Browse Tag


Swiss chard

Blackenbrook 2004 Chardonnay (Nelson) – Half barrel-fermented and half in stainless steel, taken off its lees at blending and allowed 100% (spontaneous) malolactic, followed by aging in 30% American oak. Light and open, showing cream, apricot and a lot of really fresh orchard fruit. Light- to medium-weight, with a little butter and wood spice, and then nice floral notes emerge on the creamy finish. Quite balanced and pleasant, handling its oak well but never heading over the top. (3/05)

Blackenbrook 2004 “Barrel Fermented” Chardonnay (Nelson) – Grapes picked at 24 brix. 100% oak here…60% new, with 90% of both types of wood sourced from America, with the remaining 10% only older French barrels. The wine spends 9-10 months in wood. 100% malo. The nose is full of intense clove, cinnamon and creamy ripe orange and peach, with a caramel note intertwined. Big and ripe on the palate, showing more peach, this time braced with slightly crisper apple. Intense, full and lush, this cleans up its act a bit on the finish, which is crisp and juicy. A very good wine with aging potential, and the likelihood that it will handle its wood well over that period. (3/05)

More here.

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)

Holder down

[vineyard]Schoenheitz 2005 Gewurztraminer Holder (Alsace) – Lychee and apricot, with a bitter skin component (welcome, in wines like this) and a lot of supporting structure (very welcome in wines like this). This should have a pleasant future, though not a massively long one. (10/07)

Wine box

[fallers]Weinbach 1998 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Laurence” (Alsace) – Corked. So big that it almost shows something anyway, but still corked. Damn. (10/07)

The Fix is in

Buecher-Fix 2000 Gewurztraminer Hatschbourg (Alsace) – A soft, peachy expression of gewürztraminer, with gallons of spice and just barely enough acid to make it all work. The wine sort of coils and writhes more than it just sits there, which is somewhat unusual for gewürztraminer of this vintage. I’m not sure I’d hold it much longer; I see it lasting more than developing, with the lovely fruit slowly fading. (10/07)

Fonné pages

Meyer-Fonné 2005 Pinot Blanc “Vieilles Vignes” (Alsace) – Fattish apricot and breakfast spice (I think there must be a good deal of auxerrois in here), with light sweetness and just enough acid to keep it from being cloying. The finish also seems auxerrois-dominated in that it’s fairly long and sticky (not in the sugary sense), which is often a signature of the variety. There’s intensity, too – probably an artifact of the older vines – and that, more than anything else, moves this wine in a positive direction. Sugar-haters won’t like this much, and indeed I’d prefer it a little drier as well, but it’s a solid expression of the modern Alsatian style. (10/07)

Who would have thought? It Viguiers.

Cave de Rasteau 2005 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc “Les Viguiers” (Rhône) – A bit steamy, but otherwise fine (and excess heat is certainly no rare flaw in Rhône whites), showing nut oil and old stone fruit…emphasis on the stone more than the fruit…with minor acidity and a generally structureless finish. This note sounds more negative than the wine deserves. Again: it was fine, as such things go. But haters of white Rhônes (and they’re definitely out there) will find nothing here to change their minds. (9/07)

Short names, vol. 1

[vineyard]JP Reinert 2005 Wiltinger Schlangengraben Riesling Spätlese feinherb 08 06 (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) – Intense and primary. Crystals abound (organoleptically, not visually), while apple, lemongrass and a very light sweetness add their voices to the chorus. The finish is strikingly long for its rigidity; this is a wine that does not change. I think it’s going to be terrific, someday, but right now it’s a laser beam of youthful simplicity with a quartz rod rammed through its spine. (9/07)


Dubourdieu “Château Graville-Lacoste” 2005 Graves (Bordeaux) – Restrained, showing less fruit than any vintage within memory, but with a long, piercing crispness on the finish. I don’t think it’s damaged in any way, I just think it’s still too wound-up and youthful to judge. There’s a hint of green apple lingering about. (8/07)