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July 29, 2005

01 Tower Estate, Clare Valley Riesling

My friend Luke put it best when he called this wine "confounding." It is a puzzle that pieces together nearly every flavor riesling can have--apricots, lemon rind, Mandarin oranges, salty petrol, fresh pineapple, quince, and peppery herbs. The aroma, too, is unusually complex for Australia, with mouth-watering minerality that points to Austria or Alsace. Then, in an instant, it becomes an alcoholic pina colada. While the wine stays fresh in the bottle, it dies within 15 minutes in the glass--sacrificing all of its appeal to degenerate flavors of pineapple concentrate, lemonade, and British tap water. This wine is a case for terroir--the imbument of a wine with the qualities of its soil--because terroir won't fade if you swirl a wine too much. Once this Tower's generous perfumes and seasonings wear off--it falls to something that is hardly even wine.

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July 27, 2005

00 Prager, Riesling Weissenkirchen Federspiel Wachau Steinriegl

Despite its tight flavor, this nicely-aging riesling has lovely mineral aromatics full of petrol and Meyer lemon. It doesn't develop much yet, but does pick up a lot of body and salty chive notes over a few minutes in the glass, making for a pleasant and nuanced--though not particularly evocative--wine that would be better served with tangy food than on its own.

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July 23, 2005

97 Louis Roederer, Cristal

It amazes me that glitterati the world over actually have taste this good. The 97 Cristal is a benchmark for tetes des cuvees, the highest-priced and most limited champagne offerings. It looks like a runway model, with long, throbbing legs of tiny bubbles that might as well be threads of pure gold. A cloud of aroma rains eggy brioche, custard, and spongey, autolytic yeast, as the taut structure makes me think long and hard about how sexy pinot noir and chardonnay are in harmony. It still feels very youthful, showing little more than a dry, chewy texture and the flavor of sour raspberries. I taste each sip for minutes, however, and more intensely with each breath. There's not much nuance yet, but this is a wine that will soon deserve to be one of the most sought after champagnes on the planet--by people of any class. Holler.

3 Comments:

Blogger jezywine said...

Sounds like a classic Cristal. May I ask the usual cost for this wonderful bubbly?

9:59 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Thanks so much for visiting the site and posting a comment.

Because cost varies by location and often has a lot to do with the retailer, I do not list prices here. However, you can visit wine-searcher.com to find that information. Wine Searcher will provide you with a comprehensive survey of how much this wine costs around the world.

10:22 AM  
Blogger 750 mL said...

97 Cristal http://750ml.blogspot.com/search?q=97+roederer

7:46 PM  

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July 19, 2005

02 Gautheron, Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourneaux Vielles Vignes

Denser than the 2003, far less acidic than the 2001, and the most youthful of these three vintages, this 2002 Gautheron expresses Chablis simply and quietly. The aroma is singular, but robust--a missile of freshly-cut Granny Smith apples, uncompromised by looming acid. The body is buttery, though the taste is distinctly mineral-laden. At this point, the fatty texture actually overpowers the flavors, which are delicately appley with minor notes of savory spice and nougat. Rich enough to where I probably would've pegged this one as a young Burgundy--"blank"-Montrachet if I had to.

4 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

A nice pairing with buttery Moore family stone-ground polenta and sauteed squash.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Haven't been by in a while. Still looks like you are doing some great wines.

Have you done any reviews on Australian Syrahs? Just interested in some of your takes on those.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Hey, good to see you back. I've tried a lot of Aussie shiraz, but I haven't written up much because I haven't bought too many of them.

One huge exception is the 03 Mitolo G.A.M. which rocked my world. The 98 Penfold's Grange was also pretty spectacular, but I've only had one glass of it.

I typically enjoy low-end Aussie shiraz for their value. A blind tasting of the 02 Marquis Philips Sarah's Blend (shiraz, cab, merlot) was eye-opening.

Good point, though. I will try to write-up more Aussie wines in the future.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

In its second day (open and refrigerated), the minerality blossoms. Well, "blossoms" seems right, but it's not vulgar enough. The minerality ... "cauterizes," turning this wine into any French chardonnay lover's dream. Nougat turns to almond butter. I am so lucky to have two more bottles. Expect a new tasting note on this in Fall 2006.

9:24 PM  

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July 17, 2005

NV Maison Vergnes, Blanquette de Limoux Brut "Le Berceau"

Made along nearly the same latitude as Veneto, Italy, this sparkling wine from Languedoc, France resembles great prosecco. On first taste, it was bright and edgy enough to remind me of NV blanc de blancs champagne. This comes as close to Champagne as any region does for crisp, character-rich sparkling wine. The aroma is yeasty, acidic, lemony, and complex with the slightest hint of fennel seed. Blanc de blancs. The flavors are lean like green apples and unsweetened 7-Up; the structure, similarly dry and sharp, brings an overwhelmingly edgy finish. That said, I've paid more than twice as much for young wines from Champagne that were nearly identical to this blanquette.

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04 Hofer, Gruner Veltliner

This is a lively, fresh, envigorating, awesome gruner veltliner--despite the one-liter, crown-capped bottle. The aroma radiates relief from the summer heat, quenching the sinuses with spicy lime and acid-heavy citrus custard. Surprisingly, all of this expands on the long palate as lime turns to green melon, lemon pith, quinine, and an unnerving demand to eat anything with cilantro in it.

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July 13, 2005

95 Ca' del Monte, Valpolicella Classico Vigneto Scaiso

Light and easy-drinking, this is a good middle-of-the-road valpolicella. The raisiny ripe plum flavors are clean, the tannins seem seamless, and the finish is just earthy enough to be noticed. The aroma is dull, but has similar ruby port-like characteristics.

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July 11, 2005

02 Stafford Hill, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Cuvee LP

Thin, stemmy, and aroma-less at first, this is a fun wine to taste develop in the decanter over half an hour. The broadened flavors are of raspberry, some black cherry, sweet grapes, and vanilla. Though the aroma opens up to musky dark berries and black licorice, it's ultimately a bit too prickly to grasp. Overall, the acid and medicinal tannins keep this beneath the bar for 02 Oregon, but it is a lighter effort in which some will discover much more.

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July 09, 2005

04 Bisson, Prosecco dei Colli Trevigiani

Light, and reminiscent in flavor and structure of typical French Pouilly-Fume sauvignon blanc. The flavors aren't entirely complex for sparkling wine, but good for Prosecco in general--very appley with lemons, grassy herbs, and hints of honeydew melon--but the aroma has surprising Champagne-influenced depth. The acidity and dryness shine through on the smell. The finish wants to go somewhere--it wants to get creamy and nutty--but it never does. It doesn't have to, but why tease me like this?

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July 03, 2005

02 Ana Vineyards, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Ana Reserve

The 02 Ana Reserve is a proud fruit bomb with surprising nuance and an elegant finish that can only come from expert handling of grapes. While the red cherry and cranberry flavors hit me over the head, the lovely balance of light acid and fully integrated tannins makes this wine almost too easy to drink so young. The aroma is equally enticing of lavendar, jammy cherry, and raspberry compote.

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