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TN: Tondonia deaf

Lopez de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” 1970 Rioja “Gran Reserva” (Center-North) – Wet mildew and sharp red cherry-laced acidity on a bed of spore-ridden late autumn leaves. The finish is strongly reminiscent of bare earth, with a few hungry worms wriggling their way towards the last scraps of food. Is this a positive note, one might be inclined to ask? I don’t have an actual answer to that question. (12/06)

Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España “Cune” 1982 Rioja “Gran Reserva Imperial” (Center-North) – Still very primary, with graphite-textured structure and good acidity supporting raspberry and red cherry fruit. Everything is not only in separate rooms, the rooms are walled off from each other and the doors are bolted. This needs a lot more time. (12/06)

TN: Pégau my heart

[label]Feraud “Domaine du Pégau” 1989 Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Cuvée Réservée” (Rhône) – Black pepper, dark blueberry-infused leather and meat juice, with a strong undercurrent of iron-rich blood. Fantastic balance. The wine pulses and squeezes the palate, a heartbeat of stunning Châteauneuf character. Stunning. And, for those who are interested, ready to drink…though I don’t think there’s any danger of immediate declination. (3/07)

TN: A Fleurie of inactivity

Brun “Terres Dorées” 2005 Fleurie (Beaujolais) – Thick to the point of solidity and massively reductive, with the aroma of a wine-soaked cork worming its way in there. With 24 hours of air, there’s brutally dark blackberry fruit over tar and asphalt, and the tiniest bit of generosity on the finish, but things are still reductive and generally screwed up tight. Traditional Madiran is more generous in its youth. Don’t even think about opening this anytime soon. (3/07)

TN: Nalle in the family

Nalle 2003 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Bright red fruit struggling to get out of a weirdly soupy, difficult set of restraints. There’s a hint of cooked fruit as well. This is very likely heat-damaged, because the performance of the wine certainly isn’t typical for Nalle. Source: New Hampshire state liquor store, Nashua. (3/07)

TN: Only ESJ knows

[label]Edmunds St. John 2002 Syrah “The Shadow” (California) – Earthen mushrooms, mixed nuts, smoke and dark, dark fruit with bracing acidity. Really good, but it will really reward some cellar time. (12/06)


Gantenbein 2000 Pinot Noir Beerenauslese (Graubünden) – Strawberry and obese peach with heavy cream around a flabby “structure” of drippy steel, leaves and makrut lime juice. Very, very, very sweet with only a tiny fraction of the necessary acidity. The finish smells a bit like an armpit, but it’s so short that the impression is fleeting. Grossly out of balance, but it might make a fine fruit syrup to drizzle on your morning berries. (3/07)

TN: VT, vini, vici

Trimbach 1998 Gewurztraminer “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Molten crystal and liquefied roses with a drizzle of aluminum and a fine, diamond-facet acidity. This is closing up. It’s less sweet than many regular Alsatian gewürztraminers these days, but it has much better balance than so many of its sticky younger brethren. Let it age. (3/07)

TN: Don ho

Toro Albalá “Don PX” 1971 Pedro Ximénez “Gran Reserva” (Montilla-Moriles) – Sultana molasses, hazelnut syrup and awesomely sweet brown sugar, with burnt cinnamon cap mushroom on the finish. Absolutely delicious, though about an eighth of a glass is more than enough. (3/07)

TN: Heatstroke

Trimbach 2003 Riesling (Alsace) – Big, in-your-face riesling characteristics of ripe but tart apple and wet iron that fade into nothingness at a rather shocking pace. Vintage victim #2461. (3/07)

TN: Henri Lacoste

Dubourdieu “Château Graville-Lacoste” 2002 Graves (Bordeaux) – Verbena, fennel fronds, powdery grey earth and graphite with intense gooseberry and grapefruit rind. Crisp and sharp, with the edges retracted but unfiled. This is in a terrific place right now, though it certainly could age a while longer; there’s all the primary razor-edge fruit, but some nicely-developing baritone complexities as well. (3/07)