Browse Tag


Muscat cat

Rolly Gassmann 2003 Muscat d’Alsace “Vendanges Tardives” (Alsace) – Concentrated essence of muscat, with pretty decent acidity given the vintage and the late harvest designation. All the perfumed, floral, fruit-explosion elements are on full display, with a lovely undercurrent of water-over-diamonds. This is a very rare style of wine in Alsace, though I slightly prefer the much rarer Sélection des Grains Nobles from the same winery and vintage. (10/07)

Past tense of Writenberg

Zind-Humbrecht 1995 Pinot Gris Rotenberg “Vendange Tardive” (Alsace) – Massively rich and lusciously textured, but not over the top. More pear than spice, with crystalline minerality, if this wine has a flaw it’s that it too stridently hits its best notes, and subsequent glasses eventually become a bit much. In more normal quantities, however, the wine is fabulous. While there’s plenty of residual sugar, the wine is not at all about its sweetness, but rather about intensity. It could be held longer, but I’m not sure there’s enormous benefit in doing so; the fruit will recede as the spice grows, but the weight will eventually become an issue as those qualities diverge. (10/07)

What’s passito is passito

Pellegrino 2004 Passito di Pantelleria (Sicily) – The usual muscat aromatics of perfume and flower are dominated by a keening pine sensation. The sweetness is puckered and light. Much, much better than the useless 2003. (8/07)

Noval idea

Quinta do Noval 1997 “Late Bottled Vintage” Porto (Douro) – Still quite primary, with big, juicy berries in a fine fruit syrup plus a dense layer of ripe tannin and surprisingly vivid acidity. There’s absolutely no reason to open this one now. (9/07)

Ice cold

Alexis Bailly “Ice Wine” (Minnesota) – Very credible, with concentrated yet ethereal sweetness highly reminiscent of quality ice wines from elsewhere. The major “flaw” (the scare quotes mean it’s not actually an error, merely a lack) is a lack of otherwise identifiable character…either varietal or site-derived. But if there’s one thing that should be easy to achieve in a Minnesota vineyard, it’s frozen grapes. (8/07)

Perlara before swine

[bottle]ca’Rugate 2002 Recioto di Soave “La Perlara” (Veneto) – Rich spice in concentrated lemon and orange, pairing intensity and purity, yet sacrificing no lusciousness. There is a very slight thinning vs. a few years ago, but that could be attributable to bottle variation rather than age. (7/07)

This Oro that

Montevina “Terra d’Oro” Zinfandel “Port” (Amador County) – The usual late-harvest zin problem with overwhelming volatile acidity has been mostly tamed here, though there is a remnant. Perhaps the zin wasn’t all that late-harvest to begin with; certainly it has softer, lusher, more red-berried aromas than one would expect from Amador. Somewhat lugubrious, but pleasant enough. (8/07)

TJ hooker

TJ Wines “Jonesy Old Tawny Port” (Australia) – Tastes like balsamic shiraz, minus the boisterous fruit; it’s heavy, it’s dark, it tastes of molasses and prune, and it demonstrates by counterpoint that, despite the brickbats, there’s some redeeming structure in pedro ximénez after all. (8/07)