I reminded myself about the challenges of writing about sparkling wine and swore I would never pick on a review of that elusive, ethereal liquid that so captivates but is so hard to capture in words. So, I'll pick on two of them, both from A.N.
Henri Billiot & Fils Brut Champagne Cuvee Julie NV $97 93 points "This aromatic bubbly offers an exotic mix of flavors, with honeysuckle, marjoram, myrrh, coconut and ginger notes accenting patisserie apple, kiwifruit, honey and toast flavors. It's all packaged with vibrant, balanced acidity and finely detailed texture." Myrrh? Myrrh? MYRRH??? No frankincense? Couldn't wait until a December issue when it would be more topical?
Ruinart Brut Champagne Dom Ruinart 2002 $130 95 points "Like a well-tuned symphony the delicious wine offers beautiful harmony between the finely detailed texture, the lacy, mouthwatering acidity and the range of flavors, from fresh, floral tones of apricot, apple blossom and pink grapefruit zest to richer notes of toasted nut, spiced plum, freshly ground coffee, anise, cumin and cardamom." Wow! She had me all the way to "coffee, anise, cumin and cardamom," then it sounded like a nightmare. I know the producer and the bottling, if not this vintage and I have always enjoyed it immensely but A.N.'s ridiculous references could turn me the other direction if I didn't know better.
For A.N.'s winning entry, we travel to Alsace.
Mure Gewurztraminer Alsace Clos-St.-Landelin 2009 $45 93 points "A refined version, with intriguing note of candle wax, lemon curd and smoke, accenting honeyed flavors of quince paste, lychee, orange peel and dried herbs and spice. Layered and silky, this is rich and concentrated without being heavy, ending with a note of burnt caramel." Where do I begin? the whole thing seems like some experimental tryst gone wrong. Careless handling of candles lighting something on fire, fruits and a significant other distracting one from something on the stove and finally ending with caramel no one wants. Candle wax and burnt caramel...can't wait!
J.M. gets two entries here but it could have been a dozen or more. He writes some truly exotic notes. I mentioned this one the other day, but it deserves to be viewed in full.
Domaine des Florets Gigondas Supreme 2009 $55 91 points "A traditional style, with mature incense and black tea notes wafting up, followed by supple mulled black cherry, braised fig and anise notes. Incense hangs on the finish, which has latent grip." Maybe it's just too much time at Grateful Dead shows or hanging around with people covering up the smell of pot (that is the main reason for incense, right?) but this note nauseates me. I think if all of these smells greeted me on arrival at a host's home I would have to turn and leave. Now, imagine paying for them...
J.M.'s winner was on the first page of the first of two editions for November. Made the rest of the reading much less interesting but it clearly wins the prize.
E. Guigal Cote-Rotie La Landonne 2007 $500 97 points "This is very backward, with smoldering tobacco and charcoal up front, holding the dense core of black currant, anise and hoisin sauce at bay for now. Sage, sweet tapenade and bittersweet cocoa all roll as the grip takes over on the back end. A gutsy wine, with a charcoal-and singed iron-filled finish." Holding anise and hoisin sauce at bay seems like a good thing if they're in the same glass. I have been lucky to taste about a half dozen of the three La La bottlings from Guigal and they are exquisite wines. At some point, words can not do justice to the layers and nuances of wines like this...so why try? It's probably enough to mention they are outstanding (again) and tell people to buy them if they like syrah. Or red wine. The other two from 2007 received 96 points each. If you can afford them you should try a bottle if you can find one. Telling me about singed iron will not tip the scales.