For a flat out bizarre review, check this out: "Smooth and spicy, with lots of tobacco and root beer overtones to the pear flavors. The finish features a raw edge." That's it, that's the entire thing. Can you even tell what color it is? Amazingly the wine is an 89 pointer. Tobacco and root beer take me to oaky red wine, maybe zinfandel. Pear takes us back to white, maybe a pinot blanc or cool weather chardonnay. Anyone guess viognier? Me either. Seven Hills Viognier, Columbia Valley 2010, $19. I want a bottle, if only to taste those bizarre elements in one glass. Correction, I only want a taste, not a bottle.
J.L. and I do not share similar palates and I would call him out more often for his blathering pontification except that he frames it well. He gets lost in wacky descriptors as much as anyone on the staff. "Aromas of smoldering campfire embers" and "game meat, graphite, road tar and lead pencil" are two of my favorites from November. But those same reviews also have "Nicely layered, clean and focused" and "ending with chewy tannins. Should reward cellaring." to save the day. I agree to disagree for the most part and respect his style statements greatly, something more of the writers could employ.
However, I must call him out on something. In reviewing Bond Quella, Napa Valley 2008 (94 points, $275) he writes, "Even more expansive and syrupy on the finish." This is my major stylistic difference with him. He enjoys his wines thick, viscous and syrupy, I do not. Two other reviews in the same edition should explain further. Revival's Napa cabernet 2008 was "teetering on syrupy" and Vinroc Wine Caves' Atlas Peak cabernet was "almost syrupy." Guess just missing the syrup factor cost them a few points, both scored 92. One can not help but wonder if they were even thicker and heavier and coated the tongue more completely whether they might have gotten the extra two points.
You can keep the syrupy wines, they go with almost no food. Remember, these pundits taste the wines alone so unctuous insanity doesn't betray itself by ruining dinner.