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July 31, 2006
As young as I am, I already miss my youth. So, often, it's exactly these escapades that I long for in wine--the wines that remind me of how simple my pleasures used to be. We once drank lemonade; now let us drink dry Windisch riesling. Its bright lemon flavors are calm and play gracefully against the crisp finish. They should let kids sell this roadside in the summer.
July 28, 2006
81 Vega Sicilia, Unico
I feel helpless. This, my first Unico, like a young old school Bordeaux--and made much the same way--is a wine with more class and emotion than flavor. Despite a beefy aroma and mild tastes of black cherry, cassis, and its seven years in old French oak, it's really the persistent length, tannin, and exhaustive spice that impress me. There's not much else here. For the first time since I started drinking wine, I'm taking a step back, going outside to think, pleading with the glass to let me through the door. I can't seem to pick my way through. But the seed has been planted. The fruit will grow.
July 22, 2006
03 Walla Walla Vintners, Cabernet Franc
If joy begets respect and respect love, then I love this wine. What begins as a playfully oak-driven, Napa-esque fruit bomb becomes a watermark on the sheets of cabernet franc. With a group of close friends, we all thought this was Napa cab--like all but one WWV wine, it's saturated with creamy, mint-chocolately, varietal-confusing oak--until we couldn't find any hint of dark fruit. What a diversion it is, ultraripe with the great leathery flavors of cabernet, but locked to brighter essences of cherry and syrah-like red fruit. It's confounding--seemingly over-oaked and hedonistic, but still remarkably layered. I've lauded several new Chinons for their ability to fit right into a blind tasting of Bordeaux and have none be the wiser. Try the Walla cab franc against great Napa cab and see if anyone flinches. Thank you, Drew.
July 19, 2006
01 Marques de Gelida, Cava Brut Exclusive Reserva
In addition to being more refreshing than a busted fire hydrant on a hot summer's day, this is tremendously complex Catalonian cava. The vinous flavors of macabeo and xarel-lo are more akin to pinot-driven champagne, surging with grape flesh and red apple skins, which play up the lean aroma of Granny Smith apples soaked in lemon juice, waiting to be baked into pie. Oddly enough, the texture is crisp, nearly crunchy with carbonation. This is an ensemble of classic sparkling flavors, with the fruit intensity of warm-climate grapes and yet the elegance and texture usually only derived several miles north and east of here.
July 17, 2006
05 Terredora Dipaolo, Irpinia Falanghina
Much like the fiano-based wines of neighboring Avellino, this 100% falanghina from Irpinia in the Italian shin of Campania is brimming with bright, spritzy flavors and aromas of orange rind, lemon zest, spearmint balm, and orange jellies. Tickled by a feather of carbonation, Dipaolo's falanghina is good reason to eat outside--hands drenched in olive oil with your feet in the grass. It drinks much like a muted Spanish sauvignon blanc, but with enough weight to go course-to-course from white bean and kale soup to seafood and on into squab, roast chicken, or veal. I imagine if chef Thad Morrow, mastermind of Champaign's star-worthy Bacaro Italian restaurant, could have invented a wine for his famed shrimp bruschetta with limoncello and mint (a treasure often purer than gold), this would have been it.
July 12, 2006
97 Bruno Rocca, Barbaresco Rabaja
From just south of the village of Barbaresco in Piedmont, this austere nebbiolo typifies, for me, the classically light elegance of wines from this region. A full 180 from something like Gaja's rich, robust style, the 97 Rocca lingers with the slowly seeping aroma of black tar. The oak seems very light--despite what I've heard about Rocca being a modernist--and the wine overall reminds me of young Bruno Giacosa. Maybe it's just the first names. Rocca's Rabaja, in any case, is a study in purity--showing how alluring simple flavors like dried fruit and licorice can be against natural acidity and chalky, steak-friendly tannins. It whispers.
July 04, 2006
95 Angelo Gaja, Barbaresco Costa Russi
As much as I love wine, it will be hard to get excited about another bottle after drinking Gaja for the first time. I've long said that no matter what books you read, what wines you drink, and what people you hang out with, nothing ever prepares you for a wine that sends chills down your spine. Talk all the RS, VA, or surmaturite you want, in the end a wine will give you goosebumps, if it can, whenever it wants to. You can't stop or predict it. And, so, I came close to tears drinking this, the greatest barbaresco I could ever imagine having. We won't even talk about the varietal nebbiolo itself, because this wine is a statement of far more than a mere grape. From the floral cherry lacquer aroma--its intensity deserves a new word appended to the Bible describing God's love everlasting--to the deep, fleshy, saturated raspberry flavors, this is the formula for either eternal peace or damnation. Sin or salvation. Frankly, it deserves a parade.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi