It's hard to believe we published the first Palate Press: the online wine magazine a year ago today. In that time we published 780 stories, including 361 wine reviews. Our stories have been written by 119 different writers on five different continents. Not bad for a one year old.
Citrus, pineapple, and gooseberry, all with a grassy background, are reminiscent of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc before the Kiwis started filtering everything through the litter box. Flavors are clean, citrus bright, but it is slightly fat, not quite in balance. The gooseberry comes out stronger, tilting into "where's that darned cat?" as the wine warms up, so serve it while it is still chilled, or keep it cool. Finish is mid-length. Drink with any very fresh white fish, or just with a very hot day.
I don't generally enjoy Pinotage, and this is very good wine. The typical Pinotage burnt rubber is nowhere to be found. Instead, it is a very nice glass of sweet toasty black fruit. Wood is obvious but not overwhelming. Instead, it adds a light background of sweet wood-burned maple to plums, boysenberry, and blueberry. This is a good food wine, too, for the sweet wood and fruit are balanced by acids that will happily complement well-marbled beef. Drink this with a big Ribeye and some creamed spinach.
A pleasant and interesting wine, leading with plum, raspberry, cranberry, and spicy hints of cayenne and thyme. Light tannins and acids are there in good balance. The mid-palate is lacking, dropping from attack to simpler one-dimensional juice, but retaining the peppery pop. It's a good burger and fries wine but a ribeye would knock it out in the first round.
Standing alone this is thin and slightly sour, but as a food wine it comes into its own. It has some light red juiciness and a touch of licorice, but the unique and surprising flavor is a sea-spray saltiness. For many this will be a curiosity, and for some it will be a treat. Pair it with dry-rubbed barbecue on a hot afternoon.
Gorgeous translucent ruby color with clear edges, pure Pinot noir, with no tell-tale purple edges hinting at Syrah in the mix. When first opened it is a full plate of heavily smoked meat, like slow-smoked pork with a perfect pink ring. After a couple of hours of decanting, though, the red fruit comes through with nuances of tiny wild strawberries, Michigan cherries, and some cranberries. It is all shot through with a healthy dose of smoke (more mesquite than hickory), and a bit of the aforementioned BBQ pork, but far milder than when first opened. The finish is long. This is very good wine and a terrific bargain. Good luck finding it, though. Only 155 cases were made.
Tasted with 1997 Cheval Blanc, Château Margaux, and Mouton-Rothschild, the Haut-Brion clearly stood out as the most balanced and complex of this fine lot. Minerality was remarkable. Wet gravel and scorched earth formed the base for red currant, sweet wood, and smoked meat flavors. Tobacco and mint added counterpoints to the mild fruit flavors, clearly giving way to the secondary flavors of a mature Bordeaux. This is ready now and in this down ‘97 vintage unlikely to improve with additional age. If you are in New York, take it to Keen's, order the Mutton Chop, and pay the corkage fee. Don't forget to offer a taste to your waiter (and the envious wine steward).