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October 29, 2005
Dry, sharp, and acidic with a steely green mango aroma that straddles a strange line between chenin blanc and Austrian riesling. Despite that, everytime I sit down with it, it manages to move me more than it should. The green mango and golden apple flavors develop alongside great minerality. It won't wow at any tastings, but is one of the best white wines once food hits the table. I've used it for everything from bitter green salad to braised octopus and it's never missed. Wines like this make me glad I don't give out ratings, because it's completely mediocre with outstanding potential to elevate a meal.
October 23, 2005
04 Luis Pato, Maria Gomes Bruto
Gueuze. The bubbly version of one of my favorite white table wines, the LPMG Bruto is more hard-edged than its still sibling. There's lots of yeast on the nose, but it's tight and sharp instead of creamy. Lemongrass and sour green apples line the aroma. The palate is clean, dry, and easy-drinking with subtle flavors of lime. Few bubbles.
October 19, 2005
03 K Vintners, Walla Walla Valley En Cerise Vineyard "Ovide"
Is there such a thing as chocolate stew? Is there something slow-cooked in old cast iron with cocoa nibs, root vegetables, maybe a few hunks of macheted goat? Dedicated "For My Father - Robert Ovide," this blend of 65% cabernet and 35% syrah is Charlie Smith's most masculine wine, but it isn't fat and gaudy. The focus is pure fruit, despite enough oak to add mint chocolate to the aroma of pencil wood, eraser dust, blackberry jam, and eucalyptus. As expected, the dark berries are incredibly concentrated on the palate, but I never thought I'd taste every part of a pencil. A surging strike of acidity segues into French vanilla bean and tinny dark chocolate that might even conduct electricity. You could power a small flashlight with my teeth right now.
October 14, 2005
55 Cerbois, Bas Armagnac
I'm counting this one as wine. It's as armagnac ought to be. I'd rather smell the sweet vanilla scent of this 50-year-old southern French distillate than any perfume from Paris. The taste is epic--ripe with pears, fresh baked apples, cinammon, cardamom, and minerally salt. Distilled, it still expresses its fruit. Unlike almost any spirit I've ever had, the 55 Cerbois not only develops, it completely changes--on the tongue and in the glass--uncovering the caramel nuttiness of tawny Port long into the finish. Complicated to express, but easy to feel--like love, I guess, raging love.
October 07, 2005
03 S.A. Prum, Riesling Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich
Man, how right-on was Wine Spectator in its early article on the super-ripeness of the 03 German rieslings? At this point none of the tightly mineral aroma shows in the flabby, moscato d'Asti-like taste. The sweetened baked peach flavors are loud and bully what tiny bit of acidity is there. For 2003, however, this is not unusually sweet. The sugar's at about the level of the 03 J.J. Prum Wehlner Kabinett -- technically the least ripe of rieslings. I'm holding out hope that this will come together in the next five years. It can be tiresome right now, but it's a fun wine that comes into its own when paired with pure fat. A few glasses are just right with an after-dinner plate of French blue cheese.
October 03, 2005
01 Hirsch, Riesling Gaisberg Alte Reben (Old Vines)
Cup your tongue. This is a wine to test every taste sensation. In its first fraction of a second, there is a surging sweetness that immediately disappears once the acid takes hold. The wine is as extracted as a dry riesling can possibly be: pear skin, green mango, and dull pineapple flavors glisten against my grill, while a woodsy minerality holds court in the back of my mouth. It is the interaction of everything great about riesling: fruit, sugar, and cool stony terroir, with a shadowy whiff of petrol and honey on the nose.
October 02, 2005
71 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, St. Julien
It's so harmonious and subtle, you'd hardly think it was Bordeaux. The wildly earthy aroma, though, which more than three decades later still lifts itself out of the glass, immediately screamed old French cabernet when I first tasted this wine blind. Its brick orange color makes me expect muddled flavors, but they are all bright--surging with acidity, mellow tannins, and decent length. Still very earthy, minerally, and vibrant, this is a classic wine--not because it impresses me in any way, but because it is such an honest and telling preservation of its time. Thanks, Drew.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi