Strange Fruit

Domaine Gérard Julien et Fils, Nuits St. Georges, 2016

There really is no rush to open this, but seeing as it’s exactly the kind of young Bourgogne that is very appealing and attractive young, you’d be excused if you share my own impatience. In a nutshell: sensual red fruit adorned by herbs and wet, muddy pine needles. The aromatics are more evocative than complex, though there is decent complexity. The palate is soft and sexy. As it opens, the tannins assert themselves. They don’t attenuate the fruit, but rather highlight the appeal of the fruit.

Sphera, Sauvignon Blanc, 2021

In a New Zealand, pink grapefruit style this year, framed by chalk.

Sokol Blosser, Williamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, 2020 

In a recent tasting of Oregon Pinot Noir, this rose was my WOTN. It's close to the dead center of my rose sweet spot: very dry, strawberries served up in a wrapping paper of earth and minerals. Very good complexity wrought from a few, simple elements.

Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Bianco, Montalto, 2020

God help the uninitiated trying to make sense of the Terre Nere and the Etna classifications. The Etna DOC has quite a few recognized sub-zones, known as Contrada. They are not organized in a hierarchy, but Terre Nere classifies them internally as Premier and Grand Crus. Montalto is an old vineyard, nested high up on the southern slopes of Etna, favored by Marco de Grazia, that does not belong to any Contrada. The Bourgogne parallel would be a village lieu-dit. Terre Nere had been experimenting with vinifying white wines from vines in the area, as they believe it is a very favorable area for the Carricante grape. The result is a lovely marriage between summer fruit and slightly sulfurous minerals, with a round mid-palate easily balanced by lively acidity. One hell of a successful wine.

Niepoort, Douro, Voyeur, 2020

An example of how Niepoort combines experimentation with very solid craft. This is a field blend of undisclosed grape varieties (undisclosed except for the fact that they include both red and white grapes) from 6 old Douro Valley vineyards with varying geographical exposures and altitudes. The grapes from each of site were fermented and macerated in 1000 liter clay amphorae for approximately 6 months, then blended in stainless steel tanks and then aged again in amphorae for 2 - 3 months before bottling. The resulting wine is light in color and alcohol, aromatically complex, lean and saline. It's an "anti orange" wine - what I mean by that is that it's a red colored grape that behaves like a white, its complexity carried via aromas and texture and less so via its weight.

Two producers I haven't tried in ages:

Rebholz, Pfalz, Kastanienbusch, GG, 2018

I still find that drinking a Grosses Gewaches is often like taking an exam, especially this young, but I enjoyed the experience, mostly for how sharply focused the chiseled chalk and yellow apples are. That's a double-edged sword, because that very focus is what makes the experience so challenging. Still, a very complex wine.

Muga, Rioja Reserva, 2017

Once upon a time, the Muga Reserva was one of my go-to wines. I didn't spend enough quality time with this bottle to figure out where we stand, but I think I'd like to age one and drink it at 10+ years. It's very direct today, with black fruit, good acidity, minerals, tobacco.