Reviews & News Oct. 2007

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I’m back from exploring Russia

Okay, so the wine sucked, but Russia was awesome and the beer and vodka made up for the disappointment with the wine. I tried an Abkahzian red made with a native Georgian grape of which I can’t spell nor pronounce, while the winemaking was sloppy and dirty I do believe the grape could be a very good one. I was told the Georgian made versions are wonderfully rich and compelling, but alas it was not to be for me. Russia has a strict embargo against Georgia and most of their ex-republics, which they claim is for quality and health safety issues, though it is known to be a political issue. So I made due with Baltika beer, which is like the Carlsberg of Russia and based in Saint Petersburg. Baltika makes about 12 different styles of which I tried most! The wheat beer (number 8 on the label) I think was the best, though the export Lager (number 7) and the porter (number 9) were of very good quality. The Russians did have a super selection of Italian wines along with a good choice of Aussie and French as well, so drinking wine is not bad and I did see more people drinking wine than vodka in restaurants, which did surprise me. There is a really bad drinking problem in Russia and lots of lives are being lost to alcoholism and drunk driving, but that said, Moscow streets were not littered with drunks and most people drinking out in public were doing so with beer and seemed fairly lucid. While surprised by the lax enforcement and open public drinking, it was nice to sit in front of the Kremilin on a sunny day with a brew from a keg served from a rolling kiosk! Check back as I’m putting a whole article together on my Russian holiday soon, under the “Fermented Travel” column.

Too see my notes on the latest Pasonage wines, check out my barrel tasting from last month <click here>

Latest Reviews

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Bergerie Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

I have wanted to taste and review Joly wines for years, as he is one of the great pioneers of Bio-Dynamic (super organic) winemaking and is extreme in his views about it. I must say that I am now a full on believer! This Chenin is one of the top white wines you can get, with richness, depth and earthiness that puts it on par with Montrachet
or a great Alsace wine. This is his middle priced version and it is golden in color and has a perfect balance between old world and new world, meaning it has ripeness, but retains clarity and vibrant flavors. Peach, white plum, pear and clove with hints of mineral, straw and citrus. It finishes with dried flowers and a touch of honey. This is a joy, especial for the geeky wine drinker that is looking for something different to try their friends on.($45 est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Coulee de Serrant, Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

This is the top of Joly’s line and my God is it good! Like a Grand Cru Burgundy or First Growth Bordeaux, sometime somewhere regardless of price you must try this wine. It is lovely and intense at the same time and is amazingly complex for a Chenin Blanc, proving that Nicholas Joly has something special and his extreme views just might be 100% correct. This Bio-Dynamic thing has got something to it and this wine could be the poster child for the movement. This has to be the greatest Chenin in the world, who is going to argue that claim? Well I’m sure many, but find this wine and try it then write me and tell me it is not true! Jess Jackson (Kendall-Jackson) and his Regal Wine Company sells this wine wholesale, so ask your local wine store to get you some. This lush and pure wine has a freshness and light touch at first, but gets bigger and richer with air. I found all kinds of white and yellow fruits, flowers and subtle mineral notes with a grace and character not found that often in this in your face world. The texture is amazing and the length is fantastic. Words can’t do it justice, so at some point you’ll have to try it yourself. ($90-100) 96 Points, grapelive

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