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March 31, 2005
Like a concentrated version of 2002 Lot 1, this is a juicer's worth of saddle leather, smoked blueberries, and peppered steak that hits with the intensity and clarity of some of Washington's better cabernets. The 03 also includes 31% merlot, 9% syrah, and 1% cab franc, but is ultimately focused on the earthy, sinewy, fleshy cab. If the dynamic flavors and robust aroma aren't enough, the structure of this wine -- especially for its youth -- sets its quality well beyond its price point. The acid is clean, and the tannins are aggressive enough for food, yet integrated enough for everyday sipping. Milky vanilla and spiced rum round out the finish.
March 30, 2005
98 Romeo, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva Dei Mandorli
Boring. Despite tons of cherry, raspberry, and meat fat flavors and a classically robust nose of stewed fruit and earth, there's nothing here to fill the gaps. It's more than drinkable and at least mediocre, but soberingly dissapointing with tough tannins and a woody finish.
March 24, 2005
00 Casale dello Sparviero, Chianti Classico
Just as deeply aromatic, wild, and empowered as the 1999, Sparviero continues to explore the underside of Classico with the 2000 vintage. This vintage is more fruit forward with spicy flavors of ripe black cherries and sharp herbs, backed by primitivo-like funk. Proudly high acid and dry, slicing, dicing tannins. Also like the 99, however, the finish is a little flat.
March 23, 2005
03 J. Christopher, Chehalem Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay
Volatile acidity. Muted aroma. Somewhat crisp, but increasingly rich with lightly floral white fruit dominating the palate. The fruit is comparable to Oregon pinot gris in its sweetness and simplicity. Salty golden apples.
March 22, 2005
00 Andrew Will, Sheridan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Finally, an American cabernet that doesn't have "gobs" of anything. Built first on structure -- a righteous balance of acid and smoky, fine-grained tannins -- it's consistently expressive on all accounts. The flavors extend the normal presence of cabernet. The cocoa is elastic; the leather cured beneath the Texan sun. And the fruit flavor isn't just of cassis, but of burnt raisins that remember they were once ripe grapes.
March 19, 2005
01 Walla Walla Vintners, Washington State Cuvee
When I started drinking wine, there was nothing that confused me more than "oak." Tasters held their noses deep into their glasses, swirled, sipped and swished, and pronounced the taste and feel of a wood I'd never known in liquid form. Of course, it isn't liquid, but its oozing richness in some wines can't be understated. I wish I had a wine like this then. Wafting aromas of fresh pressed red berries, plum, and cherries with enormous liquid Jell-O fruit on the palate, and a powerful finish of dill. Silky tannins support the bright, sweet fruit every step of the way. I swear there's even oak in the smell, gnarled behind the brambly blossoms. Leathery chocolate and button mushrooms highlight the remarkably ripe cabernet in this hot, heady blend.
March 18, 2005
02 Domaine Michelot, Bourgogne Chardonnay
I'm convinced it's Chardonnay. The name insists it -- twice. Aromatically reserved and oddly grassy, I can only imagine how great Michelot's other wines are, plush with every last bit of juice from these grapes. Whatever pomace went into making this wine expresses what it can, but leaves it thin and youthful with limited flavors of green apples and a quick aerosol of cream. I think I'm wishing true the taste of raw walnuts.
March 16, 2005
03 Isabel, Sauvignon Blanc
Pour this on top of a cheese pizza and bake at 450 for 9 minutes, or stuff with panko breadcrumbs, italian sausage, and cheese--but for drinking, let it fry. Time and again, I take away nothing but the graces of green bell pepper from this wine. I don't drink vegetables. There's actually quite a lot going on here with acid that seems to undergo malolactic right in the glass and fresh flavors of grapefruit zest, white flowers, and herbs. But please guys, cut back on the capsicum next year.
00 Andrew Will, Pepperbridge Valley Merlot
Chris and Annie Camarda at Andrew Will have mastered merlot. The 00 Pepperbridge is a model for all American producers. It's an opulent and hedonistic wine -- the kind you'd make sure to pronounce MAHRRR-lo -- that could just as well find its place among barrels in St. Emilion. White pepper and fleshy fruit open to blueberries draped in chiffon and dragged in the mud.
March 15, 2005
01 Ponzi, Willamette Valley Chardonnay Reserve
Bridging the gap between Old World and New, this chardonnay tames the pinching minerality of Batard-Montrachet with the spicy fruit of the cool Northwest. The shimmering pale crystal wine is as understated in flavor as it is in appearance. The subtle palate is smoky and toasty up front. Crunchy almonds fill with golden apples and a cardamom lemon cream finish that quickly thins.
March 14, 2005
02 Ponzi, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Reserve
The smell of this wine is tailored with cut-fitting cherry, earth, alcohol, and hints of cream. The elegant acid and tannins dance with noticeably better integrated oak than the voluptuous 02 Pinot Noir. Spicy and cedary -- so loudly Ponzi in style -- with a warm liquid finish of blueberry pie.
March 13, 2005
01 The Eyrie Vineyards, Oregon Pinot Noir
This wine makes it easy to assume that all pinot noir is really just dark rose. The 01 Eyrie lacks substance, but seems to be a good marker for the weak 2001 vintage. The flavors of stewed cherry and strawberries are pure, but the muddled, yeasty nose of sulfur and bubblegum is nearly unpalatable. Transparent mouthfeel.
March 07, 2005
01 Domaine du Closel, Savennieres Clos du Papillon
Only the most entertaining of palates will find any semblance of fruit in this caustically acidic, alcohol-laden chenin blanc. This is the most closed white wine I have ever had -- consistently void of any aroma or flavor to the point of seeming corked. It relies on a stubborn, disinterested, but promising structure that I'm told will bloom in several years. The deep golden color is perhaps the only sign of what this wine might be; after several hours of decanting, the Savennieres opens -- like a single crack in the attic ceiling -- to unfiltered honey and woody spice. Dry, bitter, green.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi