Longoria 2008 Tempranillo Clover Creek (Santa Ynez Valley) – 15%. Huge black fruit, round and polished. Wonderful, but it’s a decadent sort of wonder; those in search of restraint will find only a modicum here, though there are certainly much bigger tempranillos being produced elsewhere in the area. (11/11)
6σ 2005 Tempranillo (Lake County) – Chocolate and black pepper with bitter tannin. Far from ripe in any aspect of fruit or structure, and pretty vile as a result. (6/08)
Martínez Laorden 2004 Rioja “La Orbe” (Center-North) – Roasted red fruit, a bit wan in parts, but simply presented with neither pretense nor haphazardness. I’d like a little more…I don’t know, something…from this wine, but maybe time will bring it. There’s wood, but it’s certainly neither overwooded nor dried out. (5/08)
La Viña la Font de la Figuera “Sequiot” 2004 Tempranillo (Valencia) – Horrid, undrinkable, over-manufactured swill. After a few sips, this gets poured down the drain. (10/06)
Vinicola de Castilla “Señorio de Guadianeja” 1990 La Mancha Tempranillo “Gran Reserva” (Central Spain) – Old, sweaty oak, malted milk chocolate and rum. This is a big, heavy wine with decent acidity, very drying tannin (which feels like it comes primarily from wood), and an unpleasant finish of wood-derived vanilla and chocolate. A victim of its winemaking. (12/06)
Dubourdieu “Château Graville-Lacoste” 2003 Graves (Bordeaux) – Marlborough sauvignon blanc: tropical fruit, zingy gooseberry, and residual sugar (or at least something that does a good imitation thereof). At $15.99 locally, it’s about the same price as the mid-level “Cellar Selection” Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria, which actually has a little more verve. But I don’t mean to choose for anyone else.
Dubourdieu “Château Graville-Lacoste” 2002 Graves (Bordeaux) – Fairly tight, showing green-streaked citrus and apple aromas with a firm acidic foundation and occasional razor-slashes of minerality. It responds very badly to air, but for the first hour or so it’s quite nice, and laser-sharp with food.
(For commentary on these wines, visit oenoLogic…the site, the lifestyle, the cheese sandwich.)
(Notes below reposted from elsewhere, for tagging purposes.)
Onetangi Road 2004 Rosé (Waiheke Island) – Juicy raspberry goodness that’s big and slightly hot, but despite the slightly overweight character it’s a really fun, full-fruited summer quaffer. It will get you tipsy, though. I suggest a post-lunch layabout on an isolated beach.
Westport Rivers 2000 Brut “Cuvée RJR” (Southeastern New England) – I serve this blind, and it’s amusing to hear the guesses. I doubt there’s much Massachusetts wine served in Auckland’s French bistros…or Auckland, or New Zealand, or really anywhere outside New England. I find it lemony and frothy, showing ripe apple and a big burst of fruit with a rather abrupt finish, but it seems to be a bigger hit at the table. The ’98 was better.
Trinity Hill 2003 Tempranillo Gimblett Gravels (Hawke’s Bay) – New Zealand winemakers work from a very limited palette of grapes. From region to region, winery to winery, one finds so many of the same grapes (vinified with the same profiles in mind) that a certain ennui is inescapable. No doubt the market has much to do with this state of affairs, but one hopes that as the industry moves inexorably towards maturity, new varietal horizons may be reached by some adventurous winemakers.
Yet, thankfully, not all New Zealand wines taste the same. The most obvious separator of all these identi-grapes is winemaking, but also at work are the first stirrings of terroir. It’s hard to identify much of the signature of the land when a vineyard site is still in its teens (and an entire region, like Marlborough, is barely in its thirties), but some sites are older than others, and certain things may be said, or at least theorized, by those with viticultural and/or tasting experience. Mistakes will undoubtedly be made along the way, winemaking will continue to obscure and obliterate terroir, and marketing will wield its nefarious influence (putting brand identity ahead of site identity), but the attempt to identify emergent site-specificity is an absolutely necessary step in the development of New Zealand as a world-class wine producing country. The Gimblett Gravels are, along with the much more controversial Martinborough Terrace, early steps in that direction.
This wine, however, doesn’t do much to advance either notion. Raw plum, strawberry and rosemary are rather dominated by volatile acidity and goopy chocolate. It’s dark and juicy, but there’s just too much wrong with it. Points for effort, but a barely honorable mention for execution.
Johanneshof 2001 Riesling Auslese (Marlborough) – Massive acidity is completely and oddly separated from thick, lemon, apple and lime leaf fruit with a cardboardy texture. More strange than good at this stage, but a few years in the cellar will probably help.