Hamilton Russell 2005 Chardonnay (Walker Bay) – Confident, pristine and one of the most Burgundian chardonnays I’ve ever tasted from the New(ish) World. Icy stone fruit, fine acidity and a light brush-sweep of balanced wood complete an intense, but not overbearing, wine with a strongly glacial undercurrent. Really, really impressive. (7/07)
16 July 2007
Borgo Scopeto 2001 “Borgonero” (Tuscany) – Quite modern in intention, though with a fair balance between crisp crushed berries and firmer, more insistent cabernet-based darkness. There’s a mild smoky/leathery element as well, mostly expressed on the finish. The wine isn’t overdone for the genre, but it is showing some signs of weakness, especially on the finish. That’s a little surprising. (7/07)
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)
11 July 2007
30 March 2006 – Andlau, France
Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss – One of the major proponents of biodynamism in Alsace, Kreydenweiss doesn’t get the press or acclaim of some of his fellow practitioners. But he is an evangelist, constantly pushing the soil-revelatory aspects of his agricultural practices, and any visitor to their tasting room will receive at least a short lecture (including rocky props) on the soil types of the Andlau-area vineyards, which are myriad.
We’re received at the door by Marc, but it’s his son Antoine that conducts our tasting. In retrospect, I wonder if there might not be a reason.
(Continued with photos, an in-depth tasting at Kreydenweiss, and a rather remarkable lunch, here.)
06 July 2007
One adventure awaits. Just one more commune with nature, before we jet off to Sydney and the bustle of the urban life. We don’t know what we’ll find there. There’s more to do here, of course…wine tasting, food, perhaps even a restful afternoon on a beach. But on a trip punctuated by the relentless beauty of the wild and framed by its inexorable seduction, this is the final chapter.
But first, we have to get there.
(Continued, with tons of photos and an instruction manual on how to catch a taxi in a place with no roads, here.)
05 July 2007
Pierre Peters Champagne Le Mesnil sur Oger “Grand Cru” Blanc de Blancs Brut (Champagne) – Sharp, vivid and highly mineralized. A clean stroke of a very sharp sword slashes the palate with finely-honed metal and only the brightest of sun-reflecting lemon and apple. Yet there’s a firm, cold sort of generosity here, as a stern father loving with discipline rather than hugs This is a wine with something to say. (6/07)
Verset 2001 Cornas (Rhône) – Needs decanting. After sufficient air, this develops lurid decayed flowers on freshly-fertilized soil aromas, baking to the point of blackening in the unrelenting southern sun. Rough, muscular and expansive (especially on the finish), this ends with a sweetening wink, as if to reassure that it can put on a nice shirt and visit the city if it really needs to, but that it would prefer to remain sun-baked and slightly untamed. A beautiful, perfumed wine with almost no concessions to simple-minded lovers of fruit. (6/07)
Breaux 2005 Viognier (Virginia) – Somewhat confused, with faint suggestions of flowers hollowed out by a corrugated metal tube, leaving the center void and the edges uncertain. It’s not overworked, which is a blessing, but it doesn’t have much of what one drinks viognier for either. (6/07)
Navarro 2004 Chardonnay “Première Reserve” (Anderson Valley) – Balanced and clean. Bright melon and grapefruit are braced by fine acidity and a light, only mildly acrid butter tone shorn of its fat by a slight backpalate bitterness. This is no modernistic New World chardonnay, and in fact it tends a bit more towards the lean than it might. It should age for a short while, as well. (6/07)
A&P de Villaine 2005 Bouzeron (Burgundy) – Very restrained, requiring much teasing and patient waiting for the emergence of much of anything. When it finally does, there’s a very soft, barely-audible melon tone with the tiniest bit of balancing acidity. It grows and expands a bit on the finish, with almonds predominating, but there’s just not much here. Mildly corked? Three days later, there’s no sign. (6/07)
Voyager Estate 2003 Shiraz (Margaret River) – Big and monolithic, with dark, chewy black and blue fruit in tight layers over a leather and concrete foundation. Smooth and modern, but by no means overworked, and in fact quite balanced and drinkable for a massive block of wine. This should age, and the inevitable calming will probably help. (6/07)
Medusa 2004 “Old Vine” Zinfandel Lover’s Lane (Mendocino) – This comes with a sporty black extruded synthetic cork, but the wine’s not nearly that ominous. It’s powerfully oaky for the first half-hour or so, but later it relaxes into something more approachable (and in fact, the oak mostly lurks in the deep background), showing juicy red-fruited acidity and freshly-crushed berries with a preserved maraschino topnote. It’s a little herky-jerky right now, and I don’t know if it’s got enough internal integrity to solve itself, but if it does it will always be a higher-acid zin, which isn’t unwelcome in these overheated times. (6/07)
Roussel & Barrouillet “Clos Roche Blanche” 2005 Touraine Sauvignon “No. 2” (Loire) – Dense, palpable chalk in a thickening, sweet-seeming marinade. This is always a triumph of terroir over variety – sauvignon is only represented by a slightly green tinge to the finish…a sharpening and focusing, perhaps, more than an actual grassiness – but there’s more stuffing in this wine than usual, which may be a good or a bad thing depending on one’s tastes; one might legitimately wonder if the wine isn’t slightly overstuffed. There’s not much to dislike, however, and while it’s eminently drinkable and seemingly ready to go (not a typical performance for this wine), it will almost certainly develop more over the medium-short term. (7/07)
Prà 2002 Soave Classico (Veneto) – Showing signs of maturity, as the softly perfumed fruit is stripped away in layers to reveal the soft, mineralized underbelly shot through with streaks of vivacious acidity. It’s not an aggressive wine by any means, but it’s both fuller and sharper than at release. This is at full maturity. (7/07)
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)