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January 25, 2008
Imagine a wine so good it becomes a part of you. One almost Edenic in its pleasure--soft, luxurious, comforting at times--as pretty as the girl next door. Imagine Mary Ann on the sofa drinking orange juice, Ginger raking leaves in the yard. A little perfume, a little sweat, a little innocence, a little lust. God save the battered beauty. Everything so right in that moment--you making duxelles in the tiny city kitchen, white mushrooms turned to morels, the sweetness of shallots in the air, marjoram in your nose. The hallway clears out in front of you, the duck decanter genuflects, turns into duck. You are great. You import--so Old, some say, so New, some say. You're not like the rest. I like that you... listen to me. The raw earth without the mud--the dark, minerally, wild spring morning. Fruit without seed. Smoke without fire. Wine without the taste of roasted steed. Yeah, that would've been nice.
January 14, 2008
04 Selciaia, Rosso di Montepulciano Fassati
What a gorgeous and bold winter red. Rich, powerful, robust--all those fat, inky descriptors apply here and, if I were writing this review on paper, I'd press down harder on the pen, maybe right through the paper and onto the coffee table below. This is the fragrant, luscious Tuscan wine that even the old-timers must be proud of. So much so, you laugh a little bit at the D.O.C. regulations--the venerable Vino Nobile uses the same prugnolo (sangiovese) grape burnt by a bit of steaming canaiolo, but receives at least an extra year's worth of oak aging. The six months of French barriques here, though, are plenty--laying down a thick rug of chocolaty tannins for the grapey, dark cherry fruit to sink into. Peppery beef. Fond. Oxtail marrow. Red Tootsie Pops, the glassy candy stuck in my molars, the caramel in my gums. One. Two-hoo. Three. Three.
January 13, 2008
96 Chateau D'Arlay, Cotes du Jura Blanc
I could drink a nip of this every morning, right after ripping off the head of a langoustine blanched in court-bouillon. Which is to say, there is something primal, but indelibly innocent about this wine, like an open-mouthed perch sweeping up minnows in the morning. It's oloroso sherry with a twist of lemon peel--maybe even that court-bouillon itself. That's what I'll never get about these oxidative Jura whites. They seem so elegant and noble, but taste as old as the earth that feeds the chardonnay and savignin grapes in this bottle. Almonds all over--like a tight-vintage champagne after 30 years of aging (Diebolt-Vallois, this means you)--but pair it with some acid and salt (oh, say, a mound of shaved pickled ginger kissing a tray of otoro tuna)--and that sherried quality disappears. The Jura becomes Burgundian chardonnay--an alchemy of the palate that brings in new flavors of apple skins and vanilla. But no matter what you say about a wine, the only question that really matters is, would you like some more? As academic as some wines can be, they can only be great because of how they taste. So would I like another? Yes, I'll have a tincture--with a glass of Dead Sea.
January 03, 2008
04 Monte Antico, Toscana IGT
A confusion of the senses. Tired, meddling, and petty, like a sick in-law snowed into your apartment for the weekend. This bottle just won't go away, and I keep taking it, keep holding my tongue. I'm trying not to offend anyone, but it's only getting worse. "Super Tuscan" or not (it is, allegedly, a "blend" of sangiovese, merlot, and cabernet, though I'd rather call it a "mixture"), there is nothing either super nor Tuscan about it. Forget terroir and the endlessly dry arguments about whether or not such "French" grapes belong in Italy (near the border, on virtually the same latitude as Bordeaux); if Toscana is about anything, it is about powerful flavors--in its acerbic Chiantis, its bloody, silken meats, its Valrhona-like cabs and merlots. So how's this get even an IGT designation? Monte Antico is a cheap ploy--bringing Super Tuscan to the masses, I suppose--that hardly understands the very wine it's trying to mimic. They might as well go all the way. Oh, stake out a full-page ad in one of the magazines, slap a critter on the label. Maybe a fox or sloth.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi