Archive for January, 2008

Science meets art

Paper chromatography results
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A little bubbly to brighten your day

Rollin Soles, Argyle WineryOver the summer, I shot and cut together a seminar on sparkling wine at the International Pinot Noir Celebration which has just been uploaded for the pleasure of all. It features Ghislain de Montgolfier, the charming head of Champagne Bollinger, and his friend Rollin Soles, the irrepressible winemaker behind Argyle‘s supreme sparkling wine program here in Oregon.

You can check it out here.

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A Garagey New Year

A Garagistes RetrospectiveIt was meant to be a solemn symposium and sober analysis of the 2007 vintage on the eve of a new year. But something went horribly wrong.

Yes, there was a lot of great food. Yes, there were reveling guests aplenty. Yes, by midnight we’d worked through barrel samples and bottles of most of the Garagistes’ product over the last 6 years, to say nothing of nearly a case of sparkling wine and a lovely palette-coating of hop liqueur.

But how quickly we lost our focus. How quickly I lost my focus (I think it must have rolled back behind one of the barrels). Surely we are better than this. Surely we can rise above our youthful definition of wine as delightful beverage and key ingredient of a full life, and reformulate wine as something nobler, as a chemical process leading inexorably to a quantifiable score? Surely that’s the true stuffing of wine, gentlemen, surely.

So here’s hoping we can regroup from this tragedy in the new year and get back to picking apart wine until even the vultures send out for pizza. In that spirit, my incredibly scientific notes after tasting through the barrels:

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Like the two other wines, this baby is barely out of the crib, and considering it was pressed into this vale of tears less than 3 months ago, its immaturity isn’t too surprising — it charmingly cried out “uppy, uppy” (which of course, as parents, we had no choice but to indulge), but the rest of its discourse didn’t get much more complex than “grapey, grapey.” Nevertheless, the wine is beautifully healthy and sound, feels great in the mouth, and is nicely balanced even on so wobbly a set of new legs. I can’t wait to try this after even one racking.

2007 Merlot
Also youthful, but sweeter and simpler, like a kitten on a cookie. Again, nice feel in the mouth, but this one will really benefit from the breath of fresh air a few rackings will provide. For now, the most uneventful of the three.

2007 Cabernet Franc
I think most people liked this the best of the three, and that’s not too surprising, since the Franc is at its best on the fresher end of the aging curve. Lovely spice, great depth and balance, nestled in a pillow of pure fruit flavor.

2007 Piquette (aka Pinto)
Our “second wine” from the Cabernet Sauvignon pressings has been in the Oregon Oak barrel for 2 months, and it was the talk of the tasting. Light, but not insubstantial fruit slides effortlessly over the palette into the welcoming arms of an eager gullet. There’s still a little spritz to it, possibly due to ongoing malolactic, but the slight sweetness could also suggest one last hurrah for primary fermentation. I predict it will supplant water as the Garagistes’ liquid of choice this coming summer.

What did you like?

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