Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Ah, it's so freaking hot these days there might be nothing as nice as Friday Night Bubbly. This Goutorbe "Cuvee Prestige" from premier cru vineyards in Ay, displays a deep-golden color with minor pink rose iridescence, with an apple juice top note, and apples, apricots, and lemon zest on this Jennifer-Aniston-bodied fuzzy. A Terry Theise Estate selection, from the Oak and Steel retailer in midtown, where I've been buying all of Terry's wines.
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How excited was I to open this wine? Um, well, I raced home from the wine store and had the bottle opener in my hand before I even said hello to my children, if that tells you anything. And it was a 90+ degree day in NYC and I still just wanted a bright red Rhone. I guess that's why I think of it as a Chateauneuf-du-Pape craze I have been on.
The 2005 Vieilles Vignes is a dusky ruby red in color with jammy red fruits on the nose. The top note is a bit alcoholic, but as the nose adjusts to it there is some very berry nice "primary" fruit flavors. On the palate the wine is warm and thin, without too much pepper or spice, and a decided lack of concentration. Perhaps this needs to cellar to put on weight?
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From 16 acres with a rough-average age of about 60 years, this "100% Hillside Grown Old Vine Carignane" from Sonoma displayed a dusky ruby tint, with strong ground hot pepper and lavender on the nose. Spicy and mildly sweet on the attack, with good underlying structure. It only truly opened up - and mellowed out - with a lot of air, displaying mixed dark berries by day two. I might have opened this too soon after it arrived from California - it's probably best to let this cellar at least one year - but hell, I couldn't resist myself.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
This wine was big and juicy, with a beet color, medium-full body with tar and dried fruit scents. It displayed punchy acidity and a tart 30-second finish. There was incredible complexity to this...and I swear I could smell the illegal cabernet here - it was just too focused a road-tar scent to ignore. It toned down after being open a couple hours. We'll be talking about this wine for a long time to come.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I recently reconnected with an old high school friend on that greatest killer of time: Facebook. We had out first "man date" at Momofuku Ssam Bar, based on the New York Times' wine guru - Eric Asimov's recommendation. Josh suggested we hit up Craft, next, and for the occassion I set him up on a blind date with a friend of Juliana's, Joanna. So after packing in a full day at the library I was off to Craft Restaurant last night with Juliana, Joanna, and Josh.
We started with an assortment of martinis, followed up by a bottle of Salomon Undhof "Von Stein" Gruner Veltliner Reserve 2006 * recommended by our cheerfully friendly server. "From primary rock terrasses in Stein, at the Hund and Danzer vineyard sites," this displayed a pale hay color, strongly suggestive honeyed apricot and almond oil on the nose. Soft and light on the palate and only mildly sweet with a touch of adicity, this went well with oysters. I then ordered Burgundy to finish our main courses.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
My friend Alek brough this back from a study abroad program in China. Apparently, this was the best wine he could find. It's made by a company called Dynasty Winery Ltd., "A Sino-French joint venture. From world-noted grape varieties and aged in oak barrels and in the cellar afte bottled." The label implies Dynasty is a subdivision of Tianjin Plc.
This was woodsy on the nose and flat on the palate, but a rather straightforward red berry profile I'd expect from a cru Bordeaux.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
But of course that’s not true. Allen Meadows says, "While the concept of terroir remains a controversial issue in the opinion of many people, it is not controversial to the Burgundian mindset—or to me, either. I attempt to convey, where appropriate, how certain wines are particularly good, or particularly bad, at expressing their underlying terroir."
I would have to agree with Monsieur Burghound on this point. A wine stripped of its so-called terroir is the kind of wine being eviscerated as "global" and by analogy, a wine that scores well, but tastes like something other than what it is supposed to taste like, proves that the monoliths care less about what a wine is supposed to taste like and more about what it actually does taste like.
Whether that is or is not important in the context of Bordeaux is my whole point. To my mind, the question is not whether the monolithic tasters get it collectively right, but whether they are monoliths at all.
The really burning issue underlying this -that has been on my mind for some time - is why the paradigm of terroir, so successfully applied in Burgundy and attempted around the world, fails in Bordeaux (and there can be no doubt that it fails in Bordeaux).
My conclusion: "Terroir," as *the* concept-paradigm of fine wine, cannot stand alone. Of course a lot is lost in translation, but in English, terroir is an abstract modifier-concept, like "good," a word that can only be used in connection with others in order for it to have any meaning. It is not even an abstract solo-concept, like "red." It is simply an abstract concept, and not even a particularly good one at that. To speak of "terroir" without at the same time speaking of not only a specific region but of a specific vineyard is an abstraction without meaning. This concept of "terroir" cannot be applied to Bordeaux because, quite simply, the vineyards are too big and the production of wine too commercial to supply the skeleton-concept which is terroir with any stuffing.
Now that said, if "terroir" is a workable concept in wine, and I think that it is, then it must be applied to Bordeaux, somehow, someway, even if that means that the Bordelais need to strip down to their underpants and rethink the whole concept of what they are doing, because right now, (with some obvious exceptions for chateaux that do produce profound wines that sing their terroir) the Bordeaux have no terroir. On the other hand, a fair argument could be made that most Bordeaux never had any terroir to begin with, and let the whole thing go at that.
Big scores, sure, the Bordelais have got scores in spades, but terroir, not so much….and what that tells me about the monolith palates is that they care very little about the kinds of wine that I care about. So does it surprise me that they all always agree – not at all. In fact, I wouldn’t expect anything less.