29 July 2009

Palace sagardo

[barrel & bottles]Isastegi Sagardo Naturala (Northwest Spain) – Very cloudy. Sharp, drying, almost bitter skins and a parched desert of appleness within; this cider could hardly be more opinionated, and I love it for that very quality. White pepper dusts the finish. (7/09)

Just in Timbervine

[winery entrance]Porter Creek 1997 Syrah Timbervine Ranch (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. The black raspberry and blackberry fruit is rough, fulsome, and still seems primary. It’s also hard to enjoy, because the tannin very nearly obliterates it; a mix of hard and leathery chew, bludgeoning all else. There’s acidity, but it hardly matters…this wine has fallen victim to an overabundance of dry bitterness, and while the fruit itself probably has years to go (it’s certainly not showing much tertiary character), the wine itself will never make it…unless one sucks on tea bags for fun. (7/09)

Just be Cazes

[vineyard]A&B Cazes 1995 Rivesaltes “Ambré” (Roussillon) – From 375 ml. Candy corn, old brown sugar, maple residue, and a reasonable layer of oxidation. Fairly acidic at the moment, though this may be through the diminishment of other characteristics more than an attempt at balancing the sweetness. Just OK. (7/09)

Bay leaves

Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2000 Pinot Noir (Waipara) – Big and dark, but not as weight-dominated as it was just a year ago, which means that signs that its made of pinot noir (rather than something more Rhônish) are starting to re-emerge. There’s always been good acidity, and the drawing back of the heft has revealed some delicious orange rocks within, but I still don’t think there’s any hurry to drink this. (7/09)

How now, brown gaauw?

[bottle]Overgaauw 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Vibrant green things – herbs, stems, vegetables, leaves, grasses – poised at their ideal midpoint between the underripe harshness of pyrazines and softer impressions of tropicality (though there is a hint of pineapple as well). There’s minerality…large rocks, decidedly indelicate…and a fine balance. A bit outrageous, in a manner that will remind some quite strongly of Marlborough, but it’s fuller-fleshed than that. The more I taste, the more I agree with a number of South African winemakers who believe that, at the moment, their country’s most accomplished and terroir-revelatory wines are its sauvignon blancs. (7/09)

Jellivangiv doughnut

Brovia 2006 Dolcetto d’Abla “Vignavillej” (Piedmont) – Muted, musty, and very cranky at uncorking. It takes a long while to unfold, and even an hour doesn’t quite achieve full openness, but the wine isn’t corked…just surly. There are coffee elements amongst the wild-vine helixes of barky fruit, but mostly this is showing structure (both tannin and acidity) and rough, wild-eyed gestures of warning: stay away. I know these wines age, but I’ve rarely tasted one so in need of a good rest. (7/09)

Sur duke

Ollivier “Domaine de la Pépière” 1998 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Note: this is the normale, not any of the cuvees…and no, aging it this long wasn’t the intention. But as random cellar finds go, this is actually pretty interesting: fully given over to wet, almost salty seashells, with mild to medium oxidation (responses will differ) and a tan tinge to the finish. Rather than gaining complexity, this has instead moved to a different realm of simplicity than it inhabited in its youth, which isn’t necessarily unusual for Muscadet. But in any case, I don’t think I’d recommend ten years’ aging for this wine. (7/09)

Paradis is a protected form of art

[bottle]Clos du Paradis “Domaine Viret” 1999 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Saint-Maurice “Les Colonnades” (Rhône) – Sweetish black meatfruit liqueur, in the manner of so many aged Rhônes, but thinned out and giving way to some acidity and brittleness after a decade of age. A disappointing performance, frankly. (7/09)

Clos du Paradis “Domaine Viret” 1999 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Saint-Maurice “Emergence” (Rhône) – Corked. (7/09)

Professional Golfo Association

[label]Bisson 2007 Golfo del Tigullio Bianchetta Genovese “Ü Pastine” (Liguria) – Standoffish, detergent-textured froth and whiteness, slightly floral and pinched. The foam is spicy, in the manner of a less aggressive txakolina, but the finish is short. Among the four people sharing the wine, it proves controversial: two in favor, two opposed. Which makes me like it even more. (7/09)

Garnacho cheese

Domaine de Cabasse 1998 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Séguret “Cuvée Garnacho” (Rhône) – Dead. (7/09)

Creek summer

[label]Tablas Creek 2006 Roussanne (Paso Robles) – Wax, ripe stone fruit, coppered cashews, and surprising balance; the usual fat and alcohol-tinged headiness is well-countered by fair acidity and a certain deftness of fruit. I suspect that this could age, and I’ve no reason to doubt it based on the raw materials at hand, but it’s quite approachable now. (7/09)

Home, home on the Grange

Luneau-Papin “Domaine Pierre de La Grange” 2004 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie Vieilles Vignes” (Loire) – Already showing movement in its broadening, fuller palate and increasingly shell-like minerality. It’s still sharp and forward, but less direct than it was in its youth. Long, columnar, and delicious. There’s more time left in it, but it’s very enjoyable now. (7/09)

Tissot boring, oh, Tissot boring

[vineyard]A&M/Stéphane Tissot Crémant du Jura Brut (Jura) – Tastes like skin, and smells like the dried nut residue from a long-empty tin of peanuts. A bit stale and really, really boring. Damaged? Mildly corked? If so, there’s no sign of either. But a half-glass is more than enough. (7/09)

Torrozza less traveled

Ferrando 2007 Canavese Rosso “La Torrozza” (Piedmont) – Fulsome and juicy; an explosion of mixed berries (red and black) with clover, just a hint of tar, and a slushy swath of acidity. There’s a slightly acrid overlay that’s just a little off-putting, and detracts from the boisterous pleasure, but it’s still a most enjoyable wine. Watch that acridity, though, because I don’t think it’s going to improve as the wine lingers. (7/09)

Teddi bare

Poli-Julliard 2007 Patrimonio Clos Teddi (Corsica) – 100% niellucciu (sangiovese). Strawberry and dirt, a bit blackened (not in the Cajun sense, thankfully), with a heady column of liqueur-like fruit (blueberry, perhaps) minus the alcohol. Despite this, the overall impression of the wine is fairly light and relatively simple. This is the sort of sangiovese you’d want with a very slight chill, served on a beachfront patio as a red wine accompaniment to seafood. (7/09)

Great years think alike

[bottle]J. Lassalle Champagne 1er Cru Brut Rosé “Réserve des Grandes Années” (Champagne) – Bubbles aside, this could be a somewhat mature red Burgundy from a “lesser” appellation – Givry, perhaps – for all the earthy, mushroomy softness to its red fruit. There’s a fullness that combats against this sensation of age, and a hint of orange rind for focus, but this is compelling as much for its otherness as for its characteristics. A lovely wine, perhaps more so than a Champagne. (7/09)

Mallo yellow

Mallo 2002 Riesling Rosacker (Alsace) – The minerality of the vineyard, reminiscent of the sea yet crystalline and vibrant, is fully present. There’s fine acidity and good length. I just wish there was the will to push the boundaries a bit…a little more intensity in the vineyard, a little less happified sweetness in the finished product. An underachievement, albeit a tasty one. (7/09)

Heart of Glas

[grapes]Glas “Domaine de Poulvarel” 2005 Costières de Nîmes (Rhône) – Redder-fruited than some of its neighbors tend to be, with fair acidity, yet also heftier than its fruit can quite withstand. It’s of its place, and I don’t mean to suggest that it should be lighter (or, heaven forefend, ultra-concentrated), but there’s a struggle for balance that’s not resolved within the wine’s confines. (7/09)

Visan quest

La Florane 2004 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Visan (Rhône) – Corked. (7/09)

Gateway wine

Piñol 2007 Terra Alta “Portal” (Cataluña) – 70% garnacha blanca, 20% sauvignon blanc, 5% viognier, 5% macabeo. Simultaneously fat and wiry, which is quite an achievement, and not an entirely welcome one. Kiwi and melon, perhaps some lemon, some heat on the nose, and a bit of stick to the finish. Not as good as the various reds from this producer. (7/09)

Cantarutti-toot toot

Cantarutti 2006 Colli Orientali del Friuli Ribolla Gialla (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Pretty classic, straightforward ribolla, with the weight, skin tones, and mild oxidation one expects. A little leafy tarragon, old rocks, a yellowish haze…it’s all there. The finish is short. A basic wine. (7/09)

Careful with that axe

Eugène Meyer 2007 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – There’s a hint of skin bitterness underneath the stone fruit, which I like, and some icy minerality, which I really like. The tradeoff is, of course, less intense and sticky fruit than the norm, but it’s still plenty aggressive…there’s no leeching that from the grape…nor is it entirely dry, though it can pass in a pinch and with the right (covering) food-sweetness. This is by no means a “great” gewürztraminer, but it is a pleasant one. (7/09)

Tablas of contents

[label]Tablas Creek 2006 “Côtes de Tablas” Red (Paso Robles) – Though it’s no longer the bargain it once was, and there’s a good argument to be made that it’s not really worth the premium over similarly-styled Côtes-du-Rhône, it’s hard to deny the persistent quality and drinkability of this wine, which varies in complexity but gains a bit more polish with every passing year. All the purple, blue, red, and black fruits one could wish for, alongside earth and herb, and finishing with a pepper-dust grace note, yet smooth, round, and always ready with an extended, welcoming approachability. Californian, for sure, but neither brawny nor explosive…whether this is French-influenced winemaking or just an in-house preference doesn’t much matter; the wine is what it is. Very consistent, solid wine, and an easy case purchase for anyone interested in a wine on which they can rely. (7/09)

The sound of winemaking

Kreydenweiss 2005 Costières de Nîmes “Perrières” (Rhône) – Starting to lighten, which either indicates a coming closed stage or ongoing maturation; this wine hasn’t existed long enough for me to be sure. The fruit is dark and chewy nonetheless, there’s good structure that’s of a more brittle nature than is common from the region, and while the temptation is to attribute this to the sensibilities of an Alsatian winemaker, the reality is that it just may be a function of this particular site. Anyway, there would seem to be promise here, but with the right animal flesh it’s pretty tasty now…just don’t expect any complexity as of yet. (7/09)


Crochet 2008 Sancerre Pinot Rosé (Loire) – Zapped raspberry and strawberry husk, with powdery layers of dusty minerality and some green leaves in the mix. It’s nice enough, but it never really goes anywhere interesting; still, it lacks the balance issues that plague so many rosés. (7/09)


[bottle]Ken Forrester “Petit” 2008 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Sweet apricot and a hint of banana skin, but not a tropical fruit-salad wine; rather, sunny, polished, and summery fruit, clean and simple. There’s just enough acid, and maybe even the suggestion of chalk…though that may be self-suggestion. A wine for now, now, now. (7/09)

Bernede to the ground

Bernede “Clos La Coutale” 2005 Cahors (Southwest France) – Very tannic and muffled, as one would expect at this stage. What fruit is perceptible is dark, stewish, and almost espresso-like, but there are also some intriguing aromatics that struggle through the insulation. There’s little point in drinking this now. (7/09)

ZZ Top

[cellar]Bernard Baudry 2007 Chinon “Les Granges” (Loire) – Roughly chopped herbs and bits of earth with dark green-tinged fruit. Not a cocktail wine, but highly versatile with food. Balanced and lightly-structured for short-term aging. (7/09)


[vineyard]Pirie “South” 2006 “Estelle” (Tasmania) – 50% riesling, 30% gewürztraminer, 20% pinot gris. An aperitif-styled chilly chugger of a wine, full of crystal sweetness and pretty, almost icy fruit. No complexity, but I doubt any was desired. A wine for laughter. (7/09)


[bottle]Lustau “East India Solera” Sherry (Jerez) – Not as powerfully sweet as the initial whack of molten brown sugar suggests, perhaps because a thin acidity and faint haze of oxidation combat the syrup. That said, it’s still a very sweet wine…a brown sweetness that bridges the shoulder between the leafy decay of fall and the woodsmoke of a winter fireplace. Though to be honest, it’s less interesting than that. (7/09)

Lybel suit

Cuilleron 2008 Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah Rosé “Lybel” (Rhône) – Soupy, sticky, devoid of sufficient balancing acidity, and with the same sickly, oily note that infects almost all of Cuilleron’s wines. (7/09)

Mour or less

[label]Tablas Creek 2005 Mourvèdre (Paso Robles) – A fruit bomb, but a sufficiently structured one. A dark stew of fruit is lent a little leather and earthen blackness by the grape, and it’s an extremely enjoyable wine, but this is really very primary still. It would seem to have to stuffing to age, but I don’t really know for sure. (7/09)

28 July 2009

The heart has its Bissons

[vineyard]Bisson 2007 Golfo del Tigullio Ciliegiolo Rosé (Liguria) – Delicate perfume poised between sea, sky, and slope. Fine-edged strawberry, floral but not overly perfumed, with flinty minerality. Quite pretty. (7/09)

Tear your knees off

Tegernseerhof 2007 Zweigelt Rosé (Lower Austria) – Slightly bitter and green, with some Canned Froot Drink™ character. Uninteresting. (7/09)

Leydier lay

Leydier “Cuvée Sélectionnée par Kermit Lynch” 2006 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse (Rhône) – Black crystal infused with black pepper and churning purplish-black fruit. Yet there’s herbal complexity, as well. An absolutely delicious wine for the price. (7/09)


[vineyard]Gilliard 2006 Dôle des Monts Rouge (Valais) – Sticky but light pinkish-red fruit, leaning towards candy but not quite getting there, with a great deal of succulent minerality and a fine, cohesive finish. That said, there’s a sourness that puckers, and combined with the Froot™ the whole thing comes off worked (which I kinda doubt it is, though I’m not certain). Iffy. (7/09)

On the Dôle

Gilliard 2006 Dôle des Monts Blanc (Valais) – The memory of white alpine flowers, fragrant and inextricable from the cold minerality underneath, promises much. But there’s a blocky lack of crispness that just doesn’t match the wine’s aromatic topnotes, and while it’s a pleasant drink, in the end it just doesn’t amount to much. Also, there’s the usual Swiss markup, which makes it a poor value as well. NB: this wine should be the "Les Murettes" bottling, rather than a Dôle, yet that's the label it carries. I'm unable to explain why this should be so. (7/09)

Watch it there, Tojo

Casal do Tojo 2007 Terras do Sado Muscat “Lisa” (Portugal) – Fluffy muscat perfume with squirts of lime. Tastes unnatural. Well-chilled, on a hot summer day…OK, sure. But that’s about it. (7/09)

Rogue rouge

Rogue "St. Rogue" Red Ale (Oregon) – Somewhat overcome by bitterness, but aggressively flavorful, albeit slightly metallic. Some might like this. It’s a little much for me. (7/09)


Dubourdieu “Château Graville-Lacoste” 2008 Graves Blanc (Bordeaux) – Green and almost minty, but turning more to lemon curd and salt on the palate. The wine’s a bit of a helix right now, and probably needs some time to screw itself together. (7/09)

Buyer & Cellar

[bottle]Villa Maria “Cellar Selection” 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Lemon-lime, grapefruit, grass…all ripe, clean, and vibrant, with balanced acidity and just enough persistence. A little crystalline minerality as well, though this is a fruit-dominated wine, for sure. (7/09)

Villa Maria “Cellar Selection” 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – See above note, crediting the consistency of the closure. (7/09)

Oil of Soleil

Costières & Soleil “Sélection Laurence Féraud” 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Séguret (Rhône) – Turning a little sludgy and strewed, but showing better than other bottles have, of late. Dark, soy-based earth-fruit and leather, the blackened memory of blueberry dust, some dried-herb aromatics. Heavy. (7/09)