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August 25, 2007
They're all different; they're all the same--Bourgogne. And unlike the village-level wines, these "declassified" pinot noirs can't really show off much of the land. It's not their job. So, no, this doesn't have the density of Domaine Parent's Pommard or the red currants of its luxurious Corton. Disappointing, perhaps, to some. But I think these "basic," verecund wines give us an opportunity to understand the winemaker herself. The requisite tart cranberry and plum, the hint of cinnamon and button mushroom are traditional. No histrionics. No tried-and-failed. If there's any duty these wines have, it's to be complex without being complicated--pas difficile. I don't want to think about them the way I have to think about grand and 1er crus (they take over me). I want to enjoy them. In a region stereotyped for "elegance," that purity is surprisingly rare.
August 23, 2007
02 Maysara, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Estate Cuvee
I can't believe Smuckers never got a hold of Jimi Brooks before he died. The 02 Estate Cuvee is the most passionate wine he ever made--defiantly different than the elegant Brooks label wines, this is like a Runaway Red picking up steam a third of the way down the hill before it crashes into a giant creek. There's inertia to this pinot, driving a jammy raspberry, black cherry, bitter dark chocolate, and crouton compote down my gullet, as if eating as much pie as I could was the last thing I had to do before I died. The only thing that's even come close to "aging" in the five years it's sat in bottle are the aromatics, which have developed like a good Barbaresco, full of damp earth, forest fire, and Chanel. Look: Jimi understood something about beauty. And he knew everything had an ugly side--great tits with a bad personality; full lips with sharp teeth; long, lean legs with the feet to walk all over you.
August 08, 2007
NV Rene Barbier, Mediterranean Red D.O. Catalunya
You don't really need Catalunya to make this wine. Any place warm and uncontrolled will do. This is jug wine repackaged and given a D.O. Lean, with hints of black olive, it's good enough for food. But it's almost as though they intended it to be vinegar some day. Acetic acid dreams to be this good. Of course, being a potentially great vinegar hardly makes you a good wine. And were it not for this pork tenderloin, bacon-garlic-mashed sweet potatoes, and sauteed prosciutto-wrapped baby asparagus, I might have chucked this by now. It's what I'll never truly understand about wine. Why is this so good all of a sudden, when on every sip where I have no incarnation of salty pork in my mouth, its acids burn the sides of my tongue, its tannins floss my gums, its vapors carry into my head? Well, it isn't good. Not at all. But it'll grease.
August 01, 2007
06 Domaine du Tariquet, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascone
In many ways, these ugni-blanc- and colombard-based wines from the Southwest of France are the new pinot grigio. Or maybe it'd be more apt to call them the old gris. They represent the light, lemony wine--preferred as a house wine by bistros around the world--at a time when pinot grigio itself has gotten too fleshy, ripe, and relaxed. It reminds me of the real northern-Italian bottles that always seem seasoned with a bit of salt and chalk. Maybe that's because table wine--before it's marketed to the masses--is the same wherever you go. People tend to want the same thing, and that's a wine flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own--not in a sterile tasting lab--and bright enough to make food taste better. Among the precious Gascone whites, this Tariquet is the very best. It's as refreshing as these wines can be, but a little plumper than most, saturated with a deep taste of honeydew melon, slightly underripe mango, Saison yeast, and Meyer lemon--all seasoned with a liberal fistful of finely ground white pepper--flavors that would poke through in the best cognacs and armagnacs once this juice is distilled. Let's hope they keep this whole though. It needs no distillation. Everything here is pure.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi