TN: Durand sell

Durand “Domaine la Bastide” 2004 Vin de Pays d’Hauterive Syrah (Languedoc) – Blackberry in an almost bubbly, tingly style…the sort of thing that makes one think of carbonic maceration, though I don’t believe that was employed here…with a cracked eggshell, charred brown earth sort of minerality to it. Balanced and approachable. Apparently this is actually a Corbières, but the proprietor thinks that appellation has been so devalued that he’s declassified the wine. He may be right. It’s an exceptional sub-$10 value, though it’s not “serious” in any way. (1/07)

TN: Teroldego white

[bottle]Bertagnolli Grappa di Teroldego (Trentino) – Strikingly aromatic; a full chorus of floral and fruit notes with deep, chewy basso profundo beneath and lilting counterpoints atop. Delicious. (1/07)

TN: Going down lagrein

Mumelter “Griesbauerhof” 2004 Lagrein (Alto Adige) – It’s light, it’s heavy, it’s light, it’s heavy. This wine pulses with a dark energy, a blood-stained metal bar reaching back for another blow to the head, then a friendly, fresh-faced basket of fruit and red, summery flowers. It’s a disturbing juxtaposition, frankly, but the wine somehow works. There’s a bit of brett, but just a complexing accent rather than a palate-wearying slathering. I’d let it age. (1/07)

TN: We are the Champigny my friends

[label]Vatan “Chateau du Hureau” 2004 Saumur-Champigny (Loire) – Sharply delineated, with crisp, blackish-purple juice studded with thyme zinging and slashing on the palate, then perhaps turning somewhat shyly remorseful as the finish gathers and rounds itself into a more coherent, cohesive whole. But it’s still a bit sharp. (1/07)

TN: Premier league

[logo]Roederer Champagne “Brut Premier” (Champagne) – Heavy on the brioche, setting a sort of dark brown mood. Traces of lusty red and orange fruit linger in the background, slightly timid in the presence of such dominant pastry. A good, if particular, Champagne. (1/07)

TN: Big Bossard

Bossard 2005 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” (Loire) – Oyster shell and seawater with a strong quartz/grass component. Solid and sharp. (1/07)

Bossard-Thuaud Mousseux (Loire) – Seltzer and liquid granite, but only in the presence of food; it’s an airy froth by itself. With a culinary partner, it dances and sings…boisterous sea shanties, pretty soprano arias, even a little jig, or perhaps a frenetic Irish reel. Marvelous, laughter-inducing bubbly. (1/07)

TN: Angel of the evening

[barrels]Lustau “Almacenista” Oloroso Sherry “Angel Zamorano” (Andalucía) – Restrained, whole-spice-box dust with concentrated burnt-nut tones and a moderate, but persistent, sweetness. Like oloroso through gauze, almost. It’s lovely and very easy to drink, but at this price I’d expect something a little more striking. Something with a little more verve. (1/07)

TN: Evergreen

Luzon Verde 2005 Jumilla (Levant) – Big, obvious berries in a soup-like presentation, with some thudding, ponderous subwoofing overwhelming whatever elegance or structure is attempting to emerge. There’s enough earthy baritone that there’s at least a minor chance things will improve with age, but right now this is clumsy and highly unpromising, though it will probably appeal to lovers of wines in this style…of which there is certainly no lack these days. (12/06)

TN: Acid reign

[bottle]El Grifo 2002 Malvasía “Dulce” (Lanzarote) – Pure volatile acidity. Something less than fun went on inside this bottle. (12/06)

TN: Olivares, together

Olivares “Altos de la Hoya” 2003 Jumilla Monastrell (Levant) – Corked. (12/06)

Olivares “Altos de la Hoya” 2003 Jumilla Monastrell (Levant) – Thick and featureless at first uncorking, but eventually unclenching and releasing dark, earth-mother aromatics and sun-roasted blackberry residue. It’s tannic (though not abrasively so), it’s thick (though not sludgy, considering what it is and the vintage), and it’s fairly ponderous…more fun (eventually) to smell than to drink. Still, time will probably help this wine. It couldn’t hurt, anyway. (12/06)