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August 31, 2004

01 Artadi, Vinas de Gain

Holy altar of Rioja, I kneel my humble nose to you. Succulent spicy blackberry core erupts with sweet fruit and acid simultaneously -- fresher than actual berries. A nice mix of fruit tannins on the gums and wood tannins in the throat. Hot. Long, grapey finish. One of the deepest, most extracted Riojas I've ever had, yet it also exhibits some grace in its handling of such demanding flavors and structure.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Portuguese fish stew with chaurice and tons of salt/olives.

Balanced enough, even in its boldness, to yield to vegetarian, tomato-based stews and lasagnas.

A natural with porcinis.

4:16 PM  

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August 30, 2004

01 Gueneau, Domaine des Grandes Perrieres Sancerre

Perjoratively ripe gooseberry nose with some briney fruit on the palate. Lime. Mineral. Intensely salty, exhibiting full, but singular terroir. Big, drying acid. Very clean.

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August 27, 2004

02 Luis Pato, Maria Gomes White Wine

An enticing and complex, yet emminently quaffable single varietal, Pato's Maria Gomes is nearly everything a white table wine can be. It combines the zingy grapefruit and tropicalia of New Zealand sauv blanc with the buttery apple and pear of white Burgundy and sparkling wine. Brillant contrast of acid on the nose with an almost sweet -- however short -- finish of vanilla and peppered herbs.

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00 La Fiorita, Laurus Toscana

Once you chew through the orb of tannins in this baby Brunello, the high-note acidity bolsters an enticingly meaty, blood iron palate backed by laboring dark berry fruit. Notes of Italian sausage, London broil, and tar. Spiced blood nose of anise and fennel. In Act II, the hard tannins yield to acid that, though bright, feels mild because of the sheer weight of this wine. And though meat dominates the palate, the denouement of Merlot fruit in the midpalate is more than enough to keep this wine interesting.

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August 25, 2004

00 Chateau de Carolle, Graves

Exhaustively earthy nose receeds to fumey fruit. Palate of blueberries in front of mild cassis, portobello, and flinty cocoa. Structured tannic finish balanced well by the acid reopens to more pronounced cocoa, dark fruit, and a touch of funky soil. Softens after only a few minutes in the glass to pure midpalate liquid, eventually giving to the gritty tannins.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Impressive with vegetarian lentil soup. The earthiness of the lentils is brillant with the cabernet; the light acid from the wine cuts nicely into the medium-bodied broth; the onions and celery merge with the fruit; and the tannins don't put up a fight.

9:17 AM  

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August 23, 2004

02 Brooks, Oregon Pinot Noir

In the face of lush, jammy 2002 pinot from his comrades across Oregon, Brooks' Oregon Pinot Noir is a modicum of Burgundian elegance. Upfront red cherries, immediately overwhelming, calm down nicely and give way to backnotes of subdued earth. Light and free with a surprisingly assertive tannic structure coming out on the finish. A bit hot and tight with the cough syrup fruit of young pinot, this should mature gracefully over the next year.

2 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

This wine is light enough to be best complimented by roasted herbed vegetables. Heirloom tomatoes work well in conjunction with other food, but the acid on its own interferes with the wine.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Jimi Brooks suffered a heart attack and passed away Saturday, September 4 at his Oregon home.

10:35 AM  

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August 22, 2004

99 Quinta do Vale Meao, Douro

Blackberry jam and red currants front for burgeoning spice, cocoa, and lamb. With secondary and tertiary flavors developing for hours in the glass, this wine is tough to keep track of, but a pleasure to try. Wood spice and nougat. Evolving, fumey dark fruit and meat nose. Leathery tannins and bright acidity that, though not entirely together, compliment each other well, making this a wine to look forward to in the coming years.

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August 20, 2004

01 Ana Vineyards, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Arthur's Block

Welcome to Willamette Valley. The concentrated fruit in Arthur's Block is nearly legendary and, unlike many of the 02s now coming out, balanced by a classic medium body that keeps this wine quaffable. Tight, but opening with vibrant, gum-tingling acidity to deep black cherry jam, tarragon, and fennel. Fruit develops, darkens, and continues to open for minutes. After a day, the acidity balances out and gives the wine notes of cranberry. Drink after 2005.

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August 17, 2004

01 Cennatoio, Innominato

Black toffee nose with a red berry backbone. Subdued strawberries. The weak blueberry you'd expect from an inexpensive cab/merlot. This wine is less about fruit and more about the structure, which is itself obnoxious. Acidic earth fights with medium tannins and, while the earth is nice, the tannins and acid come to overwhelm and simplify everything else about this wine. Short with oaky toffee and vanillins.

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03 MandraRossa, Fiano

Developing some waxiness already around the edges, this wine drinks like a blend of sauv blanc and viognier with the promise of so much more. Racy nose leads into a fuller floral flavor. Quince and orange. Surprising hint of maple. Succulent for its age and style.
Blue, non-export label.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

A couple months later, the midpalate seems much emptier with lighter notes of pear and citrus -- almost a golden pinot gris. Reminds me of some white Oregon field blends. Dull.

9:12 AM  

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03 Broglia, Gavi La Meirana

Lively grapefruit and sweet baby powder. Floral and minerally with considerable notes of honey. Long citric finish. Cream fades in and out, eventually sacrficing the rounded body to acid. Short-lived in the glass, losing to phenols.

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August 13, 2004

NV Sean H. Thackery, Pleiades XII Old Vines

A blend of everything from several vintages, mostly 01 I understand, from Thackery's many plots in the Northern Rhone . . . which he calls "California" on the label. The bright, orange-laden viognier is moving, with enough flavor and high-note acidity to balance the intrusive backdrop of tar on the nose and palate. If tar were a perfume, it would smell like this wine. The finish is long, complex, and developing as the citrus and earth come together to make what I suppose blueberries might taste like if they were smoked over cedar. Tobacco. Sweet, silky tannins from some portion of wine that must be a decade old.

4 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

The sweetness of roasted beets calms down the tar finish. Blackened catfish is a natural match for the strong, floral acid in this wine.

The earthiest of marinaras doused with olive and truffle oils and diced portobellos is still no match for this wine without any meat.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

An uncovered glass of this wine stayed fresh for three days at room temperature. On the fourth day, the tannins finally started to show, but were never intrusive. Even partially evaporated, Pleiades remained very drinkable.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would very much like to find Mr Thackery's wines and webstie, can you help? My email is
jimmy.ingram@starpower.net

4:18 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

http://www.wine-maker.net

8:45 AM  

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August 12, 2004

02 The Magnificent Wine Company, Willamette Valley PINOT Pinot Noir

Baked cherries, burst blackberries, and kirsch front for burgeoning earth spices like cumin and cinammon. Suggestive. Goat meat gaminess on the finish. Distinctly wild, subdued by theatrical fruit. Good acid. Soft, sweet tannins.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Organic marinara brings out a much-needed funk in this wine, calms the acid, and shows off the soft tannins.

Balsamic portobello mushrooms reveal intense phenols and acid and manage to create hordes of disjunct tannins out of thin air.

The hard-to-detect gaminess in this wine really calls out for wild salmon -- maybe even sockeye -- and turkey. Classic pinot pairings, of course, but truly warranted with this wine.

9:41 AM  

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August 11, 2004

NV M. Lawrence, US Brut Sparkling Wine

Grapefruit, orange, candied lemon, sweet pear, apple, acidulated melon: on, and on, and on, and on. Though fruit-forward, US Brut is never cloying, heavy, or short. Smoky phenols and basic bready yeast structure the finish. Bright, full flavor with a sweet, Prosecco-inspired nose. This isn't about austere acidity or slow, cave-aged flavors -- this is about gorgeous pinot noir and chardonnay grapes fresh and at their finest.

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August 10, 2004

01 Jean Paul Droin, Chablis Tete de Cuvee

Mineral driven with hints of honeyed lemon cream, golden raisins, quince, and light, complimentary butter on the back. Often singular. Exceptionally balanced acidity makes this lively enough to be refreshing and full enough to stand up to heartier seafood dishes. Fumey nose, but otherwise clean.

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August 05, 2004

02 Ridge, Lytton Springs

Melange of juicy, wild blackberries and strawberries. Emerging cocoa. Lingering caramel-coated fruit. Titillating acidity. Hot, powerful, but balanced finish. Clean, chalky tannins. Dynamically structured.
75% zinfandel; 20% petite sirah; 5% carignane

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Food pairings:

Though too robust for most mild vegetarian or seafood oriented dishes, this wine does quite well with a basic red sauce. Sweet basil and a little bit of sugar in the sauce help overcome the wine's heat and accentuate the fruit profile. Surprisingly, the acid from the tomatoes and the tannins from the wine cancel each other out.

Bold and challenging with spices like cayenne, paprika, and black pepper. Disjunct by most people's standards, I would guess, but perhaps enticing to many -- especially if the spicy dish centers around a thick, bloody steak.

Locatelli (sharp Parmesan)is too much for the wine, reducing the powerful zinfandel to an odd taste of soapy nuts.

Double Leicester or any fatty, rich cheddar-like cheese is the most alluring pairing. The blubbery cheese silences all the aggression of this wine. The wine accentuates a lurking, but sometimes allusive floral component of the cheese while the cheese brings out richer, more discernable blackberry and plum from the wine. Sharp white cheddar would not work.

9:31 AM  

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August 02, 2004

02 Robert Mondavi, Fume Blanc

Very creamy, considering the acid. Flinty gooseberry nose. Low phenols. Clean with marked, but controlled oak vanillins. Bright acidity and structure. Engineered and almost perfectly conceived, but never challenging.

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