Browse Tag


Smooth as rhubarb

Lincoln Peak 2007 “Silk” Ice Wine (Vermont) – Frontenac gris, with the dark brown tones of a much older (or heavily botrytized) wine; I don’t know which applies here. Tastes of not-too-sweet birch sap and rhubarb. No, really. It’s…fascinating. Good? No, not really, but it does go very well with a rhubarb-based dessert. So there’s something. (6/12)

Pass the wine around

Charavin “Domaine des Coteaux des Travers” 2000 Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel (Rhône) – Rasteau the way it used to be. I exaggerate, a bit, but somewhere between the wine history books and the modern market this style has almost completely disappeared, at least on American shores. A pity, because it’s fun, with a more heat-drenched take on an otherwise roughly similar notion than Banyuls…lighter, in a sense, which allows the deep core of sweet-fruited bacon to infuse the Port-like exterior. Very nice. (6/12)

Presto Crasto

Quinta do Crasto 2006 Late Bottled Vintage Porto (Douro) – I don’t drink much Port anymore. I started typing that I don’t know why, but that’s not really true: I do. I find the basic bottlings, the everyday stuff, so consistently flawed and disappointing that I’m rarely interested. Aged tawnies have a sweet spot – different from producer to producer – that I adore, but is always a fair bit more than I usually wish to spend. And vintage…well, I own some, but when I realized that my transformative Port experiences came with more age that I probably have left, my enthusiasm for the wait…let’s say it waned.

But this is where LBV is supposed to step in, right? There was, for a long while, the Quinta do Noval in this role, but that escalated enough that it became a commitment. There have been others, and at the moment there’s this. Let me start with the most damning criticism: this is what I think basic ruby Port should taste like, but almost never does. It’s a big mouthful of sweet berries, all sugar and little structure, with caramelizations and crystallizations taking a seat way, way in the back. Complexity? Zero. I enjoy it, and drink it faster than is probably wise – beware the ides of dubious neutral spirit cogener hangovers – as a result, which isn’t exactly a feature. But it, too, isn’t what I’d call “cheap”…not that Port can, inherently, be all that cheap. But in the universe of wines which satisfy the desire for a few sips of something sweet, perhaps with cigars in the men’s lounge of the Titanic, I fear that my storm no longer settles over this Port. (5/12)

Chaume E the way to go home

Baumard 2002 Quarts de Chaume (Loire) – Powerfully sweet, like liquid chenin candy, but with extra quartzage. Developing? Only in the notional sense; while this is far from as sweet as QdC can get, experience suggests that the wines are essentially immortal, or at least so on any human scale. It’s very, very good. Do I care that it may have been made with cryoextraction? (To be fair, I don’t know if this vintage was or not.) Yes, and indeed my enjoyment is proportionally tempered. (5/12)


Torres 2010 “Viña Esmeralda” Moscato (Cataluña) – Sweet, simple, friendly, boring in a very predictable way. I’m glad for the world’s commercial wine ventures that muscat’s popularity is exploding, because drinkable muscat is something all but the truly incompetent can pretty much make in their sleep. And if it means grafting over a few zillion acres of useless chardonnay, all the better. (2/12)

A Baur countenance

François Baur 2005 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg (Alsace) – Very sweet. Classic lychee and spice aromas dappled with fresh rose petals, but this would be a lot more interesting with less residual sugar. (1/12)

Longoria leché

Longoria 2009 Syrah “Vino Dulce” (Santa Ynez Valley) – 375 ml, 18%. Moderate volatile acidity, blueberry, blackberry. Sweet, fruity fun. (11/11)

Bittersweet November

Ramonteu “Domaine Cauhapé” 2001 Jurançon “Symphonie de Novembre” (Southwest France) – Thinning just a bit, which is odd considering that the less-ripe October-harvested version was, at last encounter, still chugging along. The vagaries of late-harvesting (or better acidity), I guess. It’s still very good, with the lightness that counters the sugar still entirely present, but greens and golds are fading to paler greens and transparencies. There’s more apparent minerality as a result, but the overall texture of the wine suffers a bit. I’m thinking that I might drink most of the rest (I bought some of this at the domaine, and then a fair additional quantity in the States), perhaps leaving one bottle for later…which will, of course, end up being the best of the lot. (12/11)

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)