there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

08 May 2010


Castagna Adam’s Rib The Red 2008 
$35; 14% alcohol; Diam cork; 94+++
Nebbiolo and Syrah.  Moody, glowering, simmering and surly down below, acrid and almost irritating up top.  As it settles, it suddenly seems perfectly assimilated and cool, and all that marello cherry and blueberry seems rich and opulent, and suits perfectly the velvet tannins that fur up its tail.  Then the acid announces itself, and sets the whole thing flowing with sinuous, silky syrup that makes me really friggin hungry.  These various wings of the wine seem to take turns to hold you, and it, aloft.  But I expect great Nebbiolo to also set its tannin loose above its palate, like a cloud; an ethereal, heavenly mattress of fluff.  While this wine certainly holds me suspended, it has not quite set its tannin free: it’s still there at the bottom of the mouth, growling like a caged Shiraz.  But it’s stunning wine nevertheless, and amongst the best use I’ve seen of the confounding prehistoric Nebbi in this confounding prehistoric land.  Adam is a winemaker to watch!

Gaja Costa Russi Langhe 1997
$380?; 14.5% alcohol; cork; drunk 4MAY10; 94+++ points
The Gaia family bought this vineyard from Russi in the Langhe in 1967. It’s officially 95% Nebbiolo and 5% Barbera, and is classified Langhe rosso. But this wine reeked of juniper and the leaves of the nightshades, which had me suspicious about the presence of Cabernet sauvignon. The wine is cone-shaped: it starts with the most elegantly slender point of the gastronomy stiletto, and just gets wider and wider until you feel like Bacchus and Pan are trying to show you something that’s bigger than your infant sensories can handle. The initial aroma was estery, with a musk and banana fringe on the classic Nebbiolo medlar berries and raspberry. Then came those leafy vegetals, and by then we were in too far: black tea tin led to pure carbon blacks, the coal scuttle, and the boiler oven. The final mighty tannins are junipery, and are matched by astonishing natural acidity. A very very fine wine indeed. Royalty. Remember to wave as you go down!

Michael Dransfield wasn’t quite writing about Nebbiolo when he suggested:

… send the dream-transfusion out
on a voyage among your body machinery.
Hits you like sleep - sweet, illusory, fast,
with a semblance of forever.
For a while the fires die down in you
until you die down in the fires.
Once you have become a drug addict
You will never want to be anything else

But you get my drift, don’t you.

Castagna Adam’s Rib The Red 2009 
$35; 13.5% alcohol; Diam cork; 93-4+++ points

Because of its braw infant structure, this wine is too young to point: the wise appraiser should withdraw from limiting its bright potential with numbers.  It is more intense and taut than the 08; more austere and unformed.  It has rude blueberry in abundance, but where the older wine has marello cherry, this has acrid juniper riding shotgun, and it has aniseed and licorice where the 08 has other fleshy fruits.  The palate has staunch Protestant astringency, tannin and acid.  I should think my next appraisal should be in about 2020, by which point some of the Nebbiolo’s puppy fat will have gained a grasp of these hard black Shiraz bones. Tasted November 2011     

Pizzini King Valley Nebbiolo 2005
$35; 14.3% alcohol; cork; drunk 7-8MAY10; 79++ points
Hard to work out whether this one’s intense or just plain tense. It doesn’t exactly jump with raspberry. Instead, it seems more along the lines of harness leather and old tobacco pouches, and its tannins quickly move from velvet to dolomite, without floating on a cloud above the fruit palate. It seems therefore to be made in the SuperTuscan mould, rather than as a pure and simple Nebbiolo. It’s still good, almost grand wine. But it has a sullen, surly density that almost threatens me. Open for a whole day, it begins to show some fruit sinuousity, but those black tannins are still almost violently dominant. Silence is violence.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy the silence. I look forward to trying the 05 Pizzini, but I can only hope your assessment is open to debate.