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Announcement: tasting notes have permanently migrated elsewhere. This page and its sub-network will stand for a while, and will always be Google-accessible, but that's where the new action is and will be.

w h i t e

Regli 2005 Hallauer Goldspross Riesling x Sylvaner (Hallau) – Why they don’t just call it müller-thurgau, I don’t know, but the actual grape is relegated to the fine print on the back label. Anyway, this is pretty dismal. Flat and lifeless despite pointed acidity, it takes like fermented paper which has then been stripped of all character. Plus, there’s some volatile acidity up top. It’s not awful, though the aromas are fairly pathetic, it’s more that it’s overwhelmingly dull. (7/07)

Sigalas 2004 Santorini (Greece) – Sea-swept kelp and post-fizz melon balls, with an insistent but slightly insubstantial citrus foam. There’s a lot of good here, but it’s all a bit haphazard. Still, points for effort. Greece is new to winemaking, you know. (6/07)

Gerovassiliou 2004 Malagousia (Epanomi) – Fruit-forward (green melon, grapefruit, some ripe lemon) with floral squeezings and a dominant post-malolactic note. Simultaneously heavy and obvious, it would be a much better wine with a little supporting acidity. (5/07)

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)

Flerianos “Hima” 2005 Savatiano/Roditis (Central Greece) – Mild fun. A fresh fruit basket, heavy with green apples and green plums (but not forgetting riper tropical fruit), but lacking more than a modicum of acid. Thus, it just sort of sits there, waiting for something. It’s certainly not unappealing, but it won’t hold said appeal once it has it. At least, not for long. As I said: mild fun. (1/07)

La Puerta 2005 Torrontes (Famatina Valley) – A mélange of fruit flowers and meadow-derived perfumes, with a sticky and somewhat heavy texture. Lightly off-dry. More fun to smell than to drink. (8/06)

Monarchia 2003 Pinot Gris (Budai) – In case you were wondering, Budai is in Hungary. And yes, this is my first Hungarian pinot gris. It’s loaded with petrol, with vague hints of anise and pine needle underneath. The weight is good, and so is the acid (was 2003 not as steamy in Hungary as it was in Western Europe?), but there’s not much flavor of more than academic interest. (5/06)

Lafkioti 2002 Moschofilero (Mantinia) – Stale lime crystals borne on a salty sea breeze, with a lime juice and vodka cocktail (not to suggest that it’s alcoholic; it’s not, it’s more of a tactile sensation). Fresh, clean, and eminently evocative of sitting on the described ocean beach with the aforementioned cocktail, in cool white linen, soaking up the cobalt blue of a sun-baked ocean. Don’t look for complexity here, but do look for purity. (2/05)

Gray Monk 2003 Riesling (Okanagan Valley) – Big, juicy, and slightly sweet. “Generations of commitment” says their web site. This takes generations? Or commitment? There’s certainly nothing wrong with this wine, but I’m not inspired to hop the next B.C.-bound jet and stock up. Maybe if skiing at Whistler is involved… (8/04)

r e d

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 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 strong 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)

Flerianos “Hima” 2003 Agiorgitiko (Peloponnesos) – Diluted, overroasted juice with some wan black fruit and very slight oxidation. With about 48 hours of air, the corners fill out a bit, bringing more black fruit into play…but the overroasting remains dominant. It almost tastes like oak, though the wine is unoaked. Avoid. (1/07)

Chateau des Charmes 2004 Gamay “Droit” St. David’s Bench (Niagara Peninsula) – Faint sweet cherry with a dry soda aspect and spiky acidity. The texture is all aspirin and baby powder. I don’t care for this at all. (8/06)

Hochar 1995 Musar (Bekaa Valley) – Well-spiced earth of terrific complexity, paired with mixed peppercorns and a stunning black truffle core. Delicious, elegant, and certainly ready to drink…though I don’t think holding it will do any damage either. (4/06)

Winery B72564 “by Michel Rolland” 2003 Clos de los Siete (Mendoza) – Full-bodied and full-fruited in the anonymous New World style, with all the grapes having their say: chewy, dark and tannic fruit from the malbec, cassis and structure from the cabernet sauvignon, fruity lushness from the merlot, and smoked leather notions from the syrah. The equal partner here is oak, expressing itself in vanilla, chocolate, toast and butterscotch forms. It’s a massive, heavy, thoroughly placeless wine with no apparent flaws, and will undoubtedly be very popular. For those who don’t exist on this style, however, it will be at its most pleasurable at first sip, and then quickly decline to relentless monotony. (2/06)

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... (1/06)

s w e e t  ,  f o r t i f i e d  &  u n u s u a l

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)

Blossom 2002 Riesling “Select Late Harvest” (Okanagan Valley) – Fat peach and soft apricot with sweet grapes and Juicy Fruit™ gum. Too fluffy and blowsy. (2/07)

b e e r

Grimbergen “Optimo Bruno” (Belgium) – Dark, roasted and heavily spiced, with an espresso cream backbone that almost edges towards root beer. Brewed and blackened complexity. (5/07)

de Block “Satan” Red Ale (Belgium) – Deep brick-dried spice, fresh clay, a pleasant layer of hoppy dryness, and the memory of red cherries and apple seed. A complete, sophisticated brew. Delicious. (5/07)

de Block “Special Block 6” Blonde Ale (Belgium) – Spicy/fruity and suggestive of fat, but the actual experience is lively and fun. Perhaps even a bit goofy. This brew shouldn’t be over-intellectualized, but it should most definitely be enjoyed. (5/07)

de Block “Dendermonde” Abbey Ale (Belgium) – Weighty and cream-textured, with spice and lees dominating, yet surprisingly light on the finish. Balanced and fresh, which is not necessarily typical for an abbey ale. I’m not even sure it’s desirable, to be honest, but it’s a good beer, no matter what. (5/07)

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly (Québec) – This is the worst example of this I’ve ever tasted…thin, insufficiently aromatic, and insufficiently interesting. Maybe it’s corked, though I don’t get the telltale aroma. (5/07)

Chimay “Première” Ale (Belgium) – Solid and dependable, but getting a bit boring, with frothy background to a featureless foreground. There’s spice, there’s texture, there’s weight, but – as the beer-swilling kids say – there’s not a lot of “there” there. What’s going on with this stuff? Or is it just impossible to rely on the lower-tier bottlings? (5/07)

Unibroue “Maudite” (Québec) – Dark, raisined and slightly smoky, with good weight and balance, plus a peppery complexity and a long, smooth finish. (4/07)

d’Achouffe “La Chouffe” Belgian Golden Ale with Spices (Belgium) – Light in every respect, as if pushed through a filter, except one: the alcohol, which sticks out to an unpleasant degree. There needs to be more intensity if it’s going to carry that much burn. (3/07)

Dupont “Foret” Organic Saison Ale (Belgium) – Bright and summery, showing a good weight and pleasantly abrading hops. It finishes a little flat, though, like stale pre-ground white pepper. (3/07)

Unibroue “La Fin du Monde” (Québec) – Rich, redolent and spicy, with a creamy old stone fruit texture and moderate, tingly sweetness. There’s a vague metallic edge that I don’t recall from this beer in the past. The first sign of decline under the new megacorporate regime, or just a momentary lapse? I guess we’ll see. (3/07)

Unibroue “Éphémère” (black currant) (Québec) – This different-every-year brew is usually interesting, but this is a particularly tasty variation. Think of it as a sort of half-hearted imitation of a lambic, with the fruit more obviously added rather than integrated, but not possessing the irritating sweetness that ruins so many fruit-enhanced brews. Instead, there’s a good crispness that lends a sour-toned balance to the beer. (3/07)

Brasserie du Bocq Blanche de Namur (Belgium) – Spiced and thready, with a detergent froth of spice and white plum. A little more “flavored” than these things can sometimes be, but certainly a fine exemplar of the style. (3/07)

St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter (UK) – Seems lighter than it is, with a fine blend of burnt cappuccino/chocolate flavors, some bitterness, and sun-warmed, recently-harvested wheat and hay. Quite persistent. It seems lighter than it might be, but maybe my expectations are off. (2/07)

Trappistes Rochefort 6 (Belgium) – 7.5% alcohol. Solid Belgian ale flavors of rich stone fruit, spice and distant caramel with a nice froth and a little balancing bitterness. But it finishes very insubstantially, and since the far-superior 8 is the same price… (2/07)

Trappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgium) – 9.2% alcohol. A terrific ale, balanced between the fresh-but-redolent style of young Trappist ale and the deep, dessert-like smoked brown candy of the higher-end versions. The palate runs the gamut from fruit to cake spice, with excellent weight and substance. The only distraction is the carbonation, which is a little aggressive. Still, this is my favorite of the 6/8/10 trio. (2/07)

Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Belgium) – 11.3% alcohol. Dark hickory and Christmas pudding with swirling notes of a Moroccan spice bazaar. It’s a hefty, solid beer, with perhaps more force and less grace than it might ideally possess. And the alcohol does stick out a bit. (2/07)

Cantillon “Organic” Gueuze (Belgium) – As always with Cantillon, sharply and sourly acidic, showing intense cherries and plenty of brett. There’s more here, though: complex dustings of pepper, mixed mineralities, perhaps even a bit of paprika. This is about as authentic as lambic gets, though it will most certainly not be for everyone. (5/06)

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