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February 28, 2007
Sometimes you need a bottle to steal a glass from while you cook. I guess that's what this stuff is for. Because pleasure seems to have never entered the vernacular of Paul Jaboulet Aine. You can find the bits of black olive, raspberry, and licorice from the 85% grenache and 15% syrah, but only if your brain can register them before the sea of chunky, leathery tannin kicks in. It's one, small acetobacteric step from vinegar. A Cotes du Rhone that does what it was meant to do just fine--be tasty next to a great homemade burger cooked medium rare and topped with Manchego, raw yellow onion, bib lettuce, and piccalilly (the greenness of this wine really responds to the onion). The pervasive acid is strong enough to stand up to anything and there's nothing the tannin wants more than a few specks of sea salt to hold. From a vintage this great, though, one expects a bit more. And maybe that's my fault--for expecting--because in any French bistro with a steaming sandwich, a bowl of stew, quail, or, hell, even a pot of mussels, we'd be on our third carafe. Now that it's here, though--now that it's come all this way to me--I wish it had more to say. I wish it didn't seem so jetlagged.
February 27, 2007
03 Trio Infernal, Priorat 2/3
It's a wine that teaches you patience. And, if you're one who has no time for such things, the Trio's high-end (overpriced) wine will serve you just as well. Which is to say that, in the first hour, it's an oaky mess--saturated with Australian flavors of fudge, kirsch, and ruby Port. But the dichotomy between what's there and what will be there justifies its price tag. For the first time, an empty glass smells better than a full one. Because, while the full one expresses all the dense, brambly blueberry fruit you'd expect from something like a hot California syrah, the empty glass smells of violets, earth, mint, garrigue, thick-skinned red grapes, and lust. It's this complexity--that the wine could somehow be better once it's gone--that sets it apart from the Trio's lame "1/3". No, instead of simple table-wine-like fruit, the dominant 90-year-old carinena grape (aged 18 months in new French barrels) evolves into something much more floral--the sweet garden aromatics coating the tongue like the mist of a woman's perfume. Not just a beautiful woman, but one who know she's beautiful and walks right past you.
February 23, 2007
02 Paul Garaudet, Monthelie
Pinot should be judged by the way it moves you. And if that hurts objectivity--hurts the science of this silly trade--then let's bruise it 'til it bleeds. Because, regardless of price, provenance, or power--the three-headed beast of high wine scores--Garaudet's Monthelie is perfect pinot noir. From a region in the Beaune, France, known to resemble Volnay without the elegance (which is like saying Miles without the cool), its iron edge is what makes this wine such an ideal. The aromatics are a cupboard of Provencal spices with powdered dried cherries shining through. And the palate unfolds slowly, much like a sonnet before the turn, with cranberries, button mushrooms, tar, sweet smoked paprika, and a finish of English breakfast tea in the spit that mitigates the wine's mild tannin. This is a beautiful effort, emblematic of Bourgogne--a warm home, rather than a tower, to pinot noir. Thank you, J.V.
February 19, 2007
01 Domaine Jamet, Cote-Rotie
Sweet, sweet child. She could have been an opera singer or maybe danced ballet. Jamet's 2001 is gentle--a delicate newborn with the pedigree of artists in her family. It brings all the power of syrah, delineates each chord to a single, perfect pitch, and then recomposes the score in the glass. So, burly meat notes become hints of peppery pancetta. Wild gardens of violet become tinctures of Chanel. And the cool, raspberry palate stays cool and raspberried, almost like a virgin cocktail before dinner. For the little that this wine wants to show today--it seems to be thinking so hard--it can't help but show a hint of its surely brooding, smoky future. It is the difference between an ankle and a thigh, an evening gown blown slightly up in the breeze and a mini-skirt shrinking in the summer sun. At every chance, it waltzes toward the elegant, dances toward the tongue, sings toward the patience that love affords.
February 11, 2007
NV Emilio Bulfon, IGT Venezia Giulia Sciaglin Vino Frizzante
Pampered, buttressed, gaudy, and gilded, like Carnivale in liquid carnate, Bulfon's scaiglin bubbly is one of those wines so true to the spirit of where it's from that I would love to love it. But, much like the perfumed, masked men and women during Venezia's yearly Bacchanalia, this is a bottle I could only wake up next to if I'd already had a few dozen drinks in me. It spacewalks the line between beer and wine, a stumbling, flabby conceit for the plummy, grainy, honeyed tastes of powerful old ales and barleywines. With some medicinal, lime-like tendencies akin to prosecco, I'm almost willing to let this just be. It is, afterall, a profoundly original effort that should be accepted on its own terms. But I can't help to have expectations. And those expectations prevent me from buying more of this wine. One that would be nice next to a little bit of pork fat, maybe a layer on the outer rim of a chop, sublimated lardo on the crust of a scallop, or the starburst of cholesterol between two rolls of belly meat. On its own, though, it's more a picture of Venice than a map to it. A lesson rather than a journey.
February 07, 2007
04 Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue, Coteaux du Languedoc "Bronzinelle"
A slap in the face to anyone who lauds the term "value" over "quality" or "passion," this lowland garrigue-styled wine wins not for its incredible price point, but because it--like nearly all Kermit Lynch selections--is as true an expression of southern France as one could possibly find. Yes, there are wines that taste better, but not ones that taste more. For a region riddled with oft-overrippened and oft-underripened fruit, this shows firsthand why Languedoc needs more attention and needs it today. Whatever the blend--probably some artful melange of grenache, mourvedre, maybe carignan, maybe syrah--it speaks more to the culture and air of the region than to any particular grape. The inviting aromas of lavendar and rosemary are a country grandmother's dinner calling me to the table. Pass the bread and beurre. And, just when I'm expecting lamb, I pick up on the sweetest, most decadent taste of black olive, savory olive oil, plum, raspberry, old black pepper, grape Jolly Ranchers, dusty cherry cola, and--don't pinch me if I'm dreaming--a little bit of spit-roasted pork crackling drizzled in maple, coated with young, dry, port-like tannins. This is the median I spend my days drinking to find. The wine that sums up both magnitude and modesty in every sip. The wine that says, yeah, you know great wine--but isn't it great to know me, too?
February 04, 2007
95 Laurent-Perrier, Champagne Brut
This is easily the winery's best wine, beautifully fresh with lemon-rind brioche on the nose, bold tastes of lemon custard, alligator pastry, and creme brulee, and a creamy, zesty yeastiness that can only be described as the house style of Laurent-Perrier. Nearly as fresh as the non-vintage, it's a wonder that this could possibly be more than a year old, much less more than ten. Thanks, Drew.
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