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October 30, 2007
This wine is so dry and austere that the corked bottle I opened first actually had a richer aroma. Granted, the smell of wet, moldy rug isn't really what you're ever looking for in a wine, but it says something that the clean bottle is so muted. Yet you can sense how sharp it really is--all that great grapefruit acidity, like sucking right on the pith, and white pepper. Once the wine comes up to temp, the aromatics get more intense, the flavors more crisp and delineated. It's no surprise that this is J. Christopher--the same winery whose 2004 Croft Vineyard I said was America's greatest sauvignon blanc. It was. And this compares, depending on how much ripeness you want in your whites. The finish is slightly sweet, the way a decent Cali sauv blanc can finish with a touch of powdered sugar. But you shouldn't really care. This is one wine, the 2004 (now just about dead) another. And in this generation, I'm excited by how much great juice the Northwest is producing. All this from only 66 total acres of the grape (in all of Oregon!). I love the green citrus and pungency. I guess it's en vogue to call it "cat pee," but really it's very much like key lime topped with a bit of meringue. Green mangoes topped with salt. The salt of the earth. Whatever the rest of the world filters through.
October 27, 2007
01 Antoniolo, Gattinara
We'd driven so close to the tornadoes, going south toward the flatlands, that the antenna had bent over on itself. Listening to the static dialed in through the hail, we gunned the V10 home. The paint had started peeling off from the hood. The door panels felt electric. And I was hungry. The storm had whetted my appetite--that faint smell of wet earth, the sweetness of the day breaking through, the cigarette we'd needed to calm our nerves. If you could bottle that, you'd have one shivering 750 of this Gattinara--a pure nebbiolo wine that comes close to capturing Barolo's mystique. Fitting, as the sister DOCG, that it would. It's the rare early-drinking version of that sternly traditional 2001 vintage, already picking up a heady aroma of black truffles, tamarind, and dried beef. The flavor's as lean as Bourgogne, quaffable but permeating with dark berry fruit, sliced almonds, and violets.
October 16, 2007
06 Bodegas Zabrin, Calatyud Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines
I guess it's not that much different than the 2005, but it's just not a wine you can have much patience for. This year's is dustier, a bit leathery I guess, with loads of blueberry. Vinegary blueberry--sort of a weird sensation, closest to drinking merlot that's been open a couple days. You can get past that acid, but why even give it the time? It's like Jason Wahler on Celebrity Rap Superstar--sure, it might have been good at something, but not this, and now it just looks like an asshole. Someone must've switched the SAT results. Because the Zabrin looks good enough next to last decade's wines, but a 1600 isn't worth as much anymore. Today the bar for garnacha/grenache is getting pretty high, and Zabrin seems to be bumping its head.
October 13, 2007
01 Tandem, Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Sangiacomo Vineyard
"1, 2, 3, 4, tell me that you love me more. Sleepless, long nights--that is what my youth was for." It's not just that this 01 Tandem (which Parker said would last though only 2005) is alive and well. That would be enough. But the careful Burdgundian methods that the Tandem vintners apply to this chard make it completely impossible to decipher. It has nothing to do with California or Burgundy--as delicious as it is, this is not a wine hellbent on convincing me of terroir. Instead, it takes the fickle chardonnay grape and puts it in line. It uses oak for what it was intended--seasoning and longevity--so today we have a wine that, though it may be nothing like what we had on release, has matured into something that teeters on the cliff of failure. Which is a view out toward the pasture of discovery. In this, perhaps, its final good year, Tandem's coolest-climate chard hangs desperately onto the last vestiges of toasty oak. It has the burnt aroma of blonde, vanilla-scented hair. And what core of fruit has dropped away has left the taste of bitter, tannic green apples and gooseberries--the perfect complement to food. This is not your luxurious California chardonnay. It's something much more informed and impassioned. The white equivalent of pinot noir. "Sweet heart, bitter heart--now I can't tell you apart."
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi