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May 30, 2005
The peppery, sauvage nose is sternly syrah, and an easy marker for this wine's "old world" heritage. I smell dehydrated violets, cured meat, braised fennel, and wild, tart raspberries. Though youthful, its savory flavors are still robust. The spice intensifies to satisfy the ever-ripening brambly raspberry fruit. The finish is herbal, rich with elements of Tuscan cuisine--the heat of red pepper flakes, the weight of starchy beans and rice, the pungency of toasted garlic and marinated black olives, and the sharpness of broccoli rabe. The chewy, teeth-cleaning tannins will reconcile with the fruit into something very supple in a couple of years.
May 29, 2005
98 Pierro, Margaret River Red Table Wine
There aren't too many Bordeaux blends that ever feel this complete. To say the least, this '98 Pierro (cab, cab franc, merlot, petit verdot) is peaking right now. Its dense, velvety weight is a joy to chew on and suckle. The flavors are ripe and mature, boldly blackberried and lingeringly leathery. The bitter chocolate/sticky cassis finish complements the earthy, fruit compote aroma. The tannins are smooth and sweet, with a slight grip at the end like a husband's hand on his wife's shoulder as she walks out the door.
May 26, 2005
02 Chehalem, Dundee Hills Stoller Pinot Noir
Rich, complex, and tremendously fresh, this pinot will reward a couple more years of aging. Its spicy, lush fruit camps and virtually caramelizes on the tongue. Extracted black cherry flavors complement the cherry/vanilla aroma, with a belly warming crescendo of bittersweet chocolate.
May 25, 2005
02 J. Christopher, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir "Sandra Adele"
Sandra's a starchy wine, with the smell and flavor of shiitake and porcini risotto. Make some and you will know what I mean. There is a delicacy and force here, like truffled scallops, that together say Burgundy has come to Oregon. Raspberry liqueur (or is there such a thing as raspberry oil?) and grape soda flavors frame a purely unctuous finish of brulee, toasted macadamia, hazelnut, mint chocolate chip, and citrusy old Barolo. Jay, your mother must be so beautiful.
May 24, 2005
NV Regis Fliniaux, Brut Rose
What a giving wine. Marzipan and bright strawberries line the aroma, which is also densely yeasty. There's so much rich Ay terroir in the smell, that you almost forget this is a rose. The flavor's full to the point of being lightly sweet up front, but the big bold bubbles carry it into a dry plush finish of orange blossoms, raspberries, red-skinned pears, minerals, and chocolate. From half bottle.
May 22, 2005
02 Showket Vineyards, Napa Valley Oakville Asante Sana
This is an over-the-top "Super Tuscan" blend of ripe sangiovese and burnt cabernet. It takes me back to last week drinking Cennatoio Arcibaldo (thanks, Luke!) with its raunchy, ripe South African/Aussie-style cab nose of cocoa steak, leather, and alcohol. The palate is dark and lingering, like an unconfessed sin, with spicy stewed cherries, rare lamb, raspberry flan, and unsweetened cococa. "Asante sana" means "thank you"; the wine's not quite that friendly.
May 16, 2005
04 Elio Perrone, Moscato d'Asti
Think back to drinking cream soda out of the can as a kid, and you can manage this wine. While I maintain that its success as a pairing with fruit sorbets, cookies, cakes, and pies justifies its existence, I often have a hard time admitting anything about this candy wine in publc. Snobbery aside, though, the Perrone is among the better moscatos I've had. Because of the vineyard's north-facing slopes, the grapes aren't as sun-drenched, resulting in wines of a bit higher acidity. It smells like carnations. While the sugar and flavors of peach filling aren't shy, the finish is politely dry and clean, though gassy. The carbonation is light (despite the large mousse) and plays OK against the sweetness.
May 13, 2005
03 Albert Mann, Pinot Auxerrois VV
This ends up being pretty elegant. It starts off quiet, but builds into a nice wine that shyly shows its faults and talents. Like other auxerrois I've had, there's something very much like gewurztraminer in structure: spicy and buoyant. It tastes like pears poached with white pepper and star anise.
May 12, 2005
04 J. Christopher, Croft Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
This is America's greatest sauvignon blanc. May it inspire a new trend in what we can do with this varietal. The steely bouquet of singed grass and smoky white stone is classically New Zealand. The picturesque flavors develop from kiwi and grapefruit to papaya, lime zest, green apple, and a long minerally finish of peaches and cream. Here are my notes on 2001.
May 08, 2005
NV Diebolt-Vallois, Brut Blanc de Blancs
This is a nice introduction to Cramant, known for its elegant (but often aggressive) champagnes that can finish stern and smoky. For a non-vintage, it has good staying power, age-worthy for at least a couple years. The aroma is classically yeasty, like fresh wheat poolish and soy crisps. The lemon fruit and lime zest flavors saturate the mouth, but have a surge of coolness almost like crushed ice. If you said this was a '95, I wouldn't have argued.
May 06, 2005
01 Bennett Lane Winery, Napa Valley Maximus
This is a terroir free zone. 44% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, and 12% zinfandel, the Maximus is a lush wine that shows finesse and hedonism, like Sinatra walking through the park after dinner. The bouquet is increasingly powerful as the wine sits open in the bottle. In its 5th day, it's ripe with plums and creme de cassis. It smells like the world's greatest Kir Royale. The taste is fleshy, with more plums and brambly blackberries, but countered well by tannins that stay dry for days. There's nothing overtly aggressive about this wine. It's a cocktail party of heavyweight boxers, mingling as they eye their next knockouts. The finish is full of cinammon and chocolate. See comments for more recent notes.
May 04, 2005
03 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Wehlener Sonnenuhr (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Riesling Kabinett
I accept that the so-called kabinetts of this super-ripe vintage are naturally more like the sweeter spatleses. But, after tasting through a couple dozen, that seems more like a cop-out than an explanation of what happened that year. Many have achieved great balance, and this is one of them. Its smoky, slightly pungent wet stone aroma is much more classic than the plush, nectarous gas of so many other 2003s. It's by no means lean--the palate gushes with apricot/tangerine smoothie and clover honey--but the acidity brings great freshness to what might otherwise be a flabby effort.
May 03, 2005
01 Vereinigte Hospitien, "Sanctus Jacobus" Scharzhofberger (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Riesling Kabinett
The bright, but focused minerally aromatics scream great riesling, complemented by a bouquet of quince and starfruit. Much like an old Studert-Prum, the minerality is totally aligned with enticing apricot flavors that last almost a minute. Fine structure, with the bold acidity of a young blanc de blancs champagne. A cool river breeze runs through this wine.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi