15 November 2009

Dry, dry again

[vineyard]Dashe 1999 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – 14.5%. By all rights, one should be drinking the site-designated Dashe zinfandels now, and this one should be a memory. I can’t speak to the “better” wines, but I can say that – at least based on this bottle – there’s no real hurry to ferret out the stragglers from this stock. It shows a lot of the really appealing signs of maturing zin, like tiny wild berries bearing a significant dust component, gentle coffee aromas, and a dark, organic earthiness; fans of older Ridge will recognize much here, and I’d say that even were there no connection between the two wineries. But there’s also still-evolving structure, and some unquestionable tightness to the wine’s core. There’s no harm in drinking it, for certain, but I’m still not sure it’s done with its journey. A really good wine, well-rewarding its time in the cellar. (10/09)

Dashe 2006 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – 14.5%. Big, for sure, with zingy and somewhat elbowy smallberry fruit of a mildly explosive nature, black-peppered earth, and good structure. One oddity: after about an hour, the wine essentially disappears, leaving a hollow cylinder of structure behind. But up to that point, it’s entirely delish. (8/09)


[label]Forestedge Rhubarb Wine (Minnesota) – Unlike so many fruit wines, this doesn’t just taste like the fruit with some alcohol, this actually tastes like wine. There’s a complexity to the tart green-red sharpness, even a bit of what just might be sandy minerality, alongside good acidity and the faintest touch of sweetness to offset. Pretty good. (8/09)


Forestedge Chokecherry Wine (Minnesota) – Buried by volatile acidity, and washed-out besides. No good. (8/09)

Blooming rose

Rosenblum 2006 Zinfandel (North Coast) – 14.9%. Sticky dark-berried fruit with little in the way of structure or life. It’s a decent chug, and it does taste like zinfandel, but otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much point to it. (8/09)

The mighty Tor

Kenward “Tor” 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Mast-Cimarrossa (Napa Valley) – Corked. So massively-fruited that it almost overcomes it. But still corked. (10/09)

Salbatting order

[label]Tablas Creek 2006 “Côtes de Tablas” Blanc (Paso Robles) – Reticent. Closing? Quite possibly, or it could just be in decline (the latter is more likely, however). What’s left for examination includes bony structure, nut skins and oils, and a bit of stone fruit. Hope lies in the fact that these bare minimums of expression linger for a good long while, but this is a minor wine at present. (8/09)

Tablas Creek 2006 “Côtes de Tablas” Blanc (Paso Robles) – See above note. (8/09)

Hornets' nest

Vino de Shingobee 2006 Staghorn Sumac Wine (Minnesota) – Past its drink-by date, with the reddish bite of sumac given over to semi-oxidized sucrosity. I think this would have been fairly interesting a few years ago. (8/09)

Champlain of the world

Snow Farm American Traminette (Vermont) – Piercing, even a bit sour acidity with a rubber soul of wrenched, thin fruit that clearly wants to be, but isn’t, spicy and aromatic. There’s plenty of sugar left over, but it doesn’t substitute for getting the grapes ripe. I appreciate the enthusiasm of a winery that wants to situate itself on Lake Champlain, but things don’t always work out like one wants. (8/09)

Theobroma presidency

[bottle]Dogfish Head “Theobroma” (Delaware) – Ale brewed with honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chilies, and ground annatto. It sounds either fascinating or horrid, depending on the level of one’s beer purism, but it actually must be said that the recipe – apparently an ancient one, more or less – contributes not to a brew that seems like a misguided accident behind a Mexican pastry chef’s station, but rather something complex and appealing that reminds me rather suggestively of an aged Trappist ale. That’s praise from me, in case it’s not clear. I’m not always on board with Dogfish Head’s wilder explorations, but this is awfully tasty. (8/09)

Gouden carbonated

Petrus Gouden Tripel Ale (Belgium) – Refermenting. And I mean aggressively so…by the time I uncork it, a good deal of beer has seeped up the cork, down the capsule, and all over a refrigerator shelf. The cork, at the slightest tug, slams into the ceiling, causing everyone in the room to duck. Foam boils forth…and even though I quickly pour half the beer into another container, the foam continues to surge and boil until the bottle is nearly empty. The result isn’t all that bad, to be honest, but as I can’t imagine this is the intended state of drinkability, I’m not sure it’s useful to go into much detail. (10/09)

Goldblum virus

New Belgium “Mothership” Wit (Colorado) – A little heavy on the lemon, and somewhat watery. An acceptable level of both, and there’s nice white-washed spice, but this could be better. (8/09)


Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” Helles Blond Bock (Massachusetts) – Strong and a little boozy, and somewhat akin to drinking freshly-pounded copper. Oh, these analogies and metaphors do get away from one. Good, but only just, and I’d rather drink other things. (9/09)

Edmund Fitzgerald

[label]Lake Superior “Kayak” Kölsch (Minnesota) – Frothy and balanced, with an edge of crispness and a saline finish. (8/09)

Lake Superior “Old Man Winter Warmer” Barley Wine Ale (Minnesota) – Dense and heady balsamic sweetness, full of dark brownness. A bit too bitter, though. (8/09)

Lake Superior “Sir Duluth” Oatmeal Stout (Minnesota) – Approachable, but goes nowhere of real consequence, leaving some sticky/malty grain flavor just sitting there, waiting for something.. Good, but only just. (8/09)

Lake Superior “Mesabi” Red (Minnesota) – Intense and hoppy; the opposite of thirst-quenching. Whether one finds this appealing or not will depend on taste. (8/09)