Magnon “Rozeta” 2009 Corbières (Languedoc) – Ripe strawberry and rose hip with a more insistent, denser fruit than its otherwise bright, fresh-faced appeal might indicate. And it gets darker as it finishes, even adding a touch of wild fierceness to the departure. A very appealing wine. (8/12)
Gibert “Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie” 2007 Corbières (Languedoc) – Geography can fool, at times, and I’ve always felt Corbières was a fine example of that misdirection. One thinks Languedoc, one prepares for dense and dark, and instead one gets a wine with both spice and space. It’s not light, and it’s certainly not lithe, but it blunders its way across the palate carrying a ballast of intrinsic helium, sometimes expressing as a suggestion of froth, other times just pushing both acid and spice to the forefront. Even the fruit itself is more chewy, rustic redness than the scowling brood of so many of the appellation’s neighbors. And this is a very, very tasty example of the type. (5/11)
Gibert “Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie” 2008 Corbières Blanc “Pas des Louves” (Languedoc) – I’m still waiting for my white Corbières epiphany; the aromas are nice enough (orange juice, honeysuckle, gravel), but the wine’s sticky at its core and drippy around the perimeter, and this performance has been replicated in other wines I’ve tasted of this tint and from this appellation. (9/09)
Laboucarié “Domaine de Fontsainte” 2005 Corbières (Languedoc) – The spicy soul of a land, with the integrated depth of a slow-cooked sauce and a slow-rolling tingle of sizzling dark red fruit. Absolutely delicious. (6/09)
Laboucarié “Domaine de Fontsainte” 2005 Corbières (Languedoc) – Incredibly appealing. Many Corbières are not, having this or that flaw, or a general indifference as their primary characteristic. This one is immediately drinkable, with a fine acidity enveloping tart red berries, gravelly soil with dry, arid aspects, and a cooling, brittle structure. It will probably age for a bit, but why wait? (10/08)
Terrier “Domaine des 2 Ânes” 2005 Corbières Fontanilles (Languedoc) – Sweaty, leathery, and a little bretty, with that barnyardy-metallic fog somewhat obscuring twisted fruit that seems like it should be darker than it is; this very deception is a signature of this appellation, at least for me. Gnarly, and not in a Jeff Spicoli sort of way. I’d like to see it cleaned up a bit, but if one can get past that the elements are quite appealing. (9/08)
They “Château Vieux Moulin” 2000 Corbières “Les Ailes” (Languedoc) – Softened a bit by modern winemaking, but with an unquenchable foundation of rustic dark berries, meat soda, and rough minerality. Good, but I think it could be better with a little less futzing in the cellar. (10/06)
Val d’Orbieu “Les Deux Rives” 1999 Corbières (Languedoc) – Stewed and horrid. Possibly heat-damaged, but that’s far from all that’s wrong here. (8/07)
Laboucarié “Domaine de Fontsainte” 2004 Corbières (Languedoc) – Good spicy-earthy red fruit, somewhat soda-like, with that flaky, sun-peeled paint texture that the better wines from this appellation often seem to show. Nicely balanced. A warm, satisfying wine. (3/07)
(The original version, with nicer formatting and more photos, is here.)
26 April 2006 –San Francisco, California
Taylor’s Automatic Refresher – On a gorgeous, pure blue day on the Embarcadero, an outdoor table is too much to resist, and I end up here rather than back for another (expensive) bout with a few dozen oysters. The Wisconsin sourdough burger is, like all Taylor’s products, pure, drippy decadence. Not cheap, but worth it…especially when partaking of the burger joint’s clever little wine list. I cart a half bottle to my outdoor picnic table and feel completely decadent. (Also, later: sunburned.)
Storybrook Mountain 2003 Zinfandel Mayacamas Range (Napa Valley) – Fat and woody, with spiced cedar and huge blackberry fruit. There’s good acid though, and this really works best as simple, sun-drenched fun.
bacar – Packed, which renders service a little slow, and yet it’s good to see this excellent wine bar in fine economic health despite its slightly difficult location. My only complaint – and it’s a minor one – is that, for several years now, the enticing wine list has been rather dominated by blowsy 2003s. I suppose they have to sell through their stock, but I’m looking forward to being able to order Austrian, German, and other higher-acid whites with more confidence that I’m going to enjoy the results.
Nigl 2004 Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit (Kremstal) – This wine undergoes a fascinating transformation from nose to finish. It starts out very salty, while showing classic celery and green, grassy acidity. From there, it proceeds to sweeter melon rind, green kiwifruit and floral aspects. Finally, it finishes almost fat, with orange blossoms, raw cashew oil and hazelnut. Such a procession from light and nervy to full and flavorful is one of the delightful surprises of good grüner, though it’s not usually experienced quite to this extent. It would be nice if the nose were a little more enticing, but I suspect that will come in time, as its center of gravity shifts forward.
Bründlmayer 2004 Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terassen (Kamptal) – White pepper, ripe apple blossom and white rice-encrusted apple and green plum form a ripe, vivid whip-snap, albeit one encased in silk. Skin bitterness adds structure and counterbalance to the fruitier aspects, which edges very slightly towards being a bit warmer (that is, more alcoholic) than ideal. That’s nitpicking, though, for this is a very good wine.
Donabaum 2003 Grüner Veltliner Atzberg Smaragd (Wachau) – A ripe, fat nose of rum-soaked banana skin doesn’t improve much on the palate, where alcohol adds a harsh burn. Things are a little better once one becomes accustomed to the heat, and creamy celery and cauliflower with ripe white asparagus steer the wine towards the silkier, more dairy-like aspects of high-test grüner. Still, as the wine fades, one is once more left with that buzzing, numbing alcoholic fire.
Hirsch 2003 Grüner Veltliner Heiligenstein (Kamptal) – A smoky nose full of mineral dust, ripe celery and heavy red cherries precedes a smooth, balanced palate and long finish that provide more of the same. Unfortunately, the wine also carries a throbbing, fiery burn from out-of-balance alcohol.
Revelette 2004 Côteaux d’Aix en Provence Rosé (Provence) – Salty canned fish (not, as it might seem, an inherently bad thing, though it is unusual) and heavy, molten lead with dead, softening wood rotting away in the background. OK, scratch the equivocation about the salted fish; this is pretty much the opposite of “fresh,” which I do believe is a virtual requisite for Provençal rosé. Worse yet: even with all the weirdness, the wine is boring.
Corbières du Boncaillou 1999 Corbières (Languedoc) – Gorgeous aromatics of dried flowers and spice with rustic undertones…but probe deeper, and there’s a smooth granite base with strong, complex striations. There’s a hint of something that tastes very slightly modern, but I’m not sure it’s possible to render Corbières all that urbane without leaving scars. No wounds here.