27 January 2011


Texier 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages St-Gervais “Vieilles Vignes des Cadinières” (Rhône) – Above all the detail is an incredible complexity, not often found even in the more interesting of the Villages-designates. The detail? Fine-particulate minerality, full of graphite and ground porcini, with the herbal-bubblicious berry of the region, swirling berries giving more of their skins than their flesh, and an atmospheric uniformity of molecules. A fascinating wine, with an undoubtedly fascinating future. (12/10)

Cannery Row or Suduiraut?

Suduiraut 1998 Sauternes (Bordeaux) – Grossly insufficient. I bought this for a closeout steal, and it was overpriced even then. At full price? Spare me. Bad bottle? I certainly hope so. (12/10)

Boillot boy

L. Boillot 2006 Bourgogne (Burgundy) – Corked. (12/10)

Heyden Caulfield

Dr. Heyden 2009 Riesling Oppenheimer Sackträger Riesling Spätlese 12 10 (Rheinhessen) – Nuclear. (Sorry, too easy.) The wine’s also too easy, bringing basic spätlese without much riesling. (12/10)

Cardboard Boxler

Boxler 2004 Riesling “Réserve” (Alsace) – The Chadderdon-imported domestic (U.S.) bottling that carries no letter indicator, and thus I have no idea of what it’s actually made, other than riesling. Of which it tastes. Clean, crisp, minerally, and kinda foursquare. The least interesting bottle from Boxler I’ve ever experienced, but given the producer that’s still a pretty tasty quaff. There’s much better out there, however. Maybe an unrepresentative bottle? (12/10)

Admiral Adami

Adami 2008 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Vigneto Giardino (Veneto) – Among the best prosecco I’ve tasted (the prime example still being the house pour at Corte Sconta in Venice), with crystallized minerality and chalk swimming about a dryish memory-of-citrus froth. Not so much linear as helixed, but still unidirectional in the four-dimensional plane. (Translation of the previous nonsense: quite good.) (12/10)

La Perlara of the Orient

ca’Rugate 2002 Recioto di Soave “La Perlara” (Veneto) – 500 ml. Pretty much the perfect point for a recioto di Soave, with the smiling white stone fruit laced with makrut lime giving way to coppery minerality and ever-increasing density. Is it marvelously complex and lingering? No. But it’s quite good. (12/10)

Donati or nice?

Donati 2008 Malvasia dell’Emilia (Emilia-Romagna) – Difficult. This is no slickified industrial wine, so variable performance is perhaps to be expected. But this is…difficult. Papery, dusty, wrenched, and odd. I keep peering, waiting for an explanation, and then the bottle’s gone and I’m just as confused as before. (12/10)

Herrenweg the owl

Zind-Humbrecht 2001 Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – Indice 1, which means dry. Now featuring: beautiful minerality, the kind that may not be unique to Alsace, but does mark it. What I mean here is the creamed-iron form, salty and free-electron at the surface, but dense and liquid at the core. Intense and vibrant. Perfectly mature. To this known ZH-detractor, Humbrecht does his best work at the extremes of dry and sweet, and it’s the rest that is too often soupy and leaden. (12/10)

Zind-Humbrecht 2001 Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – More aged than the previous bottle, with the dusty and salt intact, but a lot of erosion from the foundation. It’s still nice, but other bottles have been better. (1/11)

Da Do Ron Ron Ron

Brugal “Extra Viejo Gran Reserva Familiar” Ron (Dominican Republic) – Holy crap is this awful. I mean, if they made rum in Inuvik, I bet it wouldn’t be this watery and insipid, and yet still full of nasty volatility and turpentine burn. A complete waste of sugar, calories, and alcohol. (12/10)

Michter Sandman

Michter’s Straight Rye Whiskey (Kentucky) – Very full and rich, suggesting at dessert but never getting that sweet…in fact, the aggressive, clove-driven spice and farine texture pretty quickly dismiss sticker notions. As someone whose rye consumption is about 99% restricted to cocktails, I have no idea where this falls in qualitative or stylistic terms, or whether or not I’m “supposed” to like it. But I do. (12/10)

The search for Armenian

Armenia 25 Year Old Armenian Brandy (Armenia) – Nice grab on the brand name (there’s another word in Armenian on the label, which I suspect is the actual name, but we’ll leave that one be for now). As for the spirit? It is brandy, and the toasty character of extended wood aging is indeed there, but alongside a really bitter, pine-like whine. And the alcohol is strident and angry. This is packaged like something upscale, but it has the fierce, dangerous edge of backwoods rotgut. It’s not bad, exactly, but it certainly has some book-learnin’ to do before it can rest easily amongst its international peers. (12/10)

Hawaiian Taluau

Taluau 2006 Bourgueil “Cuvée du Domaine” (Loire) – Juicy. Black-fruity. Some grit and paste-powder texture. But big and a little swaggering, even polished…I might place this in the exurbs of Bordeaux before I got anywhere near the Loire, and while the wine’s quite appealing as a beverage, I can’t say that the preceding is 100% complimentary. (12/10)

Friends, countrymen

The Jizake “Choshu Roman” Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Japan) – There’s something here…earthy, a little herbal, setting up a vacation home in the realm of umami…that’s unusual in my sake experience. This, though, is a closeout and I wonder if this intriguing character is due to some essential quality or because the bottle’s too old (there’s no apparent lot or date indication on the label, though there are some smudges of something that might once have been same). Whatever the source, there’s a delicacy, quiet nervosity, and balance to this that I haven’t quite experienced before in my extremely neophytical rice-beverage explorations. I really like this, in case it’s not obvious. (12/10)

I gotta Hanna to you

Hanna 2007 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – Starts off a little tentative, but by the end it’s achieved a moderate, medium-weight appeal. Plums and somewhat dried berries, earth, and just enough structure…though that structure is a little prematurely resolved in this bottle, which may have seen some poor treatment along the way. Nonetheless, it’s pleasant. (11/10)

Brancott flakes

Montana “Brancott” 2007 Pinot Grigio (North Island) – Quite sweet, and that’s very nearly the entirety of its character. (11/10)

Jubeale Hershaw

Deschutes “Jubeale” Winter Ale (Oregon) – Despite all the spices and stewish darkness, this is actually a lot more standard than the label and style promise. It’s not all that spicy, for one thing, and the flavor is primarily that of a dark, slightly bitter ale. It’s fine, but unimpressive. (11/10)

Sole Custoza

Corte Gardoni 2006 Custoza (Veneto) – Oxidized. 100% oxidized. Not even useful as cooking wine, at this point. Undoubtedly a closure effect. (11/10)

Francly, my dear...

C&P Breton 2006 Bourgueil “Franc de Pied” (Loire) – Cellar-culling, and here I found a bottle unwisely stashed amongst the ageable Loire reds. No, not with this closure. It is still just barely appealing, with highly aromatic herbal/soil notes dominant, but the fruit is well on its way to complete desiccation and the tannin is harsh and sandpapery. Don’t make my mistake (though if this advice is still useful, I guess you already have). (11/10)

The Villa of the piece

Villa Ponciago 2009 Fleurie “la Réserve” (Beaujolais) – I don’t even know where to start with the name, so let’s do the wine instead. Where the hell is all this mint (peppermint, mostly) coming from? And why is it in my Fleurie? There’s a little sweet violet fruit lurking way in the background, looking like it was jacked in the playground by mint bullies and left to cower behind the jungle gym until just before the next bell rings, after which it will sprint to class and hope to avoid further violence. There’s plenty of tannin, and were this wine at all pleasant, I’d say it’s a candidate for aging. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but I sure don’t care for how it tastes now. (11/10)

26 January 2011

Olivet Oyl

Clos du Mont-Olivet 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône Montueil-la-Levade (Rhône) – Is there a hefty mourvèdre component here? (I suppose I could just check the web, but it’s more fun guessing.) The delicious, sweaty meativore component is just too evocative, no matter the source. This tastes far more mature than its vintage would indicate, but it’s still so structured and masculine that I think more age wouldn’t hurt. On the other hand, why wait. It’s absolutely compelling now. (11/10)

Zabaco noir

Rancho Zabaco 2007 Zinfandel “Sonoma Heritage Vines” (Sonoma County) – 14.9%. Very simplistic and bearing the hallmarks of confection…very primary and singular dark berries with no complexity or life. It’s entirely competent wine, but entirely uninteresting as a result. (11/10)


The Arran 10 Year Scotch Whisky (Arran) – Unchillfiltered, as the nomenclature goes. Peaty but with a stong core of brandied apricots and sweet barrel notes. Very, very easy to drink. (11/10)


Pojer e Sandri Traminer Grappa (Trentino) – Sweaty and fetid, but in a “good” way that’s actually more or less expected from this grape, I think. Very rough-and-tumble, rolling earthy aromatics and decaying flowers around in a constant swirl, and so forceful in this motion that a sense of the grappa’s alcoholic heat is nearly absent. (11/10)


Real Companhia Velha “Evel” 2006 Douro Branco (Douro) – Heat-damaged, I think, which hasn’t entirely killed the wine, but has certainly pummeled it about the face and body. (11/10)

Aloha + New Hampshire???

White Birch “Aloha” Belgian Style Ale (New Hampshire) – Awful. Just awful. Not flawed, just as watery as any mass-market brew…except, of course, higher in alcohol. I’ve come to expect a lot more from this brewer. (11/10)

Trim the sails

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – More advanced than other bottles from the same source (me), and were the others not in full song I’d say this is a little past ready. Probably just cork variation. Dryer than dry, showing unadorned raw iron and not a whole lot else. Well, acid, but that’s a given here. (11/10)

Tenrazan to date my daughter

Igarashi Syuzo “Tenrazan” Junmai Daiginjyo Sake (Japan) – 500 ml. “Medium-dry” says the bottle, and it certainly is, but as is somewhat typical (at least in my limited experience with sake) there’s as much of a textural feeling of sweetness from the alcohol as there is from any residual sugar. What’s nice here is that the alcohol, so often an incessant bagpipe drone in sake, is completely integrated and well-balanced; you’ll know it not by the taste, but by the headache the next morning. So, what else? White peaches and syrup-infused pears, and rather a lot of both. Almost overwhelmingly fruity, in fact. There’s also…well, this is a little on the obscure and dated side, but a long while ago there was a sugar-substitute (made from ever-beloved saccharine) that came in the form of a clear liquid. This tastes like that. And I suspect it’s not lost on anyone, whether or not they’ve tried the long-forgotten product of which I’m speaking, that to make this comparison isn’t exactly a compliment. I want to like this more than I do, due to its supple form, but I feel like I’m drinking a simulacrum of sweetened fruit. (11/10)

While Rome burns

Renwood 2001 Zinfandel (Fiddletown) – 15%. I’d say this is approaching the end of its useful life, but inherent in that would be the suggestion that the wine has changed since release. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t. It’s always been on the raw side, which is not an unusual thing for a Fiddletown zin to be, bringing pine and concentrated boysenberry syrup into a tight cylinder of slightly mean fruit and then surrounding it with some sort of fruit liqueur. For all I know, this will age…or, perhaps more accurately, last…for another decade. Or two. Or ten. I dunno. Anyway, drinking it now brings me one step closer to ridding my cellar of Renwood, for reasons mostly (though not entirely) unrelated to wine quality, and that’s a good thing. (11/10)

Nera word

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – I’m trying to drink up what is rather a quantity of this, given the lurid neon white closure. Absent that abomination, I’d be aging this. Who wouldn’t age nebbiolo, even if it’s white and nearly unrecognizable? It might be a disaster, but the experiment would have been fun. Alas, not under plastic dildo. And so: a little more tropical in flavor while less tropical in form, if that makes sense. The wine, in other words, has faded just a touch. Maybe my imagination. In any case, it’s still crisp, aromatic, zippy, and appealing. (10/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – The most nebbiolo-like bottle yet, by which I almost certainly mean that I am fooling myself into thinking so and would never even approach the word “nebbiolo” were it not on the label. But the aromatics are, with the benefit of knowledge, turning rose-ish. Otherwise, there’s the vibrant peach honey fruit and lively acidity. And yes, there’s just a little bit of fraying, for which I blame the closure rather than the wine. But it’s still quite good. (10/10)

Ruché Martin

Montalbera 2008 Ruché Castagnole Monferrato “La Tradizione” (Piedmont) – Actually restrained for a ruché, though threatening to burst from its containment cell at any moment. I’m not sure I’ve ever successfully described the aromas of a ruché, and I doubt I’ll start now. There’s a whole bouquet of flowers, various fruit syrups (though the wine’s not the least bit sweet), berries, citrus – both juice and rind – and some other stuff that I couldn’t even begin to describe. Yet here it’s veiled, a bit, letting the rough-cut structure take over more of the leading actor’s lines. I can’t quite decide if I like it or not. I think I do, but I keep expecting more, so maybe I don’t. (11/10)


Boiron “Bosquet des Papes” 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – I expected this to be considerably more advanced than it is, but frankly it’s showing in such a way that if this were from my stash (it’s from the wine list at Hearth in Manhattan), I’d hold the rest for another five years at minimum before I even considered opening another bottle. Dark earth, rosemary, morel, a bit of blackberryish meatfruit, pepper, and then there’s that black licorice/green olive element. Still highly structured. Very, very puzzling. (11/10)

Averous, then make gravy

Cazes “Château Haut-Bages Averous” 2004 Pauillac (Bordeaux) – Deep, dark fruit…really more black cherries and blackberries than anything in the currant family…with layers of satiny texture. There is, blessedly, a feuilleté of tobacco and cedar floating around in there somewhere. I can say this is recognizably Bordeaux and really very good, but the current state thereof has to be considered for context; I’m not sure this is what fans of the ultra-traditional are looking for. I think, though, that it’s got as good a chance as many modern wines to approach that state at some point in the future. Or maybe I’m wrong about that. Either way, it’s an impressive, muscular, but not overtly steroidal wine at the moment, and even if that’s all it ever achieves, it’s not so bad. I can say this with more equanimity because I have no idea what this costs, and would probably prefer to not find out. (11/10)

Terrisses navidad

Cazottes “Domaine des Terrisses” 2007 Gaillac (Southwest France) – On one of the various wine fora a few weeks ago, someone asked if pyrazines were considered a flaw in Bordeaux. That the question was even asked made me a bit sad for a moment. A wine with the cabernets in it, and pyrazines are now considered a flaw? Must we eradicate beautiful greenness from every single wine on the planet, not stopping until everything tastes like low-acid zinfandel? Well, the question says a lot about Bordeaux in 2010, but for those who might experience a similar shudder, there are wines like this: not only green-edged, but expressing a fair amount of puréed Kermit at the core, as well. But not, in what is unfortunately a decreasingly popular sense, underripe. Just…you know, green, and all the better for it. The tannins are a little scrappy and edgy, the acid prominent, there’s peppercorn and dark, rough, undereducated fruit, and the finish feels like it might want to start a little barroom brawl rather than drift slowly into the night. What precedes is a long-form, convoluted way of saying that I like this a lot. (11/10)

Bouland Bouland, Bouland Bouland (give it a try, Yale)

Bouland 2009 Chiroubles (Beaujolais) – Really, really, really good. In fact, you math geeks put a bar over that “really.” It does, however, bear marks of its birth year; the fruit tastes perfectly in-form, all rolling cherries with a hefty contribution of violet-tinged fruit, but it’s big. No, “big” isn’t quite the right word. Lush? Expansive? Microbursting? Fractal? Oh, I don’t know. It’s a serious mouthful of simultaneously serious and unserious wine, though, with the texture of rough suede and powerful vibrancy. I’ll take a foudre of this, please. (11/10)

Shameless Husseys

Buitenverwachting 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Husseys Vlei” (Constantia) – Wow, is this good. The most interesting sauvignon blanc I’ve had this year that wasn’t made by Vatan. Crisp, intense, poised and nervous, with a brittle streak of steely minerality and vast textural impact…that texture being one riddled with nails, shards, spikes, and edges. (11/10)

I asked the horse, but he wouldn't

Badenhorst 2007 White (Coastal Region) – Yuck. Dense, fat, lifeless, and pasty. Tastes like someone charred a vat of really poor-quality butter. (11/10)

What happened to Compuserve?

Leclerc “Domaine Chahut et Prodiges” 2008 “Coup de canon” Vin de Table (Loire) – Firmly in the rapidly genericizing “natural wine” taste realm of light, dancing fruit on the thin, crisp side of berrydom, a little earth, a lot of vivid acidity, and mild but (for now) thoroughly unobtrusive suggestions of uncleanliness. A lot of fun, in other words. (11/10)

Nobody's fault but mine

Kogl 2008 Sämling “Mea Culpa” (Podravje) – The least aromatic scheurebe I’ve ever tasted, which is far from suggesting that it’s not still dallying with the lurid. It’s just that it’s more an element of the whole than an overwhelming impression. Actually, this is pretty terrific (asterisk the previous with “for Pordravjean scheurebe” if “terrific” does not apply to this grape in your oenoverse), with some firmness, balance, and even a bit of quartzy minerality. (11/10)

Not a hot rock

Josmeyer 2005 Riesling “Les Pierrets” (Alsace) – Bright. I don’t mean this in the usual sense, in which a preference towards acid and shinier fruit is suggested, but that there’s something that reminds me of actual luminescence in this wine. Everything one wants from an Alsatian riesling, dialed back a little bit for earlier approachability. Very nice. (11/10)

Snip, snip

Davenne 2008 Saint-Bris “Vieilles Vignes” (Burgundy) – Extremely restrained. There’s a lovely undertone of minerality, but it’s papered over, and there’s nothing going on above it. This could be a lot more interesting than it is, I suspect. (11/10)

Can you hear me Paumanok-ing?

Paumanok 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (North Fork) – Pretty fair, though as with so many of this area’s wines I don’t know about the value proposition. Ripe sauvignon, a little pushed (the fruit is a touch over-concentrated and there’s a slight bite of tannin), but well within the boundaries. I couldn’t possibly say if this is representing terroir or not without a lot more experience. But it’s nice enough. (11/10)

Ain't no Semonte high enough

Venturini 2003 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso “Semonte Alto” (Veneto) – If someone poured this for me from an unmarked container and told me it was a slightly fresher take on Amarone, I would not be the least bit surprised. Ripasso flavors cranked past 11 to about 15, leaving a thick paste of licorice, strawberry, and quince of incredible density. It seems like it should be structured, but even the tannin can’t really rise to this level of density, and there’s no useful acidity to speak of. It’s actually not bad at all, and would be extremely appealing for those who love this sort of specific gravity in all their wines, but to say it’s more of a spread for toast than it is a wine would not be unreasonable. (11/10)

Brett Fabre

Fabre “Domaine La Florane” 2007 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Visan (Rhône) – On the slightly licorice-laced side of Rhônishness, which has both good and bad aspects. The good is a richness and concentration of gravelly fruit. The bad is that there’s rather more sophistication than I prefer, though others may differ in their appreciation. (11/10)


Havens 2004 Syrah “MJ” (Dry Creek Valley) – Glancing at the label rather than actually reading the text, this looks like an Unti wine, which threw me a bit until I got my hands on the bottle. 14.5% alcohol. It’s syrah, all right, and New World syrah at that. And it’s tasty enough, getting pretty quickly to the leathery dark berry portion of the evening’s entertainment. Complexity? No, not really. But as a quaffer, it’s quite nice. (11/10)

Swimming upstream

Salmon 2009 Sancerre “Cuvée Vieilles Vignes” (Loire) – Very straightforward varietal characteristics, to which not much has been added or taken away. Sharp, greenish, and direct. (11/10)

A Barmès day

Barmès Buecher Crémant d’Alsace Brut (Alsace) – Restrained, salty, tonic-like. Very, very clean, hinting at bitter citrus but delivering only a fraction of what it suggests it might. Nice. (11/10)

02 arena

Trimbach 2002 Riesling (Alsace) – Doing way better than the 2001 regular, which is a little surprising, but perhaps bodes well for the domaine wines from this vintage, which were not as trifurcated as they were in 2001. Metal, melting and molten, over coal, lead, and a chilly magma core. In other words, the usual mineral-fest. Quite appealing, but I wouldn’t hold it longer than the days necessary to drink what’s left. (10/10)

Trimbach 2002 Riesling (Alsace) – Not as intact as my previous bottle, and I’m quite happy to be near the end of what was once a considerable stash. Very acidic, and while there’s molten steel, there has been considerable erosion thereof, leading to a core that’s mostly just puckering. (11/10)

At current Morgex rates

Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle 2008 Morgex et de La Salle Blanc (Vallée d’Aoste) – 100% prié blanc (I think), but as to the percentage of the wine that’s delicious, I’m much more certain. Like drinking glacial moraine. Reserved generosity, a texture at once waxed and alive, bright and chiaroscuro. (11/10)

Chandon leer

Domaine Chandon Brut (Yarra Valley) – Lurid with apple and rotted lemon curd. Clumsy and thick. (3/05)

Pick the flowers, but leave the Petalon

Petalon 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River) – Plain. An assemblage of dark berries, restrained and coated with the thinnest of structures. Wan. (3/05)

Gathering none

Moss Wood 2004 Ribbon Vale Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (Margaret River) – A mix of green and yellow citrus influences, gooseberry, grass, and herb. Ripe to the point of juiciness, and on the fulsome side, but not over the top. A pretty decent finish, too. (3/05)


Ashbrook 2004 Semillon (Margaret River) – Ripe but tight. Crisp lime rind and herbs, and that’s about it. Liquid simplicity, and good. (3/05)

Show, don't tell

McWilliam’s 1976 “Show Reserve” Port (Riverina) – Faded and dusty, like an attic-rescued photo album. Nutmeg? Yes, and the dissolute scent of old cologne, as well. With air, there’s emergence: dried nuts, desiccated cherries. But then the wine goes away again, not to return. (3/05)

That's a nasty Leucothea you've got there; need a lozenge?

Wilson “Leucothea” Gewürztraminer (Polish Hill River) – A fortified gewürztraminer, which I’ve not encountered before (or since). Oh, those wacky Aussies. Intense and bearing the aromatic and textural signatures of botrytis, though I don’t know if that’s an accurate assessment or not. Lychee-infused pear syrup, extremely dense and massively succulent. No hotter than many late-harvested gewürztraminers of my acquaintance, despite the dosing, with a persistent finish. (3/05)

Spring forward

Spring Vale 2004 Gewürztraminer (Tasmania) – More like a blend of gewürztraminer and riesling due to the petroleum and sharp acidity, though lychee and rose petal aromas are firmly in evidence as well. Not very appealing as a cocktail, but it really blossoms with food, proving a versatile and malleable companion. (3/05)

A Croser by any other name...

Croser 2001 Brut (Piccadilly Valley) – Crisply acidic and clean, the lingering duo of Mr. Malic and Mrs. Tartaric lifting the basic fruit into the fun range. No depth, but I’m not sure any has been requested or promised. (3/05)