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June 27, 2007
Bitter as a bad loss. Angry. Maybe even sinister. Patrick LeSec's 01 Chateauneuf is like the last runnings of a Halloween candy basket, with little sweetness, but still something you might have at the end of the night when you're high on something else. There's a greenness to this wine that blankets its pleasantries--secondary Rhone flavors of black olive, tar, licorice, and medicinal mint. Funky, skunky, and raw, as aromatic as the first whiff of fall, sulfurous as a weave of burning hair. There's no real reason to drink this.
June 26, 2007
05 Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo
Funny how those of us who believe in terroir want to make it so limiting. Pommard tastes like this and that's different than Monthelie. Napa is not Carneros. And so on. But sometimes, a wine just tastes like it's from over there--an almost measurably familiar taste that confuses us because we drink too much. The Produttori commune's table wine from Piedmont is this way--ostensibly a few oaky steps beneath pure Barolo and Barbaresco (declassified as the nebbiolo grape from the Langhe region), but just as reminiscent of a generous Cotes-du-Rhone or Nimes from Southeastern France. Could there even be some tart sangiovese blended in? And with wines like this--ones that show off an Old World elegance, simple flavors like Bing cherry, strawberry, and touches of minerally tar--there is a sense of place. Bigger, sure, than the sense of place you'd get from a single vineyard or single block wine, but place all the same.
June 14, 2007
05 Adelsheim, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
We come back to pinot. After all the experiments. We come back to pinot. And Adelsheim's reminds us why coming back to pinot means coming back to the Willamette Valley. The 2005 is surprisingly rich, balanced by powerful acidity. All I taste are ripe, black Bing cherries and raspberry puree. If there's oak, it isn't noticeable except in how rounded and fluid the wine seems. This is hallmark Oregon pinot, by which I mean "Burgundian" but better--informed by Volnay and Pommard, but fresher in its youth, like a classic Monthelie. The aromatics move in and out of me--first muddied earth, then tar, then eucalyptus and fat. To be fair, the alcohol and acid are a little spikey at the end, minty and anisette at times, raw and peppery at others. But there's a sense of home here. We come back here. As if we might be in the ground ourselves someday--David and Ginny turning the topsoil above us.
June 12, 2007
06 Domaine des Cassagnoles, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascone
Gooseberry and grapefruit with a lime twist for everyone who loves the taste of sauvignon blanc--rendered here from Gascony's mass-produced colombard and ugni blanc varietals. It's dry, spicy, and floral. I'm surprised how many that make it to the states (particularly the underknown Domaine de Pouy) taste like this. Bright as can be, mild in alcohol, and not watery. Why point out what's *not* wrong with it? Because so often this wine is dismissed--either distilled into brandy or jugged and served by the carafe at bistros. But the Cassagnoles is alluring--even in this short life.
June 11, 2007
06 CK Mondavi Vineyards, Willow Springs Pinot Grigio
I wonder which test tube has slate. Or if it's just the faint history of Cesar Mondavi in Italy that gave the family the sensibility to make a simple white wine this decent. Against other Cali pinot grigios that tend to take on strong, sweet melon flavors and aromas far too floral for delicate grapes like this, the Willow Springs at least focuses a bit more on the Old World style. I love the lemon and starfruit, the mango/honeydew finish, the dusty aroma of silk, tonic, dandelion, and lime. There's some exhaust from the alcohol that makes it all a bit too gin-and-tonic like at the end, but it's not a bad effort, one we'd be prone to say was born in the lab--fine, it probably was--but one that shows even lab rats live, even lab rats breathe and, cooked right, they taste pretty good.
June 09, 2007
NV Mionetto, Prosecco Valdobbiadene "Sergio"
Mountain Dew. Maybe Diet Mountain Dew. Mionetto shows off the off-dry/"extra dry" (i.e., slightly sweet) style with the "Sergio," a soda-like sparkling wine probably best with a bit of spicy food or boiled jumbo shrimp cocktail. Poolside sipper. Bellini maker. I'm so tired of wines like this. Is it global warming or the warming of our global palate that makes winemakers distance themselves from the grape itself? Where is the bitterness of prosecco? The dry minerality? The rind and the pith--not just the supreme?
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