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June 30, 2006
Like a child smoking candy cigarettes and drinking root beer on the porch or a young daughter dressed in her mother's gown, Thierry's monstrously delicate single-vineyard, old-vines Pommard is a wine that wants to grow old. But she'll long for her youth, her innocent, dimpled hubris of black cherry pit, red currant, chocolate-covered plum, and wild blueberry flavors; her perfume of herbes de provence, dark fruit jam, and lamb fat. We can't predict the future, but sometimes it can spark a glint within us that tells us not to worry--it will be as beautiful as the past.
June 24, 2006
01 Guilliams, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Spring Mountain District
Is this what rain tastes like before it falls to the mortal earth? A deific concoction of Romanesque cabernet, merlot, and cab franc, Guilliams' 2001, like the Elder Pei Mei, deserves its place at the top of a mountain. It's uncharacteristically complex, laughingly mopping the floor with similar wines from the Medoc. From a haunting black pepper nose to pure flavors of cocoa nibs, tiny tempered chocolate chips, freshly-picked blackberries, black currants, and beef tallow, it's profound. And it makes me salivate a mocha.
June 22, 2006
02 Francis Tannahill, Roussanne Passito
I have never wanted a waffle as badly as I want one right now. Big, fluffy, and sweet, scented with vanilla and buttery flour, dusted with powdered sugar, and wrapped in paper towel--the kitchen and kids consumed by the smell of hot, oozing batter. Unfined and unfiltered, this unreleased passito is as unctuous as roussanne gets. The argument here is not whether it tastes exactly like raw honey, but whether it's more like wildflower or tupelo. Even with sugar seeming to crystalize in my throat, though, the squeegee acidity dries and tames this monstrous wine. There are so many things I want to eat right now, from rice pudding with plump golden raisins to a big box of palmier cookies. Huge. ...stuffed inside of a waffle.
June 17, 2006
02 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Bierzo Villa de Corullon
With humble Alvaro and Ricardo yielding props to their venerable Palacios lineage, even the name of this wine commands respect. Built on the obscure Mencia grape, it tastes like a peppery tempranillo blended with Right Bank merlot/cabernet franc and old-vines grenache. Flavors sliding cleanly into the next--I hate using the phrase "powerful, but elegant," but that's exactly what it is. Lightly grapey, with red plum skins, red pepper flakes, and bittersweet chocolate-covered cherries on the finish. I feel like I'm beside a wood-burning fire, sopping food from a terra cotta bowl. This wine takes me there. Wherever.
June 16, 2006
00 Bryant Family Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
My grandfather smelled like this. Well, his medicine tin, actually--an old cookie gift box full of pills, ointments, and "chewables" bought on extended stays in three different continents over fifty years. The dry aroma is like new leather, faintly smelling of droughted soil, clay, cedar sheets, and spicebox. With relatively bright raspberry and red plum flavors splattered onto a savory canvas of eucalyptus, mint, and cocoa nibs, the Bryant cab would actually be spot-on for great merlot and cabernet franc, were it not for the mouth-coating tannins. This winemaker has a chef's hand, bringing great grace and nuance to Napa. Thank you, Michael.
June 12, 2006
03 Trinitas, Petite Sirah Old Vine Lodi
Next to anything but--perhaps--sloppy joe, this archetype of petite sirah is a lethal injection. I can feel my veins tightening. Under the right lack of inhibition, though, the Trinitas is so decadent that I feel shamed to even drink a second glass (I had three). Despite a foggy-at-best relationship to the natively Rhone varietal, it actually smells like shiraz--bold, peppery, and musky. Like a jaded first love, its rich, grapey, blackberry-laden fruit bones the tongue and then swoons there silently beneath the sheets. It's an unapologetic, gritty, street wine that describes the great irony of "petite" in petite sirah. There's nothing small here. Nothing smaller than me. Thank you, David.
June 03, 2006
00 Homenagem, Beiras Vinho Tinto
Start with a droning bass drum and slowly bring in the eerie, half-silent leak of violins. Then the oboe and bassoon, piece unto piece building until one of the strings turns louder, riles the conductor into sweats, and everyone just stops and listens. Homenagem, a duet of baga from the great Luis Pato and touriga nacional from Quinta de Cabriz, is a dynamic movement of wine that, as a whole, is far greater than its parts. And while the floral, haunting touriga and the brawny, peppered-rare-sirloin baga play well together, Pato assertively commands his aria. The fresh black pepper intensifies along with smoky whisps of sandalwood, melting tannins, harissa, and dark Bordelais fruit. Whatever "nagem" means, I'm now one bottle closer to home.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi