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March 15, 2009

04 Saint-Hilaire, Blanquette de Limoux Brut

Recession: Bring it on. Because the Saint-Hilaire bubbly isn't scared. And it's not just good enough to be an alternative to pricey Champagne, it eliminates the need for at least three popular brands I can think of off the top of my head. I won't say which ones, but these are three your local liquor store will recommend if you ask for a "nice, light Champagne; we're having guests over, maybe some cheese; and mimosas the next day." And they each cost more than twice as much as this wine. Despite what you've heard about some blind monk, truth is sparkling wine started here--yes here--on a high hill in southern France surrounded by, and looking down on, ripe red grapes. Saint-Hilaire is pawn to Queen four, a measured, common, but exciting opening move that makes everything possible. Lean and yeasty, crisp with the texture of tempura, it has all the classic green elements of terroir-driven white wine--lime zest, meyer lemon flesh, raw quince, granny smith apples, wheat grass, smoky chalk, and oyster shells, with moments of tangerine coming out minutes into the finish. This wine feels like a hot shower in October, window open to the mist outside.

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March 02, 2009

05 K Vintners, Columbia Valley Wahluke Slope Sundance Vineyard Syrah "The Deal"

The thing is, Charlie is, in fact, a pretty nice guy. But this wine tastes completely like an asshole. A syrah on steroid demiglace, this single-vineyard bottling comes from the hottest slope in Washington--south-facing, no less, from a vineyard called "Sundance," perhaps as close as we get in the New World to France's Martian Cote-Rotie. It's the kind of wine that will burn the hair off your head and implant it directly into your nipples. Brothy and beefy, smelling slightly of spoiled pork butt roast, it's actually rather reductive. Though I hate to point out technical flaws, the lack of oxygen that causes this taint almost seems to be less because of winemaking and more because how could anything, even air, pass through a wine this dense. After that rotten rubber aroma blows off, though, we're left with a familiar style--one teeming with black peppercorns, blackberries, licorice (the jellybean when you thought you put a red one in your mouth), three-day-old Bordeaux, and permanent marker. You season filets with this. Ah, yes, the classic flavor wheel. OK, maybe not by professional tasting standards, but I get the impression that this is the palate Charlie's usually going for. Big fruit mixed with big whatever-the-fuck-it-takes-to-get-that-fruit. The Deal is a reckless masterpiece, made for those drinkers who thought The Ramones was the greatest pop band of the 80s. Because loud and fast, as any New World wine lover knows, can still be pop. But punk doesn't play on the stereo. It doesn't have t-shirts, and it doesn't have fans. It's in a bottle, in a bin, believing in miracles because it is one.

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Blogger Steve B said...

When you said this is the kind of wine that will burn the hair off your head, I thought you were referring to the alcohol. The high alcohol level on this ruined it for me. I didn't get any sort of funk or anything that needed to blow off, just a syrah with way too much alcohol that killed everything else. I have three more bottles left. I wish I had the money and I would but some everyday Cotes du Rhone and be happier . . . and have twice as much wine to drink. I just tasted a few of K Vintners wines tonight at Taste of Walla Walla Portland and had high expectations and disappointing results. I have a few bottles of the Phil Lane from a prior vintage in storage and hope it shows the way I remember it when I get around to drinking it and doesn't show more like the Phil Lane I drank tonight.

10:05 PM  

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