Lip-Smacking Taradiddle (When The Green Peppers Must Fall)

Elepantocetomachia. It’s when an elephant engages a whale in combat––a highly imaginative fisticuffs worthy of today’s Animal Planets cable programming. It’s an undeniably preposterous scenario. Although, if I were to bet, my money would be on the Whale.

It is just as far-fetched to believe you’ll enjoy and wines under dark circumstances. To this, there is no exception. You can open a bottle of [pretentious bottle here] and have it fall utterly short of impression. Why? You’re date across the table could be talking about their cat again. The one with the infected eye. The one that clawed your back up last week while making love. The cat that would be forgiven a hundred times before you ever were.

The slightest apparition of an ill mood can send the wine in your glass afoul. We’ve all been there.

But is it always your mood? “Maybe it was the wine itself,” you think to yourself. A wine is never the same wine, bottle to bottle. There are too many variables when it comes to enjoying a glass from a particular country, a particular region, a particular hermitage, a particular viticulturist, a particular grape. There are an innumerable instances in with your wine, from growth, production, bottling, shipment, and sales that work against it; and only a handful of supposed (wished/crafted) ways in which it can go right

When you open a bottle, and it tastes like its from the brow of Uma Thurman (heaven), that is reason to appreciate it all the more.

But there are bad wines. Sometimes you have them all in a row.

Perhaps it was your palate that was off that night. Perhaps everyone around you was merely lying about their appreciation, their lip-smacking taradiddles––pretentious nonsense. The room may have been too warm; the host was not at all happy to be serving you; you may have had a panic attack coming on, maybe, possibly, for sure; or, really thinking on it, maybe “it just wasn’t a wine day.”

Even Bacchus had to rest, after all.

Wine is the drink of merriment, a mood enhancer. Come into it askew, your bound to come out of it as spun and worn as your Led Zepplin II record.

That said, read the following with the same fallacious presumption that a GOP nom would read an environmental study. Believe nothing.

The March 8th Burgundy Tasting:

2011 Château Charriére Savigny-les-Beane Blanc “Vermots Dessus” – $24
Smells of tarts and smoothness. Agreeable.
Lemon and butter and Clean. An a-okay wine that failed to inspire.
Skip it.

2011 Jaques Bavard Auxey-Duresses “Les Clous” – $32
Smelled like a fish tank that had married HAL 9000.
Tasted like it, too.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Sylvian Langoureau St-Aubin 1er Cru “Bas de Vermaraian á l’Est” – $37
Some spice hits the nose. Very sweet-smelling.
The wine is way off the mark, I’m afraid. Cloying sweet. Overly acidic. Your not going to have a good time with this wine, much like a blubbering fat kid being thrown down water slide only to become stuck half way down the middle.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Benoit Ente Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Houilléres” – $70
Smells of garden and peppers. Really, very lovely.
An attack of freshness: green peppers mingling joyfully in the nude with a summer flair. * An utter delight to drink. **

2011 Domaine Delarche Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru – $90
Smelled of dairy and red pepper.
The wine was reaching for something bold, but fell short. The flavors muddled together, a semi-sweet burnt marshmallow.
Skip it.

2011 Château de la Charriére Santenay 1er Cru “Clos Rousseau” – $25
I failed to write a tasting note. I was probably awash with boredom at this point.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Faiveley Monthelie 1er Cru “Les Champs Fulliots” – $40
A light potpourri nose. Some delicate intrigues.
Light on acid and tannin. Heavy alcohol swallows it’s mysteries whole.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Mongeard-Mgneret Savigny–lés-Beaunes 1er Cru “Narbantons” – $40
A promising dark chocolate, forest floor and pine smell.
Some hint of breakthrough fruit, but otherwise too volcanic for my taste. Hard to tell what was going on with this.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Stéphane Magnien Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru “Faconnieres” – $65
A bitter and dark mess. They missed the mark on this. I had to utter out “where they trying to make Bourbon?” This wine may have been a nice drink right after bottling, but now? No. It’s a lost sailor thrown from a cannon fraught frigate.
Skip it.

2011 Domaine Delarche Corton-Renardes Grand Cru – $70
I had to question the sanity of the host after this wine. Why wold they save this for last? To tease our tongues with something sweeter than melting down a box of peeps, adding red food coloring, and calling it wine? A poor show. My tasting note here may be an exaggerated, but the Corton-Renardes lack of appeal certainly was not.
While, not terrible, it is nowhere near as fun as listening to Yanni stone-cold sober.
Skip it.

* My inquisitive companion inquired about the taste to our host. Although she was happy to come across the fresh taset, she was passively informed that this green pepper redolence and linger was nothing more than an indication as to “the wine’s young age and that it should go away soon as it matures” In fact, the host seemed rather displeased with our satisfaction in the “Les Houilléres'” particular qualities. As it soon appeared, he failed to take us seriously after this episode.

** Sad, then. How the green peppers must fall.


Working The Bottle To The Bitter End

Highlighting one wine this time: The Château de la Charriére Beaune 1er Cru Clos Des Vignes Franches. A 2011. It’s one of these rare wines that comes across my way that doesn’t drain my soul. Meaning it’s relatively inexpensive. And delicious from end to end –– this is something we will touch upon in a moment.

For, I have a problem with my frugality. What’s the problem? If I spend over thirty dollars a bottle, my knees shake and I feel much too woozy, like a diabetic running a Cookmarathon. I wish I could say I was exaggerating. I’ll blame my parents for indoctrinating me with the simple equation I’ve come to know well: Money Spent = Sin/Devastation/Sadism/Masochism/Deviancy. Oh, and I won’t even go into my state of mind when I buy organic food (!).

And organic wine? Are you mad? I can hear my mother fainting from two states away. And there. What’s that sound? Why yes, that is the cry of my grandmother in her grave craggily imploring me to “stop that right this very instant! Do you know what you can be doing with that money? Do you?”

A personal psychoanalysis aside, there are some lip-smacking, bright and simply gorgeous wines to be had at terrific tariffs. The ’11 Charriére carried its weight well, being scrumptious from beginning to end.

Now, many (okay, all) wines evolve as the night unfolds. Some start off quite happy only to turn dark and brooding after a few hours. Others are harsh, exhibiting an acidic rush, only to loose it all and feel hallow and sugar-laden thereafter.

Eric Asimov is at it again –– showing everyone up in the wine writing world, causing us to question why we even try to begin with. He’s crafted a wine drinking course, of sorts, that he hopes many will participate via a thread on the New York Times website. The idea is everyone will buy one or more of his recommendations and then log in to elucidate on just how they experience said wine.

Sure, it’s a great idea; after all, there’s never been a discussion online where disagreements end poorly, or with verbose hatred clearly defined in ALL CAPS. I suspect everyone’s opinions about how they experience wine will be treated with declaration and the utmost respect.

What’s intriguing to me about wine is that it evolves. Mr. Asimov points this out well enough. The most keen of us pick up on it. Others don’t give two hoots in hell. But if you choose to ignore, I’d argue, you are missing half of the fun. Wine is a very temporal experience. It’s all over the place, a very tumultuous fire child; it’s what The Animals were really signing about with their cult-ish and youthful lust cull, “Wild Thing.” (Challenge me if you will on that assumption).

With the grand majority of the wines we purchase, most open life a fire bomb and fizzle out just as quickly. It’s the new thang of the wine world, am I right? You open, say a Shiraz, and it has this way of screaming in your face. You are enraptured by it at first, but then find out you’re too old too keep up with it and you leave it by the wayside. They’re damn exhausting.

A good wine works when you open it. It works when you’ve come to the middle of it. And it works at the end of it. A good wine makes you want to open another. A good wine dares you to miss it. Greater wines do the same, but challenge your intellect in the process. A wine with god-like muscularity does all of the bellow, but seems utterly bonded to its dichotomies. Great things push and pull you. They should never bore you. Rather, they engage you. We seek out these wines for the same reason we seek out anything else in our lives.

God. I’m a wino.

This would also send my grandmother flopping around her grave.With respect, of course.

2011 Château de la Charrière Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches – $27
A solid, grounded sort of nose. Firm, lovely. And long draw of elegance.
Silky-smooth butter over the tongue. A good tannic base with a balanced mild fruit. Lip smacking and inviting. Very enjoyable. A terrific pinot that begs you to keep going.
Worthy. Very Worthy.


2011 Ravens Wood Teldeschi Zinfandel

\Hello again,

A quick review of our last bottle we opened last Sunday. Ravens Wood has some nostalgic flair for us; an ’09 Zin of theirs was one of our first bottles we opened, of which we took especial notes on paper for “serious study.” That ’09 gripped our nostrils, captivated our minds, and made us true fans of Zinfandel.

Such young palates.

I’m kidding, I’m sure it was great.

How does their 2011 Teldeschi Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley stand against our utterly infallible memories?


2011 Ravens Wood Teldeschi Zinfandel – $23
Taking a whiff, it all but confirmed that this wine had some head. Alcohol and plum on the nose. The rest of what could have been detectable was drowned out.
Juicy, tannic and overbearing. There’s a lot of bombast present here, which sadly hides what the Zinfandel grape can offer. It’s a great glass, but anything beyond that sends your senses reeling. Upon tasting the next day, the alcohol became more timid and the berries seemed to express themselves more. Decant for a day, and you’ll find some pleasing nuances. But, I’d have to say, skip this one.