Allée Bleue 2005 Cabernet Sauvigon/Merlot (Western Cape) – Big, chewy fruit with chalky minerality. Structured. Obvious wood on the finish. Still very primary. There are gaps and voids in this wine that I don’t think time will fill. (2/08)
Signal Hill 2000 “Old Vines” Cabernet Sauvignon “Antica MM” (Western Cape) – Strikingly raw, with zings and abraded cuts of acidity. This tastes like it’s actually made from true wild vines, with a feral sort of black-hearted, untamed fruit and exotic herbs and spices. There’s a bit of chalky-textured chocolate as well, with a bitter, twisted, yet not actually unpleasant finish of somewhat insufficient length. An utterly fascinating wine. I can’t decide if I like it or not. Worth special mention: the label, which is…well, it depicts what appears, at first glance, to be a man in affectionate congress with the hindquarters of a swine. Is that what it actually is? I have no idea, and I’m not sure I want to know. (4/08)
Engelbrecht Els 2004 “Proprietor’s Blend” (Western Cape) – 50% cabernet sauvignon, 23% shiraz, 12% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 5% petit verdot, 5% malbec. Extremely thick and oaky, like a shiraz (and that’s what dominates the blend at first opening) démiglace. Recorked and left to stew in its own wood for a day, it improves, bringing forth the slightly rawer, more vegetal edge of the rest of the grapes. But it’s still soupy. Maybe a long, long time in the cellar will improve things, but I just don’t think there’s enough structure for all this Pb. (4/08)
Tasting notes from the Boston Wine Expo. These were difficult tasting conditions, where speed and distraction were the norm rather than the exception. Thus, notes are brief at best, somewhat superficial, and cannot in truth be otherwise.
Louisvale 2006 “Unwooded” Chardonnay (Western Cape) – Clean apple, clementine and tangerine. Decent. (2/07)
Avondale 2006 Chenin Blanc (Paarl) – Concentrated red cherry, blood orange with slightly noticeable residual sugar. Quite intense, with good acidity. Flavorful New World-style chenin. (2/07)
Springfontein 2006 Chenin Blanc (Walker Bay) – Green peach and white linen. Simple and soft. (2/07)
BWC 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (Stellenbosch) – Gooseberry and thyme with a grassy undertone. Simple, fair. (2/07)
Avondale 2006 Rosé (Coastal) – Clean strawberry & raspberry leaves. Simple & fun. (2/07)
Amira 2004 Syrah (Coastal) – Bitter blueberry, dirt, and stems. No good. (2/07)
Vriesenhof 2003 “Enthopio” (Stellenbosch) – Rich, roasted frut and burnt soil with spice and crispness. Mostly pinotage. Both good and interesting. (2/07)
Morgenster 2001 (Stellenbosch) – Chocolate, cappuccino, black cherry, blackberry, and soft greenness. Low-tier potential at best, but it’s probably at its best now. It’s unquestionably better after a few hours of air. (2/07)
Muratie 2003 Shiraz (Stellenbosch) – Cassis, black cherry and strawberry. A big-fruited, simple-minded wine. (2/07)
Springfontein 2005 Pinotage (Walker Bay) – Red cherry and raspberry with pine tar and a great acidic tingle. Ripe and quite good. (2/07)
Springfontein 2005 “Estate Reserve” (Walker Bay) – Herbs (mostly thyme), underripe but boisterous fruit, light tannin, and a soupy texture. Bleah. (2/07)
Springfontein 2005 “Ulumbaza” Shiraz (Walker Bay) – Big blueberry fruit, light spice, mild tannin and good acid. Everything’s front-loaded here, but it’s good in that idiom. (2/07)
Avondale 2006 Cabernet Franc (Paarl) – Rosemary, rough black earth, blueberry and pointy acidity. Eh. (2/07)
Avondale 2006 Pinotage (Paarl) – Soft, with big strawberry, apple, and medium-ripe plum with some tannin on the finish. Moderately OK. (2/07)
Goats do Roam 2003 “Goat-Roti” (Western Cape) – Big, hard black-green fruit with charred earth and sweet vanilla. Toasted and spoofed, this is a clumsy escalation of the much better “regular” Goats do Roam, full of furious oak and extraction, yet signifying nothing. (2/07)
La Vieille Ferme 2005 Côtes du Ventoux Rosé (Rhône) – Slightly candied strawberry juice and canned red cherry, both overwhelmed by sweetening alcohol. (9/06)
50% cinsault, 40% grenache, 10% syrah. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: screwcap. Importer: Vineyard Brands. Web: http://www.lavieilleferme.com/.
Sterling 2002 Chardonnay (71% Napa County / 16% Sonoma County / 13% Mendocino County) – Sweet peach, honeydew melon and orange with a pretty, albeit confected, palate presence and lots of buttery, toasty wood. Paint-by-numbers chardonnay, and tedious before the first sip has left one’s mouth. (9/06)
Alcohol: 13.5%. Web: http://www.sterlingvineyards.com/.
Faiveley 1998 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits “Dames Huguettes” (Burgundy) – Dead. (9/06)
French bottling. 100% pinot noir.Alcohol: 12.5%. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.bourgognes-faiveley.com/.
Faiveley 2002 Mercurey “Domaine de la Croix Jacquelet” (Burgundy) – Corked. (9/06)
100% pinot noir. Alcohol: 13%. Closure: cork. Importer: Wilson Daniels. Web: http://www.bourgognes-faiveley.com/.
Goats Do Roam Wine Company 2003 “Goat-Roti” (Western Cape) – Big, obvious dried blackberry and synthetic leather with tarred wood and rosemary squeezings. It’s exceedingly heavy, but somehow manages to lack structure. There’s nothing overtly wrong with this wine, but it’s not very interesting either. (9/06)
96% shiraz, 4% viognier. Alcohol: 14.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Vineyard Brands. Web: http://www.fairview.co.za/goats/wines.php.
Trimbach 1996 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – From 375. Very, very tight and sulfurous at first. With a few hours of air and aggressive swirling, the classic CFE profile of liquefied metal appears, in a razor-sharp pillar of crystalline structure. In no conceivable universe is this yet ready to drink. (9/06)
Closure: cork. Importer: Seagram. Web: http://www.maison-trimbach.fr/.
Parcé “Domaine du Mas Blanc” 1998 Collioure Clos du Moulin (Roussillon) – Rough, leathery fruit that’s been involved in some sort of long-lasting street brawl, leaving it bruised and bloodied by somehow matured by the effort. The aromatics are enticing, showing dark wet soil and fall leaves, with brief intrusions of gentler floral notes and the occasional trace of dark soy. Really nice wine, though certainly not polished to a sheen for modern tastes. (9/06)
90% mourvèdre, 10% counoise. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.domaine-du-mas-blanc.com/.