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March 30, 2006
Pegau was brave to bottle this wine when virtually everyone else left their grapes for dead in the washout of 2002. Little, however, separates the brave from the insane. I believe this miserable effort is the best southern Rhone could do in 2002--Pegau is, afterall, one of my favorite winemakers in all of France--so I will probably never buy a 2002 CdP again. It's a wine that improves with air even though it barely has the structure to support my sighing breath in the glass. A day's worth of maderization actually lends some semblance of fruit--albeit raisiny raspberries--and brine that bring comic heft to the otherwise empty, insipid pour. Upon opening, it's a limp cat dragging its behind across the carpet to clean itself. It drinks like a weak Cotes du Rhone, barnyardy on the nose and flacid on the palate. Though helped by good peppery minerality, the wine surrenders to ugly green tannins and a humid meat flavor more reminiscent of Bordeaux years past its prime.
March 26, 2006
01 Lagier Meredith, Mount Vedeer Napa Valley Syrah
You begin to wonder about evolution when you drink a wine like this. I can see the ripe red berries alongside an old gravel stretch struck by lightning, bruised, and slowly metamorphosed into plums. Built on a mountainous perch of acid and alcohol, this spicy syrah is rich but focused, like spiked tropical punch, and it intensifies with every moment in the glass. The fruit becomes brighter, the pepper moves from black to the flesh of Anaheims, and I get weaker and weaker.
March 11, 2006
NV Bele Casel, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
Stern and acid driven, the Bele Casel prosecco is evidence that more than Champagne deserves attention for sparkling wine. It's the Veneto's eye, a peaceful and clean sip amongst other violent proseccos that are too dry, medicinal, or dull. Simple but satisfying, it explores flavors of sour apple, lemon drops, and dry tart raspberry. A bit sharp, Bele Casel is at its best a touch undercarbonated--settled in the glass a few minutes before sipping--which provides for plusher fruit. It's an ideal aperitif, structured enough for any antipasto.
March 09, 2006
02 Domaine Philippe Naddef, Marsannay
Someone in the Cotes de Nuits let one get away. Naddef's 2002 pinot noir from Marsannay, Burgundy's largely-ignored northern-most appelation, is Burgundy with an agenda. It's what many Oregon winemakers (who I adore) are striving for when they say they want to make Burgundian wines. Because, this isn't the shy wuss of pinot that you get so often from backroad namesakes like Marsannay or Santenay--Burgundy's other pole. It puts deep, fleshy fruit next to a rich, but airy body that relies on the structure of the grapes--instead of the oak--to make it linger. It has 1er cru power with surges of red plum, black cherries on the pit, and loads of spicy mineral. The acid lifts, accentuating the fruit, while the light, sticky tannin tethers the wine to earthy flavors of gravel, roasted button mushrooms, and brown butter.
March 05, 2006
99 La Fleur-Petrus, Pomerol
It's what seamless means. For a Pomerol neophyte, this wine is enough to think that all great wine should come from a 10 hectare plot of land managed by Christian Moueix. I bet his water tastes better than yours. The 99 La Fleur-Petrus is an eye-opening wine for me because it provides so much unabashed joy. Sweet cherries, I guess, maybe some wet soil, raspberries, and espresso. I'm not really worried about getting the tasting note correct. More than a wine for writers like me, it is one for the winemakers themselves. It is the humming monolith of Bordeaux. It is the prototype.
March 02, 2006
03 Chateau Haut Beyzac, Haut-Medoc
The Haut-Medoc is so famous for its cabernet-driven wines, that I didn't fret at picking up such a generic bottle. There's no getting around the lovely minerality one gets from the reds here such as those from Paulliac, Margaux, and St. Estephe. Hence my surprise when I found this wine made of 75% merlot and only 25% cabernet. But this is why the wines here are labeled by region, not varietal. While the cab's force, spiciness, and dusty minerality still sing operatically on the nose, a deliciously juicy dried plum, stewed mushroom, blackberry, and grilled fennel flavor dominates the palate. It's a well-woven wine that expresses the cloy elegance, rich fruit, and savoriness that I look for in good French table wine. It is a fitting complement to all things garlic, tomato, and meat.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi