Monday, January 20, 2014

About those disappointments

(Recovering from disappointment, below.)

Of course it's important to distinguish between what we don't like and what's actually badly made, and nowadays there is very little wine that is actually badly made. The two wines that follow were, I am sure, very nice and sound, if possibly a little past their prime. Very interesting, too. Just not to my taste. I offer my notes, plain and unvarnished.

2003 Artesa late harvest gewurztraminer, Napa

beautiful amber-gold
aromas: fresh lettuce
Chinese food -- breaded chicken
water chestnuts
thick body -- prickly acidity

-- this is not what any sweet wine lover would call "sweet" -- perhaps more like a sherry? -- serve with a salad or appetizers

Gewurztraminer is a grape known for its heady floral smells -- "lychees, tea rose, tropical fruit, black pepper, and the intimate dressing room aroma of Nivea Creme," according to Oz Clarke in Grapes and Wines -- in fact it is curious how often wine writers use theater-and-whorehouse metaphors for it -- so that characteristic may account for the faded vegetable scents in this Artesa. Faded as it should be, because it's a late harvest wine, or faded because this example is seven years old?

Next: 2007 Donna Fugata Anthilia, Sicilia I.G.T. (50% ansonica, 50% catarratto)

golden, honey color -- tawny 
pear -- baked pear  aroma
very  light body -- strong prickly acid
pear pastry finish -- buttery pears

Are we clear that this one reminds us of pears? That sounds good, but the wine also had a harsh edge which might mean "too old," or might simply mean "not for me." Anthilia's 50/50 blend is typical of Sicily, as Oz Clarke goes on to teach us in his Grapes and Wines: ansonica is also called inzolia, is of good quality and "fresh and rather racy at its best;" catarratto can be "crisp and vaguely interesting" if yields are kept low. Both grapes either are or were used in the making of marsala, Sicily's specialty -- and winery Donna Fugata's address on the label reads Marsala (Sicilia), Italy.

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