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September 26, 2005

02 J. Christopher, Willamette Valley Le Pavillon Vineyard Pinot Noir

This is one of Oregon's lighter, more elegant pinot noirs built for anyone who likes the weight of basic Bourgogne and the expansive flavors of the premier crus. It explores the science of subtlety, delivering rich toasty fruit flavors as a denouement instead of a flashy climax or headliner. The slow release of dried herbs, dark cherries, and wild raspberries on the palate leaves time to explore the earthy Burgundian aroma of walnuts and mushrooms roasted on a hot blacktop road. Everything simple in this wine comes off like an exotic delicacy. And, as opposed to the seamless Sandra Adele, Le Pavillon has noticeable tannins -- silky, but spicy enough to give the wine some nice heft in the finish.

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September 19, 2005

04 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rose

With the minerality of a bubble-free Andre Clouet Brut Rose, this is a provocative pink nearly vexed by its allegience to terroir. The aroma is chalky, tart, sharp, and steely. The flavors brand into the sides of my tongue: sea salt, grenadine, and strawberries macerated in lemon juice -- all coated with a whisp of tannins. This is what Chablis would taste like if it were a rose.

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September 17, 2005

03 Dunham Cellars, Columbia Valley Three Legged Red

This is a wonderfully refreshing blend. The acid's great, the structure's soft, and the fruit is big -- my qualifications for a top-notch table wine. Lightly minty dark berries and mellow cherries saturate the tongue, but the acid is so vibrant, lengthy, and consistent that the wine never seems heavy. I like how the oak works here, too, adding lots of body, but never conflicting with the grapes.

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September 16, 2005

93 Famiglia Anselma, Barolo

This, Anselma's first Barolo, unfortunately comes from one of Piedmonte's most medicore and apparently short-lived vintages of the 90s. It is a traditionally styled wine with enticing aromas -- an odd but appetizing mix of apples and broth -- and raw flavors of orange, tangerine, and pate at the forefront. The 93 is fully mature right now, very light and very thin, but does gain some nice smoky accents with time in the glass. The winery admits, however, that only its Adasi riserva is meant for such long aging.

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September 14, 2005

NV Waris-Larmandier, Avize Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs

A glass of this might seem esoteric with a ham and brie baguette on an early fall Wednesday in Paris. Sharing a bottle and a broken-French discussion about politics and "people," I doubt I could contain myself. Without the lust and sloth, however, it is an underwhelming wine. The tart gala apple and orange marmalade flavors are tremendous, but nothing else happens and my palate quickly grows tired of the incessant encores. The flavor is bolder than that of many non-vintage champagnes, but the Pop Rocks and soda structure makes it seem overwhelming. Despite the whoopie cushion finish, I can't help but long for that imagined moment in the Latin Quarter, talking some bullshit and drinking my bistro wine.

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September 13, 2005

02 Ben Marco, Mendoza V.M.S.

If black pepper grew from slabs of raw prosciutto, it would smell like this wine. The dynamic blend of malbec, cabernet, bonarda, and syrah is full of meaty blackberry, bitter chocolate, and smoked raisin flavors. Despite such intensity, the lightly tannic texture is neither cloying nor difficult, finishing savory, liquid, and clean.

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September 12, 2005

03 Cuvaison, Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir

Big flavors of strawberries and savory cinammon/clove hit with the texture of velvet and burlap. This is an aggressive wine from the start with a mildly mushroomy aroma that pricks the nose with its alcoholic exhaust. Ultra-ripe and fiercely textured, it should pair well with rare meats. The cranberry-like tartness, whole black cherry sweetness, and subtle vanilla and caramel flavors of good French oak keep the wine nicely balanced in the finish--despite the burning. I'd love to try this in the snow.

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September 11, 2005

02 K Vintners, Columbia Valley Wahluke Slope Milbrandt Syrah

Tame only by K Vintners standards, the Milbrandt has a sinister aroma -- like a crackling forest fire at night -- but is a little bland on the palate. Bland compared to Cougar Hills and The Beautiful--I might add--is still pretty interesting. The wine hones in on smoky fresh black pepper flavors with something floral and, well, purple in the background. The texture isn't supple, but it intensifies with some time in the glass.

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September 09, 2005

03 Cuvaison, Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay

Though its compelling nuttiness wears off, the wine shoves on with white pepper, peach skin, vanilla, apricot, and dry, bitter green flavors and a quiet apple aroma. The alcohol adds a lot of spice and works well, but kills the finish where it burns hot on the gums and turns the flavors stewed, grapey, and distillate.

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September 02, 2005

04 Owen Roe, Abbot's Table

This should be served in a large, gilded goblet. It's a monastic wine--disciplined and poetic, with the religiously milk chocolate texture of great Belgian trappist beer. The cabernet and merlot are meaty, fruity, and more fetishly bold than any right bank Bordeaux at this price point. The rest of the mix is the yang. Tart strawberries wrestle with black cherries: zinfandel v. pinot noir. Tannins velcro in the liquid panna cotta of herbal oak. They'd work with any steak dinner--ideally one smothered with gorgonzola--and also lamb, dark meat turkey, or wild mushroom risotto. But if you're eating with this wine, you've wasted money that could have been spent on a second bottle. As soon as I need dessert, the wine delivers with a smoky finish of fudgy walnut brownies and blueberry toffee.

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