23 February 2011

Leynes change

Boissieu “Château de Lavernette” 2009 Beaujolais-Leynes “Le Clos” (Beaujolais) – I admit that I am a shameless collector of appellations, and this one was unfamiliar to me, which pretty much guaranteed its purchase. Though I can’t say that, poking around the INAO’s site, I’m overwhelmed with the urgency of this particular designation. Well, appellations don’t matter as much as the wine, right? And the wine’s very good. Sharper than most 2009s, marrying the crisp, sprightly fruit of “basic” Beaujolais to the more intense insistence of 2009 Beaujolais, this manages a savvy balancing act of fruit and transparency, intensity and anti-gravity, blitheness and earnestness. Crispy red berries, a little granitic dust, a lot of acidity, and the chlorophyllic bite of freshly-cut leaves. What one drinks Beaujolais (no cru) for. (2/11)

Everything Olga is new again

Olga Raffault 1995 Chinon Les Picasses (Loire) – Singing. It’s a rustic country tune, but it’s in full-throated voice at the moment. Distilled-down concentrate of old autumns, full of the memory of blackberries passed, with a crackled structure. Or, to employ a similarly stretchy metaphor, like drinking bichromatic stained glass. (2/11)

Picasses...no, pick them

C&P Breton 1997 Chinon Les Picasses (Loire) – Expansive. It throws down a game board – a virtual one, I think, because it’s expansive – of soil, vegetation, and fungal growth, then starts layering it with sprinkler-sprays of matured dark plums, black truffles, earthdust, thyme broth…and then those repeat in random order. Lush with flavor but not in texture, its elbows and knees only add to the overall appeal. Really, really good. Could it hold, or even develop, longer? Yes, I think so. But it’s very enticing now. (2/11)

To her house we go

C&P Breton 1997 Bourgueil Grandmont (Loire) – Corked. (2/11)

Ulivi green

Cascina degli Ulivi 2007 “Montemarino” (Piedmont) – NB: this is technically a Vino da Tavola and non-vintage, but as the footnote to the wine’s name is “duemilasette,” I’m going to go ahead and en-vintage the name. There’s also a pretty involved declaration of practices on the back label, which I love to see (at the least, I wish most producers would put this information on the web somewhere if they don’t wish to clutter up their packaging in this fashion). The wine? Not for everyone, and even more so than it has been of late. Like layers of bronzing around an ambered core, there’s so much burnishing and abandonment of “fruit” as a primary oenological concept that it’s hard to put this in the context of anything but other wines of this type, many of which come from places where more oxidative wines (the Jura, certain stretches of the Loire, Friuli) are more common. But to this, I ask: who cares? The wine’s delicious. It tastes like very little else, but it has soul streaming from its discontinuities. It’s labeled in such a way that one can’t say they weren’t warned. And it’s really, really interesting. (2/11)


Sella 2005 Lessona (Piedmont) – Completely unapproachable right now. The finish is long, there’s clearly-evident power, and the structure is intact, but there’s no way to get at anything more generous or interesting at the moment. (2/11)

One more

Occhipinti 2008 “SP68” (Sicily) – Corked. (2/11)


Hanssens Oude Gueuze Lambic (Belgium) – Completely overwhelmed by brettanomyces in both its stinky and Band-Aid™ forms. Spiky acidity. But the brett here, an essential player in a better-balanced lambic, is just way, way too much. Undrinkable. (2/11)

Trim the sails

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – Salted iron. Starting to wobble a bit, but it’s a nervous wobble, and the wine’s not without life. This is the second bottle in a row that’s shown a small but marked decline vs. a long (and recent) run of at-peak performance, which might be bad luck, or it might be the beginning of a trend. Time will tell. (2/11)

Don't tell me 'cuz it wurtz

Trimbach 2002 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Faded. Acid-washed jeans taken one too many washings into decrepitude. The memories of pork jerky, of cashew, and of stone fruit skins are there, but everything’s drying out with great rapidity. (2/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Weakening, but still representative of both grape and producer. Sticky cashew more than peach or apricot, dried lychee more than wet, some spice, some minerality, enough acidity. Other bottles from the same vintage, tasted over the past few months, have been healthier, so there might be cork variation exhibited in this one. (2/11)

Talk to the Haand

HaandBryggeriet “Norwegian Wood” (Norway) – Smoked ale with juniper. And it tastes like? Smoked ale with juniper. More the former than the latter. And, too, there’s oak aging. Which makes everything taste just a little butterscotched. It’s not overwhelming or actively unpleasant, but I’m yet to be convinced by (here comes a made-up-on-the-spot percentage that’s still not far off the mark) 99.9% of such brews. This has so many oak-masking and oak-integrating things going on that I’m inclined to nudge this up to the precipice of that .1% But I still think the beer would have been better without the wood. (2/11)

HaandBryggeriet Barrel-Aged Porter (Norway) – In this case, the porter is aged in aquiavit barrels. OK, so I like porter. I’m Norwegian, and am supposed to like aquiavit. I should like this, right? Well…I almost do, which is becoming my predictable reaction to this brewery’s work. The porter is of a surpassing quality, deep and rich, like a much-reduced broth for an excellent stew. But the barrel-smoke is very marked here, so much so that the final effect is more than of an actual smoke beer rather than a porter. The aquavit signature is mostly expressed as a trailing apostrophe of heated sweetness, although I think some of that sweetness is also the wood. Basically, if one absolutely insists on barrel-finished beer, this and others from this brewery are fine examples of the genre. But I’d still prefer the unwooded versions, were they to exist. (2/11)


Unibroue 2004 “La Fin du Monde” Ale (Québec) – Vintage (stamped on the back of the bottle) included because, obviously, this is not the current release. Cellared it myself, in fact. (Why? Curiosity.) A bottle tasted in 1999 showed little development but fair degradation, and that has continued. Acids have come to the fore, there’s a soapy detergent quality, and the dominant fruit quality is of slightly spoiled lemon. There’s still texture, spice (though less than there was), sweetness, and a long finish that’s the beer’s primary appeal at the moment. But if any of Unibroue’s brews are capable of aging – opinions differ – I’m more and more sure that this is not one of them. And just a warning: these things throw a dozen snow globes’ worth of swirly sediment, so they need a good long standup before pouring. (2/11)

Unibroue 2004 “Trois Pistoles” Ale (Québec) – Not the current release, and aged my me, myself, and I. Unlike the same year’s “La Fin du Monde”, this has seen some changes rather than just erosion, though I don’t know if the net effect is worth the time and energy expended. It’s darker and moodier than at release, though the flavor profile is more or less along the same molasses-meets-spice-barrel continuum. On the other hand, it’s both broader at the bottom and more angular up top, creating a palate impression more triangular than the roundness of its youth. Since I think that angularity is the first sign of degradation to come, I’m going to finish the rest (a might stash of two more bottles) over the next short while. (2/11)

Héré the dog

Iché 2007 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault “Les Hérétiques” (Languedoc) – I don’t want to suggest that this wine is “deep,” but (almost) every year it surprises me with the depth its maker is able to wrest from it. Performing above its pay grade, as the saying goes., and doing it time and time again. Dark berries and earth, herbs, soils, spicy grains. Crisper than is the regional wont. For the price, beyond a no-brainer, unless you actually hate wine. In which case, why are you reading this? (2/11)


Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Still chugging along, mostly along the lines of all the other notes I’ve posted so far, though perhaps a bit more angular than most. I’m choosing to see that as slight slippage, but it’s entirely possible that I’m convincing myself of that rather than letting the wine say it to me straight. (2/11)

20 February 2011

Happy cow

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2001 Jurançon “Nobelsse du Temps” (Southwest France) – Purchased at the winery, and showing precious little development since that time. Alas, opening this now was a regrettable error in back-of-the-cellar archaeology; I’d meant to grab one of the earlier-picked sweet wines, laid my hands on this, and didn’t notice the mistake until…cork 75% out of the bottle…I realized that there was no back label. Rescue was probably still possible, but at that point I decided to just go with it. It tastes, as it did when I bought it, of a proto-Sauternes-like wine as much as a Jurançon, with a lot of apricottish texture, honey, and woodspice enveloping the more geographically-specific and brighter fruit at the core. Balanced, incredibly pure, and surprisingly delicate given the intensity of the components. A beautiful wine that will, alas, not see the full duration of its life in my cellar. (2/11)

In the fields

St. Martin de la Garrigue 2008 Coteaux du Languedoc “Tradition” (Languedoc) – A blend of syrah and carignan. If not the simple, basic-fruit country wine it sort of pretends to be in affect, it achieves a fair portion of a similar set of goals. Ripe fruit, sun-washed and red-turning-to-purple berried, with hints of soil and underbrush, but nothing insisting on casting the exuberant fruit in any kind of shadow, no matter how momentary. Very quaffable, very easygoing. (2/11)


La Kiuva 2007 Arnad Montjovet (Vallée d’Aosta) – I’ve called this wine “brilliant” in the past, if I recall my adjectives aright, and alas that I consume this one amidst enough distractions (aromatic and conversational) that I can’t get settled enough for a second opinion. In the space I’m allowed, it’s still awfully good, so I suspect more quietude would lead to a similar verdict. Chilly, columnar fruit…perhaps a familiar anchor might be blackberry, but honestly it tastes a little more exotic than that…and a textural integrity of simultaneous firmness and transparency, somewhere between fine-grained felt and the tiniest of particles. Long. Seems to stare at one though deep black pupils. I could drink a lot of this; good thing I bought a lot of this! (2/11)


Prinz von Hessen 1999 Winkeler Hasensprung Riesling Auslese 018 00 (Rheingau) – Creamy and well into its dark copper stage. In other words, much older than it probably should be, but not showing apparent damage as a result, only mature lusciousness and ambered sweetness. Completely spherical, without any sort of interior void. I admit to being surprised by this wine, and in a very pleasant way. (2/11)

Meaty, beaty, big, Joncier

Roussel “Domaine du Joncier” 2000 Lirac (Rhône) – A few years past its prime, I think. Starts out somewhat oxidized and difficult, then adds (very gradually) some blueberry and meat qualities, though both are goopy and texturally pasty. But everything this wine has to offer is in the middle…in the front and back, it’s eroded and filed-down. Drink by 2008. (2/11)


Shipyard “Pugsley’s Signature Series” “Smashed Pumpkin” Ale (Maine) – Of the various seasonally-flavored ales, pumpkin-enhanced is the only one I’ll come back to year after year. I don’t really have an explanation, either, because frankly many of them aren’t very good. This is one of the major exceptions, though it’s a pretty thermonuclear expression thereof. It’s a beer the note for which SHOULD PROBABLY BE WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS. HUGE PUMPKIN, LAYER UPON LAYER OF SPICE, CHURNING ALE CRASHING AND PULLING LIKE RIPTIDE. In other words, it’s a big’un. (2/11)


Lindemans Gueuze Lambic “Cuvée René” (Belgium) – This is often praised as the “serious” lambic from a producer who purists believe has perverted the form. Well, it’s true that Lindemans makes what I’d call fruit beers rather than lambics, and while they’re more or less tasty enough as the former, they really don’t work as the latter. So here, we have a broad-swath attempt at the bite and aggression of the real thing. And? I don’t see it. The acidity seems fierce enough, but it fades in and out. The metal-jacketed fruit (a little cherry, a little plum) clenches and then releases, finishing slightly synthetic. It’s just…fine. OK. Decent. Not special, certainly not extraordinary. (2/11)


Limerick Lane 2001 Zinfandel Collins (Russian River Valley) – 14.6%. I suppose this isn’t yet old, but it’s showing signs of being one of those zins that holds rather than ages. The fruit’s a little more syrupy than it was, though still in the dark berry and black pepper realm, but for that texture it has given up some of its overall weight and presence in both good and bad ways…less palate impact, but also less prominent alcohol. It has not, it’s worth noting, completely shed any impression of the latter, but it also hasn’t eroded to the point where the alcohol shoots forth, as some maturing zins do. It’s a good enough wine, but I’m not sure there was great value in cellaring it. I’ve another bottle, though, and will let it sit for a while longer, to see if there’s anything on the way. (2/11)

Lots o'castle

Vercesi del Castellazzo 2008 Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero “Gugiarolo” (Lombardy) – I have, of late, been drinking through rather a quantity of white nebbiolo. And so here those crazy folks in Lombardy are with a white pinot noir. Well, it’s probably more pinot noir-like than the white nebbiolo is nebbiolo-like, in that it hasn’t shed all the structural and aromatic clues that attend to its redder form. It’s quite floral, a little earthy, and a nice, round burst of mouthfruit. And…it’s white. It is, to be frank, a little odd. Also, I wonder if there’s been some closure-related degradation, because the finish arrives allofasuddenwhere’dthewinego quick. Other bottles, or a more recent vintage, could be better. (2/11)

Tori aimless

Produttori del Barbaresco 2008 Langhe Nebbiolo (Piedmont) – Corked. (2/11)

Chanoines, chantwo, chanthree

Institut Agricole Régional “Vin des Chanoines” (Vallée d’Aoste) – As far as I can tell (the labels – front and back – are one giant furball of type, and this is probably the least commercially-viable packaging I’ve seen in my life [it could only be worse if the wine were in a bocksbeutel]…which, of course, makes me want to buy it) this is a non-vintage bottling, which is odd since most online references to the wine carry a vintage. It’s L.0119.7, if that helps sort it out. (I could email the importer and ask, I suppose, since she lives and works in the next suburb over, but it’s more fun to make purely speculative guesses.) As for what’s in the bottle? I always wonder if the chilly alpine character I get from this and similar wines is authentically-sensed or the power of suggestion, but it probably doesn’t matter; this is not “ripe” fruit in the modern, flabby sense, but instead linear and heavily-structured, dark without being opaque, and layered with strata of impenetrable minerality. There’s an herbal, almost quinine character about the edges. It’s not a wine one “loves,” exactly, but it does demand intellectual respect, and I’m glad I have more. (2/11)

Can I get a Witness?

Witness Tree 2008 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) – Blocky. Tiny berries, but rather than being concentrated and explosive with flavor, they’re just chewy and hard to clear from the palate. Aromatically numb, despite occasional spritzes of blood orange flower. There’s a lot of anonymous fruit, but it’s clipped and lifeless, and the finish isn’t worth much notice. (2/11)

São long

São Pedro 1994 Late Bottled Vintage Porto “Das Aguias” (Douro) – Cinnamon-spiced berries, lunging at darkness but then retreating towards something more transparently reddish-purple. Some dark chocolate bitterness, some gravelly earth, a lingering finish of spice candy. Nice, especially for the (lowish) price. (2/11)

Laxas, praxis

Laxas 2009 Rias Baixas Albariño (Northwest Spain) – Pure juice. Lime, grapefruit, a bit of gooseberry, bitter orange, pear. Spirited acidity. But those who believe that “a wine should taste like fruit” will love this. (2/11)


Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Porto (Douro) – Tastes like oxidized sugar syrup with a little neutral spirit added. Really, really boring. (1/11)

Bottom heavy

Labasse “Domaine Bellegarde” 2006 Jurançon Sec “La Pierre Blanche” (Southwest France) – Stealthy. An innocuous, bony-white frame sits there in full view, not doing much of note, while a much more texturally interesting patina of old rocks and leathery fruit sneaks up from behind. But if you turn to stare at the patina, it’s gone…only to reappear moments later, coating something else just out of view. A really interesting wine that plays an amusing game of elusiveness. (1/11)


Cincinnato 2008 Lazio Rosso “Pollùce” (Lazio) – There’s something on-the-ground authentic about this wine, by which I mean that it’s the sort of thing one occasionally encounters while traveling Old World wine regions, perhaps poured from a pitcher or cask at a casual wine bar or locals’ restaurant, after which one wonders why such inexpensive, innocent goodness can’t be had for a similar price back home. I don’t know what the actual winemaking here is like, but I can say that it tastes about as unmanipulated (but clean) as anything that’s passed my lips of late. Sapid, berried, slightly crisp, quick. At twice the quantity this would never have been “too much wine.” (1/11)

Hermanso's hermits

Hermanso Peciña “Señorío de P. Peciña” 2001 Rioja Reserva (Center-North Spain) – Sunburned red fruit, a little desiccated, with an astringent oak character. There’s good succulence, fair enough acidity, and yet…I don’t know. I think my tastes have moved away from Rioja, and the perpetual exception I make for LdH doesn’t really disabuse me of this notion. I’ve long known that I didn’t much like the ultra-fruited modern style, but this is a perfectly acceptable expression of an alternative style and my reaction is still pretty much indifference. Yes, reading this note was probably a waste of your time. (1/11)

19 February 2011

Nere a word

Terre Nere 2009 Etna Rosso (Sicily) – Heavy and inertial. Trying to get into the core of this wine is like trying to roll a flat-surfaced rock downhill…there’s stuttering progress, but mostly there’s a lot of motionlessness. Volcanic, yes (as ever, I wonder about the power of suggestion here, as the wine was not consumed blind), with sludgy black fruit struggling beneath a thick barrier of black noise. There are many positive things one could say about individual aspects of the wine, but the whole is on the other side of event horizon. Age? I should hope so, because if not, only those whose nightly diet is of stegosaurus and woolly mammoth cooked over open bonfires on the end of wooden spears will have much use for this. (1/11)

Vissoux Storm

Chermette “Domaine du Vissoux” 2009 Beaujolais “Cuvée traditionnelle vieilles vignes” (Beaujolais) – Would I guess this was Beaujolais, blind? Quite possibly not. Gamay? Maybe, but I bet I’d guess New World. Neither Q/A is meant to be an indictment of the wine, by the way, which is big, muscular, a bit heavy, but not too over-anything. At least, that’s my hope. The future may prove me wrong. Fruit remains decidedly red and of the berry variety, there’s acidity (though less than usual), and despite the gravity there’s still some zip and zing to be found. But now we need to age our basic Beaujolais? I guess we do. (2/11)

Rontey Barber

Cheveau 2007 Saint-Amour “En Rontey” (Beaujolais) – Light and shade on a floral still life. Red, pink, lavender, magenta. Brittle. Not engaging, but un-ignorable. (1/11)

Dupeuble, Colorado

Dupeuble 2009 Beaujolais (Beaujolais) – A reduction sauce as much as a wine, so incredibly concentrated and markedly thick that it’s almost hard to swallow. It’s not, I feel I must add, out of balance as a result. There’s acidity, there’s a little brushstroke of tannin, and while the fruit is massive it’s not overbearing beyond the usual fruit-burst quality of Beaujolais in more normal years. But while this might appeal to those who’ve always found Beaujolais too thin for their tastes, I suspect it will be many years before it appeals to fans of the region. Or, at least, that’s true for this particular fan. Will it last that long? Let’s hope. (1/11)

Ley me down

Sin-Ley “Traza” 2007 Rioja (Center-North Spain) – 100% graciano. There are so many styles of and takes on Rioja that it’s hard to say if this “tastes like” Rioja or not. So, on its merits as a red wine of indeterminate origin: it dances, alive and full of energy. There’s spice, light tan minerality, enveloping presence without weight, and a lot of fun red fruit drenched with sunlight. An extraordinary amount of fun, this wine is. (1/11)


Dow’s 1984 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Porto (Douro) – Succulent cherries (black and red) coated with chocolate. Mostly softened and “ready” in that sense, though of course the wine is a long way from any sense of a fuller, more complex maturity. It’s delicious enough now, however, that anyone wishing to hold it until that maturity may want to make spontaneous bottle acquisition in their own cellars more difficult. (1/11)

Piane not-so-forte

Coste Piane Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (Veneto) – The dullest bottle from this producer that I’ve ever had. Let’s put that in context: it’s a saline dust devil, practiced in avoidance while jabbing its point home, layering fine particulate sprays of sand on the palate, then swirling away once again. But it’s muted, rectitudinous, even a little surly. Possibly a non-representative bottle. I hope it is, anyway, because when their wines are on form, they’re very special. (2/11)

Tripoz fermented

Tripoz Crémant de Bourgogne Brut “Nature” (Burgundy) – I forget to search for a lot number before this bottle hits the recycling, but based on some hints (the presence of a different, and more modern, label in the same store where I bought this), I think it’s probably the release previous to whatever’s current as of February 2011. In any case, it’s like a dog that quickly lifts its head to see who’s come into the room, realizes it’s no one particularly interesting, and returns it chin to a position of paw-top boredom. I saber this open, and so the first sips are full of froth and rapidly-expelled aromatics. There’s grass, yellowish melon, some tartness. But then, as the bubbles settle down to a more restful stream, the wine turns innocuous. It’s pleasant, agreeable, easily digestible, easily forgotten. The Doris Day of crémants. (2/11)

Miss Chétillons

Pierre Peters 2000 Champagne Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru Brut “Cuvée Spéciale” Blanc de Blancs “Les Chétillons” (Champage) – Jeebus, that’s a lot of words. Here’s a bit of info that’s not a word: L.SBAA02, for the interested. And what about the wine? Lurid white flowers that quickly flash into an even more lurid state of decay, white pepper, intense Granny Smith apple. Long. Very long. Incisive and, once some of the overt floral prelude has sorted itself out, focused. Frankly, this is a brilliant wine. (1/11)

The Entertainer

Cédric Bouchard “Inflorescence” Champagne Aube Brut “La Parcelle” Blanc de Noirs (Champagne) – L.01, though I’m told the source material is 2002. I don’t drink so much Cédric Bouchard that I need this level of differentiation, but those who do no doubt will. Very floral and showy, whacking tart strawberry with a plank of tannin, after which the structure firms and the wine’s showiness almost completely disappears. Then, later, it gets all fluffy and intense again, dialing up something puckery in the pomegranate realm for the big finish. Impressively noisy and impossible to ignore. (1/11)

As the Croix flies

Baudry 2007 Chinon La Croix Boissée (Loire) – Limber. Morels and ripe green herbs. Liquid mami encased within a beautiful structure. Full of promise. (1/11)

Stop s'Noréing

Pascal “Domaine du Gros’Noré” 2005 Bandol (Provence) – Gorgeous wine, in the first flush of youth. That flush has a meaty tinge to it, as well as vise-squeezed dark berries (skins still clinging) and a lot of herbal/peppery stuff misted about the environs, but the primary impression here is one of intensity and barely-withheld power. Owning a lot of this would be a good idea. (1/11)


Thévenet 2001 Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Corked. (12/10)

Thévenet 2001 Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Very light and soft, a slow-flowing river of memories. Minerals and earth are to the fore, with wood ear mushrooms lingering. Gentle and entirely lovely. (1/11)

18 February 2011

Hune are you?

Trimbach 2001 Riesling Clos Ste-Hune (Alsace) – Open two days, before which it was described to me as tasting like a Shun knife. After all that aeration? Pine and Rainier cherry skins, white leaves, peonies. Cylindrical and focused, despite a lot of textural generosity – perhaps density is a better word, for this is an intensely gravitic wine – and not without its showy aspects, either. This is going to be a stunner...not that anyone who tasted it at release will be surprised to hear that. (1/11)


Trimbach 1994 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – Drying. Salted vegetables, nut-infused metals. Round but with tattered edges and borders, and occasionally dallying with a swampy character. Thickens and broadens with air, to the point that – twenty-four hours later, it’s actually better than it was at opening. But it’s still tottering on its last legs. It’s not bad, it’s just prematurely old. (1/11)

The knife

Sipp Mack 2002 Riesling “Vieilles Vignes” (Alsace) – Not the most vibrant bottle, whether closed or muted. Salty – very salty – and wet, like soaked feet after traipsing through the grass. Some dry-as-a-bone raw iron, but solid rather than flecked and suffusing. I’ve had better examples of this of late. (2/11)

Hairy wig

Zind-Humbrecht 2001 Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – Medium-density metal-jacketed pear and mineral dust. Fully mature and quite good. Dry as a dried-out bone in the desert. (1/11)


Trimbach 2001 Riesling “Réserve” (Alsace) – With the Cuvée Frédéric Émile pushing $60 (in my market; it’s less abusive elsewhere, and I say “abusive” because I’m assured by Someone Who Should Know that the wine’s not exactly selling like hotcakes in the States these days), it’s nice to have an really inexpensive reminder of just how perfectly iconic a good Trimbach riesling can be. This is à point, in that the saltiness of the iron flakes has overwhelmed any lingering sort of malic snappishness, and still vibrant and fulsome in its saber-sharp fashion. A very, very emblematic wine. (2/11)

Trimbach 2002 Riesling (Alsace) – Columnar and iron-dominated. Ungenerous, but that’s no surprise from this wine at this age. As mature as it’s going to get, and quite tasty for what was a pretty inexpensive wine. (1/11)

Rozier Greer

Rozier “Les Traverses de Fontanès” 2004 Vin de Pays d’Oc Cabernet Sauvignon (Languedoc) – One doesn’t often think of cabernet sauvignon as a light wine, but that’s exactly what this one is. I could identify it as a diluted form of what Bordeaux used to taste like, but not only wouldn’t that be quite right (the fruit has a more reddish tinge than would be typical in Bordeaux, though more standard cassis and blackberry are evident as well), the use of the word “dilute” would be misleading. This isn’t thinned out, it’s just light. Deft. Airy. Structurally, it’s cabernet-like, retaining the (typical and, to me, necessary) leafy edge to its tannin, but there’s a lot of space and luminosity within the wine. Frankly, I love it. It’s like a really good Beaujolais Nouveau (yes, such exists) done with cabernet sauvignon rather than gamay. (1/11)

Roque back, mountain

Boutin “Tour de La Roque” 2004 Pic Saint Loup (Languedoc) – Maybe a third of the way to wherever it’s going, though I suspect it’s going to hold its various transitional positions for a while. Right now, it’s thick, meaty, fruit-pasty, and a little bloody – all, because it’s probably not clear, positives from me with respect to this particular wine – with a finish that narrows. As it airs, it becomes more and more linear. (1/11)

La Fache

Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon (Ain) – A cellar accident…this bottle is, I think, at least two years old. Maybe three. Does it reward aging? As pretty much anyone could predict: no. Thin, acid-dominated, not actively unpleasant but no more than a shadow of what it was. Hopefully, I haven’t accidentally aged any more bottles of this. (1/11)

Together forever

Copain 2007 Pinot Noir “Tous Ensemble” (Anderson Valley) – Berries in multi-bushel surplus, cut with structural tannin and just barely enough acidity, but still teetering on the edge between compression and explosion. Not too big for California pinot, with some promising stuff just perceptible within the foundation, but it is big. (1/11)

Dame Dench

Puffeney 2006 Arbois Poulsard “M” (Jura) – Fetid and faded, bringing a collection of vague stenches and lingering miasmas together for no apparent purpose. I’m going to conclude that this is a bad bottle, because it’s impossible to conceive that this is how it was intended to taste. (1/11)

Appert a tiff

Coudert-Appert “Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois” 2009 Chiroubles (Beaujolais) – Big, brawny, and very 2009-ish (to the extent that generalization means anything), but retaining a red-berry sharpness that redeems it. At the moment, it’s pretty disjointed despite being packed and stuffed with flavor. Will time help? It couldn’t hurt. (12/10)

The imaginary invalid

Girardin 1996 Santenay “1er Cru” La Maladière (Burgundy) – Completely overwhelmed by soupy woodiness. Bad wine, bad winemaking, bad bottle…don’t know, but this is wretched. (12/10)

Homestead on the range

Van Duzer 2003 Pinot Noir Homestead Block (Willamette Valley) – This has held better than I’d have expected, and matured less than I’d hoped. Alcohol plays a prominent role here, dragging the already-dark fruit into dangerous licorice-like realms, but otherwise the fruit is solid and, newly-shorn of its supporting structure, shiny and globular. Black pepper and appealing, dark-thyme herbs play a role as well. If it sounds like I’m describing something made from a different grape and from California, know that the thought has occurred. Still pretty good, and the bottle’s soon emptied, but it’s not without booziness. (12/10)


Duffau Bas-Armagnac Napoléon (Southwest France) – I dally with Cognac, with brandies from elsewhere, and yet for my bronzed grape spirits I always feel the urge to reunite with my first love: Armagnac. There’s just something more appealing, to me, about the richness piled upon complexity. Less perfection, more appeal? Perhaps that’s it. As for this particular bottle…it’s fine. By-the-numbers. It just so happens that I like the numbers. (12/10)


Clavel 1999 Coteaux du Languedoc Terroir de la Mejanelle “Copa Santa” (Languedoc) – Clinging by its nails to life and relevancy. Fully resolved and then some, leaving a porcine meat juice, herb-infused broth, and some browned, autumnal appeal in its declining wake. If you’re holding any, don’t. (12/10)

09 February 2011

Nera far

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – I continue to plow through these at the fastest possible rate, given the eventually-certain failure of the closure. No changes evident in this bottle; see all previous notes and pretend I’ve retyped them. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Some brighter shadings here, as if there’s lens flare on the fruit. Combine that with a little sharper acidity than is the norm, but otherwise status quo. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Blossoming, by which I mean the floral element here is more prominent. And is that pineapple I taste? The emergent unpredictability of this wine is, unfortunately, predicted by its synthetic cork. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – On the other hand, here’s a cork that’s obviously held its seal, because this one tastes much like my earliest bottles: a range of crisp fruits in the apple and melon category, some grapefruit, a lot of white crystalline stuff encrusting the underbelly, with life and liveliness to spare. Pure fun, and this is why I bought a case. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – See previous note. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – The most dramatic fade yet, and what’s being left behind is mostly acidity. I’m down to two bottles, and I don’t see those surviving the month. (12/10)

Thistle while you work

Belhaven “Twisted” Thistle India Pale Ale (Scotland) – To light bitterness is added weediness, and this is…not to my taste. I freely admit that I don’t get what they were trying to do here. More for others, I guess. (1/11)

Belhaven Wee Heavy (Scotland) – Lives up to its name. (2/11)


Berkshire Brewing Co. “Lost Sailor” India Pale Ale (Massachusetts) – Bitter and dry, though both qualities work here to push the beer defiantly into a winged but not extreme position on its stylistic scale. It’s good, but I don’t like it as much as their “Steel Rail” bottling, which is much more to my Belgian-adoring tastes. I think those who’ve been raised in the English ale tradition will like this more. (1/11)

Berkshire Brewing Co. “Berkshire Ale” Traditional Pale Ale (Massachusetts) – Pairing a fulsomeness with embittered bite, this is balanced and stylish. No bells, few whistles, just solid quality. (2/11)

Koten hosen

Igarashi Syuzo “Tenranzan Koten” Junmai Ko-syu Sake (Japan) – 500 ml. Indifferent. Just not interesting in any way. Not even interesting enough for it to be worth explaining the specific ways in which it’s uninteresting. (1/11)


Long Trail “Brewmaster Series” Imperial Red Ale “Centennial Red” (Vermont) – I don’t, as a rule, like red ale. I’m not sure why. This is as forceful an argument to the contrary as has passed my glottis, pairing the usual acidity with a throbbing, red-light-district fullness. Pretty impressive, I have to say. (12/10)


Sierra Vista 2000 Zinfandel “Old Clone” (El Dorado) – 14.6%. Crisping but shriveled berries, dark earth, pine needles, and a spine of slender but embittered wood. Drink up. (12/10)

Old El

Ridge 2005 Zinfandel (Paso Robles) – 15.2% alcohol, 100% zinfandel from Dusi Ranch. Wood of the vanilla/coconut variety still dominates, though there’s a hefty density of concentrated blackberry and boysenberry pushing against the wooden perimeter. There’s still a future here…a better one…but the wine’s definitely no longer quite as primary as it was. (12/10)

Peillot T

Peillot 2007 Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse (Ain) – Like drinking particles more than a liquid…limestone dust held in an indeterminately citric solution of lightness. Not a substantial wine, and probably a little faded vs. release, but it still slips across the palate without any apparent effort, and that can be nice at times. (12/10)


Southern Right 2006 Pinotage (Walker Bay) – After a little age, the shiny plastic edge to the tannin (sometimes identified as rubber, which I can also see) is a little more prominent, spine-ing from the structure like a really gruesome injury. The rest, though, is progressing into a darker, angrier fruit stage that’s kinda interesting. I don’t know if this is made for the long haul or not, but I’m determined to find out. I don’t think it will convince dedicated pinotage haters, but it’s no more disjointed than many perfectly acceptable nebbiolos, for example. (12/10)

Romangia the stone

Dettori 2007 Romangia Bianco Badde Nigolosu (Sardinia) – 100% vermentino. Looks, tastes, and feels like an orange wine, though the maceration isn’t all that long (ten days). It’s perhaps that it’s unfiltered and un-everything-else that leads to an orange sort of palate impression, though there is evident tannin. The luxuriant yet not overly polished texture is the wine’s primary highlight (among rather a sea thereof). Dried white flowers, some fresher buds, grasses, herbs, dried citrus, leaves, minerality to spare, and gravity without weight, density without concentration. Brilliant wine. Absolutely brilliant. (11/10)

Friends, Romangia, countrymen

Dettori 2006 Romangia Rosso Badde Nigolosu (Sardinia) – 100% cannonau (grenache). Subtle, seeming to rise from its lotus position with a slow unfolding of limbs. The subtlety never really goes away, though, and those expecting a more standard Sardinian cannonau – that is, one with a big and fruity palate impact – might be disappointed. Well, their loss. This requires attention to its graceful swirls of dusty berry and rich, semi-volcanic earth. The finish is so quiet that the inattentive will consider it to have departed long before it actually does. Not as showily brilliant as the white, this has more peaceful charms, and they’re more than OK. (11/10)

Carballo maceration

Carballo 2008 Lanzarote Negramoll (Canary Islands) – Diffident. Never gets around to developing. It may be mild TCA that’s below my threshold, it may just be a muted or otherwise damaged wine, but there’s nothing on which to base a note here. (11/10)

Kopke tops

Kopke 1997 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Blueberry jelly. Really, this has an exceptionally gelatinous texture, more akin to a Mollydooker than any port of my experience. And while that’s interesting all by itself, it’s a very simple wine. (11/10)

Kopke 1987 Colheita Porto (Douro) – White pepper, raspberry, apple skin, and blood orange. Beautifully acidic, though I should caution that the acidity probably won’t be to everyone’s liking. Me, I love it. This is the most complete wine I’ll taste from this lineup, though for “best” it has some competition. (11/10)

Kopke 1980 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Balsamic-textured raspberry and red cherry, with sweet orange candy the lingering impression. Very, very, very sweet orange candy. High fructose colheita? (11/10)

Kopke 1978 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Mixed pepper dusts, coal-like minerality. Poised. Delicate throughout, and turns very shy at the end. Has the organoleptic appeal of a colheita at a good balance point of maturity, but the physical presence of one many decades past that point. Frankly, it confuses me. (11/10)

Kopke 1966 Colheita Porto (Douro) – One long crescendo of tangy fruit, then there’s some sort of accident due to clumsiness, and the finish dries out to decidedly unappealing wet ash. (This is, I should say, not at all an unusual impression for me to draw from colheitas that are past my preferred drinking age.) (11/10)

Kopke 1957 Colheita Porto (Douro) – Thinning, balding, starting to get a little skeletal, and yet extremely elegant. Brilliant acidity. Long and floral. Despite the fade, there’s a lot here to like. I suspect the price would not, for me, reflect my interest in the wine, but those with more of a taste for this sort of thing should give this a look, because the appeal is undeniable. (11/10)

The Kopke to success

Kopke 2007 Vintage Porto (Douro) – Black cherry coffee (just typing the words gives me a shudder), alternately sticky and powdery, with smooth tannin up front, then dusty tannin out back. Sort of like a port’s version of a tannin mullet? (11/10)


Kopke Fine Ruby Porto (Douro) – Simple, dark fruit with a touch of green sugar. (Not food-coloring green, underripe green.). An otherwise fine tannic counterpoint collapses into a pile of gormless powder as it finishes. Odd. (11/10)


Kopke Rosé Porto (Douro) – Eww. I say again: eww. Strawberry lime Rickey, ginger, and layer upon layer of makeup that someone in a sleazy off-strip Vegas mall beauty parlor though looked “hott.” Um, no. A world of no. (11/10)

I'll Kopke to it

Kopke 10 Years Old Tawny Porto (Douro) – Bitter wood with maltiness (that’s a first, for me, in a wine) and raw cane sugar. Weird. (11/10)

Kopke 20 Years Old Tawny Porto (Douro) – Cherry skin, cough syrup, and ash. No thank you. (11/10)

Kopke 30 Years Old Tawny Porto (Douro) – Lush fruit, silken-textured and appealing except for the minor inferno on the nose. (11/10)

Officer Kopke

Kopke Dry White Porto (Douro) – Almond, hazelnut, chestnut. A bit hot. (11/10)

Oh, Sole mio

La Grotta del Sole 2009 Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentina (Campania) – Strawberry soda pop with a little bite of tannin. Finishes green and somewhat dirty. This is not my favorite from the ever-more-frequently-imported rose-colored froth category. (11/10)

Carrying a torcia

Pietratorcia 2009 Ischia Bianco Superiore (Campania) – Sour lime, green apple, and saline solution. Gets right to the point, but then there isn’t any sort of coda. (11/10)

Fo fo fella

Pietratorcia 2009 Ischia Bianco Biancolella (Campania) – Papery. Grape skins. Not very interesting. (11/10)


Pietratorcia 2008 Ischia Bianco Superiore Vigne del Cuotto (Campania) – A softened version of the previous two wines, and bringing a lot more interest along with its mellow: ash, chalk, and dried lemon rind. Quite long, in stark contrast to its younger brethren. Interesting. (11/10)


Overnoy 2005 Arbois Pupillin (Jura) – Loaded with bretty stench (or maybe it’s reductive; frankly, I’m thirteen jibs to the sheet by this point in the evening and could be drinking stealth Franzia for all that I know, yet my notes indicate surety that there’s brettanomyces, and I probably shouldn’t second-guess. One will either be able to get past that or not. The wine underneath the assreek has the sort of breezy power that lovers of syrupy wines don’t think something this light can actually have. Well, they’re wrong. Potentially fabulous, if one is not sensitive to whatever’s stinking up the joint, or if there’s bottle variation…which isn’t exactly unheard of at this house. (11/10)

All-over Autan

Vin d’Autan de Robert Plageoles & Fils 2001 Gaillac Doux (Southwest France) – Silkily-sweet bronzed apples and syrup-cured citrus. Extremely appealing. (11/10)

Fondillon money

Primitivo Quiles “Fondillon” Alicante “Gran Reserva” (Levant) – “The best sherry I’ve had all year,” I joke. I’m not even sure if the joke’s true, but it’s a pretty extraordinary wine in that style, volatile, pointing and gesturing at oxidation, and mold-influenced (in a stylistically authentic way). It’s really big, though, and there’s not much subtlety to it at the moment. Maybe that will emerge and maybe it won’t, but it’s hard to ignore, and eventually the din is very slightly wearisome. Another wine for small-quantity consumption. (11/10)


Domaine de la Tour Vieille Banyuls “Vin de Meditation” (Roussillon) – Rancio, plum, and caramel. The first sip is enticing, the second tiresome…and that, unfortunately, is too often my reaction to this house’s various takes on Banyuls. So drink it in single-shot quantities, I guess. (11/10)

A Barral of fun

Barral 2007 Faugères Valinière (Languedoc) – Spicy mixed berries and cumin seeds. Quite tannic, but it’s a beautifully ripe tannin, and everything is both concentrated and in flawless balance. This is terrific now, but the question is whether or not anyone will wait long enough for it to be the even better wine it should become, many years from now. Masterful. (11/10)

Orack Bebame

Bebame 2009 Red (El Dorado County) – It takes me a long time to move past an active dislike for this wine into a wary tolerance, but ultimately I’m happy when my glass is empty of it. Tart, puckery fruit (not overly acidic, though there’s plenty of that, but without enough generosity to support the acid that’s there), underripe melon, sour greenness, green sourness. I feel like I should like this more, given that my favorite California winemaker is involved, but I just don’t. (11/10)

Gramenon, holdenon

Gramenon 2009 Côtes-du-Rhône “l’Élémentaire de Gramenon” (Rhône) – Firm tannin leftover from creating the leather sofa on which this wine lounges. Blackberry fruit-leather as well, plus an herbal stew. This tastes as much like a chinato as it does a Côtes-du-Rhône, and that’s an interesting conflation of styles. Challenging. (11/10)


Bermejo 2008 Lanzarote Tinto (Canary Islands) – I’ve never tasted this much spice in a red wine, not even a lavishly-oaked one. If Penzeys released a wine, it might taste like this. The dominant spices include nutmeg and mace, coriander, white pepper, and turmeric. So, so, so exotic. And – pardon the expletive, but it’s needed here – fucking delicious. This is the first quarter-glass that, by the end of the night, turns into a fully-drained bottle. (11/10)

Ccia pet

La Casaccia 2007 Barbera del Monferrato (Piedmont) – Presents itself with a smooth slickness, but soon gives its true self away: vibrant acidity, dark and rough-necked minerality, and a fair bit of churn and motion. It finishes as pristine and poised as it started. Experience suggests that this is a wine that rewards aging, and it is quite primary right now. (11/10)

Hendrix at Montreuil

Giard “Domaine du Manoir de Montreuil” Cidre Pays d’Auge “Cambremer” (Normandy) – Absolutely opaque and luridly aromatic; the Islay Scotch of ciders. There’s more pear than apple, at least to my palate, but the apples are something fabulous and iconic (perhaps reine des reinettes), and there’s a heavy hand with the white pepper grinder as the finish develops. Extraordinary. (11/10)

Causses guard

Causses Marines 2008 Gaillac “Les Greilles” (Southwest France) – Lemon and ripe apple, but there’s more going on here than just a few fruit descriptors. It’s a kind of ineffable complexity, though, which is why my note stops where it does. There’s a sheen and a fairly deep core, but I couldn’t put a name or specific descriptor to either. Very good. (11/10)


Tedeschi 2007 Monteviglio “Spungola Bellaria” Pignoletto (Emilia Romagna) – Pine and tarragon with a slight prickle, though the latter doesn’t rise to a fully tactile sensation, preferring to remain a background shade. Seems to sweeten or dry as each accompanying food requires, which is a neat trick, and a small glass taken an hour later has grown in both aroma and richness. Fabulous wine. (11/10)


Bornard 2007 Arbois Pupillin Ploussard “La Chamade” (Jura) – Delicate and sweetly pretty, like a country girl in gingham and braids, or perhaps a Norman Rockwell portrait of same. Succulent. (11/10)

Moines way or another

Laroche “Domaine aux Moines” 2001 Savennières-Roche aux Moines (Loire) – Layers of oxidation. Fulsome with a barky, drying palate. Snow globe-like with its swirling tartrates (and my pour is far from the bottom of the bottle). Copper-jacketed and starting to preserve itself in amber. I spend a good twenty minutes trying to decide if I like this, and never quite come to a conclusion. (11/10)

The united Peduncolos of Benetton

Tenuta Luisa 2008 Refosco dal Peduncolo (Friuli Venezia-Giulia) – Very, very, very restrained, almost to the point where I suspect TCA (but after long airing, I’m convinced it’s just the wine). Lots of structure (which is muted) and some black raspberry, as if there’s fruit-weight and firmness pressing against an impenetrable barrier, and I’m tasting the wine on the other side of that barrier. Just OK. (11/10)

It's time to put your Massaretti away

Fèipu dei Massaretti 2009 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Rossese (Liguria) – Light, airy, saline, and somewhat insubstantial in the midpalate. The fruit that’s there is light in the fashion of, say, a Sancerre or Alsace rosé, but with less acidity and a softer expression. I almost like this, and in a less critical context I probably would, but the wine needs to exert more of an effort towards my affections. (11/10)


Swan 2008 Pinot Noir “Cuvée des Trois” (Russian River Valley) – Absolutely gorgeous, bringing lush New World fruit into a fine simulacrum of maturity even at this very young age; while past experience suggests that the wine will endure and morph for a while, this specific bottle gives me cause to question that norm. In any case, I see absolutely no reason not to drink this right now, because it’s delicious. Soil, baked plums, fall leaves, rich morels, and soft golden memories of old-growth forest and well-tilled earth. I could drink a case of this, and still be on my feet…Joni Metaphorically-speaking. (11/10)

Don't Graillot-ver spilled milk

Graillot 2008 Crozes-Hermitage Blanc (Rhône) – Really quite reticent, but the bones, shells, and raw almonds have a clean appeal. I find myself wishing for more, but the wine is unwilling. (11/10)


Sforzando 2009 Gewürztraminer Alisios (Santa Barbara County) – Bland, characterless, massively insipid. (11/10)


Domaine Saint Vincent Brut (New Mexico) – Extremely bright. Lemons, apples, other tart citrus. A little copper adds some interest, but this is mostly about upfront fruit. A party sparkler. (11/10)


Seppelt 1986 Sparkling Shiraz “Show Reserve” (Barossa Valley) – Right out of the bottle, there’s the baked soy and caramel thing that I loathe, and too often find, in Barossa shiraz. But that doesn’t last long, and after an hour or so of nudging and sipping, the last glass is by far the best. Moreover, I fear there was still more to come as the dregs are drained, though of course I’ll never now. The intended froth is still present but the wine is so full-bodied (and this is in a worldwide, not strictly Barossan, context) that you don’t much notice it after the first few sips. Luscious dark fruit, certainly sun-drenched but not overly so, and black pepper, with a more particulate and coal-dust texture than I would have expected. Fun just because sparkling shiraz is, but with a serious side as well. This wine, decades ago and from a different (and older) vintage, was the one that convinced me sparkling shiraz could be something other than a parlor game and the setup for jokes about goat sacrifice. I’m glad to see that little has changed. (11/10)

Shy oatmeal

Allemand 1999 Cornas Chaillots (Rhône) – Still sorting itself out, but the folders are starting to populate. In one, there’s an herb-infused slow-cooked meat, still enveloped in a certain mystery. In another, something very floral and even a little aggressively aromatic. In a third, rocks piled upon rocks. This is still headed somewhere, and though it’s quite approachable now I think there’s more to see before it decides to stop for a rest and an idealized drinking experience. (11/10)

Let's go, man

Allemand 1995 Cornas Reynard (Rhône) – Hey Zeus, this is good. Entering a bit of a soy phase, but it’s soy-soaked springbok jerky, very saline and entirely meaty. There’s salty brown minerality, too. Herbs, sometimes (though not always) found in older Cornas? Not so much, but in their place is a sort of lurid necro-floral aroma that’s really much better than that descriptor makes it sound. Balanced, still muscled despite much maturation, and really beautiful…if you’re a carnivore, that is. (11/10)

Andrew Jackson

Texier 1999 Hermitage (Rhône) – Cellared since release. Packed up in a hand-constructed individual stryo sleeve. Stuffed into a bag and checked, paying the airline’s asinine baggage fee to do so despite not otherwise needing to check a bag. Collected at baggage claim after much foot-tapping delay. Unwrapped and rested, upright, in the hotel room to let the sediment settle. Transported, with care to avoid further sedimentary disturbance, to a restaurant. And – wine people can see the inevitable conclusion coming a mile away – corked. (11/10)

Ina Kirchengarten

Bründlmayer 1979 Grüner Veltliner Kirchengarten (Kamptal) – Powerfully fizzy, so much so that were there any other sign I’d worry that this was refermenting in the bottle. As it is, there’s so much pétillance that the table discussion is over to what extent this was a deliberate winemaking choice; a little early prickle isn’t unexpected from this house, but at this age the outright froth is a little shocking. So what else? Celery, still, but fossilizing into a mineral form. Salt, kelp-infused. A brightness, as well, but the light rests on decaying bones…there’s no actual weakness yet evident, but there’s a certain trembling that indicates that the wine may begin to corrode fairly soon. This – grüner of an age I very, very rarely encounter – is an absolute thrill to drink, though I admit part of the thrill is the identity, rather than just the organoleptics. (11/10)


Tyrell’s 1999 Semillon “Vat 1” (Hunter Valley) – Sneaks up, taps you on the shoulder, waits for you to pay attention, then slips away, laughing at your sudden realization that you haven’t been paying enough mind, and now you’ve missed something important. It plays this teasing and eluding game over and over, never surrendering and just showing what it has. It’s not entirely divorced from the flavor profile of a delicate old white Burgundy, though with a little more grass and lemon, and quite satin-textured. The finest white pepper dust, maybe, later in the play. Those who think they can understand a wine’s adulthood and retirement from its birthing pains are, or at least should be, routinely mocked into abashed humility by the journey that this and other Hunter Valley semillons take. (11/10)

Boont cut

Anderson Valley Brewing Company “Boont” Amber Ale (Anderson Valley) – Somewhat fulsome, but also somewhat thin in the middle where it counts, and the only thing that’s never in question is that it’s bitter in a raw hazelnut sort of way. A good, not great, beer with character but without commensurate appeal, at least for me. The intrinsically embittered might find more here.(11/10)