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September 28, 2008
There is so much intelligence in this wine. I've been drinking it for two days, and it's battled me with every sip. Any sauvignon blanc drinker would love it, but they're pretty easy to please. Most sauv blanc is the light lager of wine--as long as you make it clean, it's going to taste just fine. And Bouke does. It does taste just fine. But I needed to sit with it for a bit. Does it know what it's really made of--the chardonnay, pinot gris, and gewurztraminer? After the tart sauv blanc dies down (why is this grape always so terrified of air?), there's a surge of Fuji and Golden Delicious apples from the chardonnay, an incredible backbone of white pepper creme anglaise, lychee, and ramps from the Alsatian-style pinot gris and gewurz; and I know winemakers Lisa Donneson and Gilles Martin don't age this in oak, but I wonder if a field of wild orange blossoms ever comes into play. You can smell the petals and the pollen almost honey-like in this wine. Ultimately, it stakes an important claim for Long Island, which has put so much effort into red Bordeaux varietals that often end up rubbery and dank. Bouke suggests that maybe it's not the grapes we need to focus on--maybe it's the inspiration.
September 10, 2008
01 Domaine Andre Francois, Cote-Rotie
Please, listen to me. It's not bacon, it's pancetta. That's what everyone who talks about Cote-Rotie, the French Rhone valley's most powerful expression of the syrah grape, is missing. Smoky, yes, but great Cote-Rotie isn't like the bold syrah of California or Washington. It's so much more delicate. Maple wood over hickory. Black pepper over smoked paprika. I know; we want to use words like "tar" and "blacktop" as tasting notes, but that's why I'm infatuated with this Andre Francois. It's the difference between going to a strip club and a burlesque bar--yeah, it's still slutty, but at least it's not going to make you cheat on your wife. There's an art to it that no one else would understand. You could almost call it dance. And your friends will just think you're selfish (which you are), and you'll go on laughing, throwing singles in the general direction of this bottle on the floor. Raspberry and grape jam and quince, violets and baked Nicoise olives, with a visceral, umami backnote that makes it both tasty and spiritual. The spirit, by the way, is the viognier, which is blended up to 20% with syrah. That's why "roasted slope" is such an overstatement, and good producers know this. Its balance tempers the meaty syrah, while its citrus and vanilla open my eyes to something new. One molecule less, and it's a basic Cotes du Rhone. One woodchip more, and it's a haughty U.S. or Spanish wine for $100/bottle.
September 03, 2008
06 Bodegas Arzuaga, Ribera del Duero La Planta
They should make bars out of sponge and copper, so you could go to Barcelona, pull up a leather stool, open up a 150-Euro tin of smoked mussels, and ring four ounces of this stuff into your glass. The six months of vanilla-laden French and American oak in this wine brings more than body and structure--it gives purpose to this wine the way a good suit can make you stand taller. Sure, some might just call it the macquillage, but what's a pretty face without any makeup or a chiseled face without chiseled hair? Arzuaga's La Planta, fittingly named after the winery's own game preserve, wears its wealth well. It's a cobbler of blueberries and Nicoise olives cancered with extra skin--roundly fruity, barely tannic, and with a smoky, leathery finish that seems slightly diseased. This could be on a shelf next to Washington merlot and Napa cabernet--it's that kind of New World, everything-friendly wine. But still it manages to stand out on its own. Take me somewhere, however briefly, like a broadband connection could. I guess I'm saying it's distant, but fast-approaching; advanced, but accessible; quiet, but full of communication.
© 2005-2011 Nilay Gandhi