Castell del Remei 2001 Costers del Segre “Gotim Bru” (Cataluñya) – Boring, straightforward red and black fruit with blasé, anonymous earth and moderately balanced wood. Textbook red wine…but who wants to drink a textbook? (6/06)
Tempranillo, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and grenache. This is as safe and solid as wines get, which probably explains why I’ve never felt anything but indifference towards it. Young, middle-aged, even older…it doesn’t seem to matter. So why do I keep buying it? See above, re: safe and solid. Some people crave those qualities. Closure: cork. Importer: Solomon/European Cellars. Web: http://www.castelldelremei.com/.
Troiani “Fontaleoni” 2004 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vinga Casanuova (Tuscany) – Surprisingly intense green fruit and lightly grassy notes with a touch of briny adhesion. It’s a touch awkward without food, but shines with it, showing a certain strength and fortitude (along with a decent wallop of well-integrated acid). (6/06)
Vernaccia is yet another of those Italian white grapes that seems to be slowly fading into obscurity. A lot of mediocre product is certainly one reason, and a (mistaken) worldwide impression that it’s all mediocre is another. But while it’s true that, in comparison to the great white grapes like riesling and chenin blanc, only isolated pockets of Italy offer whites on par with or surpassing its reds in a worldwide context, what this misses is a veritable ocean of tasty, well-made, and (most importantly) unique white wines of quality and character. It would be a real shame to see all these wines disappear in favor of an entire planet planted to chardonnay. As for Fontaleoni, it’s quite the operation: restaurant, wine bar, rooms for rent…and, oh yes, a winery. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.fontaleoni.com/.
Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – A little more advanced than I might have expected, showing a metallic edge greased with bacon fat and slightly pongy cashew oil. Lychee and peach are, here, only a distant memory, though the expected well-aged jerky aromas have not yet emerged. It’s got pretty good acid, but seems just the slightest bit out of balance at the moment. Perhaps a few more years in the cellar will bring it around. (6/06)
If gewurztraminer by itself wasn’t controversial enough, aged gewurztraminer ramps up the level of dispute. All the things that make gewurztraminer gewurzy come screaming to the fore when the wine’s got some years behind it. And here’s where the modern fetish for residual sugar rears its ugly head: truly sweet gewürztraminers age beautifully, as to bone-dry versions, but the too-ripe off-dry versions living in the vast in-between do a lot less well; the sugar never actually integrates, leaving a sort of unpleasant sweet bacon taste, not entirely unlike a plate of American breakfast food wherein the maple syrup has gotten all over the last few pieces of bacon. Closure: cork. Importer: Diageo. Web: http://www.maison-trimbach.fr/.
Domaine du Poujol 2002 Vin de Pays de Val de Montferrand “Proteus” (Languedoc) – A rustic paysan prettied up by some nice clothes…not a fancy designer suit, just a shirt and pants well-pressed with clean shoes and maybe even a new blade on the razor. There’s frothy, roasted red fruit and sun-baked earth here…a little hint of horse lingers in the background…with good, light-bodied structure barely supporting a medium-bodied wine of some estimable qualities. (6/06)
90% merlot, 5% cinsaut and 5% grenache; this is an unusually high percentage of merlot, and caused the wine to be “declassified” (a poor choice of word) from its usual Vin de Pays de l’Herault appellation…probably for reasons of varietal typicity, but I’m just guessing here. This is intended to be an early-drinking wine, but according to the domaine their viticultural practices are hefting this thing up year by year, so don’t be surprised if it ages for a few years…or a few years more. Closure: cork. Importer: Kermit Lynch. Web: http://www.domainedupoujol.com/.
Kenwood 2004 Zinfandel Jack London (Sonoma Valley) – Spicy oak with waves of charred, chocolate oak and a finish of cinnamon and clove oak. (6/06)
In other words: no good. Web: http://www.kenwoodvineyards.com/.
Sobon Estate 2004 Zinfandel “Hillside” (Amador County) – Big, brambly, fiery Amador zin, just the way it’s supposed to be. Sure, it’s a little tarted up (by chocolaty oak? it seems so, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it) and probably a bit more alcoholic than it needs to be, but typicity will usually out. Doofus wine, but eminently gluggable and fun. (6/06)
There’s a little bit of blending going on here (grenache and syrah), which is normal and historically correct for zinfandel. Alcohol: 14.6%. Organic grapes. Closure: screwcap. Web: http://www.sobonwine.com/.