Browse Tag


The Gattinara in the hat

[vineyard]Travaglini 2001 Gattinara (Piedmont) – Tar, but not so much with the roses…though there is a vague floral element here. Mostly, however, this is about pleasant organic elements, autumnal and humid, floating over a moldering bed of moistened earth. It’s fairly tasty, but doesn’t bear any sort of close examination. And I don’t know that it will reward much aging, either. (8/07)

I’m a little bit country

[label]Alexis Bailly “Country Red” (Minnesota) – Pérlant and somewhat volatile, with a foxy, hybrid-ish core. But the fruit is good, albeit somewhat candied (more jarred Maraschino than Fruit Roll-Up, though there are some darker berries in the mix as well), and the winemaking is otherwise pure, fun, and almost joyful. With a little less volatility, this would taste like a fine chambourcin-dominated blend, which from me is fairly high praise. (8/07)

Not resting on any

[label]Laurel Glen 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Mountain) – 12.5%. Vegephobes and those with a childhood fear of anything green will hate this. I, on the other hand, think that cabernet shorn of all leafy or verdant notes is probably overripe. Certainly this has green – leafy, vegetal, and peppery – to spare, but it’s quite balanced, pure, and moving along to its maturity on pace. Other mixed peppers (the seedy kind) are present, as well as firm tannin, good acidity and a black, spiky earthen foundation. This is the kind of cabernet that’s just not much made anymore, and I kinda love it. (7/07)

Easton west

[label]Easton 2001 Barbera (Shenandoah Valley) – Good barberas from this region taste, to me, like slightly-tamed zinfandels…the wild black’n’blue berries transformed to red, the spiky structure given over to a glistening sheen, but otherwise crisp, strong-willed fruit bombs that are just a joy to drink. And this is one of the good wines. There’s a rich, warm spice to the wine as well, like some mulled Christmas concoction. Pure pleasure. (8/07)

Hit the Highway

Bohemian Highway 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (California) – Dirt-cheap domestic cabernet, and perfectly pleasant in that idiom: soft, a little bit sweet, and possessing a principal quality of inoffensiveness. At a non-wine-geek party, this is drinkable. (9/07)

Level 42

Marietta “Old Vine Red Lot Number Forty-Two” (California) – Juicy, zinnish berry flavors and a slightly grittier wild vine and gravel foundation mark this fruity and generally affable wine; it’s no fruit bomb, but it is fun, and the acidity’s a welcome thing in an inexpensive California red. (8/07)

Monk-y business

[bottle]Franciscan 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – Basic all the way, with coffee-infused dark fruit and a casual nod towards structure, balance…and any sort of life at all. One could do a lot worse, but one could also do a lot, lot better. (8/07)

Jolly old St-Nicholas

[label]Taluau-Foltzenlogel 1996 St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil “Vieilles Vignes” (Loire) – Three different wines in one bottle. The first is heavily dill-infused, sour with pickled acidity and yet weirdly compelling due to its pulsing, earthen bass line. The second is balanced and structured, with graphite-textured tannin, fine acidity, and dark black fruit loaded with morels and soil. And the third is reticent, dominated by its structure, and rather boring to drink. What does this mean, in terms of the wine’s progress along its aging curve? I have no idea…or, rather, I have three different answers depending on which of the trio is on current display. My guess is that it’s still not ready, based on the way it seems to close up after extended aeration, but that initial burst of nastiness must be considered as well. (9/07)

Iché fingers

Iché “Château d’Oupia” 2005 Minervois (Languedoc) – More tightly-wound than its heretical brother, and a bit difficult to discern; there’s a dark, brooking surliness to the wine that repels the inquisitive. Layers of thick tannin seem to be the vintage’s signature (8/07)

Burn them!

Iché 2004 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault “Les Hérétiques” (Languedoc) – Rough and fine at the same time, showing a dark, earthy and slightly herbal meatiness with chewy, dark fruit. But it’s not heavy; it makes few demands, and rewards simple enjoyment with…well, simple enjoyment. (8/07)