Browse Tag


Para dox

[vineyard]Seppelt 1939 “Para Liqueur” (South Australia) – One of the first press tastings to which I was ever invited was a Southcorp portfolio event that toured the U.S. Each represented producer was asked to bring something from their library stock. Seppelt brought two. The first was an aged sparkling shiraz, which I didn’t know was possible before that bottle. And the second was a Para Liqueur from the very late 1800s (the date is lost to memory). I still remember that wine: fig syrup, molasses, balsamic vinegar (the real stuff, not a cheap knockoff), and finish that seemed to last for hours. I mean that literally: two hours later, back at my desk, I could still taste the wine.

Thus, there’s extra meaning for me in this bottle, which is incredibly rare and an expression of remarkable generosity on the part of our hosts. It tastes of pure distilled brownness, dusty/particulate and burnished with antiquity, but still alive with remarkable intensity and persistence. There’s brown sugar, molasses, the sharp cling of balsamic something-or-other, to be sure…but also, a lively hint of honeydew melon, and a perfect note of bitterness contrapuntal to all the well-aged sugar. The finish is beyond incredibly long, it’s endless. An absurdly great wine. (3/05)

Dogs of Warre’s

Warre’s 1994 “Late Bottled Vintage” Porto (Douro) – This is not a great Port, to be sure, but the problem I have with this wine is less its inherent quality than the fact that I’ve realized I just don’t much like ruby Port without significant age. The fruit here is big and simple-minded, there’s certainly no lack of sugar, the relatively minor tannin is foursquare, and there’s just not a whole lot more to say about the wine. (12/08)

The Master

[label]El Maestro Sierra Oloroso Sherry “15 años” (Jerez) – Frankly, this is a difficult wine for me, and I’m not sure I can do it justice. Intense almond aromas – but more the shells and skins than the sweeter nuts within – and the usual arid, almost-mold-but-more-ancient-than-that, topnote, but with more space and singularity than I’m used to. Then, a stark dryness that tastes…well, it tastes like a decaying building. I suppose that doesn’t make much sense, but try to think what the Acropolis might taste like, were it to suddenly become consumable rather than viewable. Absolutely planar throughout, and eventually I begin to suspect that the wine’s finish doesn’t ever actually end, but just continues to some sort of infinitely-distant asymptote. An extremely intellectual sherry. I think it might be terrific. I’m not sure I like it. Obviously, I need someone to explain it to me, and then we’ll see. Or not. (12/08)

Roman Colosía

Guitiérrez Colosía “Elcano” Fino Sherry (Jerez) – From 375 ml. Very, very fresh-tasting, in a way that almost transports me to Spain. That said, I’m not entirely sure what I’m tasting. Bony and yet overly affable, like a skeletal puppy leaping at one’s palate, there’s an upfront intensity paired with an airy hollowness that I can’t quite wrap my head around. (12/08)

Childish Porto

Quinta do Infantado 1995 Porto (Douro) – Soft, woven fabric and reams of spice in which are nestled gentle red fruit, freshly-dug earth, and nut shells. This is in a beautiful place right now. (2/08)

A winged barn

[bottle]Barnard Griffin 2005 Syrah Port (Columbia Valley) – 500 ml. The problem here is that the wine is much, much more “syrah” than “port,” and I’m not sure smoky, leathery blueberry is the best canvas on which to draw sweetness and fortified intensity. It’s not at all a bad wine, and in fact the form of it is quite enticing, it’s just that the wine seems misguided from conception. Perhaps with a very carefully-selected food. Cheese, certainly, over dessert…and something that can take the sweat and toil of syrah in stride. (6/08)

For MR and MR

Telmo Rodríguez “MR” 2002 Málaga Moscatel (Málaga) – Classic muscat with more intensity and brilliance than usual, though it’s in no way a light wine; sun shines from the core, almost blindingly so, lending warmth and presence. There’s more spice than normal, and a dense, rounded texture. Delish. (6/08)

Emery High

[bottle & label]Emery Muscat “Efreni” (Rhodes) – Pure muscat, with all the perfumed sweetness that entails, but with a sort of mirrorball minerality shining from within, which lightens what would otherwise be a fairly thick wine. Extremely tasty. (5/08)

Dutch trading companies

[bottle]Lustau “East India Solera” Sherry (Jerez) – Very sweet, molasses and maple with heat-concentrated brown sugar but a fairly uninteresting finish of simplistic sweetness. (5/08)


Hidalgo “Alameda” Cream Sherry (Jerez) – Nutty syrup, thinned and with a slightly varnished texture, with the wine’s intense sweetness balanced by an airy midpalate. Finishes a little disappointing, though. (5/08)