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tasting notes

Issarts love triangle

[gevrey-chambertin 1er cru les issarts]Faiveley 1990 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Issarts (Burgundy) — This is the French bottling, purchased directly from Faiveley at release. A French cousin regularly purchased and cellared a handful of Faiveley’s wines, and a number of years back as his health was failing and his doctors told him to stop drinking wine, he started giving away the last of his collection. I was the lucky recipient of a few bottles, and this is the last of them.

In retrospect, I should have opened it earlier. It’s always hard to judge with Faiveley, because there’s so much structure, but this bottle is in a stage where it’s pretty much all structure (mostly tannin) with dusty, dried-out remnants of fruit. That said, what’s there is muscular and brooding, and I think the wine shows its origins pretty clearly.

What the wine lacks in cohesiveness, however, is more than compensated by memory and gratitude. Thank you, Gaston. (6/16)

So Clos, so far

[clos ste-hune]Trimbach 1998 Riesling Clos Ste-Hune (Alsace) — The dreaded premature oxidation that has afflicted a number of turn-of-the-millennium wines from Trimbach rears its ugly head here. It’s far from total obliteration, but it’s persistent and dulls every bit of the experience. Behind the stale tin there’s a round, almost boisterous core of salty iron and fir needles, but among the other affects of the oxidation are an attenuated finish. The wine actually gains strength with time out of bottle, but the flaw never really goes away. A shame. (6/16)

Oak Boys

[geyserville]Ridge 1999 Geyserville (Sonoma County) — The second-to-last bottle of what was, once, a mighty two-case stash. This wine rounded into form somewhere between five and ten years ago, but I let the supply linger, ever mindful of the surprising ageability of many of the older Ridge zins and zin blends. There has been no clear pattern to those uncorked since; some were full of energy, others decidedly tired. (We all remain incredibly thankful for the unpredictability and inconsistency of natural cork, right?) This bottle was an interesting statistical outlier in that its structure was as dusty as old tomes in an abandoned library, but its fruit was far less advanced than any bottle of recent memory; plenty of sous bois, yes, but also many-layered wild berries atop that forested baritone. I couldn’t really recommend holding it any longer, but I admit that curiosity urges me to bury the last one for another decade, just to see what happens. (6/16)

You give love a bad name

[dashe zinfandel]Dashe “Les Enfants Terribles” 2014 Zinfandel Heart Arrow Ranch (Mendocino County) — 13.8%, native yeast. I remember the first vintages of this experiment, which were usually tasty, but rather loose and a bit wild…nudging into the natural realm without seeming to feel confident in any particular world. Since then, control (of a sort) as been reasserted. I think it would be fair to call Mike Dashe a structuralist — certainly the rest of his zinfandels are firm, unquestioned candidates for aging — and while this remains unlike the “normal” zins, it adds just enough structure and form to its boisterous (but not explosive) mélange of berries, barks, needles, and dusts that it feels entirely cohesive and self-possessed. Another wine I’d like to have on permanent, free-flowing tap. (6/16)

Evangelho Lilly

[carignane]Dashe “Les Enfants Terribles” 2014 Carignane Evangelho “Old Vines” (Contra Costa County) — 12.9%. Fun, bubbly fruit of the dark-skinned variety. Glou-glou without the irritating volatility and carbonic Beaujolais sameness that pervades the genre. I would like to order several kegs of this, please. (6/16)

Couche ball

Couche Champagne Dosage Zéro (Champagne) — 80% pinot noir, 20% chardonnay, disgorged 5 February 2015. Bones, empty rooms, and silence. In other words, showing one of the common failures of no-dosage Champagnes. I’m not feeling this. Will time help? Is there anything here that age might improve, or will it just grow more skeletal? (5/16)

Copain, no gain

[copain]Copain 2014 Chardonnay “Tous Ensemble” (Anderson Valley) — Confident, bright, straightforward. Slightly underripe white apricot and pollen. Good structure, well-balanced. (5/16)

Caille win

[blue quail]McFadden Family Estate “Blue Quail” 2014 Pinot Noir (Potter Valley) — Strong, but not dense. A wallop of dark fruit, followed by a few more wallops, with a finishing whap. (5/16)

Fat of the lamb

[les gras moutons]La Pépière 2014 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie “Les Gras Moutons” (Loire) — Blocks and cubes beginning to weep from the humidity. Extremely approachable, but then this cuvée always is. (5/16)

On the menu

[brin de chèvre]Le Clos du Tue-Bœuf 2010 Touraine “Le Brin de Chèvre” (Loire) — Broad horizons slashed by invisible razors, four-dimensional sand crystals, fractal depths. The complexity unrolls in non-linear ways, and a few degrees of warming reveal a completely different wine than the one whose cork was pulled straight from the fridge. Exciting and fascinating. (5/16)