Browse Tag


The end

[vineyard]Donaldson Family “Pegasus Bay” 1999 “Finale” (Waipara) – From 375 ml. My last, and best, bottle, exploding with spicy complexity, rich bronzed peach, and luxuriant texture. Fabulous. (9/09)


[grapes]Brajkovich “Kumeu River” 2000 Chardonnay (Kumeu) – Nowhere near maturity, and not due to the longevity-increasing qualities of screwcap, either; this one’s under cork. Peach has blue-shifted slightly to apricot, orange to pear, and there’s an ever-so-slight emergence of both tan earth and light spice, but with the fruit still mostly primary and the good structure still firmly in place, the only real sign of movement so far is a reduction in the textural presence of oak (though as noted earlier, the aged and spicy component thereof is still quite shy). I’d let it rest for another five years, at least, before venturing another taste. (9/09)

Long distance

Kalin 1994 Chardonnay “Cuvée LD” (Sonoma County) – The argument against the ageability of California chardonnay is, unfortunately, well-supported by the preponderance of the evidence. There are exceptions, of course, and none are more inexplicably absent from the conversation as Kalin. (Actually, perhaps not “inexplicably,” as this is a winery that doesn’t exactly court fame and marketability.) Beautifully mature, and while this will almost certainly (based on past vintages’ performance) hold longer, I don’t think there’s much reason to wait. A mélange of stone fruit and citrus has integrated into a thready core of complexity, around which are wrapped layers of tan minerality, pollen, and the memory of spice. An absolutely terrific wine at peak. (8/09)

The needs of the Mesnil outweigh than the needs of the few, or the Oger

[tasting room]Pierre Peters 1998 Champagne Le Mesnil-sur-Oger “Grand Cru” Brut Blanc de Blancs (Champagne) – Vibrant, in the prime of its young adulthood, with a throbbing core of life and energy. Ultra-ripe (but not sweet) heirloom apple, lemony yeast, and the last lingering crusts of a flaky pain levain – there’s something more fundamental here than the standard brioche – with firm acidity, fine-grained electric bubbles, and a long, precise finish. Yowzers. (7/09)

Held back

[press]Pierre Peters Champagne Le Mesnil-sur-Oger “Grand Cru” Brut Blanc de Blancs “Cuvée de Réserve” (Champagne) – This is the NV bottling that would have been in stores in 1998, so it’s getting long in the tooth for an NV, even one that was as good as this has long been. Alas, it appears to have reached the end of its useful life, and is now on the downslope…though it should be said that this bottle tastes considerably older than one tasted last year, more than would be accounted for by the time that’s passed. There’s that antiqued bread character, bronze-ish and autumnal, common to older Champagnes, and the way this facet it tiring – paired with a new, elbowy sharpness to the acidity – is the clearest sign of the fade. Still plenty characterful,, but drink up. (7/09)

Mime rocks

Drouhin 2006 Meursault-Pierrières “1er Cru” (Burgundy) – Ah, chardonnay. How I haven’t missed you. But then again, this is white Burgundy, and there’s plenty to like here…spicy minerality, soft wood, good balance…if one is inclined in chardonnesque directions. Which, for better or worse, I’m increasingly not. (7/09)

Jurassic chardonnay

Petit “Domaine de la Renardière” 2006 Arbois-Pupillin Chardonnay (Jura) – Prickly, but from energy rather than acidity (though it has that, too), with a rich complexity of stony aromas (both the fruit and the rocks themselves), a light wash of oxidation that adds further complexity, a good deal of concentration, and a long finish. Very, very engaging. (7/09)

Milly first

Cordier 2005 Mâcon-Lamartine-Milly “Clos du Four” (Mâcon) – Light oak spice, good weight, fine balance, but this reminds me why I just don’t buy, drink, or enjoy oaked chardonnay; there’s just nothing here that can’t be attributed more or less to the wood. (7/09)

Carillon my wayward son

Louis Carillon 2002 Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er Cru (Burgundy) – Gorgeous texture, very tactile (to the point that it almost feels like there’s residual sugar, though obviously this is highly unlikely), melony, long, and quite complex. Impressive. (9/08)

No Guff

Guffens-Heynen 2000 Mâcon-Pierreclos “Le Chavigne” (Mâcon) – Very dry and structured, mild oak…and not much else. Seems OK, but there’s not a whole lot of “there” there. People whose palates I trust insist that these are good, atypically-Guffens wines to which I’m regularly unfair, but I’ve yet to see it. (9/08)