)

14 June 2009

Morey Amsterdam

[winemakers]Roumier 1969 Morey Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière 1er Cru (Burgundy) – Tentative and tired as the cork is removed, yet there’s a low pulse of strength within, and the finish is surprisingly broad despite the wan aromatics and over-resolved structure. And then, as one hopes, it grows. First in outlines…a bit of wiry structure here, the desiccated residue of red fruit dust there. Then the basic hues – antiqued cherry, soft earth tones – gaining intensity and fullness as succeeding coats are applied. After fundamental vibrancy is achieved, the detail work begins: filigrees of hazelnut and Perigord truffle, a plateau of beautifully mature darker berries, and layers upon layers of rich, fertile earth. As the work continues, the finish not only continues to broaden, but deepens as well, and recapitulations of the primary themes come rumbling from those depths, enveloping the palate in satin memory. It’s so typical as to be a cliché with wines like this, but the last sip is both the best and cloudy with dregs of regret at its finality; to liken the experience to drinking the sunset is to employ more than one metaphor. (6/09)

Tourtine angst

[vineyard]Peyraud “Domaine Tempier” 1993 Bandol “Cuvée Spéciale” La Tourtine (Provence) – Surprisingly, almost shockingly, primary. Stuffed with sizzling blackberries and plums, black earth, walnuts, and a blizzard of black pepper. The structure has retreated into the background, but it’s still most definitely there. As intense a Bandol as I’ve ever tasted, in flawless balance, but still so, so young. Ten more years? Twenty? Probably more the latter. (6/09)


Trimbach 1989 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Weirdly muted and overly mature. The signs of a great old late-harvest CFE are there – creamed steel and corn starch, salt, lead crystal – but the wine’s just not what it should be. The cork seems fine, and over the course of three days there’s no whiff of TCA from cork or (empty) bottle, but…well, this is a disappointment. Something – most likely the cork, absent any signs or signatures of heat damage – failed here. (5/09)

Moonlit nights

[bottles]Ca' de Noci 2006 “Notte di Luna” (Emilia-Romagna) – Not an orange wine, exactly (it’s far too pale and recognizable for that), but one in training, with the sandpaper scrape of tannin abrading a broth of whitish stone fruit, dried pith, and powdered stone, then finishing with the tactile buzz of newly-absent soda. While potentially gorgeous, it’s sorta elusive in my glass…not in the endless-descriptor fashion of the true orange-wine cohort, but in a more diffident fashion. This could just be a function of its context (other wines, food, distraction), and so I’d like another chance at this. Preferably several. (6/09)

Ata boy

[label]Ata Rangi 2001 Pinot Noir (Martinborough) – Rumbly, flexed-muscle fruit with the aromas of pinot noir but the weight of something a little more lumbering. The wine has mellowed quite a bit from its youth, and while this has left a solid foundation of earthiness more exposed, the whole package is a bit faded and worn. This is probably pretty much all the way down the road it’s going to travel, in terms of development. (5/09)

Tulocays walk into a bar...

[logo]Tulocay 2001 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Jeez, this is good. Full-throated black fruit, all wild vines and tangled pulp, without being over the top or tricked-up in any way. There’s tannin and acidity in the background, both lesser components but providing sufficient support for all else. Evidence suggests this will continue to age and develop for some time, with the current hints of black pepper fanning out into a wider mélange of spices and soil characteristics. (5/09)

Gulfi Annan

[vineyard]Gulfi 2007 Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily) – A mix of red and darker fruit, shouldery and fairly powerful, yet with enough restraint to avoid being boisterous or overblown. There’s a dark core of soil and rock here, slightly lava-esque, but the concentration of the fruit that surrounds it doesn’t allow much penetration at present. Full and muscular, with aging potential. (6/09)

Frank Nobile

[label]Fià Nobile 2007 Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily) – Spiderwebs of red fruit that come off as insistent, but are actually rather soft-hearted. Volcanic dust, as well? Yes, some (alongside more organic brown earth), and this is a wine with a fair measure of soil amidst the berries. Balanced and highly approachable. Yum. (6/09)

A bridge udvar

[vineyard]Királyudvar 2005 Tokaji Sec (Hungary) – Broad, waxy, and complicated. There’s a certain fatness here, but it’s a dry fat, expressed more as lingering tactility than plushness. Hues and tones range from brown to tan with streaks of grey, and there’s a hefty dash of mineral salt to the finish. This is awfully good. (5/09)

Zwei settle for less?

[vineyard]Heinrich 2003 Zweigelt (Burgenland) – Despite the year, the wine’s youthfully delicate aromatics have firmed up to something more Bordeaux-like and masculine with age. But there’s been a simultaneous Balkanization of the wine’s former cohesiveness, and while nothing’s yet out of balance, I don’t think that state of affairs will last forever. Grey-black dust has been revealed by the splits and seams, though it was perceivable from the beginning, and the fruit-sweetness has faded. Aging this dubiously-ageable wine was an interesting experience, but I can’t say the result has been improvement. Just change. (5/09)

Rubentis redis

Ameztoi 2008 Getariako Txakolina “Rubentis” (Northwest Spain) – Not strawberries, but a papyrus representation of strawberries on which has been spilled a considerable amount of sharp, frothing soda water. Comes at the palate like the churning maelstrom at the bottom of a very, very small waterfall. Anyone who doesn’t like this may not actually hate wine, but they probably hate life. (6/09)

No sand?

Edmunds St. John 1999 “Rocks and Gravel” (California) – I’m not enraptured by the way this has developed, in that the bubblegumness of grenache is not only on full display, but dominant. There’s appealing herbed hearth and a few slabs of meat in the background, but they struggle to push past the strawberry gobsmacker (not that this is a “gobby” wine). Moreover, alcohol is prodding at the boundaries. Did I hold this too long? Maybe, because I think I liked it more a few years ago, and the grenache/alcohol tandem doesn’t bode enormously well for the future. (5/09)

Eva Majoli

Sella 2007 Coste della Sesia Rosato “Majoli” (Piedmont) – Pink nebbiolo is my favorite (still) pink of all, I’ve learned. It’s a shame that there’s so little of it. This is a more aggressive interpretation than many, less so for its structure – the tarry bite of tannin is shed, and the acidity has loosened into full-blown juiciness – than its fruit, which is as much orange as it is red and pink, and sounds the occasional braying, brassy note. So it’s a rosé that demands attention, and keeps it by remaining balanced throughout (lacking the so-common rosé flaw of excess alcohol). But it’s not a “serious” wine, whatever one prefers that term to mean. (6/09)

W's slope

[vineyard]Porter Creek 2001 Chardonnay George’s Hill (Russian River Valley) – Showing the baked nuts, light toast, and faded fruit of a fully mature wine, this faded a lot faster than I’d have guessed from its youthful vibrancy. Oh, well. (5/09)

Upright Piane

Coste Piane 2006 Prosecco “Tranquillo” (Veneto) – This grape seems to lend itself very well to representations other than the dominant one…so much so that I wonder if a lot more exploration along these lines might be beneficial. And just as fully dry sparkling Prosecco is often too parched and barren for its own good, so too do the barely-sparkling and still versions benefit from something that one can’t quite call sweet, but rather “soft”; they might call this sec-tendre in Vouvray (though I should note that I actually have no idea of the actual residual sugar level in this particular wine). Here there’s a yellowness that’s neither lemony nor stone-fruited, sun and freshness, and a kind, subtle nervosity about the meniscus that lends the wine just enough edge to avoid turning into a drinkable pillow. Yet there’s the dusty memory of earth, as well, and a little bit of crispness that clarifies. But no…these are too many words for this wine, whose pleasures are simpler than all this verbiage. (6/09)

Adding accents

[vineyard]Jorge Ordóñez & Co. 2006 Málaga “Seleccion Especial 1” (Málaga) – Intensely sweet, like candied fruit…though that’s not quite right, since the fruit isn’t sugary or slightly synthetic, it’s just nearly solid in its sucrosity. Orange peel? Or blossom? Why not both? There’s not really all that much complexity, but I don’t think it’s necessary. And despite all the sweetness, there’s a bit more “wine” to this than the higher-numbered bottlings. (5/09)

I want Candia

Donati 2007 Malvasia di Candia Frizzante (Emilia-Romagna) – Straight from the bottle (which was, I believe, previously-opened), there’s a bit of traditional-lambic funk; alongside the spritz and the nippy acidity, this is like a far less painful Cantillon. These elements settle and cohere with air and rising temperature, bringing out some proto-peach and grapefruit precursors, a tactile but not gustatory salinity, and that ever-present spiky buzz of sparkle. If there’s a quibble, it’s that the wine is monotonic in pitch. But there’s a lot going on in that note, and so the quibble remains no more than a quibble. (6/09)

Feet named Frank

C&P Breton 2006 Bourgueil “Franc de Pied” (Loire) – Here’s a stray cabernet franc, a little unkempt and matted from its post-abandonment wanderings, arrived on your doorstep and gazing up at you with wary-yet-hopeful puppy-dog eyes. It’s a wine that wears its wary heart on its sleeve, one that throbs with nervous tension, and the result is a sort of vinous quivering. Yet it doesn’t really like to be held too long, either, and shies away when grasped too tightly or for too long. (5/09)

Drum Maggiorina

[vineyard]Le Piane 2004 Colline Novaresi “La Maggiorina” (Piedmont) – Chilly. Even arctic. Cold minerality flows down from the permafrost, slipping over brittle black fruit (paper-thin) and finally breaking on jagged shards of acidity. Even more than before, this is akin to a red riesling, but riesling in its most austere form. Closed or fading? I guess we’ll find out. (5/09)

Suzanne Sommerberg

Boxler 2006 Riesling Sommerberg “D” (Alsace) – A crystal cylinder of rieslingness, bold and multi-faceted, yet retaining near-infinite grace. There’s just a touch of sweetness, but the acid knocks it into the background, and wrapped about it are fiber-optic threads of latticed iron and idealized apple. The finish is long and linear. (5/09)

Below the Poverty Lane

[orchard]Poverty Lane “Farnum Hill” 2007 Kingston Black Cider “Reserve” (New Hampshire) – The aromatic character of ciders doesn’t, at least to my palate, vary as much as the palette of wine grapes, though there are definitely subtle shadings depending on the variety; the general trend is sour-sweet apple, and the range is more concerned with matters of dilution vs. concentration. Here, those shadings are more like outright hues, which is one of the reasons I find this cider so appealing. There’s a tactility to the fruit that’s more like biting into the apple itself than drinking its fermented essence, and the nature of that fruit carries a certain steely minerality. Very impressive. Maybe not the “best” cider I’ve ever tasted, but certainly one of the best from the U.S. (5/09)

Ribo rack

Dard & Ribo 2006 St-Joseph (Rhône) – Wrenched and writhing, squirting its dark fruit every which way, but never achieving any sort of focus or direction. There’s a heavy stench of brett, as well, which is strong enough to detract despite the wine’s muscularity. This needs time, for sure, but unfortunately it will never shed its manure. (5/09)

Left in the Lorch

[vineyard]Kesseler 2004 Lorcher Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 009 05 (Rheingau) – Fruit salad (mostly peach and pineapple, with some crisper stuff lurking), yet not lurid, just approachable. Sweet cream, a few liquefied rocks, but definitely more about its fruit than its minerality or structure. Acidity is more apparent later on. Big. There might be (some) future here. (5/09)

Q, M, & 007

Quintas de Melgaço “QM” 2006 Vinho Verde Alvarinho (Monção) – A “spare” bottle left aside to see what happened with a little age, though in this case only a microscopic bit of patience was actually exercised, and the full experiment will have to wait for another day. Salty and almost soda-like, thought not in the frothy fashion of something like txakolina, but more in the lingering, quasi-electric tactility of the wine. Lemon, lime, grapefruit…the greenish, less sweet end of the citric spectrum is a little more spare than at release, and maybe the wine’s just a touch less fun that before. Food, which is always good with this wine (something saline and from a shell or carapace works best), might be a little more necessary than before. (5/09)


[bottles]Sénat 2007 Minervois “La Nine” (Languedoc) – Seems dominated by the aromatics of its grenache (bubblegum and sticky raspberry) and the structure of its mourvèdre, but while there’s both ballooning fruit and shouldery structure, I’m not sure where this wine’s head is. Time it needs, and time it will get, but I do wonder about its future. (5/09)

Galley slave

C&P Breton 2004 Bourgueil Les Galichets (Loire) – The initial impression is one of dominant brett, but this initial bloom is soon overcome by dark, scowling fruit seeping its juices into a brown, muddy soil. Despite the still-fair structure, the overall effect of the wine is a little soupy, or perhaps more accurately stew-like. Lingering tannin pairs with the Band-Aid brett to provide an edge right through to the finish. Given the current state and the closure, I’m not sure this is something I’d hold much longer, unless one is exceedingly optimistic about winning the synthetic cork lottery…despite the odds. (6/09)

Wear a côtes

[label]Terre Rouge 2001 Syrah “Les Côtes de l’Ouest” (California) – Sometimes, I wonder if this wine will ever show signs of maturity (it has mellowed a bit, but otherwise…not so much). Other times, I remind myself that this is the entry-level syrah, and I probably shouldn’t be looking for major development. And after all, consistency is a virtue: year after year, one knows what one is going to get from this bottle, which seems to appear and reappear as if the remaining bottles are mating, or cloning, or perhaps budding. The aromas? Black’n’blue fruit, some purple, some dark earth, some light tar, some faint rosemary, the faintest hint of soft pine…pretty much the same as it’s been since release. I suppose I need to really bury one of these under something heavy should I truly wish to find out what, if anything, will happen. (5/09)

Indian percussion

[label]Tablas Creek 2005 Rosé (Paso Robles) – Dead. (5/09)

Tablas Creek 2005 Rosé (Paso Robles) – Old orange, bronzed and with a background static of something vaguely metallic, like canned orange soda that’s been left just a bit too long. If one can get past that, the spice that’s developed is actually quite pleasurable, though the lack of intense, primary fruit leaves the wine’s alcohol – always on the high side for a rosé, though it’s among the majority of the genre in that sense – more present than one wants. There’s really not much to learn here, other than that this wine was much better in its youth…and as with almost all rosés, that was already a given. (5/09)

Without a paddle

[label]Tablas Creek 2006 “Côtes de Tablas” Red (Paso Robles) – While I wouldn’t say this wine swaggers, it walks with more polished confidence with each vintage. I presume maturing vines and maturing technique are to be credited, but whatever the reason, I feel as confident serving this wine to any gathering of New and/or Old World palates as any other California wine. (5/09)


Foillard 2000 Morgon Côte du Py (Beaujolais) – Mildly corked, grossly bretty, and otherwise not good. (5/09)

Foillard 2001 Morgon Côte du Py (Beaujolais) – Very bretty. Straddles the dueling worlds of Burgundy (a deep, moody complexity of berries and black trumpet mushrooms) and the Rhône (funky, sun-baked undergrowth). But I’d like it a lot more were there less stink. (5/09)

Frankie Ponente

Giobatta 2007 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Rossese di Albenga “U Bastiò” (Liguria) – Mercaptan-dominated. There seems to be some rather gorgeous, barn-floor earth and soft red fruit underneath, but for me the stink is not quite penetrable. The less-sensitive (among which are numbered my dining companion, whose wine this actually is) will find less fault, and in fact said dining companion rhapsodizes about the wine. (6/09)

No Dog

[vineyard]Dog Point 2004 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – In other vintages this has shown a good deal of heft, which is appealing enough but may not express the wine’s “Marlboroughness” to the fullest extent. By that I mean that I expect the region’s pinot noirs to have a little more lightness and red fruit than Central Otago, the Waipara, and certainly Martinborough, yet also more forwardness than Nelson. Here, that heft is indeed shot through with some brighter, cherry-ish fruit, though there’s still layers of beet, leaf, and earth above and below. Despite the tally of descriptors, the wine’s not actually complex, but since there’s more balance and light to this wine than usual, its early appeal is likely to be surpassed by the qualities revealed by aging. (5/09)

Hail fellow, well-Métras

Métras 2007 Beaujolais (Beaujolais) – Crisp, sharp, and overtly prickly. A pickled wine, but which I don’t mean there’s vinegar or dill, but rather that it bears the same relation to gamay of more restraint and elegance as a pickle does to a freshly-picked cucumber. A chill’n’quaffer, for sure. (5/09)

Saurel soup

Saurel “Saint Damien” 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône “La Bouveau” (Rhône) – Perhaps a bit modern-styled, but if so it’s done in a very appealing fashion; dark, forceful (but not aggressive) fruit that seems a little more zinnish than usual for a CdR bursts and flows over the palate like rapids, with a dusting of black pepper and serrated rosemary. Pure fun. (6/09)

Umani nature

Umani Ronchi “Casal di Serra” 2006 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico “Superiore” (Marches) – Sprightly, mildly electrified greenish-white fruit. Crisp, direct, and simple. A good value, and strictly for summery guzzling. (6/09)

Barral of no fun

Barral 2004 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault Blanc (Languedoc) – Refermented in the bottle. (6/09)

Felluga whale

Marco Felluga 2007 Collio Friuliano (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Airy, like drinking white clouds with some lemony acidity. With aggressive swirling, there’s acacia and some pale floral notes, but the wine’s chief attribute is its antigravitic lightness. (6/09)

Pots & Eppans

[vineyard]St. Michael-Eppan 2006 Pinot Noir (Alto Adige) – Plummy fruit to which has been applied a wrench, slightly distorting it. Some beet, some earth, some cherry, but a weird structure, as if it’s repeating throwing itself against some unseen barrier. (6/09)


[vineyard]Pichat 2005 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah (Rhône) – Cardboardy and difficult. Not corked, but not good either. (6/09)

Hits the green

[bottle]Mitchell & Son “Green Spot” Irish Whiskey (Ireland) – Friendly, even “pretty,” yet with smoke and ancient wood enough for enjoyable sipping. It must be said that this was tasted at the end of an awful lot of wine and other, more spirituous beverages, and my attention was not fully upon the glass in front of me. (6/09)

St. Joe

Aggazzotti Nocino “Notte di S. Giovanni Riserva” (Emilia-Romagna) – Nocino amped up, less with power than with density, like a slow-built stew with layers upon layers of flavor. There’s dark chocolate, Sicilian espresso, even the darkest of black cherries…though perhaps a slight devolvement of the walnut’s central role in such a liqueur. Nonetheless, this is fabulous, and if nocinos received points, this would probably be the beneficiary of a lot of them. (6/09)


Russo Nocino (Campania) – Pretty straightforward…dark walnut, sweet and sticky, with hints of cocoa and old wood. Very tasty. (6/09)


Vajra Barolo Chinato (Piedmont) – There’s way too much volatile acidity here, and despite my attempts it remains impenetrable. The less sensitive might do better. (6/09)

Old & bitter

Caffo Vecchio Amaro “del Capo” (Calabria) – Unfortunately, I remember little about this liqueur, except a sensation of depth and a better balance of bitter and sweet than is typical (usually, amari tip towards one side or the other). (6/09)

You and your big vermouth

Perucchi Vermouth Rojo “Gran Reserva” (Spain) – A rich mélange of herbs and cut grass, with a red tinge (not just to the color) that reminds me of a high-quality red wine vinegar minus the acetic acid. Very enticing. (6/09)


Pellegrino 2007 Passito di Pantelleria (Sicily) – Perfume and pine with a shot of sweet clementine nectar. Simple and tasty, with a little bit of suntan lotion. (6/09)

...and shoot

Dog Point 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Grass, unidentifiable yellow fruit, and a particulate texture with some rocks in the blend. Structured, but not overly so, and balanced. Makrut lime is the topnote. Very nice. (5/09)

Garden of melon

Ollivier 2004 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” “Cuvée Eden Vieilles Vignes” (Loire) – Forward, but…well, the broken-shell texture of the wine is harsh, and seems to be shoving hard against some unseen barrier. In a weird place right now. Hold or hold. (5/09)

Black Knight Rider

Egon Müller 2007 Scharzhof Riesling 1 08 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – An odd mix of youth and maturity in its fresh, pretty fruit and its creamy texture and quartzy minerality. Perhaps a bit too ephemeral; the wine’s there, and then it’s gone, and the desire for a second bottle never really arises. Perhaps the sin is overt inoffensiveness. (5/09)

Meet Cluver

[label]Paul Cluver 2007 Weisser Riesling “Noble Late Harvest” (Elgin) – This wine is so regularly impressive that I wonder if I’ll be able to hold any long enough to explore its maturity curve. All the elements for aging seem to be there: tight, focused granite-like minerality in columnar form, sharp fruit, vibrant acidity, and a long, glowing finish. Even in this ultra-primary form, the wine is a powerful expression of botrytized riesling. (5/09)

Moen & Groen

[vineyard]Neil Ellis 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Groenekloof) – Vibrant metallic green of a more pine-like hue. There’s grass, capsicum, and nerve, but there’s also a cold, rocky minerality. Not quite as precise as the previous vintage, but still clearly delineated. (5/09)

If a grape grows in the woods...

Ken Forrester 2008 “Petit” Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Pure sun-fruit fun. Nectarine, peach, a bit of pear, and a lot of freshness. Good wine, cheap. (5/09)