Tuesday, January 12, 2010
...just don't call them "tasting notes." These have become increasingly controversial. There are those who write them off, others who defend them as a way of explaining such an esoteric, tough to grasp staple as wine, folks who begrudgingly concede that they are necessary tools of the trade, and then plenty of others, myself included, who live by the tasting note yet usually do not enjoy writing nor reading them. I have a tough enough time expressing myself clearly as it is, let alone expressing the characteristics of a product that holds such long standing historical, religious and traditional importance. Nonetheless, myself and countless others persevere. To catalogue our impressions, to assert our tastes and defend what we view as noteworthy and important, delicious and deserving of wine drinkers' attention. Or, perhaps, to use merely as an excuse to get mildly drunk and then pursue our innate inner creativity. Whatever the motivation, the tasting note is here to stay, and I for one will attempt to both limit its use and expand its potential meaning. To learn more through them yet stop reading when they inevitably become tedious. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself!
Now that we got that out of the way, how about some critical snapshots?
YOUNG WHITE WINE
2008 Paul Pernot Bourgone Blanc
Pernot is based in Puligny. Apparently these grapes were harvested a good couple weeks after his neighbors harvested theirs, since he believes in fully ripened grapes and there were lots of underripe white Burgundies made in 2008. While I always expect a lot from this Bourgone Blanc, this year it seems to offer the usual extra dimension of richness and texture, minus the typical Puligny minerality and old school acidity. This, however, is based on impressions from two separate bottles, recently arrived into the store. Tasted in a line-up of at least several other wines each time, for about 30 seconds each time. I'd like to report back in a few months after having drunk this with fish at home with more knowledgeable Burgundy drinkers than I.
LESS YOUNG WHITE WINE
1999 Jacques Puffeney Savagnin Arbois
I enjoyed this terrific bottle with my girlfriend Natalie while dining at Bay Wolf in the Piedmont neighborhood of Oakland (If you haven't been, Bay Wolf is similar to Chez Panise but less expensive and not quite as good). Oils of nuts, oils of citrus, oils of apricot skins. Fairly advanced, but still lively enough. Not quite as taut and rip-roaringly acidic as I had hoped for, but so it goes. Still an interesting bottle, academically and gastronomically. It was delicious with the black cod and preserved meyer lemon, and was even ok with the duck liver flan. Perhaps most surprisingly, it has eventually led me to a wonderful Polish blog (written in English) on the subject of tea and wine.
DISAPPOINTING CRITICAL DARLING
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Fino No. 15 Macharnudo Alto (the white label La Bota....)
I've written about this before, and while I've had delicious bottles, this one sucked. It smelled of paste - Ralph Wiggum of Simpsons fame would love this stuff. After some days in the fridge, I decided that the weird, off putting aromas were actually more akin to play dough than anything else. First tasted while somewhat mellowed by Champagne consumption on New Year's Eve and re-visited every few days since then. Anyone familiar with common sherry or even wine flaws that may cause the aforementioned pasty/play dough qualities?
OLD RED WINE
1976 Brovia Rocche Barolo
An ok, but not particularly good, bottle of older Barolo. While the fruit showed fairly well out the gate, there was something a bit on edge about the acidity and overall balance of the wine. Funny, the usually terrific Italian restaurant in Noe Valley where we capricorns were celebrating our birthdays also left me longing for its more typical, comforting, expressive self. Oh well. Not all older Baroli can wow you, and hardly any consistently wonderful restaurants can truly deliver the goods every time you go.