Old World

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gaisburg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2011

Gaisburg is considered a great vineyard, and that comes through on the complex nose, where I get petrol, minerals and herbs, with grapefruit in the background. But the palate really needs the right food to take the edge off the bitter, grapefruit aftertaste and grainy texture.

Francois Jobard, Meursault Premier Cru, Poruzots, 2002

2002 was that relatively rare great year in Burgundy where reds and whites were equally magnificent. It was so great that I was sure no one I knew had been able to keep their hands off their bottles. But now, here's one and it's still thriving, even though I can't tell whether the greatness lurking inside it is in its past or future. The reason for my doubts is that it starts off with obvious oak that takes an hour to recede and start to show reserved fruit, mostly white peaches, and a complex lattice of minerals. But that oak - I just don't know what to think about oak in a twenty-two year old Premier Cru.

Produttori dei Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva, Rio Sordo, 2001

Produttori is a cooperative owned by growers with stakes in nine crus in the Barbaresco village. It's committed to producing a Riserva from each of these nine crus or none at all. Barring a major disaster in one or more cru - or internal politics, for all I know - they will offer each of these nine crus, each year, all priced the same. But, not all crus are created equal. Rio Sordo usually gets the lowest scores and it came in last at the only vertical tasting of the Produttori's crus that I ever attended (the 2014). I don't think I've ever run into it outside of that tasting. I guess people only buy it to complete the yearly set or if it's the only Riserva available, so it's a rare bottle among my circle of wine loving friends. This is the first time I've tasted a mature Rio Sordo and the experience was an educational experience, rather than sheer pleasure. There's good acidity but the tannins are still drying, even with more than an hour of air. The reason I was so underwhelmed was that the aromas and flavors (vegetable stew, iron, balsamic vinegar) just never settled down to anything resembling grace or elegance.

Jaboulet, Hermitage, La Chapelle, 1990

Ripe, unbalanced: squashed ripe cherries with hints of black pepper. This is greatness marred by time and provenance.

Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, La Guiraude, 2012

I haven't tasted every single Crozes-Hermitage, but I think I've checked off the major names - and none come close to what Graillot produces, be it the regular bottling or La Guiraude, which is a barrel selection. It's not even a question of winemaking. Son Maxime has been the head winemaker for a few years and what he makes from the holdings of his family domaine outstrips anything he makes in his own label. I guess pere Graillot managed to find the best plots in Crozes when he created the domaine and the rest of appellation has little to offer by way of competition. This still feels young, but then, I think the Graillot wines retain their youthful freshness and vigor for years - I recall a fifteen year old 2000 Crozes that drank just as fresh as this one does. The nose and palate here both display fresh red fruit, olives, black and white pepper, salt. This is a gorgeous, sexy wine that shows why a great Syrah can rightfully claim to be as elegant as Bourgogne.