Browse Tag


After Luke

Edmunds St. John 1997 Syrah Durell (Sonoma/Carneros) – Man, is this good. An intricately-plucked funk bass line propels low-toned, leathery fruit though a series of earthy, fruit-scowl verses and leathery, whip-strap choruses to a rousing climax of fruit-stained saddle, black trumpet, and a hurricane of pepper dust. I’d be inclined to drink this now, whatever it’s future. (6/08)


Paul Hobbs 2005 Pinot Noir Hyde (Carneros) – Big fruit, beety strawberry, then fruit concentrate verging on syrup. Tasty, but…eh. Perhaps better for pancakes. (2/08)

A man’s wine is his Castle

[logo]Castle 1997 Merlot Donell Ranch Sangiacomo (Carneros) – All the structure here has washed away, leaving a sweaty core of intensely-concentrated blueberry. It tastes like one of those sour hard candies, though it’s neither particularly acidic nor sweet. It’s a very interesting wine, and I enjoy it, but there’s been no gain in complexity over the last eleven years, and I see no real hope of it holding longer given the state of its foundation. (3/08)

Carneros park

[bottle]Rombauer 2005 Chardonnay (Carneros) – Oaky, full-bodied, silky and lush, and quite openly sweet on the palate. Very, very simple, and seemingly pointed at the widest possible audience of chardonnay-as-cocktail drinkers, in which context I think it should be viewed. (5/07)

The cab is always greener…

Like all wine lovers, I have my likes and dislikes, and the wines I choose to buy reflect those choices. And like most wine lovers, I don’t much care for drinking bad wines. What’s fun, though, is crossing over to the “other side,” and tasting (mostly) well-made wines that fit the preferences of those with decidedly different tastes.

A recent holiday party gave me the opportunity to do just that. Below are some quick takes — I didn’t take formal notes at the event — on a lineup of wines that, with one or two exceptions, aren’t likely to make regular appearances in my glass.

Lafond 2003 Sancerre (Loire) – Reedy green citrus and grassy notes, though with the skin bitterness and lowish acidity characteristic of the vintage. In the context of many truly awful 2003 Sancerres, this one is actually half-decent.

la Poussie 2003 Sancerre (Loire) – Heavy, green, bitter, and acid free. See above.

Ladoucette 2003 Pouilly-Fumé (Loire) – Gorgeous, silky fruit with earthy elegance and the first stirrings of complexity. Beautifully balanced and long. I could drink this all night.

Paul Hobbs 2003 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) – Simple and spicy peach, pear, citrus and white fig-like fruit with moderate oak spice and a reasonable dollop of acidity. Pretty decent, though chardonnay’s still not exactly my favorite grape in the world.

Belle Pente 2002 Pinot Noir Belle Pente (Willamette Valley) – Gorgeous, silky fruit with earthy elegance and the first stirrings of complexity. Beautifully balanced and long. I could drink this all night.

Relic 2002 Pinot Noir Alder Springs (Mendocino County) – Forceful pinot noir, dense and throbbing with heavy, leaden black and red fruit, plus streaks of plummy orange rind that make me think of an especially heavy Central Otago pinot. This will be very popular with some, and it’s not a bad wine, but I much prefer the Belle Pente.

Fanti 1998 Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany) – Luscious, clove-spiced baked berries with not-insignificant oak and a relatively balanced finish. There could be less technology and wood thrown at this, and it would improve, but it’s a nice drink in its present form.

Brancaia 2003 “Il Blu” IGT Toscana (Tuscany) – The sangiovese is, as usual, overwhelmed by cabernet and merlot, but that said there’s merit to the wine; internationalized it is, indeed, but there’s plenty of juicy and fun fruit here.

Gaja 2001 “Magari” IGT Toscana (Tuscany) – Weedy bell pepper and seed pepper dust. There are interestingly floral aromatics, but the palate is disappointing, and a long finish doesn’t mean much when the flavors aren’t that pleasant.

Thomas Fogarty 2001 “Skyline” (California) – Massively overwooded and underripe at the same time. Horrid.

Tor 2003 Syrah Durell “Clone No. 1” (Carneros) – Incredibly thick and dense…a sort of chocolate-and-oak shake…and varietally anonymous. Kind of a waste of the raw materials, but certainly destined for popularity amongst the bigger-is-better crowd.