January 14, 2009

More three dot wine...

Lots going on my wine life these days, not the least of which are my evolving plans to make some commercial wine starting this fall. Anybody got a bunch of cash to help me fund that project?... Meanwhile I enjoyed a really nice meal the other night at Carafe in Portland with an old friend. We talked a lot about growing grapes and making wine, and with an excellent and well priced 3-course meal we drank the 2005 Camus-Bruchon Savigny Les Beaune Grand Liards Vieilles Vignes, a village red burgundy that was incredibly good. Smelled like 2005, very ripe but still focused. Then in the mouth it was so balanced. Rich yet mineral and taut. At first the wine seemed good, then it just kept getting better. Wow, highly recommended. Are all Camus-Bruchon wines this good?...

In the "I'm not supposed to like it, but I do" camp, see the 1999 Aldo Conterno Quartetto Langhe. That's a barrique-aged of, I believe, equal parts nebbiolo, barbera, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot (!). Sounds about as traditional as a Marshall amp stack at the symphony... But it works, at least for me. What an interesting wine, with obvious oak aromas but plenty of truffle, cherry, cassis, and spice integrated so nicely... In the mouth it's soft textured but plenty acidic and fresh at the same time, with fine tannin and that worsted texture that you can't fake in a wine. Traditionalists would hate it, but I'm fairly traditional in my wine tastes. This is good...

Then the other day I had the opportunity to barrel taste some 2008 pinot noir at a well known local winery, an experience that reawakened my thoughts about the harvest that just passed... This winery isn't usually a favorite of mine, but that's beside the point. Instead, I was struck by how different the wines showed, when the producer is usually at the head of the list of places where "everything tastes the same"... I've already heard suggestions that, "just wait, they'll all end up the same." I'm not so sure this year... Despite their distinctiveness, the wines all showed so much of the 2008 vintage character as I'm coming to know it. The Oregon red wines in 2008 should be really exciting, if they can shed their monolithic character. I suspect those who can barrel age their wines longer will see more evolution from the primary, simple fruit. I think that's always true with many of the best wines, but this year has an unusual mixture of color, ripeness, and structure. It might really take extra time to see what gives... Stay tuned...

Finally, I met Maggie Harrison in passing the other day. She's the brains of the Lillian and Antica Terra wineries, and her wines are in high demand, even if James Suckling of Wine Spectator recently broke from the pack and wrote a negative review of a syrah she produced... You can't win them all, and Maggie said as much... But I was completely struck by the encounter. This kind of stuff is thrown around far too much, but I mean it. Have I ever met such a disarmingly charming person?... I still don't know what to make of it, but what an interesting individual. I'm intrigued to try more of her wines when I get the chance...

1 comment:

Michael Alberty said...

Maggie Harrison is one of the kindest, most disarming individuals I have ever met. Grace and elegance personified. The fact that she makes wine is just a bonus!