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November 29, 2004

03 Mitolo, G.A.M. Shiraz

Super-extracted, but with the acidity to match. Thick and tacky on the tongue with wet soil, leather, and tobacco. Peppery smells of cowboys and cattle. Grab a knife.

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November 28, 2004

02 Groth, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Zingy, herbal nose of gooseberries and fresh cut grass. Nice mix of white pepper, tropical fruit, and sour cream on the palate with sweet vanilla oak coming through on the finish. Very clean.

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November 26, 2004

88 Bollinger, R.D.

I understand mortality now. Disgorged in May 2000, the 88 Bollinger R.D. is passing away. The vapid carbonation -- going nearly still after several minutes in the glass and almost bloating while it is there -- lends a jarring fullness to the wine. The nose is powerful and dynamic with notes of toasted butter, hazelnuts, and pastry crust. The palate begins with much the same, perhaps with some toned down lemon mousse in the background, but quickly dies off. It finishes fast and leaves a disintegrated taste of vanilla, like 1er cru Burgundy in a bad year. All that said, this is nothing short of spectacular in the sheer amount of sensations it brings to my face. But structurally, it feels like it's trying too hard. To replace the confused, sometimes grapey fruit, the wine gives off smoky phenols that remind me of the 88 Sugot, though those too seem artificial. I can't tell if the parts are here or if they've already trailed off for this to be a great wine, but I suspect that those 12 years on lees did little more than age this puppy in dog years and now, with four-and-a-half years in the bottle, it's starting to have trouble with its hind legs.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

A complete revision to what I thought this wine to be, last night's tasting of this same wine left me floored with a wealth of delicious sensations. While it is still incredibly full-bodied, that is very much the Bollinger style. The nose is plush with grape juice and grape bubble gum aromas, a fruitiness with plays decidely well against the very bright palate. As of today, this wine is in top form and one of the best 88s I've had.

11:23 AM  

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November 25, 2004

03 Domaine de la Solitude, Cotes du Rhone

So clean for a wine so young. Medicinal cherry fruit with plums and raspberries emerging. Some heat on the nose, this almost feels like California and, while it doesn't have too much depth or concentration, it's more than the simple fruit of most Cotes du Rhone. Midpalate dies. Peppery pork fat and lamb dare to show themselves, especially on the nose, before Solitude remembers that this is just a basic Rhone. It needs another year for the alcohol to calm down, but the tannins are light, the acid moderate to high, the wine a simple joy.

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November 23, 2004

04 Huia, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Grapefruit with a tropical edge. That so-close-to-guava nose never opens, keeping Huia from being as cloyingly fruity as other New Zealand sauvs. The sharp citrus is first. Distinctly red bell pepper flesh as well on the nose and palate. Often, when I see this flavor, it tastes like a mistake, but again here it merges very well with the grapefruit, adding fullness to the otherwise edgy fruit. Sweet pepper nose gets bigger as this warms, then yields to Golden Delicious apples with soft Tahitian vanilla mixed in. Midpalate is medium full with a few sweeping secondary flavors. Dry, clean finish -- powerfully acidic -- with more grapefruit.

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November 22, 2004

88 Krug

Butterscotch evolves to toasty nuts on the deep, open nose. That all ripens on the palate with precision and grace. The fruit is full, the smokeless phenols fully integrated. I expected bracing acidity and got what only served to complete the structure to near perfection. This is a very long champagne that willingly exposes the wine it will become in several years with a few short minutes on the tongue. But what I love most about 1988 Krug today is its ability to elucidate nearly every other champagne I've had in my life. My first thought was 95 Rodez and I have even more respect now than I did before for that former Krug winemaker's bubbles. For all its complexity, the Krug is ultimately light and never overbearing, singing with quiet, but exacting notes -- like a mother to her child.

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November 18, 2004

NV Eric Rodez, Cuvee des Grands Vintages

It's no coincidence that the Rodez blends are almost 50/50 chard and pinot. This is one of the fullest noses you will find in champagne -- a rich and physically textured bouquet driven by edgy phenols and supported by marzipan, vanilla, nuts, and cream. The palate is immediate with brown buttered Golden Delicious apples. Not just baked apples, but apples from trees rooted in creme fraiche. Creamy, again backed by the smoky phenols that add so much complexity to this wine. Blind-baked pastry crust.

What is it with phenols from champagnes that come in these squat Special Club bottles? (See 88 Sugot-Feneuil).

Walnuts emerge, with the apply acidity lifting every flavor -- even the usually dull pinot white grapiness that eventually rears its head -- to ultimate heights. Orange oils. Let them eat cake? Fuck it. Give them Rodez. And what the hell is that? Mushrooms? Herbs de Provence? Turkey? Fucking turkey?

This will do quite well for another two or three years. It is the most complex non-vintage I've ever tasted, excepting Krug. I've always thought of champagne as elegant, maybe that explains my usual preference for blanc de blancs, but this is as hedonistic as one can be. With blends like this, who needs blanc de noir?

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November 14, 2004

95 Foreau, Vouvray Moelleux Reserve

Plush honeycomb, white flowers, and stone on the nose, accented by a light glycerine palate. Acid really trailing off now and giving way to some deep minerals and nuttiness after several minutes in the glass. Apricots and Highland Scotch-like honeyed apples.

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November 09, 2004

02 Adelsheim Vineyard, Oregon Pinot Noir

Herbal, light, and zingy. Complex Cantillon Kriek funk (wild, but not soil-driven) nose interrupted by steamy, though otherwise innocuous, alcohol. Develops a slight hint of oaky creaminess with some time in the glass. Raspberries, tarragon, braised fennel, and cinnamon-spiced tart cherries. Clean tannins and refreshing acid. Warming with some splintering alcohol spice on the finish. Elegant and traditional; Burgundian with peeks of sweet fruit crying out from Chehalem. One of the hotter 02 Oregon pinots, but otherwise completely spot-on. Makes you wonder where the late Jimi Brooks got his inspiration. Benchmark.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Beautiful compliment to the thick, savory spiciness of hummus.
Brings out a wretched fishiness in lightly smoked salmon.

10:52 PM  

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02 K Vintners, Cougar Hills Syrah

I can smell the vineyard in the 02 Cougar Hills Syrah -- fresh, wet, minerally soil. Wafting plum blossoms. Gobs of fruit on the palate. Superripe sweet plum, blackberry, and dark cherry compote -- long and full, but never cloying. Not extracted -- optimized. Secondary flavors of toasted butter, flowery Tahitian vanilla, and fresh white and black pepper. Glycerine texture broods, cut barely by tingly acid and exotic spice. Tertiary flavors of something so close to meat fat, I'm ready to call it just that; the gaminess yields to the true fruit that tastes like it's still ripening in my mouth. Wondrous. That tease of meat is somehow more powerful, more striking, than what the flavor could have been had it come out in full force. Lavendar and violets.

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November 08, 2004

NV Lilbert-Fils, Grand Cru Cramant Blanc de Blancs

Immediate lime zest. Seemingly austere, but growing in fruit intensity with the softer cramant carbonation making the wine seem oddly sweet. Dynamic phenols and a long, zingy finish that sadly tires from all the green citrus.

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November 01, 2004

99 Casale dello Sparviero, Chianti Classico

Initially tight and racy, with a funky, enticing Kriek nose of earth and wild cherries, almost barrelled; my closest frames of reference are New Belgium La Folie and Cantillon Kriek -- both beers. The acidic palate is full of more red cherries and a clean, liquid juiciness. After an hour in the open bottle, the 99 Sparviero deepens dramatically. The earth -- actual soil -- broadens on the nose with darker plummy fruit on the nose and palate. Sudden black pepper. Bordeaux cassis. Chewy tannins push through past the fruit. This grows into a wine plush with terroir, virtually signing its name on the tongue. At 5 years, the sangiovese exposes both its youth and its age, stable enough for at least a couple more years, but perhaps trailing off. This is a chianti of nearly unmatched fortitude, depth, and character, though tannins do eventually come to dominate the finish and the fruit doesn't seem capable of any true resurgence; still, it lingers.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Too big for standard tomato fare (unless you catch it in its first two minutes after corking), this is a wine for heartier pasta sauces or roasted meat. To be treated as a young brunello.

6:59 PM  

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