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December 31, 2006
As with the Meursault-Charmes I had in August, it's a bit too early to talk about this wine. Of course, I'm going to anyway. Despite the tightness, its smoky herbal aroma is not unlike a young blanc de blancs Champagne. The lean, green apple, Lemonhead, and starfruit tastes, however, show that this might have been better with some bubbles. Driven by its sharp texture, the hints of creme fraiche, cardamom, and french vanilla are mostly supressed. Still, I like the promise this wine makes to do something in the next two years.
December 28, 2006
05 Brooks, Amycas
By far the extended Brooks family's best field blend, this year's Amycas contends only with the first Brooks Ara riesling as the label's greatest wine. Enticing on every level, from its exotic lychee and sweet peach aroma to dry, ambrosial flavors of white blossoms, tangerines, spiced honey, and nectarines, the new Amycas surges with powerhouse clusters of riesling and gewurztraminer. I don't know how the vintners kept their composure during harvest. I would've eaten these grapes off the vines. Harmonized by pinot gris, pinot blanc, and muscat, it rivals similar blends from Alsace, recalling the ripe, hedonistic wines of Zind-Humbrecht. It could not be better.
December 24, 2006
00 Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo Cannubi
Bullied by the heat of 2000--a heat that led some writers to declare it Piedmont's greatest vintage of all time--this is a gross showing of nebbiolo, outrageously overripened, singular, and obnoxious. It's a pest of a wine, centered around a juicy, garnacha-like raspberry taste backed by hints of black licorice and fennel. Over and over again. Though young, the tannins have all but flushed out, leaving the awkward texture chalky, with enough grip for mild antipasto and cheese. But that's all that's there, much like a $10-15 bottle of modern Spanish or Italian table wine, but not nearly enough nuance to earn the noble Cannubi cru name.
December 17, 2006
96 J. J. Prum, Riesling Graacher Himmelreich Auselese
This, like every single-vineyard J. J. Prum, is one of the world's great wines. It's jarring in its complexity. Smoky with the calling card Prum aroma of diesel and slight whiffs of sulfur, this is a decadent, glorious offering that shames us when we drink it. I feel bad for some reason, like I'm living a life too pleasurable to continue. Flavor-wise, the ripe Graacher is packed with tangerines, dried apricots, nectarines, pear nectar, and orange blossom honey. But, whatever it tastes like, it's the impeccable structure that sets this wine apart from other top rieslings--a sweet palate undercut but equally intense acidity, both overwhelming, yet somehow harmonious, like the torrid peace of tornadoes on a plain.
December 16, 2006
04 Penner-Ash, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
Put the matches away. With what smells like a sixth grade experiment with bunsen burners and sulfuric acid, I'm a bit scared to be near this wine. But that toasty aroma evolves to smoky tar, which also comes through in spades on the palate. Despite the sheer intensity of this wine, it actually seems a little subdued. It's a little floral here, a little berried there, and always very grapey with a black licorice finish. The 03 Penner-Ash was a bit more plump, and I miss that quality here, but this is still a dense, blockbuster wine--albeit more than a bit intimidating.
December 13, 2006
NV Cameron Hughes, Napa Vallery Carneros Lot 25 Sparkling Wine
Someone in California finally got it right. A handsome effort understated by its name, this is in fact a 1998 blend of nearly equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir. And though I never tasted the original bottling, what the Cameron Hughes team has done with it is profound. After the initial whiff of coconuts and creme brulee, the dry sourdough palate opens to a flood of key lime, tonic, 7-Up, and granny smith apples. And as the long finish develops, lobbying the first flavor profile to place me in central Florida, the expansive fruit creams out to the pliable texture of meringue melting on my tongue. Either an extension or an affront to Champagne proper, this is an honest Carneros offering that brings new dimension to sparkling wine--one I suspect many have been searching for.
December 12, 2006
NV Michel Turgy, Champagne a Mesnil sur Oger Blanc de Blancs Brut
Champagne at its most unpretentious. This 100% chardonnay from the sacred southern Champagne site of Mesnil sur Oger, shows the hallmark toasted walnut and sourdough aromas of delicious blanc de blancs--lemony in taste with hints of creamery butter and tart minerality. It has surprising power in the finish, perhaps from a lower dosage that leaves the wine dry, crisp, and very clean.
December 07, 2006
05 Luis Pato, Maria Gomes
When I first bought this wine, it was because I needed a cheap white to cook with. That afternoon, I drank a glass and decided to make boeuf bourguignon instead. Over the last three years, Pato's Maria Gomes has been his most consistent wine. A slight, simple varietal akin to cortese or tocai friuliano, it balances light freshness with a medium-bodied midpalate. Ultimately, it's your favorite everyday white wine, in the sense that gruner drinkers will taste gruner, sauvignon blanc drinkers will taste sauvignon, verdelho drinkers will taste verdelho, and dry Vouvray drinkers will taste dry chenin blanc. Its zesty lemon flavors, with hints of golden delicious apple, green raisins, and white pepper, make one long for paella or steamed langoustines and clams. It puts my feet into soil just about as sandy as the soils in which Pato grows these grapes. I could be looking out to some vast expanse of water right now, smelling salt in the air.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi