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anderson valley

Cluster bomb

[grapes]Navarro 1997 Gewürztraminer “Late Harvest Cluster Select” (Anderson Valley) – 375 ml., 9.6%. Fully mature, and very impressive, with dark bronzed lychee met in equal measure by freshly-dug black truffle, old peach liqueur (minus the heat), and exotic nut oils. Very sweet, but nicely balanced, long, and laden with spice. (9/08)

Off the

[vineyard]Navarro 1998 Pinot Noir “Deep-End Blend” (Anderson Valley) – 13.9%. Very advanced on the nose, and browning, at first opening. Don’t be fooled, as this is a massive deception. With air, the wine takes on flesh, fat, and power, bringing dark – and, truth be told, somewhat obvious – fruit of the fat, Central Valley berry type to the palate, with hints of freshly-ground coffee bean, bitter chocolate, raw morel, and molten glass. It’s very, very intense, and really shouldn’t be opened anytime soon. In fact, air only serves to anger and intensify the fruit, while the structure – still fully intact – shows no signs of dissipating. All that said, I don’t know if there’s complexity or “pinosity” here; the wine seems to take abrupt, noisily-accomplished steps towards all the things that make pinot noir compelling, without any of the accompanying intellectualization or complexity that one expects from the grape and the region. I suspect a little too much effort in the cellar, and I wonder if this might not be the fate of many highly-touted New World pinots of similar ilk. Still, one could do profoundly worse, and while the wine bears the imprint of work, it is in no way trafficked or steroidal. It’s just big and more than a little buffoonish, yet full of skill. It’s Boo Weekley in a bottle. (10/08)

A sparkling anniversary

[sign]Roederer Estate “25th Anniversary” Brut (Anderson Valley) – A reliable performer. This version tastes a little more like a balance between ripe chardonnay stone-fruitiness and deeper, redder pinot tones (usually, the wine leans towards its red grapes), and gives the impression of more fatness than it actually possesses; the finish ends up being quite balanced. (9/08)

The Roederer less traveled

[vineyard & winery]Roederer Estate 1998 Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) – Strawberry, tarragon, and tin with wood ear mushrooms. The slightly sickly fruit-sweetness of New World pinot is partially in evidence here, though the wine is pleasantly small-boned, with a pretty face and a surprisingly long finish. Though just a bit of tannin remains, I think this is probably as long as you’d want to hold this wine. (4/08)

TN: Chardonn-yay

[sheep]Navarro 2004 Chardonnay “Première Reserve” (Anderson Valley) – Balanced and clean. Bright melon and grapefruit are braced by fine acidity and a light, only mildly acrid butter tone shorn of its fat by a slight backpalate bitterness. This is no modernistic New World chardonnay, and in fact it tends a bit more towards the lean than it might. It should age for a short while, as well. (6/07)

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