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May 29, 2006

97 Don Jacobo, Rioja Reserva

I usually run from the dilly smell of terrorizingly strong American oak, but the 97 Don Jacobo called me in like whatever the nasal equivalent is of the Sirens calling Odysseus to shipwreck. With my nose tied to the mast, I sail through into an alluring sea of earthy plums, black cherries, and mineral. The oaky aroma becomes wholesome, singing faintly in the background as the wine drifts into something much more mature.

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Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

A bottle of this was the perfect foil for an otherwise uninteresting dish of octopus in a briney tomato sauce. Based on that dish, I think the Jacobo would do great with a similarly stewed chicken dish or paella.

1:55 PM  

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May 28, 2006

03 Chateau Ollieux-Romanis, Corbieres Cuvee Classique

Catching the wind, perhaps, from the stellar 03 vintage in Rhone, this more southwestern French estate has produced one of the most surprisingly impressive wines of the vintage. Its heady, grapey grenache taste and floral syrah aroma make me think of great 03 Chateauneuf. The wine's rich, but never intrusive, and while the focus is strictly on the plush fruit, this Corbieres is still classically Old World. The finish is mysteriously long, peppery, and acidic. I woke up thinking about it the next day, quickly pouring myself the final glass and drinking it with a loaf of bread for breakfast.

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May 24, 2006

05 Woop Woop, Shiraz

Look, sometimes I like a good action movie. Sometimes, I want Bruce Li over Bruce Lee. Sometimes, I shave, put gel in my hair, and wear cologne. And, might I add, alter-Nilay cleans up nice despite his flaws. The 05 Woop's got plenty wrong with it--from spiky acidity to hollowed tannins--but it, too, hides itself well. It's a torchbearer of its style; the smokeless, stainless-style fruit is that good. It tastes like a blackcurrant smoothie, with little hints of orange juice and banana in the back. In the face of all this concentration, though, the texture is still lean with the acidity of a nice young garnacha, Flinstones vitamins, or Pepsi. Summer shiraz, I suppose, with a kick.

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May 18, 2006

The Short Pour, Issue One: Blackbird Singing

Of course the wine I love is the wine that no one can have. But I got
some. And, chances are, we all might some day....

The first issue of The Short Pour has just been published, detailing Cream Wine Company's invitation-only Small Batch tasting in Chicago, introducing a wine that almost no one in the world has ever seen, and showcasing 750 mL's first "House Pour" wine of the month.
Subscribe now to read more.

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May 15, 2006

99 Gravner, Breg

If we could taste how hard Gravner worked to make this wine or incarnate the history behind making what might have tasted the same some 4,000 years ago, our hearts could take only thimblefulls before collapsing into themselves. But, you can't do that. Unless you read up on Gravner for the couple hours before you and your friends open this bottle, you can't do that. And you should never have to do that to make a wine be great. Whatever agenda this Friulian master has, it shows dimly at best in the 99 Breg--a blend of "naturally"-fermented sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot grigio, and riesling. Technology has its place and here it would have been to make a much more interesting wine. The 99 Gravner is too shy, as delicate as a dry sherry and assertively tart with bitter lemony Gueuze-like characteristics, but little to merit its cultish following. There's nearly nothing here but a (good) hypothetical blend of basic white Bourgogne and vermentino... or Lemonheads.

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May 08, 2006

05 Bodegas Zabrin, Calatyud Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines

I miss drinking glass-bottle Jarritos at the bodegas in my old Mexican neighborhood with the money I had left over from lunch each day. And then there were the Jarritos from the corner grocery in little Puerto Rico, right outside the Greens, that I dosed on my way to a writers' workshop on Saturdays. The yuppies can keep their coffee, I thought. It was all just sugar, really, but those sodas seemed so exotic until I grew up and found them at every major megamart. ...and then in the Zabrin's terroir. Powerful, exotic, and uniquely familiar like the great table wines from Languedoc and Cote du Rhone, the "fiery" 05 garnacha is like a black fruit punch garnished with fresh blackberries and dried plums beside a hot plate of cheesy enchiladas and peppered skirt steak. Breakfast as it should be. The yuppies can keep their coffee.

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May 04, 2006

04 Telmo Rodriguez, Toro Dehesa Gago G

At first I thought pulled pork, maybe just something as simple as tacos al pastor. But then it dawned on me--I wasn't thinking about this 100% tinto de toro tempranillo wine. I wasn't tasting anything at all. It's not that the wine isn't rich. It has a smoke quality that could put half the Rhone out of business. But that smell--that dense, gets-in-your-hair smell of tar and grilled dead black roses--is the beginning and end to this wine. Gago makes me think of pulled pork, tacos (oh, add ribs to the menu) because it needs them. As impressive as it first seems, the tough, angular tastes reduce the whole wine to seasoning. And, while Mrs. Dash can perk up any meat dish, it's raw and acrid on its own. So the lush aromatics lose to the fruitless palate, which first is like the taste of toothpaste after a Cuban espresso and later just green and tannic.

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