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August 31, 2006

00 Monbousquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru

If you ever dreamt of a wine like this, you would need to buy new linens. The red eye aroma of burnt espresso brownies and stout flavors of sweet maduro tobacco, plums, and tar outsize any lay ideas of what merlot can be. There is no signature blueberry here; no thin, coddled finish. It's its own atmosphere, dense with layers of sappy fruit, smooth tannin, wood spices, and at least one bar of 80% cocoa. If anything, there's so much here it can be confusing. But the fresh Italian roast keeps me awake through it all. And you can tell that--once this has had more time to brew--somehow it will be better.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a hell of a wine. i'm surprised you didn't post the Carmes Haut Brion though. Just as good and perhaps more stellar from the valuue to price point ratio.

Drew

1:37 PM  

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August 29, 2006

02 Coche-Bizouard, Premier Cru Meursault Charmes

After two days and a dozen other wines, I think I still taste this chardonnay. Decadent, lush, powerful, and yet somehow reserved, the 2002 Coche-Bizouard is a gift of gaudy proportions. It has tonnage to its weight, lugging dense flavors of creme fraiche, lemon custard, stones, and golden apples like tires across the palate. This is apple pie ready to be put into the oven. Its youthful wood spice dominates, redolent of Christmas with nutmeg and cinammon. But it's the terroir of this 1er cru that sets it apart from other Burgundies--a couple quick whiffs of mineral that command a hefty markup, but really complete Meursault. Thank you, Danielle.

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August 28, 2006

00 Fattoria di Felsina, Fontalloro

Not that Toscana should ever need a comparison to Piedmont, but the heady tar-covered berries that waft from this bottle sometimes seem more like nebbiolo than sangiovese. The 2000 Fontalloro is drinking beautifully right now, balancing kirsch with earthy, damp terroir. But the sexy mouthfeel sets it apart from nearly any other Chianti, including the winery's own 1997. The wine is powdered silk spritzed through an atomizer, with enough grit to hold everything together and carry the ripe, southerly fruit into a long, moving finish. The climax is nearly Shakespearean.

6 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Had against several antipasti, suckling pig, crab, and entrees of duck leg and quail, the Fontalloro was at it's best--seamless, oddly enough--against smoky shrimp bruschetta.

Highlighting the tarry component of the wine really puts it at its best. Fontolloro's sensitive, and doesn't want a bunch of salt, butter, and meat to fight with.

I imagine this would do well with a simple salad of greens, olive oil, roasted tomatoes, and crispy pancetta.

9:43 AM  
Blogger bacca said...

Not exactly in line with your comment on this one...a bit too ripe and with evidence of oak for my taste. It's true that it's strangely better than 2001 (quite disappointing despite the good vintage in Toscana).On the other hand, I regret not having bought more of 1999!

bacca

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Michelaccio said...

Nilay, it sounds like your ending was more like the Merry Wives of Windsor whereas Bacca had a Titus Andronicus experience at the final curtain.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Thanks for your comments, Bacca. I can't say there was much oak on the 2000. It seems to be a very fast-aging wine--and this one was stored in relatively warm conditions--so you might want to try it again. Really not much oak at all here.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

I can't get Bacca's comment out of my head. Has anyone else tried the 2000 Fontalloro?

It was indeed very ripe and concentrated (deep purple color), but very elegant in taste. I wonder if others have had a particularly oaky bottle.

8:44 AM  
Blogger bacca said...

Let's say that when you flip to Italy you let me know and we set up a blind tasting Sangiovese-based with Fontalloro 2000. I should still have a couple in the cellar.
If you read Italian, more comments on this wine are on it.hobby.vino (Usenet newsgroup).

ciao

bacca
bacca@tiscali.it

2:05 AM  

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August 27, 2006

85 Diebolt-Vallois, Cramant Brut Blanc de Blancs

The 1985 is Diebolt-Vallois' best current-release champagne. It comes from a spate of recently-disgorged wines that, collectively, show just about the entire profile of bubbly chardonnay. Against the 1979, it's usually much creamier, classic, and less exotic. Usually. This time around, the wine's evolved into a dissertation on the taste of toasted almonds. It could use a little more acid, but only because I'm a fetishist. Otherwise, the soft, yeasty, buttery brioche profile is second to few and puts this champagne among the great blanc de blancs on the market today.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Michelaccio said...

More acid in the '85 DV? More acid? What are you, the Robert Haigh of wine bloggers?

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Michelaccio said...

Make that John George Haigh. Sheesh, I need to get more acid into my diet.

11:11 AM  

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August 25, 2006

The Short Pour, Issue Two: Fixing a Hole

The blogosphere is important ...but a very crappy term....
The second issue of The Short Pour has just been published, discussing the increased presence and importance of wine blogs, plugging my new column, and showcasing my new House Pour wine of the month.
Subscribe now to read more.

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August 17, 2006

04 Dry Creek Valley, Fume Blanc Estate DCV3

I think I've just been infected with chimera. What looks deceptively clean--pouring with the limpid clarity of San Pellegrino Panna--unfurls on my palate like it's seeking revenge. From its musky aroma of old, dusty books, I feel like I've uncovered something in the attic that my parents never wanted me to see. Canned pineapple rings, pickled jalapeno pepper juice, lychee, and spritzy melon cocktails round out the flavor. I need a lozenge.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Michelaccio said...

You must have truly run out of things to drink at your house. Scary things lurk in attics (Capt. Tripps, Jumangi, Dorian Gray, Life Magazines with Richard Nixon on the cover, etc). Don't go in the attic! It sounds like you were drinking the vinous equivalent of a grade school lunch from the 1960s.

10:47 AM  

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August 12, 2006

03 Pelissero, Barbaresco Vanotu

The season is on fire. The whole season of spring burns with this wine. A classic barbaresco, Pelissero names it for his grandfather--"Vanotu" a Piedmontese cipher for the elder Giovanni--and I really think this is a wine the old man might have tasted in his youth. Redolent with a gushing bouquet of white peaches and garden mint, floral in the mouth, and dark in its tight finish of bitter black licorice and tar, this is an unadulterated wine to brood over for the next several years. Thank you, Paolo.

3 Comments:

Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Though tight and aggressive in its infancy, it is transformed by mild, artisinal salumi--the natural stone fruit characteristics of dried pork elevating the fruit while the pillowy chunks of fat give amazing contrast to the tannins and tar.

9:03 PM  
Blogger bacca said...

I am more and more astonished by the ageing capacity of Barbaresco. We recently had a 1996 bottle by Produttori del Barbaresco cooperative which was outstanding despite its EUR25 price at which it retails (when it is put on sale)... so, "buy and forget..."

bacca

2:13 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

It is the joy of modern (not necessarily modernized) Piedmont. The 96s were tight and many are still drinking like infants. I'm a bit surprised that Produttori hung in there; it's such a flattering wine in its youth.

Who could turn down paying EU25 for a 10-year-old Barbaresco, though? As long as there's nothing seeping down the sides, that's a chance I'd almost always be willing to take. Nice find, bacca!

5:38 PM  

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August 05, 2006

03 Jack Creek Cellars, York Mountain Kruse Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve

Great land can tame even the wildest fruit. The luscious Jack Creek Reserve could have been classic Paso Robles zinfandel in another life. But something about these mountains makes it pinot noir. And perhaps it's no great compliment to say a pinot noir tastes like pinot noir, but it's worth pointing out in California, where some are closer to syrah. Of course, the cool, coastal, 1500-foot-high York Mountain AVA offers far more subtlely than Paso proper, making this wine fruit-forward, but never flabby. It speaks to the skeptic and the swain of Cali pinot. One side says there's nothing more here than Diet Pepsi or RC Cola--aspartame and acid. But the other side tastes ripe black cherries backed with silky tannin, hints of cured black olive skin, peppery spice, and a toasty smoke barrel finish. I'll try to think about that part tonight. I'll pair it with a dream about roast duck, perhaps. I really do dream about duck and wine. Yes, I sleep well.

1 Comments:

Blogger Benjamin Bicais said...

The Templeton Gap really does have a unique climate with its generally cool, foggy mornings and warm afternoon sun. It sounds like the Jack Creek Pinot reflects this climate and has both a forward and subtle side. I also love the combination of a spicy Pinot with duck.

10:37 PM  

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August 03, 2006

02 Tenuta di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Palistorti

We're inventing a new fruit. It's called the Italian cherry. And it doesn't grow anywhere in the world, but deep inside the rootstock of sangiovese grapes from Toscana's best estates. This wine is my proof. It's the reason we age wines--and the reason we don't have to age this one. Its old, dying soul is fresh with the sappy flesh of cherries tinged with tangerines, cola, stewed beef, tomato paste, and a rustically tannic, acidic, spicy, bloody mineral finish. And then, black pepper an hour later. I wonder if they ever eat anything in Lucca, or if they just drink this wine.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Damien said...

I think you are onto something with your identification of the smell of Sangiovese. Why not call it just that?

This reminds is a great French wine phrase a friend of mine uses a lot when tasting fresh, pure Pinot Noir; "Ca pinote". "This pinots". It does not suggest berries, cherries, or any other fruit that has no genetic relation to grapes, just pinot.

I love putting my nose into a glass and smelling, gasp!, grapes. Perhaps a simple descriptor like that is not as flashy, seductive or evocative as the myriad other terms that writers use, but I find it to be amongst the most flattering because it suggests that the winemaker had the wisdom to let his or her grapes shine through.

Perhaps an Italian reader can suggest a comparable phrase to indicate that a wine smells like noting other than healthy Tuscan Sangiovese. "Ca giovese" seems a bit too corny.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Damien, it's great to reduce a wine to its elements and find that there's no simpler way to describe it than by its varietal. Certainly most terroiristes would agree with that.

But I remember what it was like to have never had sangiovese and to want to try one, or to barely know pinot noir--much less something as esoteric as the "iron fist/velvet glove" of Volnay.

So I like to reduce a wine to its brute flavors and then somehow associate those flavors in a unique way with the grapes. Sure, a lot of wines taste like cherries, cola, and earth for example--but the way Tuscany shows that profile is significantly different than an Oregon pinot or a Loire cabernet franc might.

I try to put you there.

10:18 AM  

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August 02, 2006

04 Domaine Combier, Crozes-Hermitage

Imagine walking through a garden of violets after eating a pancetta, ricotta, lemon zest, and olivada panini--fingers damp with brine and oil. Add to that the smell of hand-spun silk saris and you have this ambitious declaration of fruit-forward Northern Rhone syrah. It drinks as silky as the metaphor it conjures, playful and whispy at times, while at others luxurious and refined. I could wrap myself in it.

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