Tasting Notes



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September-December 2009

HOW TO USE THESE NOTES: Many of my tasting notes take the style of mini-articles and discuss multiple wines. So, rather than bust them up, I've organized them in the order they were written, with the most recent at the top.

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Back in the Highlife  (October 19, 2009) Many wine folk I know have trimmed back their buying, but we've still got stuff squirreled away that wants drinking. A recent weeknight get-together gave us reason enough to open:

**1995 Jean Gros Vosne Romanee Clos des Reas. You don't need a pukka palate to nail this as Burgundy in a blind tasting. It's got grace and layers of flavor, initial earthiness giving way to raspberries and minerals. Drink now if you got it and enjoy. 

***2000 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue Slide also announces itself loud and clear, and I'm loving every syllable. When the fruit struts onstage, you gasp, you grin -- you wonder if its too gosh-darned beautiful to have any talent -- then, tada! It ties on its tap shoes and dances its way into your sense-centers, demanding more devotion with each eager sip. Call me crass for picking this over the Burg, but I defies ya to taste both and do any different.

Not a Curveball (October 5, 2009) With a name like **Meander, you might expect this 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to be sinuous or curvy or kinky. Not so. It's manly, clean as a whistle, straight down the middle Napa Cab and I like it like that. Very black cherry with a trace of licorice. Talks a good game on the attack, follows it up in the middle, comes to a convincing conclusion and holds up admirably in the glass. Maybe a tad too much char on the oak for my personal taste, but if you like Beringer Reserve Cabs, you'll be one happy imbiber.

Put 'em up (September 30, 2009) Maybe *Fisticuffs Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Napa Valley just needs another six months to take off the gloves. Fruit is plentiful, finish is good, but tannins are out in force right now.  Swish it around in your mouth, make those wine geek sucking sounds and you'll find exotic flavors pomegranate, allspice and other stuff that keeps you hoping it'll come out and clobber you like the label promises. For now, it's frustrating. To be revisited.

I never much liked Ayn Rand's books, but... (September 16, 2009) This Fountainhead is a different deal. With only 501 cases made, **-2006 Fountainhead Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Borges Vineyard won't be easy to find, but if you find it, fork over the forty-some bucks and pull a cork. It's fragrant as all get-out and even more so the following day. Think cassis with a dash of kirsch. With a touch of grit on the palate as befits a Rutherford Cab, it fills the mouth nicely and finishes well. Fresh, juicy and just delicious for drinking now. 

When a wine critic says “this profound stuff... (September 16, 2009) "Should age effortlessly for 20 years”… ever wonder how the heck he arrives at that guess? I don’t have a clue. But  I do have a trick for figuring out if a wine should be cellared at all.

     Drink half the bottle, ram the cork back in and stick it in the fridge. Then come back to it in a couple of days and see if it’s still worth drinking. If it actually tastes better, you’ve got a winner. If it’s worse, well, poor you.

     Both things happened to me yesterday. Out of the icebox I drew:

-1997 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Once a firm-framed, three-star seductress, this wine had softened up quite a bit when I tasted it a couple of years ago. Now it’s fading at an alarming pace, after only two days in the fridge. Ashy notes prevent much pleasure until it airs for half an hour. Then a core of fruit shines forth — but not enough for my liking. Drink up.

*++2005 CrauforD Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Tattoo” I really think this one is a bit better three days later. Blackberry, a hint of licorice and a smidge of cranberry jam — just the same as it was on opening, only louder. Nice texture. Fills up the mid-palate pleasingly. If the finish were fuller, this discovery would merit two stars, maybe more. Anyhow, at under 25 bucks, it’s still buy for Napa Cab addicts like me.

See more tasting notes (January-June 2005)

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