Browse Tag


Roussanne, don’t walk away

JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2008 Vin de Table Roussanne (Beaujolais) – Bright. A roussanne, bright? Oh yes. Aromatic honeysuckle with other flowers, yes. But not heavy at all. Instead, its fresh with good acidity, and really, really good. (6/10)

Terres it up

JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2007 Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay (Beaujolais) – Stone fruit with heat and shortness; I suspect some damage somewhere along the way. (5/10)

Descombes your hair

Descombes 2006 Brouilly (Beaujolais) – Fiercely acidic. Raspberry, cranberry, and underbrush…but this is like trying to drink from a spiked metal helmet. Liquefied iron arrives somewhere within the finish. A little brett, too? Impossible to ignore, screeches for food, and while I like it, I think it will need to be addressed as Mistress Descombes in the future. (3/10)

Justine énas

Granger 2002 Juliénas (Beaujolais) – Softening, for sure, and starting to cast glances in the direction of softer, smoother pinot noir as it attempts to leave its brighter, lighter gamayness behind. It’s still mostly what it was, however, showing brownish-grey earth and soft red berries, and its an open question whether or not it will achieve its pinot noirish destiny. I do think it would be somewhat improved by a little more of either its past or its future. (2/10)

The rock

[label]Lapierre 2007 Morgon (Beaujolais) – This is the “S” (sulfured) cuvee. The aromas say Morgon, but there’s such an ethereality to this wine. It’s not muted, and while it could be accused of being “light,” that doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter either. Both fruit and texture float like dust, the wine’s character is delivered in feathery layers of the finest tissue, and I think it would be possible to drink this in one long, enticing gulp without realizing one had done so. A great Lapierre Morgon? No, not in the sense one usually hears that phrase. It’s too different. But it has its own charms. (2/10)

Lapierre 2002 Morgon (Beaujolais) – VV 02, for those tracking lot numbers. Surprisingly immature. Berries are still tart and primary, soil notes are still broad-shouldered, and there’s a fair bit of tannin (for gamay), with no apparent fraying of the weave between fruit and structure, and none of the mature elements I seek in this wine. Leave it alone, I guess. (2/10)

Head to head

Louis Tête 1997 Moulin-à-Vent (Beaujolais) – Shrilly acidic, to the point that it causes a bit of reflux. It’s just too old, and what’s left is hard, harsh, tired, and not much fun at all. Remnants of a very soil-based aromatic profile linger, as well as some dark berry squeezings, but if you’ve still got any, I hope it’s in an icy cellar. (12/09)

The donkey show

[sagrada familia]Commenters who ask good questions are so irritating.

For example, here’s “The Wine Mule” in response to my plea for a little more mystery in our wine:

If the didactic is off limits, and we know that tasting notes are useful only to that portion of the population who experience aroma and flavor the same way we do, what’s left?

First up: I don’t believe that tasting notes are only useful to those with identical sensory and associative tools. I do think that assigning external authority (or worse, objectivity) to tasting notes is the first step on a very slippery slope to nowhere. But as part of a growing body of collaborative communication on the subject of wine, an adjective-ridden fruit salad of collective knowledge and emergent consensus (or, just as frequently, its opposite), I think they have a value that transcends the merely personal.

Second: the didactic is not off-limits, but it cannot define the limits. There’s a lot more to wine than the rote acquisition of knowledge. Even the most rigorous non-university wine education examinations in the world – those required for the Master of Wine and the Master Sommelier – don’t limit themselves to multiple-choice tests, but require both tasting and the proven ability to communicate wine knowledge in something more than bullet point form. (In fact, it turns out that a major reason that many fail the former is that, despite breathtaking knowledge and supreme tasting skills, they cannot do this.) When I ask for more mystery and less Wine Talk for People Too Dumb for Wine for Dummies, I don’t mean that we should abandon the helpful factlet or the mnemonic primer, merely that we’re reducing wine to its least interesting elements. Nothing that’s compelling about wine is told in a fatigued “match the grape to its appellation” rehash, much less the annual “sparkling wines (not from Champagne) for New Year’s Eve” article and its increasingly tiresome brethren.

So when our sterile donkey commenter worries:

It’s true that not long ago I compared a bottle of freisa to Caterina Sforza, and while I may have felt inspired, I also felt a bit ridiculous, because anyone would think I was being both precious and pretentious, and not providing much practical information about the wine.

…I’m moved to ask two questions.

First, who’s the audience? If it’s the sort that will voluntarily read a wine blog with paragraphs and multi-syllabic words, the kind that will understand that Sherry doesn’t mean the stuff from New York, then I suspect that it’s adult and inquisitive enough to satiate its wonder either through independent research, the magic of emailing the author, or via consultation with The Great Oracle of All Knowledge. If the Mule is still worried, and seeks to provide guidance while preserving narrative flow…well, that’s why Gore God Ted Nelson invented the hyperlink.

And second, what’s the alternative? Because it has to be said: to the hypothetical blank-slated reader about which the Mule is worried, I doubt “freisa” is much more evocative than “Caterina Sforza,” and thus the best way to avoid all possible confusion is to mention neither. Shall we never rise above chardonnay and Paula Abdul comparisons in the future, then? I think not, and I doubt the Mule wishes so either.

Finally, his comment finishes with a gentle remonstrance:

And anyway, I’m not sold on the idea that a lot of people really do know that Beaujolais is gamay.

I’m quite sure most potential buyers of Beaujolais don’t know it’s gamay. A good portion of them probably don’t even know it’s from France, much less that it comes in other colors, or that there’s a difference between Nouveau and Chiroubles, or who the “Gang of Four” is, or why they should care about the divergent influences of Jules Chauvet and Georges Dubœuf. But many an article on Beaujolais will slog through some percentage of those answers, thinking it has done something useful for the advancement of wine knowledge. That article will be mistaken. Albeit intriguingly anthropomorphized.


[label]Lapierre 2007 Morgon (Beaujolais) – Light, with the texture of flake-depth foil, as if the fruit has been pressed and stretched into the most delicate leaves of nearly-transparent fruit. The wine is, in the context of its ancestors, so light that it’s not easy to discern its Morgon-ness (though the quality of the fruit is darker than most other Beaujolais of similar weight, and there’s the faintest iron-like soil component that meets one’s expectations). Drinking this wine is a little like holding one’s breath, knowing that the slightest sound will disturb something that’s important to hear. (8/09)

Lapierre 2007 Morgon (Beaujolais) – More soil and (absent the heat) dusted peppercorn than has been typical for this wine, the result of a slight diminishment of the delicate. I don’t mean to suggest an absence of fruit, but a very slight change in the balance is all that’s necessary for this wine to shift position. (8/09)