It's Saturday night and New Year's Day but as I'm headed out to France and Spain for two weeks starting this Thursday I decided to stay home and work. Which means it was a great opportunity to got though some unbidden samples. I get a lot and in 99& of the cases they are offensive. In most cases this means pouring them down the drain. Tonight I poured a 2002 Duckhorn Napa Merlot ($48) and an offspring of the duck, one of the more unappealing Pinot Noir's from California that I ever tasted. 2002 Golden Eye Migration unrecognizable plonk ($26) from Anderson Valley. Get this from their website:" His (Zach Rasmuson,) goal is to fashion a wine that expresses the depth and character of the Anderson Valley. In winemaking, Zach focuses on achieving a balance between fruit, extraction and oak."
Let's forget about the Duck Merlot. Which is typical anywhere stuff. So not worth the money, so undrinkable to me at 1/4 the price. About the Pinot? It's the kind of cynical wine that makes me ask what is the matter with this world? Are there people making wine who truly have no scruples or palate? Am I too harsh? Of course I am. But still, this Pinot is all about spicy new oak and klutz, full of jam, jam, jam. There is nothing elegant about it, no nuance, just a big goddamned chew of a wine with some oak juice and pumpkin pie spice sprinkled through its muck. Even with the dollar tanking to the Euro, give me a lovely simple Bourgogne rouge from a great producer even if it is $22 instead of the $14 of years past.
I did need something to get me through the night of hard work, and so I opened up a $10 bottle from the Loire. It immediately put a smile on my face. This is a wine made from grapes that in Mr. Parker's wine guide he recommended be pulled out of the Loire. The grapes are Grolleau, the wine is the 2003 Les Copains d'Abord made by Christine & Joel Meynard. The vintage shows its heat at 13% alcohol, and it's a bit hot, but the wine holds it without the weight of jam. And the first hit on the nose was of lovely hot dusty roads one can get with an old style Dolcetto. Minerals in wine are what we're after. It's the stuff that brings you back. It's the difference between a pretty face and nothing to say and a pretty face with a brain. There's a gravely finish, a touch of berry here and there and a long finish of blackberry tea. $10? A steal. People keep on telling me that the people in California and the rest of the world produce big flabby, boring and sweet because that's what people want. This is entirely depressing thought. But what is uplifting is this wine. If I can show this wine to people, I know they will follow. But it needs the right kind of drinker, a dancer and a reader, a thinker and a debater. This wine is not a throwaway but it does weigh in at a throwaway price. Grolleau, man, it's the next Merlot. Just watch.