Browse Tag


Avril in Paris

Avril “Clos des Papes” 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – From before when people started arguing about whether or not Clos des Papes has gone to hell, from a vintage on which some of those same people have rather frequently disagreed. It’s hard-edged, full of acidity laid more bare than before, and yet all the aged nouveau-Papal components are there and just a little past “there”…browned-out soil, old herbs, antiqued meat, gentle suasions and comforting familiarity. I love it, but the love has an expiration date in the very, very near future. (2/12)

Hermit Lynch

Chave 1994 Hermitage (Rhône) – At one time I owned some of this, back in the days when it was (relatively) reasonably priced. I don’t know what happened to it, and I certainly drank it too early, because this is where you’d want it…perhaps even a touch past that point…with a grittier, tooth-baring edge to its columnar masculinity. (Sometimes, a masculine column is just a masculine column. Or Chave Hermitage. Same thing.) (11/11)

Bouvet duvet

Gilles Robin 2000 Crozes-Hermitage “Cuvée Albéric Bouvet” (Rhône) – Wan. There’s a little mature Rhônosity, mostly in the tarred meat vein, but that vein was opened and drained a few years ago. (2/12)

Lises my parents told me

Maxime Graillot “Domaine des Lises” 2009 Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône) – Heavy, woody, impenetrably dense, and dead-fruited; if certain financially semi-solvent Australian importers of past repute (and bacon-of-the-month clubs) had ever worked in the Rhône, this is the sort of wine they’d have sought. I’m given to understand that there’s a familial connection to the great Alain Graillot here; if true, this is an embarrassment to his name. (11/11)

Vegneron & on

La Crotta di Vegneron 2007 Vin d’Ardèche Gamay (Rhône) – Brittle gamay, not fully “ripe” in that the fruit lacks flesh, but with its own appeal as a result. Tinny, perhaps, or put more charitably: high-toned without being overly volatile, and crisp. Lengthily crisp. Crisply long. Whichever. (11/11)

The Serine republic

Texier “Domaine de Pergaud” 2009 Côtes-du-Rhône St-Julien en St-Alban “Vieille Serine” (Rhône) – Absolutely singing. This isn’t like drinking a really good Rhône blend…which, by the way, it isn’t. It’s syrah. This is like drinking a fireworks extravaganza designed to celebrate the the fact that wines like this exist. It’s sizable without being big, it’s concentrated with plenty of light and space, it’s serious but breaks out in periodically goofy grins, and it’s rather spectacular from start to (a much-extended) finish. (11/11)

Casting Opale

Texier 2010 “Opale” (Rhône) – Only 7% alcohol, because it’s partially-fermented viognier. And frankly, this is what most fully-fermented viognier should probably taste like (minus, of course, the sweetness…which is not dessert-like, but rather apéritif-level), in that it achieve the pretty honeysuckle and citrus blossom (not quite ripe enough to be orange) aromas one wants without the soapy oiliness that is both lurid and tiresome in quantity yet so prevalent from viognier, and especially without the travesty of oak that the grape absolutely does not need, yet so often receives. Pure deliciousness. (12/11)


Texier 2006 Côtes-du-Rhône (Rhône) – Poke around in old wine books (and not even that old…say, the 90s or so) and when you come across the generic description of what a good Côtes-du-Rhône offers, you’ll find much of what’s in this wine. Gently roasted fruit – maybe calling it braised would be better – with warming soil influences and a fair bit of fully-integrated spice; nothing too aggressive, just subtle French shadings rather than Indian exotica. I love this, especially at its absurdly generous price. Or rather it might be more accurate to say that I loved this wine, because this is my last bottle. (12/11)

Dot age

Vieux Télégraphe 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône) – Brutal, almost, in its structural primacy. Or perhaps primalness is a better word. This tastes as if it has barely budged, tannin- and acid-wise, though the fruit has undergone a bit of a roasted meatward shift. Not the full transformation one would expect from a Châteauneuf-du-Pape beyond fifteen years of age, though. Where this is going (or if it’s already gotten there), I have no idea. It makes a very powerful statement, though. (12/11)

Leydier lay

Leydier “Domaine de Durban” 2000 Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages Beaumes de Venise (Rhône) – Unlike the previous bottle, which was brutally corked, this is singing in all the quartzy, brittle tones its crystalline youth promised. There’s no “fruit” as such, but then there never really was; this was always about some sort of rocky simulacrum of its terroir (whatever the source…not, biologically, the actual soil, but it sure likes to mimic same), but now that soil is slightly eroded and fully exposed. Eccentrically brilliant. (12/11)