Browse Tag


Telmo more

Telmo Rodríguez 2013 Monastrell “Al-muvedre” (Levant) — The deep, musky, sludgy side of mourvèdre; but neither tarted up nor laden with artifice. It’s a fist to the palate (and each gulp is a repeat punch), but it’s entirely self-possessed and eminently drinkable…though it does require the usual grilled mastodon steaks as an accompaniment. (4/16)

Alex Lifeson

Comte de Saint Victor “Château de Pibarnon” 2001 Bandol (Provence) – Very difficult, for a fairly long time. Sweaty, thready, reticent. Not even up to a good bout of surly. After about an hour, the wine within starts to peek at its surroundings, with the classic sweetening of mourvèdre as it expands – from smoked meat to smoked berry – taking the fore. If there’s a flaw, it’s that there seems to be a little polish or burnishing that’s damping the complexity, but the wine’s in such a trouble adolescence that it’s really not possible to do more than grumble subaudibly at the notion. Hold this, if you own any. (6/12)

Clarine my throat

La Clarine Farm 2010 Mourvèdre (Cedarville) – I don’t think that any number of blind guesses as to this wine’s varietal identity would ever have brought me to mourvèdre. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, it’s at best a long musing, at worst an unmitigated rant, so I’ll leave that aside for a moment and get to the wine itself. The unidentifiableness of the wine comes from the bright, freshly-pressed strawberries and light, tactile faux-electricity that leap from the glass. Only a dense atmosphere of somewhat-penetrable tannin gives this wine a varietal signature. Otherwise, it’s capital-N Natural, whether it is by practice or not (perusal of what information I have suggests that it is): fizzy funfruit, some brett, some VA (neither damaging or really even intrusive, but they’re there and perceptible), and so forth. If you’ve had southern French natural wines, and add some mental tannin, you already know what this tastes like.

If it sounds like I’m struggling between organoleptics and philosophy in this note, unable to take a position due to the tension between the two in my mind, the sound you hear is a true one. In the context of California wines, Sierra Foothills wines, whichever open peer group one chooses, this is a bold statement. And I do like the way it tastes (mostly). But in the context of natural wines, worldwide, it’s…another one. (1/12)

More vèdre, please

Tablas Creek 2005 Mourvèdre (Paso Robles) – 14.3%. Hefty, leathery, chewy fruit of the black-hearted variety. Tannins are large-scaled but soft…not quite cashmere, but something sturdier…and there’s a lush black peppery tone late in the wine’s lingerings, which are lingerful indeed. Very, very young, I’d say. (8/11)

Stop s’Noréing

Pascal “Domaine du Gros’Noré” 2005 Bandol (Provence) – Gorgeous wine, in the first flush of youth. That flush has a meaty tinge to it, as well as vise-squeezed dark berries (skins still clinging) and a lot of herbal/peppery stuff misted about the environs, but the primary impression here is one of intensity and barely-withheld power. Owning a lot of this would be a good idea. (1/11)

Let it Gros

Pascal “Gros’Noré” 1999 Bandol (Provence) – The odd match of maturing, meaty/liquorous “fruit” and an incisored bite of tannin that typify Bandol in its adolescent stage. It’s not young any more, but the hurry to get to it will very much depend on how much one craves animal juice. It’s forceful for a Bandol, wrapping itself in a few more layers of herbed foil than might be normal at this stage. I like it, but I’ll like it more in a decade, I suspect. (8/10)

Jumilla Jovovich

Casa de la Ermita 2005 Jumilla Dulce Monastrell (Levant) – From 375 ml. I keep trying this wine, and it never gets more appealing than it does intriguing: dusty tannin, black fruit, syrupy texture and sweetness, and the rough, stony animalism that signifies the variety. It doesn’t work for me. (3/10)

Mour or less

[label]Tablas Creek 2005 Mourvèdre (Paso Robles) – A fruit bomb, but a sufficiently structured one. A dark stew of fruit is lent a little leather and earthen blackness by the grape, and it’s an extremely enjoyable wine, but this is really very primary still. It would seem to have to stuffing to age, but I don’t really know for sure. (7/09)

Roque, Roque, Roque your Boutin

Boutin “Château La Roque” 2004 Pic Saint Loup “Cuvée les vieilles vignes de Mourvèdre” (Languedoc) – Fulsome, brown, and with a strangely appealing sour note that manages to lift all the less earthy notes to greater prominence. Thus are revealed dark blackberries and boysenberries, perhaps a bit of quince paste, and a peppery finish. Meaty and mushroomy as well. Quite solid with structure and balance. (6/09)