September 4th, 2003

Atacama

TN: Some recent selections.

2001 d'Arenberg The Stump Jump [white; Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Marsanne]. $9, Pete's. This somehow isn't as good as I remember it; then again, the last time I had it was almost exactly a year ago at a small Chinese restaurant in Geraldton, WA. I'm thinking there may have been some cork taint there. Anyhow, still not bad, kind of fun. This mostly tastes like diluted marsanne; not as good as the Tahbilk by any stretch of the imagination, but still cool. The riesling in there is largely sweet but not aromatic; the sauvignon is barely detectable. Fun, but not something you're going to be in a hurry to do again.

2002 Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. After my first sip of this, all I could think of was "big tits". I mean, this is ridiculous. Could this be any more Angelyne-esque? Totally over the top in every regard, it reeked of passionfruit. I don't think I liked it very much, really, especially given the inflated pricing ($25, usually). I mean, it's very good for what it is, but it just had that brazen hussy thing going on a bit too much. My God, man, put some clothes on.

2001 some unpronounceable French name, Sancerre [French sauvignon blanc]. This bottle was corked, thereby dashing my plans to compare it with the Cloudy Bay. Damn, I hate it when that happens.

2002 L'Etoile II [Bonny Doon dry muscat]. This was... well, weird, but in a very pleasant way. This basically struck me as a twist on their malvasia, which I admire very much. Malvasia is also known as moscato greco; this wine is muscat canelli, which is supposedly the "most refined" of the muscats. This stuff hangs out in the space between dry and sweet, and this works fairly well. Still, I found myself wondering if a little less sugar wouldn't have been more pleasant... Then again, it was lovely. It was especially lovely while watching the sun set over Salmonberg from the back deck.

2002 Pikes reserve riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia. This... didn't exactly suck, but God knows why it costs $20. Totally not worth it, this was pleasant but boring as all hell. Could someone please get these folks a different clone of riesling or some illegal additives? Anything to make this anything other than a dry white wine no one will be offended by?

2002 mesh riesling, Eden Valley, SA. Tasted side by side with the Pikes, this impressed even more. This is still one of the very, very few wines I've ever had that is truly beautiful. Mmmm, good. I wish I had case upon case of this; however, I've only got the six bottles and I'm going to have to put them away until 2010 to see if they move on to a kerosene Nirvana of some sort. About the wine: this is the best riesling I've ever had, period. It's got that whole velvet glove, iron fist thing going on. Steely/minerally and floral/aromatic. Just incredible.

1997 Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines zinfandel. OK, so it's really Gallo, but they really seem to have gotten their shit together in some respects. This is their high end zin, normally about $15, but this was an eVineyard.com promo at $6.66 a bottle, free shipping, no sales tax. I'm down to two bottles but it's been really interesting going back to it every year or so. The last bottle I had was in early 2002, and it just keeps getting more interesting. At 15.5% alcohol, it's surprisingly subtle. It may not be the most elegant thing in the world but it's tasty, and the smells it's producing are getting better with age.