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.
Cazes “Blanc de Lynch-Bages” 1997 Bordeaux Blanc (Bordeaux) – I feared this might be over the hill, but instead it has matured into a lovely little wine. Strong honeydew melon and ripe grapefruit with little zingers of lime, green apple and green plum are introduced by a pleasant notion of sweet oak, and good acidity supports the entire effort through a long, crisp finish. I think it’s probably at peak now.
Jamet 1996 Côte-Rôtie (Rhône) – Lovely and aromatic for the first fifteen minutes or so, but after that it closes in on itself, leaving a slightly less welcoming shell of hardish tannin, smoked meat and a manageable amount of brett. The wine’s not unpleasant at the moment, but I suspect there’s better things in its future.
Edmunds St. John 1993 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Very tight and closed at first. Harder than nails, in fact. But as it airs, it starts to blossom, showing deep-toned blackberry and leather with dark black earth, rosemary pressed into the leaves of an ancient tome, walnut oil and little hints of unidentifiable spice. Masterful wine in the full glory of its maturity.
El Grifo 1998 Malvasia Dulce (Lanzarote) – Not as vivid as it was in its youth, but with all sorts of sun-drenched yellow fruit with a slight rounding-off of the edges towards caramelized pineapple. Fun.
Bottex Vin du Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille” (Ain) – Drier than usual, with mineral-laden raspberries and a dusty leaf finish. Delicious, but a little different.
Porter Creek 2004 Zinfandel “Old Vines” (Sonoma County) – Very woody at first opening, but this quickly fades under a throbbing pulse of boisterous fruit. Blackberry, boysenberry, black raspberry, black cherry – all the songs you know and love, played at top volume – with enough acidity and just a hint of tannin to lend it some support and rhythm. A delicious, drinkable zin, though possibly not for the long haul. 15.1% for those who care, though it’s not at all hot…just big.
Voyager Estate 2002 Shiraz (Margaret River) – Heavy leather, black plum, blueberry and blackberry with fuzzy, thick tannin and a little bit of acidity. Fruit-forward, but structured and relatively balanced, with obvious aging potential.