Nights of drunkenness

Trimbach 2000 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Succulent ripe peach juice with bits of rose jam and lychee syrup. Off-dry, but with enough acidity, bitter melon rind and minerality to sustain the sugar. Maturing nicely, though I’m not sure I’d wait much longer to drink this.

Trimbach prefers to keep things on the dry side, but the rampant sugar levels of even marginally ripe gewurztraminer grapes make that a difficult task. In a toasty vintage like 2000, “difficult” becomes “impossible,” and the choice is between making a wine with residual sugar and gewurztraminer-flavored vodka. Still, this wine obtains much of its body from fairly high alcohol (don’t believe the label) and its impact from the usual fat, love-’em-or-hate-’em gewurztraminer aromatics, so in reality the wine achieves neither a refutation of sugar or an avoidance of overt alcoholic mass. And yet, it’s still tasty. Alcohol: 13% (but almost assuredly much higher than that). Closure: cork. Importer: Diageo. Web:

C&P Breton 2002 Bourgeuil “Nuits d’Ivresse” (Loire) – Well, if one’s nights are indeed going to be filled with intoxication, this would be a good way to go about achieving such a state. Rough, herb-filled and wet black earth with indelicate traceries of animal leavings, showing a wetly acidic chewed blackberry and dirt palate with a fine-grained powder texture and a long, supple finish. A really spectacular wine with a particularly particulate manner, and while I don’t know if it’s supposed to age or not, I know that it’s balanced enough to hint at the possibility of doing so. If, that is, one can keeps one’s lips off the bottle.

There’s another reason not to age this wine, as well: it’s one of those trendy “unsulfured” wines that seem to be barreling out of the Old World in record numbers.. This is an especially big thing in France, wherein wines are not dosed (or are just barely dosed) with protective sulfur at multiple stages during the winemaking process. That sulfur works well as a wine preservative is unquestioned. That it gives a few people bad headaches and worse is also unquestioned, though this is (by the best evidence) a very, very tiny number of people (despite the “sulfite” warnings on U.S. wine labels, which mostly serve to needlessly bewilder people who have aversions to anthocyanins or histamines, or have simply consumed too much wine in a single sitting). But the European fetish for unsulfured wines is a dangerous one for foreign – and even domestic – consumers, because it requires absolutely flawless transport and storage conditions from grape to glass in order to avoid unwanted secondary fermentation and other types of spoilage. Such conditions are pursued by many worthy concerns within the wine distribution chain, but just one broken link – for example, one truck with its interior AC off on an 80-degree afternoon – can ruin everything. I’m very much in support of unsulfured wines in theory (and this one is a beauty), but in practice I think that perhaps such experiments might be better reserved for the wines’ local markets, where storage/transport conditions are a daily and verifiable fact of life. Alcohol: 12%. Organic. Closure: cork. Importer: Louis/Dressner/LDM.

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