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October 27, 2006
I have never written a tasting note because I had to. I've never thought: it's been too long... I better post something. I've never given ratings or told you where I bought anything, what I paid. There are too many other things to talk about. Sure, I can speculate what'll happen to the tannins, the acid, and the fruit (that they'll never quite come together), score the wine like a lab book. But I'd rather tell you that this Plaisance is a beautiful wine. Its chalky texture, earthy wild blackberry and green fig aroma, and long taste of vanilla wafers, Dutch cocoa powder, Virginia tobacco, wood chips, and cassis is enough. Enough for me to love this moment.
October 21, 2006
04 Bodegas Numanthia, Toro Termes
You know I’m drinking Termes because it's running down my chin. I want to take huge gulps of this over-stated, saturated, red-light-district tempranillo the way I eat ice cream with a spatula in July. It’s like Washington cabernet on steroids and nitrous--elegant the way sumo can be elegant--a tummy-to-tummy joust of power and discipline. Raspberry jam fills the lingering palate before transforming to chocolate syrup, ink, and a dry tannic finish. Fruit-wise, it’s better than the the higher-end (and more complex) Numanthia Numanthia, forfeiting Bordelais notes of tar and scorched earth to arrive at something astoundingly “international,” but still full of its own sense of Spain. I could live my whole life in a place that makes wine like this, provided that I could bring a helmet with me. Thank you, Drew.
October 20, 2006
03 Bella Vetta Winery, Napa Valley Syrah "Our House Wine"
I love how this wine mixes high end with the lowest of the low. The bouquet's rich with candied, gummy fruit covered in tar. And that tar comes through on the taste, too--it really keeps my interest--but then backs off to "milder" notes of stinky barnyard, fennel seed, and bitter greens. That earthiness reminds me of the J.L. Chave "Mon Coeur" Cotes-du-Rhone, except that it's put beside the dense fruit that that wine's missing. It's easy to hate this, but in the face of so many saturated, oaky California syrahs, Our House at least echoes something a bit more traditional, wholesome, drinkable, and, in those ways, true. I'd put it in my house; and I'd bring it to yours.
October 17, 2006
05 Chateau Dubois Gramont, Bordeaux
Really, it's a country-wide tour of the table wines of France--going beyond its appelation to become a passage from Bordeaux into Beajoulais, Rhone, and the rest of southeastern France. There's little in the way of complexity, but it's an uninhibited merlot that could just as easily be served from a leather cask as it is from bottle. The meaty, crispy beef aroma is a great foil for the pure, simple fruit, much the way baked skin-on plums or apples can bring new life to grilled pork chops. I love its drinkability, vinous with ample acidity and dry tannins that bring an alcoholic kick in the finish--like grape taffy chased with spiked blueberry Kool-Aid.
October 15, 2006
96 Ramirez de la Piscina, Rioja Gran Reserva
I want to sit in some dank cafe, reading Proust with a tall carafe of this wine. It's remarkably pensive, reflective tempranillo, that totes delicacy and nuance alongside power. Light like Bourgogne, yet dark in its fruit like aging Bordeaux, the Piscina's generous with raisins and red plums. But after a few minutes, it picks up incredible spice--a wild aromatic much like blue cheese--that opens the door to more earthy flavors. The fruit then brightens, seductive with cherries and Gran Marnier. It's a coming-of-age caught in late-adolescence--a remembrance of how things past will affect the future.
October 08, 2006
98 Andre Francois, Cote-Rotie
Without the carnal smokiness you'd usually expect from Cote-Rotie, the 98 Francois is a beautiful, flirtatious syrah ripe with the requisite sweet raspberry and white pepper taste of the Rhone. It's lighter-styled than most, though it wafts with a romantic bouquet of violets--more of what you'd expect from the youthful Crozes-Hermitage than this the Rhone's spiciest, fullest appelation.
October 03, 2006
04 Chehalem, Pinot Noir 3 Vineyard
If Sideways had gotten a hold of a wine like this, the tasting rooms in Santa Barbara might be empty right now. But to say that's because of its balance--well, that just seems crazy. The way this 3 Vineyard packs it in, though, the wine should be described in no other way. You'd expect the chocolately black cherry bourbon of Stoller vineyard to dominate, and it does, until the sweeping taste of blackberries and aromatic white mushrooms takes over, like the concentrated North Burgundian notes of Ridgecrest. The wine seems to finish with fine, spicy tannin reminiscent of the Corral vineyard pinot that closes out this blend, until sweet blueberry, dried cranberry, and strawberry jam stretch it out for minutes on end. It's the most attention-grabbing Chehalem I've had so far--one that competes, in its class, with the wines from Bergstrom, Beaux Freres, and, yes, even Sanford. Maybe they'll make a sequel.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi