Regli 2000 Hallauer Sonnenspross Spätlese “Cuvée” (Hallau) – Painfully light and seemingly stripped (the only sediment is a tiny collection of four long strips of tartrates), but I’m not sure there was all that much here in the first place. Volatile at first, it calms a bit, showing very high-toned and slightly acrid pinkish-lavender fruit, tart and laced with bitter spring greens and a sprinkling of tarragon. Yet there are also toasted, caramelized notes characteristic of an over-aged wine of little initial repute that was dragged, struggling and kicking, into wood it couldn’t handle. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not something one would seek out either. (7/07)
Gantenbein 2000 Pinot Noir Beerenauslese (Graubünden) – Strawberry and obese peach with heavy cream around a flabby “structure” of drippy steel, leaves and makrut lime juice. Very, very, very sweet with only a tiny fraction of the necessary acidity. The finish smells a bit like an armpit, but it’s so short that the impression is fleeting. Grossly out of balance, but it might make a fine fruit syrup to drizzle on your morning berries. (3/07)
Gantenbein 1997 Fläscher Blauburgunder (Graubünden) – Pinot soda for about five minutes, after which it settles down considerably. There’s a lot of fairly boisterous red berry fruit at war with a persistent golden beet/blood orange zest aroma, one that puts me strongly in mind of Central Otago pinot. The acidity’s a bit on the light side, and the tannin (while silky) is still fairly present, yet some mature spice notes have developed on the backpalate; based on a total experience of one bottle I’d guess that this could easily age longer, as all these elements are in fine balance. It’s a big, big wine, however, and wouldn’t be out of place in a tasting of the world’s larger-shouldered pinots. I like it a great deal, but some drinking companions think it tastes like syrah. (2/07)
Savioz “Clos Chateau Ravire” 2000 Humagne Blanche (Valais) – Closed at first, but it grows in substance and appeal with air. The acidity is schizophrenic…absent one moment, firming the next…and the aromatic palette runs through a series of semi-tropical flowers before settling somewhere in the vicinity of lemon verbena. It’s an exotic, interesting, almost teasing wine. A little more elusive than one would like, perhaps, but still intriguing. (2/07)
Granges-Faiss “Domaine de Beudon” 2003 Dôle (Valais) – Very restricted at first, and at no point is it a particularly easy wine to warm up to. Tight aromatics, like grated and rusty iron on a high mountain gale, with dark and somewhat dusty fruit attempting to swallow itself in a dark pit of minerality. The tannin is ever so slightly edgy, but otherwise things are in balance here. At the moment, this wine is all razor-sharp squared-off edges, blocks, and geometric shapes; one wonders if time will help it integrate. For those who adore minerality (like me), it should be a bonanza, but it’s just so difficult at the moment…
Dôle tends to be a blend of pinot noir and gamay. I don’t know the particular makeup of this wine (which is brought in by one of the smartest people in the Boston-area wine scene, Jeannie Rogers of Il Capriccio in Waltham), but it is so mineral-driven that it’s hard to really identify the varietal characteristics of either. I can say, however, that I’d very much like to visit the vineyard, which seems to be about the most spectacularly-situated I’ve ever seen. The only caveat: if anyone wonders why more Swiss wine isn’t consumed in this country…well, check out the price: $26.95. Yes, those vineyards must be incredibly hard to work, but that’s a pretty hefty tariff for an appellation almost no one knows. (This is not to say that the price is unreasonable, just that it’s high.) Alcohol: 12.6%. Biodynamic. Importer: Adonna.