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January 30, 2006

04 Brooks, Runaway Red Oregon Pinot Noir

This is the basic Beaune or Cote de Nuits of Oregon, maybe better named "Willamette" than anything else. It's hard-pressed to reveal any true depth, but I'm impressed by how well everything here works together. The strong black cherry flavors, buoyed by the slick glycerine texture of high but well-balanced alcohol, boast an underlying earthiness that makes it far more complex than a typical table wine. It has roots in rustic Spain and Sicilia--a muddy tar & licorice smell that frames the light-bodied fruit-forwardness of this wine. It balances what would otherwise be dull, obvious juice. It's not quite terroir, but it is certainly the thoughtful hand of a winemaker that I'm tasting here. The first post-Jimi Runaway Red, made by a warm family of Oregon winemakers in honor of Jimi and blended by Chris Williams, is like a mix between Jimi's murky Maysara Delara and the precise Brooks Pinot Noir. It is a beautiful testament to his life. While it hardly qualifies as cru, it is a wine that speaks of Jimi's vision--one that reveals how important he thought it was to drink good wine simply because we are alive.

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January 27, 2006

03 Chasseur, Russian River Valley Sylvia's Pinot Noir

Look. You can't leave the candies in your pocket all day, even if you need them during the chem exam after lunch. They melt; they resolidify; the plastic clings to the outside. They never taste the same. That's where the slightly-sweet Chasseur Sylvia's is determined to go. It moved me in its opening moments--made me think that there are more Californian pinots out there that don't have a strange powdered sugar taste to them. But then, it melts. And now, I feel like Oprah recommending "A Million Little Pieces." It's a beautiful read, even after you realize what's really going on, but I can't get quite the same feeling from the second and third glass of Sylvia's as I did from the first. The nuanced cherry amoebas into something a bit too easy and fictional. The lightly smoky yeast nose is captivating, but ultimately has nothing to do with the sappy, liqueur-like taste of strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, and Eve--the putative innocence of all our coming sins.

5 Comments:

Blogger caveman said...

ain't it always that way from the old russian river.
Huck Bill Finn

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two nice quotes from David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards:

"Pinot noir should be a princess, not a monster. Who would you rather eat with?"

"You don't see any fuckin' palm trees in Burgundy."

5:00 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

I appreciate the comments. Those are nice quotes, Anonymous, but I have to wonder how useful they are.

This idea of the elegant pinor noir stands on pretty weak legs in my opinion. Granted, I've never had a Burgundy as robust as, say, 02 Sea Smoke Ten, but there are countless Burgundies that are made in a much more monstrous style than they generally get credit for.

I have rarely encountered a true Burgundian "princess," and, when I have, it was more a sign of her age than her pedigree.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to start dating more. Princesses abound out there. One day you will find your and buy two cases.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

I do need to date more, but I've already found a couple princesses in the New World. Dates are expensive, and I shouldn't have to look so hard for something that's going to end in a few years anyway.

4:41 PM  

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January 20, 2006

00 Chateau Bouscasse, Madiran Vielles Vignes

Awesomely earthy with the God-spitingly sinful and dirty strength of truly great, great, great Bordeaux. One-hundred percent tannat from just south of the famous cabernet region, its cured black olive aromas and flavor comprise some of the finest rustic French wine in existence.

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January 10, 2006

04 Las Brisas, Rueda White Wine

Somebody pass me a cast iron mortar of fresh mango red onion salsa and a bag of blue corn tortilla chips. And don't hog the sweet mint grilled jumbo shrimp skewers. The orange jelly, lemon, and key lime flavors of this wine taste--I'm sorry--like the sun setting behind the lake in the damp warmth of spring in Europe. The expansive finish is ambrosial in this way, with the smell of white flowers and rosemary. Somewhere there's a kid trying to catch a frog with his hat. Las Brisas mimics New Zealand sauvignon blanc, but is more balanced than many, persistent with tartness yet clean and forgiving.

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January 02, 2006

03 Akakies, Amyndeon Kir-Yianni

A rose served best at room temperature (at last!), this northern-Greek Xinomavro-based wine is the beginning of spring. Sadly, I'm stuck in a Midwestern winter, but with this wine and the right food (see Comments or any restaurant in Turkey), we could rightfully be on the Aegean Sea with our toes in the sand. Though I would've never known it was from Greece, this is a wine that makes me want to visit its terroir. When cold, it has an astringent aroma of raw acid. Once at palm-cooling temperature, however, it is lean, floral, and as pretty as a woman's eyelashes. Its green strawberry and pomegranate flavors get even more lovely with food, while never being too fruity. The dry, acid structure drives this wine--drives it straight to my blushing heart.

2 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Yet another wine that shows that Indian-style food is not best served with champagne or cheap lager beer. With medium roasted Indian red chili wild salmon (tatooed with garlic, shallots, black truffle salt, coarse black pepper, lemon slices, grapeseed oil, olive oil, and flat parsley), Akakies gets more minerally, more citric, and much more floral. It is wonderfully dry against the spicy salmon, cutting the hot spice, which--in the West--is closest to cayenne.

7:43 PM  
Blogger caveman said...

Best Indian wine i hav drunk has been an aged Jurancon Sec (like the Cuvée Marie from Charles Hours)... Slightly oxidative, definitely spicey enough, and rich yet fresh... we drank a 2000 two weeks ago that was sublime...
I had a fantastic greek rose this summer but the name escapes me.. made by Tsantalis i am sure
Happy '06 Nilay.
Caveman Bill

2:14 PM  

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January 01, 2006

95 Alain Thienot, Brut Grand Cuvee

If it smells like Krug, if it looks like Krug, then it must be ... Thienot? Like vintage Krug, this Thienot has a beautiful toast to its nose and a striking virgin elegance that would be reserved for weddings were I not so wanton for great champagne. It is tight without being austere--my teeth don't hurt the next day--parlaying simple but energizing flavors of lemon, sourdough, green apple, and english muffin.

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