Browse Tag


TN: Big & tall (California, pt. 12)

[reflection](The original version, with more photos, is here.)

29 April 2006 – Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove – The most accessible of Yosemite’s giant sequoia groves isn’t all that accessible at the moment, thanks to an inexplicably closed access road (the grove itself is still a slop of snow, water and mud, but the road is clear, and so is the parking lot). Nonetheless, the road is hikeable, and so after a morning spent admiring differently-lighted views of Yosemite Valley, and then a brief lunch near one of the park’s entrances, up (and up, and up) we trudge.

Edmunds St. John 2002 “blonk!” (Paso Robles) – Vivid wet stone fruit and white limestone dust, with faint dried meat notes, plus peach/pear skin adding a touch of pleasant bitterness to the finish. The finish is strikingly long.

In most other settings, the endless parade of majestic, ramrod-straight redwoods that litter this area would be a visual highlight. But not here, where the rich tans and incomprehensible girth of the giant sequoias dominates all else. We slog around the muddy grove, taking in most of the key sights, but in the process the sole of one of my hiking boots starts to separate, which makes walking difficult and lets water sneak into the interior of the shoe. It’s time to go.

Wawona Hotel – Tired and sole-sick (sorry), we plop down into comfortable veranda seats at this beautiful, historic hotel to have a few restorative drinks…for which we have to wait, as we’ve apparently arrived fifteen minutes before drink-serving time. What is this, France? Well, the setting makes up for it.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (California) – Hoppy and astringent. Never a favorite of mine, but the only other options are mass-market inanities.

Back at Yosemite West, we sear one of the most amazing slabs of venison I’ve ever eaten (seasoned only with black pepper and fleur de sel), add a few fresh morels, and make surprisingly quick work of what must be nearly three-quarters of Bambi. Poor deer (again: sorry).

Edmunds St. John 2001 Zinfandel Peay (Sonoma Coast) – Heavy, dark and concentrated, with briary blackberries (in whole and juice form), good acidity and a spicy, spirituous finish. It’s excellent with food, but a bit heavy by itself.

Dönnhoff 1999 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese 19 99 (Nahe) – From 375 ml, and now open for three days. It’s still flawless, now showing molten metals at the heart of the sun (if Pink Floyd will excuse the literary license). A truly stunning wine.

TN: Brücke shields

Dönnhoff 1994 Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese (Nahe) – Long and sharp, showing ripe but almost shockingly crisp apples in the midst of a surprisingly high-acid brew. Little to nothing has softened or creamed here, and the entire package is rather simple and direct. Given the producer and the site, the most likely conclusion is that it just needs more time, though I admit to harboring minority doubts about the wine’s balance. Still, even I’d bet on Dönnhoff before I’d bet on my guesses. (2/07)

TN: No busch

Anheuser 1999 Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Beerenauslese 49 00 (Nahe) – Metal and red cherry, strawberry, raspberry and orange. I’m a sucker for red fruit notes in white wines – most often, chez nous, found in German or Austrian riesling and also in Sancerre – and this is no exception. Extremely sweet, of course, yet everything is in balance. I like it, a lot. (2/07)

TN: Riesling riesling

Dönnhoff 2002 Riesling 3 03 (Nahe) – Simple, showing apple-dominated acidity and various metals, but in a crude, unhewn form. The acidity and the sugar don’t blend well here, and the wine’s a little strident (it’s not substantial enough to be overbearing). (12/06)

Studert-Prüm 2004 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 13 05 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Leafy-floral and light, with mineral dust, drying acidity and intense but limited sweetness filling in the corners. It seems a little obvious now, but there’s more delicate complexity here than I think the wine’s callow youth will admit. Let it age a while. (12/06)

TN: Egon in a second

[Scharzhof]Egon Müller 1995 Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 7 96 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Puréed chalky rocks with a creamy silk overlay, showing sharp apple cider on the midpalate, and a gorgeous, clean, (mostly) sugar-resolved finish. Those afraid to hold a kabinett for ten-plus years should pay attention…though it’s true that this never was an ordinary kabinett. (12/06)

Dönnhoff 1995 Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese 10 96 (Nahe) – Rich and ripe as these things go, showing salted clementine, grapefruit and tangerine with strongly aromatic white flowers on the finish. I’d say it’s as ready as it’s ever going to be. (12/06)

[label]Vereinigte Hospitien 2005 Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese 19 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Odd, like an otherwise engaging party guest who occasionally delivers himself of the most off-putting utterances. There’s high-toned, plasticene-synthesized quartz and strident grapefruit zest, yet there’s appealing sugar balanced with the sharp bite of malic acid as well. Perhaps it just needs time to learn some social graces, but I’m not at all pleased with the initial direction of the fruit. (12/06)

TN: Sam, I am (California, pt. 10)

[Yosemite Falls](The original version, with more photos – and since it’s Yosemite, they’re quite worthwhile – is here.)

27 April 2006 – San Francisco, California

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher – Loaded up with overpriced but high-quality groceries from the Ferry Building Marketplace, we’re completely ready for our trip to Yosemite. Well, that’s not quite true…we’ve got food for later, but we could use some food for now. And so, it’s one more trip to this upmarket burger joint for a perfect bacon cheeseburger, sinful garlic fries, and a decidedly average “black and white” shake.

27 April 2006 – Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park – Anyone with the slightest bit of awareness has seen innumerable pictures of this place, and yet they still don’t replicate the jaw-dropping experience of one’s first glimpse of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome, and the various waterfalls that surround the valley. “Breathtaking” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Photos come closer, but even then….

Yosemite West – We’ve rented a self-catering apartment, in a little cluster of houses between the valley and Wawona, and technically outside the park itself (though the only way out, other than on foot, is through the park). It’s dark and in need of updating, but it’s clean, quiet, and comfortable…if a little bit harder to find than it should be. Theresa whips up a dinner of sturgeon with thyme and Meyer lemon, red leaf greens with crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese, and burrata for dessert.

Edmunds St. John 2003 Viognier Rozet (Paso Robles) – Sweaty and full-bodied, showing sultry decayed flower petals and dark stone fruit; the sun beats down on this wine, but it’s a dark, eclipsed sun. It’s rich and a bit heavy, but quite tasty nonetheless.

Dönnhoff 1999 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese 19 99 (Nahe) – From 375 ml. Long crystalline quartz, pulsing with energy and intensity. There’s candied tangerine rind, needle-sharp acidity, and massive yet well-integrated sweetness, but what’s most unbelievable about this wine is the length. Stunning, awe-inspiring wine.