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November 28, 2008

07 Cave de Lugny, Macon-Villages Chardonnay

This Macon is proof that Americans are right. There is a brilliant winemaker/Burgundy importer outside of Portland, Oregon who is wondering, now, why he ever wasted his time having lunch with me. I wouldn't blame him. This is pretty blasphemous. But I like to go back to these simple--and they are not always "elegant," they are simple--South Burgundian French chardonnays to remind me what the grape really tastes like. I think the basic, Villages level chards from here are the truest expression of the grape. That's an observation, not a compliment. They aren't roughed up by oak like "everyday" American or Aussie chards, true, but they also aren't macquillaged by the minerally, flinty terroir of places like Chablis. Often, Macon is only chardonnay. Its terroir is itself. And so it's no surprise that this wine is distinctly singular. Sure, a little bit of golden and green apple skins underline every sip. But the dead, dry yeast aroma bores me, and the only reason--besides its refreshing quaffability--that I drink this wine is because of what happens at the end. As ignorant as this wine wants to be, it can't help but reveal the hints of vanilla, fresh cream, and drawn butter inherent to chard. Yeah, maybe the fermentation ran a little hot and a bit of malolactic kicked in. My point's the same though: pure chard like this shows that Americans are right. Right to soak this beloved (but truly gullible) grape in forests of new oak because that vanilla and cream aren't makeup, they're hubris--a pituitary overgrowth of the grape's most wanton characteristics. And when you strip all that away, you're left with authentic, romantic, Burgundian nothing.


Anonymous J. Lu said...

I can't tell if this author likes or dislikes this wine with all of the contradiction in his review, but I liked this wine. Drinking it, I couldn't wait for each sip since each sip revealed a bouquet of flavors that couldn't help being delightfully unique from every previous one. I actually don't like the oaked flavors that come with most chardonnays, I prefer a cleaner, more floral chardonnay which shows the wine came from grapes rather than seemingly coming from a tree. It boggles my mind that this wine is so inexpensive. I guess that helps as extra incentive for wanting to drink it everyday.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

He thinks it's cool that you liked it and spoke of it so well.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Michelaccio said...

This is definitely the kind of wine an Arsenal supporter would import into the US.

"They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast."

11:32 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Photos, Nilay? Are you trying to distract us? Nope, the writing remains profound, as is your commentary on the humble, quaffable, whites of the Macon - dirty little secret treasures of mine, including this Lugny (especially at this price).

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Simply a matter of RoI, Joe. We're changing the wine world.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Nilay Gandhi said...

Incidentally, for you odd few who somehow know who I'm having lunch with on a random summer day in Oregon, please understand that this wine is not imported by the importer referenced in the note. I tasted his wines, and they're about the best damn Burgundies I've ever had--including his Macons.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Michelaccio said...

OK, but he's still an Arsenal supporter. I can only go so far down this road.

7:47 PM  

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November 01, 2008

05 Dominio de Pingus, Ribera del Duero Flor de Pingus

This is all that's left of last night with the flower of Pingus. A desecrated pitcher, a glass that looks like it's melting in the morning light, and an upturned, deflowered bottle almost floating in the air, as if it might carry the night high into the next day. I'm not sure how the handmade Danish pipe comes into play. How this could be anyone's "second" wine, the wine equivalent of mismatched socks in a bin at TJMaxx, is beyond me, except to conclude that winemaker Peter Sisseck is a truly generous man. Still in its budding youth, this maniacally structured tempranillo is a force of dry blackberry fruit and oaky herbs that come off like a fistful of dried marjoram, dill, tarragon, violets, and rosemary branches. Fruity Turkish tobacco takes over after the fruit, finishing with the homecooked savory tastes of clove, specks of cumin, Gauloises tobacco, and beedi cigarettes. Yes, the operative word is dry, because while the fruit is rich, the tannins come to dominate this wine as they would in a young Bordeaux or tannat. And, yes, that dryness and most of these flavors are all wood. Yet, even at this developmental age, things are starting to come together. What's most impressive is that, even with so much oak, the wine is never creamy or "luxurious" the way an Aussie shiraz or cult Cali wine might be. You'll argue with me, but this is indeed a reverentially Old World wine with some of the most gnarly Spanish fruit you'll ever try. The wood's giving it life right now, while the fruit learns how to live. For the open-minded, there's great nuance and balance. It's what your historic, cellared vintage wines taste like before anyone realizes they're great. Which is why the rest of my bottles are now under lock and key. And I'm throwing away the key.


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