11 May 2010

The COSby show

COS 2007 Frappato (Sicily) – Volatile acidity, first and foremost. Thankfully, it fades a bit, and then there’s strawberry and grayish-white minerality. A very delicate wine. The minerality grows with air, but I’d like a little more aromatic interest here. Juicy acidity. The finish is a little reminiscent of a prune eau-de-vie. (5/10)

Grig Louganis

La Mondianese 2007 Grignolino d’Asti (Piedmont) – Surprisingly dark, solid, and insistent for a grignolino. The oxidation is there, but it’s subservient to a pale lavender fruit, rich and full, that hides the pale openness so endemic to the grape and region. Complexity is provided by a rich stew of well-dried petals. Fascinating. (5/10)


Argento Malbec (Argentina) – Non-vintage, but lot 12925 if that means anything to anyone, and from a 187 ml airline bottle. First of all, kudos to Argento for putting this wine in plastic rather than glass; no need for the heavier, more expensive material given the quality and the destination aboard an airplane. And second, it’s actually not that bad, once one readjusts expectations; it is, after all, non-vintage ultra-commercial wine. Blueberry and blackberry vie for dominance, and while both are a little soupy the only other element that really stands out is an alcoholic spice and heat that eventually takes over the finish. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s definitely present. No structure to speak of, though the alcohol itself provides a certain sense of foundation, and while thought applied to the wine leads to a realization that it’s pretty candied and syrupy, it’s a nice candied syrup. (4/10)


Cragganmore 1984 Scotch Whisky “Distillers’ Edition” (Speyside) – Heady and somewhat dominated by alcohol, but still loaded and layered with caramels, nuts, and creams. Big. Very, very big. (4/10)

Plymouth Plantation

Voyager Estate 2006 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon (Margaret River) – Grassy grapefruit rind, crisp and slightly overdriven. It’s a very refreshing drink, but it’s the refreshment of a fruit-based soda more than a wine. Still, it seems churlish to complain, because this is neither advertised as nor attempting to be some vinous sophisticate. I suspect it would be even better with food. (4/10)

Palliser o' mine

Palliser Estate 2005 Pinot Noir (Martinborough) – If there’s a “standard” New Zealand pinot noir character, with adjustments for climate and vintage, this has it: dark and intense berried fruit, beet (and lots of it), a little hint of blood orange rind, and liquid earth with a fully-integrated structure, even in its youth. Straightforward, approachable, and tasty. (4/10)

No quarter

Macallan 25-year Scotch Whisky (Scotland) – Sultry and shy, enveloping rather than impressing. The nose has moved through the elegant wood stage into something fruitier, darker, and much more mysterious. Not an enormous amount of fun to drink, but an incredible aromatic experience. (4/10)

Lower than the Massenbflat

Massenez Eau de Vie Poire William (Alsace) – Pear and sweat, with the sweet-salty character that seems to mark this particular fruit and genre, at least from Alsace. Quite good, with an added lift of sophistication. (4/10)

As the Crozes flies

Jaboulet 2006 Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône) – Watery and insipid, as if liquid smoke had been added to the most timid of artificial blackberry drinks-in-a-box. Embarrassing. (4/10)


Klein Constantia 2007 Riesling (Constantia) – Intense but not delivering on all its promises. Chalky minerals and sun-heated whitewash, very dry “fruit” remnants, a fair bit of weight, and good structure. But it doesn’t go much of anywhere. (4/10)

Abit for umani

Umani Ronchi 2008 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico “Casal dei Cavalier” (Marches) – Straightforward brittle, biting greenness. Not much else. Clean, simple, drinkable. (4/10)

Forsoni, not for Hitachi

Forsoni “Sanguineto I e II” 2004 Rosso di Montepulciano (Tuscany) – Earthen strawberries, dark and dusty, though this is either in an odd transitional stage or showing signs of wear, as structurally it’s a little disjointed and rough. I don’t have sufficient years of experience with the wine to know which it is. Still, despite the inconsistencies, it’s as appealing and food-adoring as it always is. (4/10)

The difference between Loveau and Lustau

Lustau “East India Solera” Sherry (Jerez) – Very, very, very sweet. No surprise there. Sticky nuts, caramelized and ensyruped, taking on the character of liquid toffee. What more is there to say? You either want something like this or you don’t. (4/10)


Renwood 2002 Zinfandel “Old Vine” (Amador County) – 15%. Twisted red and black berries fading to pine and layered with too-prominent coconut. This is about half spiced rum at this point. Which isn’t an entirely unusual fate for aging zinfandel, but this was better in its youth. (4/10)

Arthur "Two Hands" Jackson

Two Hands 2003 Shiraz “Bad Impersonator” (Barossa Valley) – 15.0%. Really not bad at all. Powerful, for sure, and this is a decidedly berry-dominated expression of syrah, but that’s not unexpected. There’s black pepper and some iron-flake minerality, too. Balanced in its steroidal fashion. I admit that, to my surprise, I find this quite appealing. (4/10)


Miller 2006 Grenache Shannon Ridge (Lake County) – 14.7%. Candy, bubblegum, synthetic strawberry syrup, and all the vapidity of badly-conceived plastic surgery caked with cheap makeup. Alcoholic, too. (4/10)

Terres it up

Terres d’Avignon “Kermit Lynch” 2006 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Drinking very well right now, with powdered pepper and herb softness settling into a plusher blend of dried fruit and light soil than was apparent even a few months ago. When this wine is on, it’s one of the best values in the Côtes-du-Rhône, not least because it fulfills expectations so perfectly. And 2006 was definitely an “on” vintage. 2007…perhaps not so much. (4/10)

Jumilla Jovovich

Casa de la Ermita 2005 Jumilla Dulce Monastrell (Levant) – From 375 ml. I keep trying this wine, and it never gets more appealing than it does intriguing: dusty tannin, black fruit, syrupy texture and sweetness, and the rough, stony animalism that signifies the variety. It doesn’t work for me. (3/10)

Dog house

Dog Point 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Goes right to the heart of Marlborough sauvignon-ness (sauvignon-icity?) but in a defter, more polished way than the abrasive style that made the region. This, in case it’s not clear, is a good thing. Underripe citrus and grass vie with just enough razory acidity for dominance, and while the wine’s racy enough, it’s neither tooth-scraping nor functionally underripe. Solid, paradigm-defining wine. Which is not to say that there’s not better out there, because there is. (3/10)

Ed Meese

Edmeades 2000 Zinfandel Ciapusci (Mendocino Ridge) – 15.9%. Blackberry-infused whiskey, prune, licorice, and coconut rum. This might as well be 25.9% for all the heat, burn, and fire it shows. The wine has always been a wallop in the head, but I don’t think trying to age it was a good idea. (3/10)

Main street

Donaldson Family “Main Divide” 2005 Riesling (New Zealand) – Fruity and a little aggressive, but the bones are just starting to show through the skin, and the wine’s picked up a brittleness it didn’t have even a few months ago. I don’t know if it’s closing or fading. (3/10)

Trademarked sausage

Rolly Gassmann 2003 Pinot Gris Brandhurst de Bergheim “Sélection des Grains Nobles” (Alsace) – Sticky and extremely sweet. Sugared apples and some interesting vegetal notes. I tasted this at release and didn’t think it had a long future, and I think that was the right call both then and now. In fact, I’m a little surprised how fast it has fallen off. (3/10)

Steve & Eydie

Faller “Domaine Weinbach” 2000 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Laurence” (Alsace) – Fat lychee and flower garden. Very lush. This could use a lot more acidity, in my opinion, though this feeling is not shared by others tasting the wine. It’s good, but this house can (and usually does) do better with this grape. (3/10)

Hawaiian tropic

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Open 24 hours and tasted from a mostly empty bottle. Coconut oil, spicy earth, walnut, and chocolate. Good acidity. This is in a slightly weird state, and I have a disagreement with the source of the bottle; he thinks its ready to drink, I think it’s in need of more time. (3/10)

Durell hand cream

Edmunds St. John 1995 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – 14.4%. Such a deep purple it’s like drinking a Jon Lord keyboard solo. Still very structured, with fine balance but with its cards held very close to its chest. It takes about five minutes to unwind from a cranky and difficult opening, and then it just sits there, unchanging, for hours. And hours. A touch of volatile acidity eventually develops in the glass, but it’s minor and non-hyper-sensitives probably won’t even notice it. Five to ten more years, at least, are required here; it’s certainly not in a generous mood at the moment. (3/10)

The bigger they are

Müller-Catoir 2006 Haardter Herzog Rieslaner Beerenauslese 14 07 (Pfalz) – From 375 ml. Thudding sugar of nearly unbelievable intensity. Huge molten metal paired with grilled pineapple. But oh, so overwhelmingly sweet. (3/10)

The Haardter they fall

Müller-Catoir 2008 Haardter Herzog Rieslaner Spätlese 20 09 (Pfalz) – Huge, huge, huge. Banana cream and raspberry popsicle. Oddly, I mean both in a positive way. Powerful, and in fact a little overwhelming. (3/10)

Fréd's not dead

Trimbach 1997 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – Opened after a short run of other producers’ ‘97s raised some cause for concern. Well, there’s nothing to worry about here. It’s rich, and already into its creamy, mature stage, with soft minerality blown through a dusty wind tunnel. A little shy at first, it expands and gains firmness as it aerates. Not a touch of oxidation, and really good. If you own this in quantity, it’s time to start drinking, but if you don’t there’s certainly no hurry. (3/10)

Granger, Granger things have happened

Granger 2006 Chénas (Beaujolais) – Soil-infused red cherries, squared-off and solid. Starts nice, gets better. Really quite impressive by the time the bottle’s drained. (3/10)


Egon Müller “Château Belá” 2003 Riesling (Štúrovo) – Corked. (3/10)

Nau free

Scholium Project 2008 “Naucratis” Lost Slough (California) – 16.3% California verdejo, and isn’t there just bound to be a massive potential market for such a thing? Very spicy. Perfumed roses, lots of skin to the structure, huge, and very hot. This is served blind, and I get nowhere even vaguely close. (3/10)

Aubry Hepburn

L. Aubry 2003 Champagne Brut “Le Nombre d’Or” (9/09 disgorgement) (Champagne) – Fascinating. Exotic pear. Very floral and boisterous. Fun and yet odd. Considering what this is made from – fromenteau, petit meslier, and arbanne – there’s little surprise I’m having trouble getting a handle on it, or contextualizing it within my expectations for Champagne. (3/10)

Séguret squirrel

Domaine de Mourchon 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Séguret (Rhône) – Open for 24 hours by the time I taste it. Big, dusty, and dark, showing strawberry bubblegum and hard tannin. Very purple in nearly every aspect. A little angry. But good. (3/10)

Rolly polly

Rolly Gassmann 1998 Gewurztraminer Stegreben de Rorschwihr “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Not all that sweet, actually. Leaves, dark skins, and structural acidity dominate. Perhaps a bit of weediness? A pleasant kind, if so. Juicy and rather beautiful, though I think it needs drinking. (3/10)


Lucien “Le Vieux Donjon” 1990 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Smells like a Burgundy, tastes like a Rhône...but something more northerly, perhaps Côte-Rôtie, in its elegance and restraint. And it’s still very primary tannic and tight, albeit from a glacial cellar; more typical cellaring environments might lead to different results. It’s full of suggestions, gestures, and hints, with a peacock tail of aromas just waiting to burst forth. Classy and portending beauty. (3/10)

Descombes your hair

Descombes 2006 Brouilly (Beaujolais) – Fiercely acidic. Raspberry, cranberry, and underbrush…but this is like trying to drink from a spiked metal helmet. Liquefied iron arrives somewhere within the finish. A little brett, too? Impossible to ignore, screeches for food, and while I like it, I think it will need to be addressed as Mistress Descombes in the future. (3/10)


Goyard “Domaine de Roally” 1999 Mâcon-Villages “Tradition” (Mâcon) – Vivid and beeswaxy, commencing in a linear fashion, growing rounder and fleshier around the waist, and then tapering again into the finish. Dry honey, chalk, crystals. After an hour or so, there’s a hint of butter. A really, really good wine, and my best bottle of this yet. (3/10)

Free Radikon

Radikon 2003 Ribolla Gialla (Venezia Giulia) – Creamy, with that odd tension between stone fruit and ripe red berries that so often marks this grape when made in this fashion. There’s skin tannin, but it’s milder than normal (possibly a consequence of the vintage, though if so it runs counter to the excess/underripe-tannin problem that plagues so many 2003s), and while the wine feels heavy on the palate, it lightens considerably by the time the finish rolls around. A good, not great, Radikon ribolla, but considering the elevated starting position there’s no real shame in that. (3/10)

Lispida sound

Castello di Lispida 2002 “Amphora” Bianco (Veneto) – Corked. (3/10)


Cedarville 2000 Zinfandel (El Dorado) – 15.7%. I’ve never had a Cedarville wine that I didn’t think was too oaky for its own good, and this caused me to give up on the winery – despite palates I trusted trying to convince me otherwise – years ago. Based on this bottle, I kinda wish I’d listened. The oak, once lavish, has integrated; it’s not gone by any means, but it is now just a partner to the vibrant, spicy, mountain-pine and fields-of-berries fruit. That fruit, however, is still fairly primary, and there are no disjointed elements to the structure, so I can’t say that I think this is any danger of needing consumption. In fact, it might not even be ready yet. (3/10)

Wade Boxler

Boxler 2005 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Rich, ripe, but not heavy, leaning more strongly on peaches than lychees, with layers of crystalline spice underneath. Just structured enough, though it’s on the thick side of the norm for this wine. (NB: This is the Chadderdon bottling, carrying no label code…though I don’t think there’s a differentiator for the gewurztraminer even on the French side of things.) (3/10)

Murlé bad

Frick 2005 Gewurztraminer Rot-Murlé (Alsace) – An intriguing combination of the deadening weight of an overripe gewurztraminer and the weedy, fetid swamp aroma of an underripe one. That’s an accomplishment. (3/10)

Fischer king

Dr. Fischer 2007 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese 3 08 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Shy for the first twelve hours or so, then blossoming into timidity and overt restraint. Sounds exciting, I know. A lot of dust eventually leads to a petrol-tinged lemongrass creaminess and canned peaches (more about the can than the fruit), but this just isn’t very interesting. (3/10)

Chocolate chip cookie Cerdon

Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon (Ain) – How many more notes does the internet need on this wine? It’s pure joy. Buy it. Buy cases of it. Buy pallets of it. (3/10)

Soften or Laudun

Texier 2001 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Laudun (Rhône) – Pretty much ready, perhaps even a touch past ideal, as the well-soiled meat and rough underbrush are showing signs of male-pattern baldness in the midpalate. The fruit, structure, etc. aren’t fully “matured,” but I don’t think there’s going to be sufficient body in the future to support continued effort along these lines. I’m glad I aged it, though, as it’s more interesting than it was in its more monolithic youth. (3/10)

Texier 2001 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Laudun (Rhône) – Concentrating down towards the classic Rhône destination of meat juice, but there’s still blackberry and even a little bit of strawberry lingering about. Straightforward and simple, but good. I’d drink this soonish if I had any more…and hey, what a surprise, I do. And will. (3/10)

Texier 2001 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Laudun (Rhône) – Chewy, meaty, substantial. Light around the edges, but dark to the point of opacity within (that’s an organoleptic, not visual, assessment). Probably mature. (3/10)


Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – The hyper-masculine aggression of this wine has really been shed over the last year or so, which is something I didn’t expect to happen quickly or, in my more pessimistic moments, at all. It’s still no delicate flower, for sure, but now both the flavors and the overall body are something more recognizable as pinot noir, albeit still far, far on the fringes of the weight that’s typical from anyone else growing this grape in Marlborough. (Well, except maybe Glover’s, but that’s mostly about tannin.) The dusty, black-soiled elements are now met by freshening acidity, while a scowling array of berries must accept the presence of lighter, crisper elements in their midst. This wine, always so brutish in the past, is undergoing a fascinating transformation, but I wonder if I’ll have the patience to wait this story out to its denouement; I’ve only a few bottles left. (3/10)

Getariako sauce

Amesguren “Ameztoi” 2008 Getariako Txakolina Rubentis (Northwest Spain) – Full of leafy floaters – I’m assuming tartrates, but note that they don’t settle very quickly – and showing no signs of fatigue despite the precipitation. All the strawberry/strawberry leaf and zippy, fizzy punch are still present and vibrant. I often feel that this should be ladled from a large, ice-filled bowl rather than cooped up in a bottle. And I meant that affectionately. (3/10)

Salt & Pèpière

Ollivier “Domaine de la Pépière” 2008 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Ripe shells, rounded bones. The dryness here is a fulsome dryness, and that makes all the difference in a wine that can, at times, be spare in the tune of void. I like this for drinking now, though I’m sure there’s no real hurry either. Classic Muscadet as it should be, rather than is, and the price is absurdly low for the quality. (3/10)


Mionetto “MO” Spumante “Sergio” Extra Dry (Veneto) – Soft, soft, soft. Prettified fruit and the suggestion of unidentified flowers. Pillowy. Did I mention this was soft? (3/10)