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rimu grove

Rimu shot

[grape/net close-up]A grape by any other name

Those of us who write about wine for a living know the problem all too well. The eager face of a press agent, or an owner, or (in the worst case) a winemaker, shines down upon us as they ask The Question. “So, what do you think of the wines?”

It’s a sad but true fact that the best producers never, ever ask. They don’t need to. They know…and even if they don’t, they’re confident enough in their work to let it stand or fall on its own merits. And so, the verbalized desire for an on-the-spot assessment is left to those whose wines are, invariably, lacking in some fashion. At which point, the writer must make a choice.

The most indifferent and the most brutally honest will say whatever they think, without mitigation. This is, I suppose, the most ethically defensible position, but it’s not much fun for anyone. Even aside from the issue of saying hurtful things about a person’s passions, the conversation that follows almost always turns into an increasingly useless argument wherein the winery representative claims, “oh, but Bob Smith gave it a gold star,” while the writer is forced to defend some grand notion of subjectivity. Of course, running off to one’s publication of choice with a previously-unspoken truth is, viewed uncharitably, a little bit cowardly. But it does help avoid those really unpleasant personal moments, and that’s why most choose to do it.

In the interim, however, something has to be said. An answer must be delivered, whether or not it satisfies. And so the clever writer will learn how to speak emptiness with eloquence. If it works well enough, everyone’s happy, and the conversation proceeds apace.

But sometimes, it doesn’t work. The writer knows it. The winemaker knows it. Each hapless attempt to avoid the truth is like a little drop of poison, slowly numbing and then, finally, killing the conversation and any connection that might have developed. It’s a slow, mealy-mouthed decline into morbidity. I’ve invented a word for it, and while subsequent research shows that I’m not the first to use the word, I might be the first to define it in this fashion.

Euphemasia. Noun. Elective conversational death by euphemism.

…continued here.

Rimu vyor hand

[rimu grove]Rimu Grove 2002 Pinot Noir (Nelson) – Medium-soft dried cherry, strawberry, and plum. Lightly tannic, with high acidity. The finish is seedy, and re-softens after the brief structural insurrection on the midpalate. (3/05)

Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Noir (barrel sample) (Nelson) – One year from release. Sweet vanilla, chocolate liqueur, ripe boysenberry, dark cherry, and plum skin. Oh, and mixed nuts. This is a heavy wine showing a lot of wood-influenced fetal fat, but there’s great acidity, and the finish is long and ascending. There’s even a stony undertone. Promising, as long as it handles that oak. (3/05)

Rimu & Zooty

Rimu Grove 2002 Chardonnay (Nelson) – 100% barrel fermented, whole-bunch pressed. Dense with spice (especially cinnamon) and semi-rich. Long and intense, but not showing much fruit at the moment; mostly, what one tastes is what’s been done to the fruit after harvest. It’s showing signs of mellowing, but it’s not there yet, and my belief is that the intensity of the winemaking has overwhelmed the fruit, though certainly not in an obscene fashion. (3/05)


Rimu Grove 2003 Pinot Gris “Vendange Tardive” (Nelson) – Pear and burnt caramel. Soft. Balanced between sugar and acidity, but just not very interesting. For too many producers, “late harvest” only means excessive residual sugar, while the wines that actually deserve the label deliver more than elevated brix. (3/05)


Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Gris (Nelson) – Hot. Ripe pear with a sticky consistency. Long. Balanced in the context of a pinot gris pushed to and slightly beyond its limits, but one wishes for a little more acidity and a lot more precision. I don’t think this will have a long life, but it’s pleasant in the near term. (3/05)

Rimu Grove 2004 Pinot Gris (Nelson) – Take two, this time with dinner. Sweaty and salty, with funky banana oil and rotten pear aromatics. Dried apricot, too. It’s more varietally typical with food, which is welcome, but nonetheless it comes off more like some sort of mediocre, teenaged chardonnay than a true pinot gris. Where’s the fresh, spicy pear? Alternatively, where’s the lightly fruity fennel note? And is there any acidity to be had? I just don’t think this wine is getting it done, and in comparison to the luncheon leftovers of a Peregrine Pinot Gris, it tastes and feels rather clumsy. (3/05)