Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tasting the Too-Sweet Life

Some notes and thoughts on recent bottles tasted:

While some of my colleagues seem to be on a campaign to kill all high-alcohol table wines, I'm much more concerned with the sweetification of table wines. Or, as a winemaking friend of mine complains, "It seems like I can't get a completely dry red wine by the glass anymore."

I tried two wines recently that suffered from this. One was a complete surprise - the 2009 Pali "Alphabets" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (about $20). I really liked what this new firm did in the first vintage of diverse and higher-priced Pinots that I tasted. So when I unscrewed this one, I was surprised by how fruity and sweet it was. I screwed it back, and tried it twice more over the next day. No better. The alcohol is listed at 14.2% - did they cut it off short so that it wouldn't reach 15% and thus kept the sugar. I really felt guilty in not being able to drink more than a glass total of it. The second wine, the 2008 Brazin Lodi Zinfandel ($17), hit me the same way when first I tasted it. But it developed quite nicely when I came back to it the next day. There was a second sample bottle, so I cracked it. Same phenomenon. Obviously, the sugar didn't go away, but the fruitiness that came with it was subdued with some airing, and the Brazin became an respectable Zin with cherries and ripe blackberries, ideal for someone who wants a little of the sweet life in their table wines.

There were two enjoyable Chardonnays in my recent tastings - a 2009 Blackstone Montery County Chardonnay ($9) and a 2009 Frank Family Carneros Chardonnay ($27). The Blackstone is a good wine for everyday drinking - very lively, full, with lots of lime. The Frank Family is more complex, lots of tropical tones with some orange flavors from the oak and quite pleasurable.

A different kind Sauvignon came my way in the bottle of 2007 Magito North Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($10). I wasn't very crazy about it just out of the bottle, but my wife and I ended up drinking the whole thing with dinner. At first it seemed disjointed with crisp Sauvignon herbalness mixed with aromatics that a 100% Sauvignon has never kbown. But gradually it married in the glass - enjoyable, if not something I'd run to the store for. Then I looked at the back label, which explained everything. It was 82% SB, 8% Viognier and 10 % Verdelho. What kind of a sick mind - or genius - would devise such a blend?

Finally, a 2009 Runcaris Soave Classico ($12), a good Veronese white for the price - good fruitiness with lime, mint, chalk, good body and good length.

Recent Publications and Postings:

At - an article on how Panama's national drink, Seco Herrerano, may be the American bartender's next best mixological friend. Also, how Aimee Olexy has assembled a greener-than-green wine list for her new Philly restaurant, Talula's Garden, which she opens Monday with serial restaurateur Stephen Starr.

In the April issue of Writer's Digest - a story about how freelance writers can stop leaving money on the table by working both the consumer and trade sides of the street.

At - a piece on how conservative non-drinker Donald Trump bought Kluge Estate winery in Virginia and wants politically liberal Patricia Kluge to stay on to run the place. Earlier, an article on Italy's special 150th anniversary wine.

In Signature Brandywine - I do the home thing with articles on putting together a secret garden and on having an "away place" - a home library.

Until next time...

Roger Morris