29 July 2010

Arbois-thers in arms

Tissot 2007 Arbois Poulsard “Vieilles Vignes” (Jura) – Wine geeks often express the notion that the wines of the Jura are difficult to understand (for novices, one presumes). That may be true for the whites that play in realms oxidative, but I’m less sure it’s true for the reds that don’t. This one, for example, has been plenty popular with aficionados and newbies alike, over multiple vintages. And what’s not to like? Appealing, pale red fruit of purity and lightness, paired with a delicate structure…unless one is a fan of jam, and exclusively so, it’s hard to register much negativity here. But there is a difference in the way that new and old hands approach this wine, and it’s this: first-encounterers want to gulp it. That’s a compliment, of course, but the experienced instead want to spend a lot of time poring over its details. Why? It’s the nervous trembling to the fruit, the sense of air and space within the wine, the organoleptic version of a musical silence that permits and encourages such close examination. (5/10)

Let it Bea

Bea 2007 “Santa Chiara” (Umbria) – Whitewashed fruit, dried into powder and then reconstituted into something utterly fascinating. It’s like drinking light in fine particulate form. Persists, persists, persists…and then it’s gone, clean and full of memory. Absolutely compelling. (5/10)


Romano Levi Grappa (Piedmont) – A “little girl” label on this one. I think most would call this fruity, but I’m not sure that’s it…the “fruit” is somewhat impressionistic, or perhaps even abstract. Not cubist. It roils with tactile complexity, as much textural as aromatic, and despite the typically cauldronesque warmth of grappa, there’s so much to both the texture and the aromatics that the heat goes almost unnoticed. Until later, at least. Definitely on the richer, more luxuriant side of Levi grappas, yet what’s most surprising is that this isn’t expressed alongside concomitant gravity, but instead with delicious weightlessness. Succulent and, reviewed in summary, majestic. (5/10)


Château Margaux 2000 "Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux" (Margaux) – Lush, sultry, slutty, whorehouse Bordeaux. I don’t mean that as a bad thing, necessarily, but the lurid aromatics and the very particular texture…well, I can see why certain critics tend towards describing wines such as this in pornographic terms, because the lingo fits. There’s plenty of structure, but it’s oh-so-plushy and New World, and the dark fruit is expansive and soft. That said, there’s tobacco and pepper dust (more on the fruit than the spice side of pepper), and it is recognizable as Bordeaux. But modern Bordeaux, for sure. I find it impossible to not like, despite any stylistic reservations. Surprisingly drinkable now, but there’s far from any hurry to get to it; I suspect there’s a lot more development to come. (5/10)

Klin slate

Primosic 2006 Collio Bianco Klin “Riserva” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Vibrant with complexity, quite tannic, and low-toned. If anything, slightly over-structured, oozing into a dark brown realm of density and gravity. And there’s no lack of oxidation, either. But it’s delicious. (5/10)

What does Marguer eat?

Loew 2009 “Premières Vendanges de Marguerite” (Alsace) – This is sylvaner rouge, which I’ve not had before and don’t expect to have very often in the future. Which might be a shame, because I think the green tomato/herbal edge of sylvaner (which gains an intriguing weight from good Alsatian sites) is expressed to nice effect in this pinkish guise. In addition to those herbs and tomatoes, there’s big acidity, tangerine, and a light edge of tannin. Intriguing. (5/10)

Evolution '89

Trimbach 1989 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – By a fair margin the worst bottle of this I’ve had. Concentrated and full-bodied, but it’s a body comprised of not much other than beige mineral weight. It grows intensity over a few hours, and maybe there’s a faint suggestion of browned-out fruit, but not much else. Whatever the usual state and quality of the wine (which have, in turn, been vibrant and considerable), this bottle’s past it. (5/10)

Lytton tea

Ridge 2006 Lytton Springs (Dry Creek Valley) – I taste each new vintage of Ridge’s flagship zinfandels with an increasing sense of despair. Not because the wines are bad – they’re not, though there is the occasional vintage-by-vintage failure – but because they’ve become so anonymously tiring. Here we have bubblegummy fruit (not fully grenache-like, but still), coconut, toast, and a ton of obvious alcohol. Nothing to set it apart from dozens of other reasonable-quality zinfandels from the appellation. Where’s the singular character? Where’s the structure? Yes, this is a very young wine from a site that usually demands extended (for zinfandel) aging, but this is not the Lytton Springs of old in quality or character. (5/10)

Woven so well

Edmunds St. John 2007 “That Old Black Magic” (El Dorado County) – Steve’s wines aren’t always this approachable in their youth, but the surplus here doesn’t come at the cost of overall balance or integrity. Dark, deep, a little brooding, and quite solid…and yet light and lively despite the gravitic press. Dark fruit, dark soil, dark carpeting. Really, really good. (5/10)

Nardini's escape

Nardini “Bassano” Grappa (Veneto) – Dominated by its floral/fruity/nutty notes rather than its heat or gasaholic stridency, which is welcome and unfortunately not common enough with grappa. (5/10)

The Binner takes it all

Binner 2007 “Les Saveurs” (Alsace) – Supple and appealing, though of course there’s the mushy, unfocused quality common to most Alsatian blends. But this has a nice spice, texture, and lift (not VA-derived) to it. (5/10)

The rock

Lapierre 2007 Morgon (Beaujolais) – Pretty delicate for a Morgon, it’s sweet-natured smallberry fruit dusted with soil and slowly immersing itself in a creamy black trumpet mushroom texture. But the shoulders, bones, and muscles of Morgon are not here. As such, I’d drink this vintage sooner rather than later. (6/10)

Roagna, Roagna, Roagna your boat

Roagna 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont) – Starts off difficult and overstructured, though of course this is a very early moment to be drinking such a wine. A lot of air and…well, the tannin doesn’t subside, but the acidity shows a little brighter, and the dark, chewy fruit lumbers into the background. This is by any measure a heavy, muscular wine, and it will require a fair number of years to peel away the layers of difficulty. (6/10)


Cappellano 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba Gabutti (Piedmont) – Where do I start with the flaws? I’ll need extra ink. I don’t know if the problem is with the wine, the shipment, or just this bottle. But pretty much everything except refermentation and TCA that could go wrong with this wine, has gone wrong. Yuck. (6/10)

Nicoll Kidman

Nicoll Dry Wildflower Mead (Maine) – Yeah, it’s mead. Dry-ish honey in drinkable form. And then? Nothing. The problem is less this beverage than my tastes; once one has delved into single-source meads, the blends seem…well, boring. So that’s my bad. I can recommend it for those whose palates haven’t been ruined by, um, varietal bottlings. (6/10)

Here's the wind-up

Amador Foothill 2006 Zinfandel Clockspring (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. Very straightforward zinnish fruit: generous wild berries, a little feral, some pepper, a brief spike of alcohol on the encephalograph. Simple. Could be more of…something. Anything. (Hopefully not alcohol.) But OK. (6/10)


Château du Roquefort (a/k/a Domaine du Roquefort) 2006 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône “Gueule de Loup” (Provence) – A blend of grenache, the cabernets, and merlot. At a cost of a few dollars, this would be fine: basic fruit, basic structure…the kind of wine one un-jugs and sloshes at a picnic, or in front of the kitchen TV. It’s more than that, and as a result it’s less than that. I don’t see what cabernets and merlot add to grenache, and I don’t see the reverse either. (6/10)

My name is Gilroy

Bonny Doon 2009 “Clos de Gilroy” Grenache (Monterey County) – Simple-minded strawberry bubblegum, raspberry, and doofusberry. Yes, that’s a new fruit. Not heavy but still managing to show its alcohol. Quite drinkable with aggressively-flavored animal parts and a switched-off brain, but the least bit of thought or attention leads to unpleasant reactions. (6/10)

What is morgen on?

de Morgenzon 2006 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Heavy, leaden, dead from gravity and then necromanced with wood. While it will never be my favorite thing to do to chenin blenc, this cellar treatment can work in producing a fruity-but-internationalized wine. But it didn’t work here. Everything decent and appealing in the wine has been beaten to death, then reanimated and beaten a second time. (6/10)

Oh, Reuilly?

Domaine de Reuilly 2008 Reuilly Pinot Gris (Loire) – Pinkish orange and too avant-garde sorbet-like for my tastes; the sensation of sweet-tart candy and herbed pear isn’t a pleasant one for my palate. (6/10)

The end is Nai

Frecciarossa 2008 Provincia di Pavia Bianco Frizzante “Nai” (Lombardy) – Bright, almost (but not quite) brittle, bringing grass and clean greenness together with lemony citrus broth. Vivid, but only for a moment. Something’s missing here. Length? Breadth? Depth? Pick one. (6/10)

My Galichets Friday

C&P Breton 2004 Bourgueil Les Galichets (Loire) – Green fruit…ripe but edged with herbs, stems, seeds, and skins…and dark, almost gritty soil. There are already mature notes floating about, and given the closure I wouldn’t hold the wine any longer anyway. (6/10)

C&P Breton 2004 Bourgueil Les Galichets (Loire) – Virtually identical to the previous bottle, with a bit more dark soil and intensity, plus more surviving structure. Despite this, the wine actually shows more maturity (in the form of tertiary spice/soil notes) than the previous. In any case, the advice to drink up holds. (6/10)

Wesley Krusher

Kanonkop 2008 “Kadette” (Stellenbosch) – I find Kanonkop’s wines quite impressive, especially their pinotage and Paul Sauer blend, but this is the outlier. It’s OK, but really no more than that. Big, big, big fruit, with that strappy, paint/varnish pinotage character – missing from their varietal bottling – on full display, and obliterating any appeal that might otherwise be lent by the other grapes in the blend. It’s not awful or anything, but I don’t really see the point to it, other than a way to slough off lesser product to preserve the quality of the upper-tier bottlings. (5/10)


Mt. Difficulty “Roaring Meg” 2008 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Second-label and cheaper Otago pinots are either surprisingly good or flawed in a regionally-representative way: too much weight and alcohol. Here, while there is some alcohol on display, it’s not because the wine is too weighty. On the contrary, it’s wan, tired, and uninteresting. It reminds me of one of those Eastern European pinots that used to show up in educational blind tastings a few decades ago, just to wrench the works (“betcha can’t guess that this is from Bulgaria, tee hee”) in that I while I understand how it got made, I don’t understand how it got purchased, shipped to foreign markets, and given valuable shelf space. (5/10)

A real groener

Neil Ellis 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (Groenekloof) – Driven and slightly pushed sauvignon, which ramps up the mineral and green components alike. There’s nothing underripe about this wine, which tends more toward apple than herb, and so it can handle the escalation of volume. A very solid wine. (5/10)

Paul Simon came up with 50 more

JP Brun “FRV100” (Beaujolais) – “Aged” (by which, of course, I mean forgotten in the cellar) for about a year. My initial reaction is that the boisterous, bubbly fruit has faded a bit, but it’s marginal enough that I could easily be self-suggesting same. It’s still good. Good fun. (5/10)

Ernest Borgo

Borgo Scopeto 2000 “Borgonero” (Tuscany) – What once may have been deep-throated strawberry and blackberry fruit has been pushed, wrenched, and twisted into something laden with Botox and fakery. It’s recognizable as wine, but further precision would be problematic at best. (5/10)


Trimbach 2001 Riesling (Alsace) – Tiring. No…tired. (5/10)

Little book

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Sweet fruit and pretty flowers. Tra-la-la, tra-la-la. Also, green apple, walnut skins, and puppy dog tails. Fresh’n’fruity. Not the most interesting bottle of this I’ve had. Too giggly. (5/10)

Vidal information

Lakeview 2007 Vidal Icewine (Niagara Peninsula) – 200 ml. Powerfully sweet – I’m glad this bottle isn’t any bigger, frankly – with rhinestone minerality and some nice fruit skin/vegetal counterpoints. (5/10)

Doug Neder

Nederburg 1999 Pinotage (Western Cape) – Dusty, varnishy, and gasping its last. (5/10)

Kings of Pian

Montevertine 2004 “Pian del Ciampolo” (Tuscany) – Corked. (5/10)

Jeff Spicoli

Two Hands 2008 Shiraz “Gnarly Dudes” (Barossa Valley) – 14.9%. Concentrated blackberry jam with lots of (iffy) acidity and just enough scraping tannin. Some grappa, as well. A fruit bludgeon, adorned with peppery studs and juicy-fruit rivets. Gluggable, though you’ll feel it later. (5/10)

Rocky III

Trichard “Domaine des Pierres” 2007 Chénas (Beaujolais) – Corked. (5/10)

A world of no

Gallo “Wild Vines” Blackberry Merlot (Origin Unknown) – Fruit of the Loom, but a few days after you ate the fruit. Fake, fake, fake. “Contains 0% juice” – it says it right on the label – and sweet. A scoop-and-mix fruit drink, at best. (5/10)

Very putrid s***

Beringer 2004 “VPS” White Zinfandel/Chardonnay “Premier Vineyard Selection” (California) – 80% white zinfandel, 20% chardonnay. Childrens’ fruit gum, hand sanitizer, NyQuil™, stale butter, minor sweetness. A little foxy, in a Welch’s green grape juice sort of way, with acetic acid following. Actually tastes like wine, which is a surprise at this stage. I’ve tasted worse. There: praise. (5/10)

25 July 2010

de Moor, de merrier

de Moor 2008 Bourgogne Blanc Chitry (Burgundy) – Subtle. Clear running water, gently flowing over stones, plus lovely blended stone and citrus fruit. Perfectly under-structured, if that makes sense. The wine is kinda beautiful, but in a shy, somewhat girlish way. I’d describe it as a bit of a Lolita, but now this note is starting to creep me out. (7/10)

The sheer Gaules of it

Lapierre 2008 Vin de Pays des Gaules (Beaujolais) – Painfully green, biting, and underripe. I didn’t think Lapierre had it in him to release such a nasty, unpleasant wine. (6/10)


Black Ridge 2003 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Sweet red beet and blood orange concentrate. Stemmy. Walnut skins and dirt suffused with ash. The sensation of excess acidity this wine had in its youth is only a memory at this point. Pretty good – certainly better than it was at release – but I don’t know if I’d hold this any longer. (6/10)

I, a gris

Trimbach 2004 Pinot Gris “Réserve” Ribeauvillé (Alsace) – Drinking really well, but the period of its drinking needs to come to an end soonish, because the metal-jacketed spiced pear – as consistent an organoleptic characteristic as one will ever find – is being decided in favor of the metal-jacketing, which is a sign that the wine’s about to enter its declining years. No stupendous hurry, but still: drink up. (6/10)

Little cuts

Trimbach 2006 Riesling (Alsace) – Wet iron, apple skin, lots of juicy and balanced acidity. Simpler than normal. Perhaps not their best work. No, this is never actually comparable with their domaine-sourced wines, but there’s a lack of nerve here. (6/10)

But sometimes, I don't Bousse so much

Chevillon 1999 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Bousselots (Burgundy) – Graphite-dominated. Closed and difficult. From a very cold cellar, and it’s sometimes hard to muster up sufficient patience for these wines from more typical conditions, but this is as closed as a wine can get. (6/10)

We are the Champs

Fèvre 2007 Chablis “Champs Royaux” (Chablis) – Fine-grained minerality, citrusy exotica, rapidly-declining finish. This wine has an enormously appealing texture that surpasses its aromatic interest, and it’s a pretty fine value (for Chablis). No, it’s not Great (or even great), but what do you want for this price? Ideally, one would wait a few years for the preservative buffer to subside, but it’s not as inaccessibly sulfured as some of its brethren. (6/10)


Kreydenweiss 2005 Costières de Nîmes “Perrières” (Rhône) – I can’t seem to let these wines age as long as they should. Probably because, despite their youthfully brutish tannin and size, the roiling, earthy fruit is so appealing. And they’re awfully nice with meat. Or meat with a side of meat. Anyway, while the wine’s big and dark, there’s enough light and air to see right through to the core of it. In many ways, these southern efforts from Kreydenweiss are far easier to understand and access than his Alsatian wines. (6/10)

Two, two, two barrels in one

The Balvenie “DoubleWood” 12 Year Scotch (Scotland) – Over-wooded Scotch. Overly pleasant and genial, not nearly interesting enough. (6/10)

Roussanne, don't walk away

JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2008 Vin de Table Roussanne (Beaujolais) – Bright. A roussanne, bright? Oh yes. Aromatic honeysuckle with other flowers, yes. But not heavy at all. Instead, its fresh with good acidity, and really, really good. (6/10)


Las Rocas de San Alejandro 2007 Catalayud Garnacha (Aragón) – Big, fruity wine. Soupy, perhaps, with lots of unfocused berries and a slightly numbing weight. Simple-minded, too. But at a low enough price, decently drinkable. (6/10)

Rotational force

Brunori 2007 Rosso Piceno “Torquís” (Marches) – Big, over-concentrated fruit that neither deserved nor was prepared for that concentration. And even then, it manages to be a little wan. Berries in popsicle form, dirt, some slightly weedy tannin. Eh. (6/10)

Why must we fight?

Manchester Brewing “Kombat Ale” (New Hampshire) – Why must we fight? Straightforward and good-quality beer. Done. Next? (6/10)

Like a bedroom

Boudouresques “Château Massiac” 2006 Minervois (Languedoc) – Earthmeat, grit, layers of rough structure, and the darkest precursors of blackened berries. Scowling. Probably closing up, but it feels a little overstructured anyway. I guess time will tell. (6/10)

Boudouresques “Château Massiac” 2007 Minervois (Languedoc) – More open than the 2006, with much greater generosity of black fruit and a lighter foot on the tannin pedal. Otherwise, mostly the same in terms of overall organoleptics and structure. This is promising. (7/10)


Bonal Gentiane-Quina (France) – I learned, a few years ago amidst a visit to Alsace, that I don’t like gentian eau-de-vie. It turns out that I don’t like an aperitif made from it either. Bitter, vegetal, ashen, and nasty. (7/10)


Mionetto “Sergio Mionetto” Extra Dry Sparkling Wine (Italy) – Soft, formless, and vague. (7/10)


Luxardo Fernet Amaro (Italy) – Mint-dominated bitterness, very heavily tipped toward the mint. Sort of a blast furnace of an amaro, with neither subtlety nor generosity. It’s OK as long as mint is a favored flavor, but one has to be in the right mood. (7/10)

Fernet, I'm coming

Fernet-Branca Liqueur (Italy) – Mint. Nasty, brackish, almost fetid mint. I do not like this, Sam I Am. (7/10)


St. Michael-Eppan “Sanct Valentin” 2006 Sauvignon (Alto Adige) – Extremely intense, as is the Sanct Valentin style, but that intensity is expressed internally rather than some big, showy explosion of gobs and lavishness. Greenish-white fruit, white-hot and studded with shattered glass, quivering with barely-restrained power but never losing its grip on the foundation. Impressive. (7/10)

Talk to me, Goose

Goose Island 2010 “Matilda” Belgian Style Ale (Illinois) – I’m immediately moved to hate the labels, which scream pretension and artifice, but this beer is good. Very good. The weight of the ale is expressed in a lower-gravity environment, lending it buoyancy and air, and there’s a singing flavor development full of bronze and spice. I like it, a lot. (7/10)

Goose Island 2010 “Pere Jacques” Belgian Style Ale (Illinois) – No, there’s no accent on the label. Fairly intense but balanced, though there’s not quite the development of flavor I’d expect from the structure. Only sorta good. (7/10)

Goose Island 2009 “Sofie” Belgian Style Ale (Illinois) – In the mode of a Belgian white, with perhaps just a little more weight than is good for it, but an otherwise firm, confident style. Just enough flavoring, just enough beer, just enough spice-fuzz texture. (7/10)

The Dogfish slayer

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff (California) – Oh, those wacky Dogfish folk. I find that they either hit a grand slam out of the park or go down swinging, and this is one of the latter at-bats. A furious attempt to achieve the pinnacle of nothing very interesting. (7/10)

Beurot-ing animal

Lucien Boillot 2006 “Les Grands Poisots en Souvenir du Beurot” (Burgundy) – A little oxidized, though I couldn’t possibly say if it’s premature or not. Those looking for anything expressive of pinot gris as they know it will also be disappointed, but I don’t see that as a lack, necessarily; the terroir will give what the terroir gives. This is coppery in aroma and antiqued in flavor, and I think mostly it’s just a little old. There are a lot of petals floating around in the aged broth, however, and it’s not exactly without appeal. (7/10)

Roche motel

Roussel & Barrouillet “Clos Roche Blanche” 2007 Touraine “Cuvée Gamay” (Loire) – Cedar shavings, grey earth, particulate iced pinkfruit, some deeper raspberry/cranberry tones, and needlepoint structure. A very precise wine. It may be showing a little bit of fray due to the closure. (7/10)


Kalin 1997 Sauvignon Blanc “Reserve” (Potter Valley) – The opposite of fresh, and I mean that as a compliment. The entire metals section of the periodic table might be in evidence here. Such concentration, force, and presence…and yet, edging just up to the border of what the wine’s balance will tolerate, and no more. Dissipates into a liquid dust as it finishes. The only negative is a butterscotched character that lingers as a bagpipe drone through the breadth of the experience. But there’s so much else to like that it’s easy to accept, though not ignore. (7/10)

Pretty palace

Beaucastel 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge (Rhône) – I drink so little young Châteauneuf these days that I forget how good it can be. And make no mistake: this is still young CdP. The preludes of meat, herb, raisined (but not jammy) fruit, and so forth are all here, but still bundled in a very primary structure. The end result is powerful, long, and nowhere near ready yet. (7/10)

A Noval idea

Quinta do Noval “Black” Porto (Douro) – Alas, heat-damaged. (7/10)

Marquette basket

Lincoln Peak 2008 Marquette (Vermont) – “For a Vermont wine” this is pretty good. Which means that, in the greater pantheon, it’s OK. Not all that foxy, but showing the slightly gelatinous fruit of the genre, here cut with enough acid for balance. Easygoing and nice to drink. (7/10)

Freezer burn

Gibert “Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie” 2009 Vin de Pays d’Oc “Rosé des Glacières” (Languedoc) – Almost violet-magenta in hue, and shockingly alive. Very present, even forceful, with a near-explosion of purple flowers and bright fruit exotica. There’s a little residual sugar, perhaps, but only the extremely averse will mind. Absolutely terrific. (7/10)

Toil & trouble

Aberlour 12-Year Scotch “Double Cask Matured” (Highland) – Extremely fruity and sweet. So much so that if they claimed one of the casks was sourced from Sauternes, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. Not my kind of Scotch. (7/10)


Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale (Delaware) – Yeah, that’s brown ale. And the first time I’ve ever found a Dogfish Head beer kinda indifferent. I didn’t think they had it in them. It’s good. Not great. Not interesting. Just good. (7/10)

Hi, Bill

Chapoutier 2008 Côtes du Roussillon Villages “Les Vignes de Bila-Haut” (Roussillon) – Boring, paint-by-numbers wine. Utterly without soul. Dark fruit, chewy structure, blocked-off and dull-witted. There’s not a flaw to be found, but you’ll fall asleep before the end of the first glass. (7/10)

It's Greek to me

Creta Olympias 2007 Vin de Crete “ΚΡΗΤΙΚΟΣ” (Crete) – Wedge bucket of ice in sand. Shove bottle into bucket Wait a few minutes. Uncork, pour. Let the condensation bead and run down the glass, bringing a momentary pinprick of coolness to your thigh. Drink, staring out at sea and sky. Stick a small umbrella in it, if you want. It’s that sort of wine. (7/10)


Movia 2007 “Lunar” (Goriška Brda) – Like drinking electronica and eating Dadaism in a black light-lit funhouse. Absolutely, deliriously weird and yet utterly compelling. This is far from the most representative of the “orange wine” cohort, but its eccentricities are as appealing as they are legion. (6/10)


Le Piane 1984 Boca (Piedmont) – Clinging. Sharp acidity and dusty, brown, eroded roses with alpine minerality and thin shafts of bone sticking out everywhere. This was probably better a little while ago, but there’s still quite a bit of life to it. It’s just a creaky, arthritic life. (6/10)

And the wind cries Hunawihr

Zind-Humbrecht 1997 Pinot Gris Hunawihr Clos Windsbuhl (Alsace) – Very sweet, as befits the vintage. Intense pear syrup and spice jacketed in metal plate armor. A touch hot and short – also unfortunate vintage artifacts – but this is holding on better than many of its fellow ‘97s, especially given the grape. Drink up, though. (7/10)

Huit l'Enclos

Raynaud “Château Quinault l’Enclos” 1998 Saint-Émilion (Bordeaux) – Green cranberry, tobacco ash, and oak tannins that lend even more Kermit-hued underripeness to the blend. Biting and unpleasant, with a short finish. Leaves a residue of dried blueberries. One is forced to ask of the wine: why? (6/10)

Crooked timber

North Country Orchard “Crooked Tree” Cider (New Hampshire) – Pretty basic. This tastes more like apple juice with the slight warmth of cider than it does an actual fermented cider. Very pleasant, but not worth the upcharge over (good, local, fresh) supermarket cider. (7/10)

Var, matey

Triennes 2009 Vin de Pays du Var Rosé (Provence) – Pink melon and grapefruit, soft and plushy, with tarragon and something else herbal that I can’t put a papilla on. Balanced. Some lead sinkers appear amidst the finish. Just OK. (7/10)

Main street

Donaldson Family “Main Divide” 2005 Riesling (South Island) – Makrut lime, icy-bright sweetness, ripe apple zing. Fresh and zippy. (7/10)


Fromm “La Strada” 2001 Pinot Noir Clayvin (Marlborough) – A recent closeout, and dying. There are plenty of signs of heat damage somewhere along the line. Alas, this showed up in a local closeout bin and I was intrigued. But I’d avoid the lot based on the performance of this bottle, which should have been in the early stages of blossoming from its closed youth. (7/10)

Bravay for the straight guy

Bravay “Domaine de Ferrand” 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Huge, and an early dalliance with fruit chews eventually veers towards something more mature. Still tannic and very ripe, but I think this has fully rounded into all the form it’s ever going to have. Drink soonish. (7/10)

To be, or Loubié

Domaine de Mourchon 2009 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Séguret “Loubié” Rosé (Rhône) – Perhaps this is weird, but I’m reminded of the Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon…except, of course, minus the fizz. And it’s true that the fruit is a little more grenache-signifying (strawberry bubblegum). But the fruity fun, the vivacious balance, the short finish? Reminiscent. Interesting. (7/10)

Let's go

Luneau-Papin 1997 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Clos des Allées “Vieilles Vignes” (Loire) – Brittle shells and a memory of generosities long passed. Not the best vintage to have aged this long, but it’s fine enough, and it’s worth nothing that there’s more heft and fullness after about six hours of room-temperature aeration, bringing in shiny metals and draped, desiccated fruit skins. Maybe the first sip underrates? Well, this is my last bottle, so I’ll never know more than what I’ve just written. (7/10)

Paint it black

Métaireau 1997 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie “carte noire” (Loire) – Corked. (7/10)

24 July 2010


Quinta do Infantado Tawny Porto (Douro) – Caramel, brown sugar, baked plum. Silky and only a little bit hot. Simple, but nice. (5/10)

National guard

Trimbach 2004 Ribeauvillé Pinot Gris “Réserve” (Alsace) – This was always a concentrated, vibrant vintage for this wine, but the first signs of unraveling are apparent in this bottle, as the metal-jacketed spiced pear begins to separate into its three components, without the cohesiveness that has been a signature of the wine since release. Drink up, I think. (5/10)

Locke-d out

Bornard 2007 Arbois Pupillin Trousseau “Le Ginglet” (Jura) – Wines like this have such a small margin for error, it seems to me. The broad, brown earthiness and faded fruit is rarely more than a step away from early decrepitude, and in the wrong hands – or the wrong vintage – can easily fall over, dead. Not so here. Lithe earth laced with fruit, rather than the reverse, dusty and delicate, but with insistence and persistence. Some funk. Lots of dust. Disappears very quickly. (5/10)

Crystal logic

Lafage 2008 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes “côté EST” (Roussillon) – 50% grenache (blanc I assume, though the label doesn’t specify), 30% chardonnay, 20% marsanne. Usually a reliable bargain wine, but performing very awkwardly from this bottle, showing pointed elbows of alcohol and jittery melon with sun-drenched lemons. Finishes white peppery. (5/10)

Terres it up

JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2007 Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay (Beaujolais) – Stone fruit with heat and shortness; I suspect some damage somewhere along the way. (5/10)

Sált & Pépière

Ollivier “Domaine de la Pépière” 2008 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Precise, shelled, and saline. Very mild, though. (5/10)


Umani Ronchi 2004 Rosso Conero San Lorenzo (Marches) – Pretty straightforward red fruit, the needle wavering between tangy and merely bright, with some externally-imposed structure. Fair enough. (5/10)

All together now

Copain 2007 Syrah “Tous Ensemble” (Mendocino County) – 14.2%. Very weighty and Californian, though appealing in that genre. Hot blue fruit, hot purple texture, hot black soil. Syrah, but only barely…though there’s structure and, eventually, the weight settles in. I suspect this will be better after a few years, but it’s not my thing now. (5/10)

Vaison dilation

Texier 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Vaison-la-Romaine (Rhône) – Rally solid Rhônish flavors – nothing you haven’t encountered before – with a stronger dried-earth component than is the norm. Texier’s wines have long been good, but there’s a polish to them now…not sophistication so much as swagger…that works to their benefit. Very good. (5/10)


Cruz Alta 2008 Malbec “Reserve” (Mendoza) – Coconut milkshake with chocolate Hershey’s would have rejected as too insipid, synthetic berry jelly, and powerful alcohol. Ugh. (5/10)

Hooked on a feeling

Gurrutxaga 2009 Bizkaiko Txakolina Txakoli Rosé (Northwest Spain) – In the context of pink Txakolina, this is heavy…which, of course, means it’s bright, brittle, and whipsnapped with strawberry crispness compared to most other pink wines. That said, it’s short, simple-minded, and a little stale. The weight doesn’t add anything here. (5/10)


Armani 2009 Corvara Pinot Grigio Valdadige (Trentino) – Decent straddling of the line between insipid plonk and something more mineral-driven and interesting. And there’s really not much more to be said about it. (5/10)

One bourbon, one scotch, & one beerenauslese

Kracher 2006 Beerenauslese “Cuvée” (Burgenland) – Sweet. Concentrated and sweet. Very rich, but I can’t quite identify in what vein its richness flows. Something stone-fruity? Maybe. It’s vague, if so. (5/10)


Boxler 2007 Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – Spiky and disjointed, the acid/fruit/sugar combo completely skewed towards chaos. Not much spice, a lot of eroded minerality, and a powerfully imbalancing alcoholic heat that eventually overwhelms the wine. Here’s something I didn’t think was possible: a Boxler wine by which I’m actively repelled. This could come from Carneros, or somewhere hotter. (5/10)

Anselmi something

Anselmi 2006 San Vincenzo (Veneto) – Very advanced and a little bronzed, thus I suspect either heat damage or cork failure, and possibly both. Layers of spice and flower dust, honeyed but a little short, are still in evidence. But this is not an intact bottle. (5/10)

R you ready?

Trimbach 2007 Riesling “R” (Alsace) – I don’t know what this wine is, I’ve neglected to ask while at Trimbach, and I’ve only ever had it at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. I presume there’s some sort of differentiation between this and the yellow-label négociant riesling, but if there is all I can identify about it is that this is a little more mediocre. Still dry, still bony, still mineralistic and firmly-structured, but also somewhat wan. (5/10)

Paestum to the wall

de Conciliis 2008 Fiano “Paestum Donnaluna” (Campania) – Heady, edging up to the precipice of lurid, then pulling back just enough to remain a beverage rather than an artifact. Wax, gravel, herb, and seed combine for both texture and aroma, and while there’s the requisite ashen undertone, it’s layered with structure and richness beyond the usual (5/10)

Jonathan Livingston Cigale

Chante Cigale 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Boring classicism, gauzy and faded. Some earth, some meat, some herb, some faded fruit. Snore. (5/10)

If Ulivi now

Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2006 Monferrato Bianco “Montemarino” (Piedmont) – Semi-oxidative and deliciously so, bringing wax, rinds, peels, and light green herbs together in a heady-yet-light broth. (5/10)


Maule “La Biancara” 1999 Gambellara Recioto (Veneto) – Starts off a little faded and browned-out, but then…wait…there’s a lot more here than at first sip. Rich old-cherry and old-furniture aromatics, a surprising vibrancy, and very strong acidity. Are those pepper dusts, or something more aromatic in the spice realm? Whatever it is, it adds to the intrigue, which grows with each sip. I kinda love this. (5/10)

In the Corsin human events

Corsin 2006 Saint-Véran “Tirage Précoce” (Burgundy) – Golden fruit lightened by air. Supple and relatively simple, despite a little trailing edge of spice. Good structure. Drinkable. (5/10)

Well & no good

Murrieta’s Well 2004 “Meritage” (Livermore Valley) – 51% cabernet sauvignon, 21% merlot, 18% petite verdot, 10% cabernet franc. Solid, straightforward, entirely decent. Dark fruit inhabiting the cassis/blackberry/black cherry range, medium-weight structure, a welcome note of green leaf and black pepper, but mostly about forward fruit and early generosity. Not overoaked, which is a blessing. Gets a little cumbersome late, and I think the wine’s future is portended by that tardy clumsiness. (5/10)

Barsotti voce

Edmunds St. John 2008 Gamay Noir Barsotti Ranch “Porphyry” (El Dorado) – A stark, bare rock face of minerality with some tart, rhubarb/raspberry-ish fruit. Ungenerous and light, but long. I’d like to see this one again after some time in the cellar; a little erosion would be welcome. (5/10)

Breath furmint

Királyudvar 2006 Tokaji Sec (Hungary) – Arid and a little muted, blossoming texturally but not as aromatically as I’d expect. That texture is dense, coating, and rich with promise, but other than some waxiness and a minor floral note, there’s not much going on. A strange performance. (5/10)

Proceed to the Schlossberg cutoff, then...

Weinbach 1998 Riesling Schlossberg “Cuvée Ste-Catherine” (Alsace) – Shockingly advanced. Very dark, and showing something that’s not quite oxidation (aside from the usual oxidative character that imbues really old wines), but rather the dusty creaminess of a much older riesling. The metallic edginess of the vineyard is still present, but starting to be overwhelmed by the aged characteristics. I doubt this is a typical performance for this wine, and though I don’t know where to place the blame for the quick maturity (heat damage is unlikely, cork failure is more likely), those who own it in quantity might want to check on a bottle, just to be sure. (5/10)

A Witters tale

Edmunds St. John 2009 Gamay Noir Rosé “Bone-Jolly” Witters (El Dorado County) – Raspberry and something in the peach realm, deft and light and gripping the palate as loosely as possible. Deft but not dodgy, light but not ethereal; very present without being insistent. (5/10)

Pozzan pans

Pozzan “Annabella” 2007 Merlot “Special Selection” (Napa Valley) – Over-toasted (assuming there are barrels involved; I don’t want to over-presume), charred…the Starbucks dark roast of merlot. (5/10)


Markham 2005 Merlot (Napa Valley) – Solid dark fruit. Enough structure. Made from grapes. (5/10)


Trimbach 2006 Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – From a bottle opened 24 hours earlier and mostly consumed. Apricot and dry, vaguely citrusy stuff. Some minerality showing, perhaps a little more than usual. Fair enough. (5/10)


Albrecht 2006 Pinot Blanc “Cuvée Balthazar” (Alsace) – Completely oxidized, a victim of its Nomacorc. (5/10)


Dönnhoff 2008 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Trocken “GG” 25 09 (Nahe)– Petroleum to start. Rinds, rocks, and rectangular reds in both form and aroma. Turns ever more rusty as it finishes (and this takes a while). Striking. (5/10)


St. Urbans-Hof 2007 Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese 028 08 (Mosel) – SULFUR! SULFUR!! SULFUR!!! This wine, Keith Richards-like, is apparently designed to live forever. Is there anything else? Yes: buried deep, deep within are tropical fruit (pineapple-dominated) and a very rough, vaguely quartz-like finish. But this much sulfur could make your average JJ Prüm point and laugh. (5/10)

23 July 2010

Paula Barroubio

Miquel “Domaine de Barroubio” 2005 Muscat de St-Jean de Minervois (Languedoc) – White minerality and flowers with big acidity. So incredibly vibrant. Among the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting from this appellation. (5/10)

Toll raud

Peyraud “Domaine Tempier” 1993 Bandol (Provence) – Corked. (5/10)

Do you Graach?

JJ Prüm 1999 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese 17 00 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Lightly sulfured. For Prüm. Very light petroleum aromas in the process of being supplanted (or is it the other way around? maybe) with Pink Lady apples and…are those peaches? Peach nectar, more like. Still kinda clunky at this stage. Ah, the wait for Prüm… (5/10)

You can count on her

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1988 Pauillac (Bordeaux) – Tobacco ash and gravel with a light dusting of pepper and the scent of dried roses. Still quite structured, of course, but showing really fine balance and just enough suggestions of maturity that it’s worth an experimental sampling. (5/10)

Vrigny, vini, vichy

Egly-Ouriet Champagne Brut 1er Cru “Les Vignes de Vrigny” (Champagne) – 100% pinot meunier, July 2006 disgorgement. Dark cherry and tangerine, with a dark, moody cast and finish. Very bubbly to the point of froth. Essentially red wine with bubbles, despite the color. (5/10)

Pora me

Produttori del Barbaresco 1996 Barbaresco Pora “Riserva” (Piedmont) – A recent purchase. Citrus, chalky tannins, gravel soup, and old woods harboring a memory of animal inhabitants long passed. (Not “old wood.” Old woods. Like an elderly forest.) A little worse for its wear. Intact bottles could be better, and if so perhaps not yet ready. (5/10)

Samain Gamgee

Josmeyer 2000 Riesling Hengst “Samain” (Alsace) – Corked. (5/10)

When the Lietz go down in the city

Lietz 2002 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Auslese 005 03 (Rheingau) – 500 ml. Alcohol, gasoline, and burnt apple. Burnt bark. Burnt iron. Did someone light a fire in here, or are we just having a sale on sulfur? And is that grey rot? Stewed garbage finishes it off. Weird, and in no possible universe can this be called good, or even drinkable. Hopefully, it’s just the bottle or a stage, because…ugh. (5/10)

O. yes

O. Raffault 1990 Chinon Les Picasses (Loire) – Very soft. Large-scaled herbality, espresso, raw musculature, and thick, almost syrupy black fruit. I guess this isn’t ready yet. But if one needs a Chinon to “convince” a dedicated, green-fearing Chinon-skeptic, this might do the job. (5/10)

Donà donà donà, donà

Hartmann Donà 2004 Mitterberg Rot (Alto Adige) – More skin than flesh, more tissue than muscle, more chill than warmth. Iced berries and gritty minerality. Not generous, and while that’s not usually a flaw for my palate, I really can’t get into this wine, which turns both a shoulder and a sneer. I feel like I should like it, because it’s got things I usually like, but I don’t. (5/10)

Leaning stove

Pisa Range 2003 Pinot Noir Black Poplar (Central Otago) – Dark beet and blood orange. Still powerfully youthful, and in fact it might be hardening a bit. I keep reading Kiwi wine cognoscenti suggesting that many of the early-00s pinots are on the downslope. So I’ve opened a handful. So far, the only conclusion I can reach is that they’re out of their minds. If anything, these wines haven’t even hit their midlife crisis yet. (5/10)

Wing it

Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 2002 Riesling (Waipara) – Creamed dust and papaya. But otherwise flat, dull-fruited, and short. Something went wrong here, and since other bottles from the same source have been fine, I’m going to blame the cork. (5/10)

Down in a höhle

Dönnhoff 2001 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese 008 02 (Nahe) – A misty memory of dust. Peachy-creamy and supple. Is it “better” than it was in its youth? I don’t know if I accept the utility of that word here. I liked it young. I like it differently now. (5/10)

Pét control

Huet 2002 Vouvray “Pétillant” Brut (Loire) – L02 PSB, for those tracking such things. Sophisticated, with crisp acidity, chalk, aspirin and the faintest prickle…so faint that, were one told that this is not pétillant, but rather just blessed with a little residual CO2, it’d be believed. Like most young Huet mini-bubbles, nowhere near as generous as some of its peers. And like most young Huet mini-bubbles, it would probably outlive and outclass them all. (5/10)


Abrente 2009 Albariño (Napa Valley) – Only 13% by the label, but absolutely consumed by its alcohol. So much so that there’s almost nothing else to be said. Grossly, pathetically imbalanced. Where’s the…well, anything other than ethanol? (5/10)

Don't hop the whale

Harpoon “100 Barrel Series” Single Hop ESB (Massachusetts) – Were I more fascinated by hops, I’d no doubt be more intrigued by this beer. I’m not, and so…I’m not. (5/10)

21 July 2010

Enrico Caluso

Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso “Cuveè del Fondatore” (Piedmont) – Sparkling…and yes, that’s really how they print the accent on the label. Dark-fruited for a white sparkler, with the expected herbs. Bitter, fierce, and wild. Not easy to like…but nonetheless, I do, very much. I think. (5/10)

Mrs. Moon

de Conciliis 2008 Cilento Fiano “Donnaluna” (Campania) – Boring and alcohol-dominated. While there’s some simplistic ashen, waxy throb underneath the booze, it would take an awful lot of wine to surmount this much heat. (5/10)

Ascheri film

Ascheri 2005 “do ut des il Gusto della Solicarietà” Verduno Pelaverga (Piedmont) – Fruit with a bite, partially due to acidity but also thanks to an angular pink-purple sharpness all its own. Plum, raspberry, and razor blade. Very interesting. (5/10)

A rosso is a rosso

Vajra 2006 Langhe Rosso (Piedmont) – Very pretty. Crushed, partially dried old roses, dark and a little dusty, but still pure. Soft earth. Gorgeous texture. And all for an absurdly low price. Hard to beat, really. (5/10)


Bisson 2007 Golfo del Tigullio “Ciliegiolo” (Liguria) – More interesting than good, with an unfocused burst of random florality and fabric softener luridness. Makes an impression, but I’m not sure what that impression is. I keep wanting to like this, but it never quite lives up to its price…which is high for a rosé. (5/10)


Trimbach 2006 Pinot Blanc (Alsace) – Fuzzy and maturing, which is a good thing here; the primary apricot zing has coppered and rounded. Matters fall off on the finish, though. It’s still a light, small wine, but it’s more interesting than it was. Drink up. (5/10)

Christine l'Heureux

Brunel 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux “Cuvée Centenaire” (Rhône) – Meat liqueur heavy on the salt. Youngish in a way, still showing blackberry amidst its more mature, meat-jerky stew components, but it’s fairly solid and unexpressive. And is that a remnant of vanilla? I wish I liked this more. (5/10)

My belle

Michel “Domaine de la Charbonnière” 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Cuvée Vieilles Vignes” (Rhône) – Corked. (5/10)

Starship ballad

Michel Perraud 1999 Cornas “Sarah” (Rhône) – Grippy but light-styled, showing rough (and surprisingly red) fruit, earth, nuts, olives, and ground peppercorns. But really, that grocery list makes the wine sound more interesting than it actually is. Mostly, it’s simple and short…a wine with training wheels and a flimsy frame. (5/10)

Angrier than a Rosacker of cats

Mallo 2002 Riesling Rosacker (Alsace) – Salted rocks, banana leaves, and aggressive minerality pushed to the side by over-softening, wimpy residual sugar. The salinity is strident, and there are darker, smokier elements within, but why must such nice raw materials be rendered so spineless? This is at worst a very good, and at best an unparalleled, terroir. Mallo’s house style is soft and sweet, to be sure, but it serves this wine – which could have been great, but instead is merely good – very, very poorly. (5/10)

Mohua the lawn

Mohua 2008 Pinot Noir (Central Otago) – Starts off with the bitter beet, dusty blackberry, and blood orange rind so common to New Zealand pinots (is this a clonal issue? it sure seems ubiquitous), but then goes absolutely nowhere. Half of a good wine. Where’s the second act? (5/10)

John Colt

Beaumont 2008 Chenin Blanc (Walker Bay) – Heavy, slurpy, and ham-handed. Yellow fruit and overdriven yellow tomato, thick and unstructured, with a whack of alcohol on the finish. This is the absolute opposite of how I thought Walker Bay would express chenin. Huh. (5/10)

John's society

White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale (New Hampshire) – Fairly enticing. I’ve realized, after extensive sampling (perhaps too-extensive), that most domestic Belgian knockoffs don’t really do it for me, outside the spiced white ale genre. The reason is that they mostly stop at heaviness and sweet alcoholism without the complexity or inner life. Here, thankfully, there’s more: spice, swirl, and light within. Perhaps even a woodsy note? Tasty. (6/10)

White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale (New Hampshire) – A confident, white-hued interpretation, perhaps not overly authentic but very, very appealing despite the idiosyncrasy. Fruit, spice, not too much weight, and a pleasant counterpoint of mild bitterness. Nice. (5/10)

Spock, mind-meld with the big pizza blob thing

d’Orta e de Conciliis 2008 Falanghina del Beneventano (Campania) – Aggressive citrus-aisle fruit, with a little too much alcohol and a lot too much polish. Never goes anywhere. I feel like it’s trying to say something, but I can’t comprehend anything interesting given all the shouting. (5/10)


Castro Ventosa “El Castro de Valtuille” 2007 Bierzo Mencia “Joven” (Northwest Spain) – Aromatic, like freshly-crushed handfuls of dried flowers and dried berries, but with a weird imbalance between stridency and abruptness. It screeches forth at volume 11, and then…poof. Too much intensity up front, not enough to sustain later on. (5/10)

Haberle a merry little Christmas

Lageder 2006 Pinot Bianco Haberlehof (Alto Adige) – I don’t know if this is mature, because this is as long as I’ve ever let a bottle of it age, but this is certainly rounding into something more interesting than its fallow infancy. Fruits have yellowed (but the pinks and greens remain), minerality has helixed with texture to provide something sinuous in the background, and there’s a slowly-enveloping sense of roundness. Quite impressive. (5/10)

Jumpin' Juniper

Juniper Crossing 2005 Shiraz (Margaret River) – It’s the power of suggestion, perhaps, but this does taste like its eponymous aromatic. Maybe it’s pine needle, maybe there’s a cedar element, but after consideration it really does smell of juniper and forest. There’s dark, dark, dark fruit as well, though the weight of it isn’t as heavy as such opacity usually indicates. It’s a simple, basic wine, but it does have that intriguing individualism, and I enjoy it as the bargain it is. (5/10)

Take your Fentimans

Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock Drink (England) – My first, and possibly my last, note on a soda. No alcohol here? No. I know it’s shocking. But the floral and complexing bitter/medicinal notes here are rather extraordinary. Frankly, I’d love to taste a version of this in which the sweetness was entirely abandoned, but then we’d be talking about some sort of non-alcoholic amaro. Which would be fine with me. This is absolutely one of the best sodas I’ve ever tasted. (4/10)

Fentimans “Curiosity Cola” (England) – Yes, this is a soda note. But I think it belongs here anyway. A bitter slosh of herbs and amaro-like anti-sugar complexities, with just – barely – enough sugar to compensate, though this is decidedly on the not-sweet side of sodas. I completely love it. (6/10)

By gham

St. Peter’s Sorgham Beer (England) – Beer people are always surprised when I say that I don’t like lager. Well, I don’t, much. There’s just something watery and unsatisfying about the style, no matter how well-executed, unless it’s in contrast amidst a tasting or present on a very, very hot day. All the reasons I don’t like lager apply to this, an ale that will find its principal audience among the gluten-intolerant. I applaud the effort. I can’t applaud the beer, which is bitter, watery, and insipid. (4/10)


Shipyard “Pugsley’s Signature Series” Smashed Pumpkin Ale (Maine) – As much pumpkin as I’ve ever tasted stuffed into one of these ales, and light on the spice (but not absent its lurid influence). Mostly, pumpkin ales are exceedingly heavy and a very acquired taste. Usually, that’s due to excess spice. Excess pumpkin is a new experience, for me, and just for the sake of originality this has appeal. But it really, really tastes like pumpkin. (4/10)

Oh, brother

Anderson Valley Brewing Company “Brother David’s” Double Abbey Style Ale (California) – Mildly thick and a little herbal, which is a new experience in this style. A little spicy. A little insufficient. (4/10)

Anderson Valley Brewing Company “Brother David’s” Triple Abbey Style Ale (California) – Heady and heavy, with the requisite spice and liqueur-like tendencies, but lacking much other than the bare fact of each. (4/10)

Kevin Smith

Brewdog “Chaos Theory” Ale (Scotland) – Bitter, but in a confident fashion, laying everything up front and demanding appreciation strictly as-is and on the merits. I could quibble that I prefer beer with a little more generosity, but really this is pretty solid. (4/10)

Brewdog “Dogma” Ale (Scotland) – Brewed with honey, kola nut, poppy seed, and guarana. And the point? Excess bitterness to no complexing or enriching ends. Pretty dull, honestly. (4/10)

Brewdog “bashah” Black Belgian Style Double IPA (Scotland) – No. Too much. No. (7/10)


The Bruery “Orchard White” Ale (California) – More “ale” than “white,” so those for whom the spicing and froth of true white ale are a bit much will probably be well-pleased. For me, it’s a handwave at a style, but in failing to achieve that style lessens even its base qualities. (4/10)

The Bruery “Black Orchard” Ale (California) – Vibrant and vivid, full of deep and rich flavors. Unfortunately, one of those flavors is rubber. Still, the rest is appealing, and though this is the complete opposite of a quaffing beer, and both demands and requires attention, the rubber can be ignored. Almost. (4/10)

The Bruery Saison Rue (California) – Not fresh, as I expect a saison to be, but rather leaden. If this was labeled as a Trappist knockoff, I’d be unsurprised. As it is, I’m merely whelmed. (4/10)

Digital Mystikz

de Morgenzon “DMZ” 2008 Chardonnay (South Africa) – Sticky vinyl, soupy imitation butterscotch, bleary-eyed booziness. Awful. (4/10)

North & South

de Morgenzon “DMZ” 2008 Shiraz (South Africa) – Big, goopy, dull-witted, and not even reaching simplicity as the opposite of complexity. This is very poor. (4/10)