16 March 2011

Jeudi, Jeudi, Jeudi

Vino di Anna 2009 “Jeudi 15” (Sicily) – Carbonic (at least, what one imagines a carbonic wine to taste like) and crisp. Apple (skin on), raspberry, red cherry. Vivacious, irresistible. I love this. (3/11)


de Bartoli “Vecchia Samperi Ventennale” Vino Liquoroso (Sicily) – A wine of tension. This strikes me as amusing, since I’m sure it would be characterized as a wine of meditation on many Italian lists. But it’s that settled uncertainty – is it trying to be sweeter or drier? is it a Marsala or not? – that’s this wine’s brilliance. Complexity defined. A jumble of bones, rocks, nut oils, and differing shades of late afternoon. Long. Incredibly long. Really brilliant. (3/11)

Hidden Ageno

La Stoppa 2006 “Ageno” (Emilia-Romagna) – Very deep, rich, and shaded. A powerful, almost stravecchio style of orange wine (really more brown when taken to this extent), full of dessert spices, minerality, and preserved fruit. Absolutely delicious, albeit heady. (3/11)


Il Tufiello 2007 Fiano “Don Chisciotte” (Campania) – An orange wine. What’s most interesting to me is how clearly both the waxiness and textural impact of the grape and the dust of the region shine though the layers of tactility provided by extended skin contact. The tannin here is present but quite manageable within the wine’s overall balance, and acidity hasn’t been completely lost, so the end result is something a little brighter and fresher than the orange norm. It’s not as complex as some, but it’s a simple pleasure. (3/11)

A Bastian of sanity

Mathis Bastian 2008 Riesling “Grand Premier Cru” Wellenstein (Luxembourg) – Bright and vibrant. Crisp acidity, not overly sharpened, with flaky limestone minerality and ripe lemon flavors. Pretty impressive, and by a fair margin the best Luxembourgeois wine I’ve tasted. (3/11)

Foulard me once, shame on you

Les Foulards Rouge 2010 Vin de Table “Octobre” (Roussillon) – Spicy, frothy acidity with sharp, boisterous red berries. There’s more to it, thankfully, with earthier and more herbal…well, I was going to write “nuances,” but they’re more like microbursts. Nothing’s quiet in this wine. Fun, if simple. (3/11)

Goutte idea

Cazottes Eau-de-Vie Goutte de Mauzac Rosé Passerillé (Southwest France) – Floral as much as fruity, with the quality of my preferred clear spirits in that it goes beyond a simple spirituous expression of the source material to achieve something a little more interesting. Those who prefer that purity might not like this as much. There’s a delicacy along with the usual heat that’s not often found, either. (3/11)

Hen-e-ry the fourth I am, I am

Navarre 2008 Saint-Chinian “Cuvée Oliver” (Languedoc) – I really don’t like this. Stale butter and the scotchy taste of wood (is it wooded? the web site doesn’t mention it if so) completely ruin whatever fruit characteristics might be present. Nasty stuff. (3/11)

Just a sec

Huet 2007 Vouvray Le Mont Sec (Loire) – The oft-expressed opinion of increasingly ego-overwhelmed critics that great ageable wines taste great in youth is persistently dispelled by wines like this. It’s nice enough, with firm structure, gently chalky minerality, a lot of spine without much flesh, and a strikingly long finish that holds its poise all the way to its denouement. But really, there’s so much more to come that only those intimately familiar with the usual trajectory could even begin to divine the potential here. I doubt I would, encountering this wine blind. So is it a waste to drink this now? I’m starting to wonder if it might not be. At the very least, the demi-sec bottlings offer more early material for appreciation. (3/11)

Pushing the Illmitz

Kracher 2008 Zweigelt “Illmitz” (Burgenland) – Oaky zweigelt. What a terrible idea. What an unpleasant wine. (3/11)

Hello to Pa, too

Haisma 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin (Burgundy) – Dark fruit, though far from opaque, with the slender musculature of a runner. Mushroom dust, some earth. There’s wood, yes, but it’s young Burgundy. Wood’s not uncommon at this stage. Structurally sound. I’ve never heard of this guy, but on a sample size of one, he might be worth watching. (3/11)

Fées Wray

Bizeul “Domaine du Clos des Fées” 2008 Côtes du Roussillon “Les Sorcières” (Roussillon) – Flavorful, but with odd helixes and skews to its geometry. Red fruit mixed with earth, herbs tossed with grains, light but with a low subwoofer hum. There are a lot of tasty elements, but they never quite coalesce. It’s good, but only just. (3/11)

15 March 2011

The name of the Rozet

Edmunds St. John 2000 “Los Robles Viejos” Rozet (Paso Robles) – Undoubtedly much-victimized by a transatlantic voyage and then a good shaking from hotel to subway to restaurant, so when I mention the muted elements to come, they’re only partially due to a wine in its midlife crisis. But that’s a factor, as well…though the eventual signs of a more mature life can be very clearly glimpsed through the haze and miasma. Beefy, dark, scowling and broodish, with the mourvèdre taking a very prominent role (my drinking companion complains of mild brett; without lab work it’s hard to know for sure, but I feel it’s the animal stink of the grape rather than the animal stink of a yeast) and the other grapes of this southern Rhônish blend pacing around in the background. Structure is still fulsome and enveloping, and so while the fruit is well along its development curve, there’s still softening to be done. In another wine, I might caution about the future, but my experience with ESJ wines is that they always go longer – and often much longer – than my initial instinct suggests. So I’d say, more based on experience than the possibly traumatized state of this particular bottle, there’s absolutely no hurry, though given the right culinary conditions this could be coaxed into a state of reasonable enjoyability right now. I’ll wait on the rest of mine. (3/11)

After Bloomberg

Neumeyer 2007 Pinot Gris “Le Beger” (Alsace) – The label says pinot gris, there’s a little hint of pear-ish fruit done up with wintry spices, and the particular sort of (very) light off-dryness is carried in a very pinot gris-like way. But otherwise, this has about a foot and a half firmly in the riesling camp, in that its structure is metallic, cylindrical, and firm. The overall effect is to pretty much dry out the residual sugar, leaving a fine, steely minerality dominant over the restrained fruit. The finish is long and firm-fisted. While it will not be to the taste of those demanding lushness from their Alsatian pinot gris, for me it’s almost an historic resurrection of a much-missed style. A style that is, though it’s hard to remember in this era of dessert-y pinot gris, very appealing with food. (3/11)

I'm Nashik of Araby

Sula 2010 Chenin Blanc (Nashik) – I’ve watched this particular bottling over seven vintages now, which is kinda fun to say about an Indian wine. Interestingly, while it has gotten cleaner over the years, it has not necessarily gotten better, which might indicate that it’s coming up against some sort of externally-imposed limit. Maybe vine age, maybe terroir, maybe something else. It’s still a bright, light-fruited quaff, still tastes less like chenin (either the Loire style or the fruit-blast South African style) than something more innocuous, still has just-bright-enough acidity, and still goes pretty much nowhere on the finish. In other words, its primary quality remains a delight at drinking a pleasant wine from India. (3/11)

Taking leave of

Sainsbury’s Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle Central) – Why the language switch for the appellation between this and the sauvignon blanc, I don’t know. I’m sure some focus group, somewhere, knows the answer. Sweet green pepper, synthetic and sticky fruit. I rarely think the cabernets are ideal candidates for cellar-dwelling price points, and sauvignon even less so than franc. This wine demonstrates why. An underripe festival of pyrazines would be one thing, but to add the sticky, plastic sugar element just to make things “more palatable” is triply wretched. No bargain at any cost. (3/11)

Marching in

Sainsbury’s Sauvignon Blanc (Central Valley) – A whole orchard full of grapefruit, lemon, lime, with just a hint of pith and bitterness. Good flavor for the money. (3/11)

12 March 2011

Keller instinct

Keller 2005 Spätburgunder “Selection” 38 07 (Baden) – Light-minded, with soft red fruit both yielding and a little plush despite an enveloping tan minerality. Just a touch of brett. Really quite beautiful and approachable, though it’s not blessed with much complexity. Maybe that will come. (3/11)

Nókő ónő

Disznókő Tokaji “Late Harvest” (Hungary) – Concentrated sweetness, copper, bronze, brass, molten candle wax, and amber. Some extremely concentrated apricot, as well, perhaps more as a honey flavoring than an actual fruit experience. Very clean, devoid of the style’s typical issues with volatility, and delicious. (3/11)

Can't see the Folas for the tries

Josmeyer 2008 Gewurztraminer “Les Folastries” (Alsace) – Off-dry, with its minerality delivered in a waterfall of crystallization. Sweet lychee verging into peach, but with a clementine counterpoint, even a little mirabelle as it lingers. There’s power here without overt weight, and also without relying too heavily on the common crutch of sugar. Extremely nice. (2/11)


Anton Bauer 2009 Grüner Veltliner Rosenberg (Donauland) – Open, but it’s a small opening, spreading tiny white petals to show the (nicely) vegetal greenness within. There’s just a touch of the lurid to the aroma, but it’s a luridness that exists mostly in a nearby room, rather than right in front of the taster. Simple, nice, not really more than that. (2/11)

Gosset you, gosset me

Gosset Champagne Brut “Grand Rosé” (Champagne) – Simple and a little heavy, full of red-berry flavor but extremely linear and literal. Solid. (3/11)


Trimbach 2008 Riesling “Réserve” (Alsace) – Sulfurous, though mildly so. Yet it does obscure. Underneath that sulfur there’s a heck of a wine…powerful, iron-cored, bracing…but I think this has been treated for the long haul, which it should have no problem enduring. Now, it’s just sulfurous. (3/11)


Ledaig 20 Year Scotch Whisky (Isle of Mull) – As broad a peat aroma as I’ve smelled in a Scotch. Not strong, just broad. Drinking this is to experience the sensation of consuming a Scottish woolen blanket. That, since it’s probably not clear, is a compliment. I really love this. (3/11)

10 March 2011

Poire, poire, pitiful vie

Weinbach Eau-de-Vie Poire William (Alsace) – Extremely intense, round, and fulsome, as stylistically befits any beverage from this house. Ripe pear, salt, minerality, sweat (an oddly regular component of this particular spirit, across producers and appellations). So much going on that the heat, which is not inconsiderable, actually takes a step back. I like this a lot. (2/11)


Dry River 2008 Gewürztraminer (Martinborough) – Sneaky. Starts off very shy, then gradually opens; the ideal temperature, at least from a “cold” opening, is somewhere a little higher-temp than might be ideal for most gewürztraminer. Is what appears to be a lowish alcohol vs. the gewürztraminer norm a factor? It might be. The aromatic range includes rambutan and some stone fruit, nut oils, and roses, but everything is nicely restrained…even delicate…in comparison to the weighty power of which the grape is capable. Off-dry, but just that; this is in no way overtly sticky. Finishes long and a little tingly, with the promise of minerality to come. As the gewürztraminers of Alsace get heavier and sweeter, this is a nice respite. (2/11)

07 March 2011

Ride UPS

Mount Brown 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Waipara) – Mineral-driven, which is to the good, with little tropicality and also no overt pyrazines. Unfortunately, lacking either and not having aught other than some rocks in their place, it’s wan. There could, and should, be more. I suppose I’d be kinder were this made from a less aggressive grape, but while I adore mineral qualities in my sauvignon blanc, it’s a grape that I think should bring some of its own expressiveness to the mix. Here, it doesn’t. (2/11)

Penderyn to the crowd

Penderyn “Peated” Single Malt Whisky (Wales) – A mediocre whisky with a completely tacked-on layer of aromatic iodine. The oak is shockingly buttery, even beneath the peat. Not good. (2/11)

Take me to the pilot

Lighthouse “Navigator” Doppelbock (British Columbia) – Dark, bitter, dark, spicy, dark, and dense. Very, very flavorful. And sorry, but I have to say it: this would be greatly improved with a little chill. The traditional ambient serving temperature does not suit this particular brew. (2/11)

06 March 2011

Ussegliold goose

Pierre Usseglio 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Aging in a clingy, somewhat sloppy fashion, not bringing much of tertiary interest to replace a fading fruit goopfest. It’s good, but it’s decidedly not very good. Dark berries, soil, black pepper, and simplicity from start to finish. On the positive side of “eh,” but still “eh.” (2/11)

My Sharona

Glendronach 33 Year Scotch (Speyside) – Cream, pepper, spice, old-growth forest. An electric zap of front fades, then re-emerges to a low-level fuzz on the finish. Quite compelling. (2/11)


Lanson Champagne Brut (Champagne) – Sprightly with deeper tones. Not complex. Just basic, direct, flavorful bubbly. (2/11)

Blow it open

Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) – 14.8%. Bottle variations has been strong with this wine of late, and here is no exception. Brutish and still angrily-structured, this hasn’t delivered itself of dark purple fruit yet, though there’s bubbling-under set of pepper dusts and earthen tones,. While the “Draper perfume” of soft oak is evident, it is quite subordinate to fruit and structure at the moment. Bottles like this will age for quite a few years yet. And some are ready to go. (2/11)


Vercesi del Castellazzo 2009 Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero “Gugiarolo” (Lombardy) – A white made from pinot noir. Extremely aromatic. Not lurid, just heady. Along with crushed flowers and squeezed fruits goes a satiny texture that drifts back and forth across the border between tactility and adhesion. Just manages to avoid be heavy. Quite attractive. (2/11)


Tripoz 2009 Mâcon Serrières Rouge “La Prim’Heure” (Mâcon) – Very earthen, which flows through otherwise evergreen boughs and surprisingly dark berries. Acidity supports the entire edifice. Not exactly “lively,” but long and confident. (2/11)

Bobby Orr

Achel Trappist Bruin (Belgium) – Luscious dried-brown sap flavors, bronzed apricot, layers of ginger spice and easy appeal. Nice. (2/11)

Up one

Hanssens Oude Kriek Lambic (Belgium) – Brittle and extremely cherried, offering not the slightest hint of mitigating sweetness or density, so that razor-sharpness stands out clearly and pointedly. Has a handle on all its “difficult” components. Pretty good. (2/11)


Fonteinen Oude Gueuze Lambic (Belgium) – A fair balance of stink and snap, spiced and a bit gauzy. This is pleasant, and much more approachable than the extreme forms of lambic, but there’s a certain sacrifice of intensity necessary to achieve that. (2/11)

39 reasons

Line 39 2009 Petite Sirah (North Coast) – Gelatinous. Blueberry compote. Add a little water to jelly and you can probably achieve this exact effect for far less money. (2/11)

Sometimes, it's just a malbec

Cigar Box 2009 Malbec “Reserve” (Argentina) – The name doesn’t really ,ie, in that there’s a healthy whack of tobacco herein. But mostly, it’s about opacity for the sake of opacity, rather than in service of/consort with other elements. Big, big, big. (2/11)