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Post-Hurricane-Nonpocalypse Edition: Numanthia Toro 2000 and Hurricane Songs

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

There is some damage here in Brooklyn, but the great Hurricane of 2011 (following the tiny earthquake) was fairly reminiscent of Y2K and the WTO protests: much ado about little (though I’ve read that Vermont got hit hard). Did a lot of reading. Patti Smith’s book is really that good. Buy it, read it, love her. Paired the end of the Foris Pinot Noir 2008 with a red velvet doughnut and finished that last of the 1970 Burmester Colheita with a cinnamon. Both bottles were safely preserved, vacuum sealed, with my trusty Vacu Vin, and both doughnuts were from Peter Pan on Manhattan Ave. Seeing as I’m alive, without reasonable transportation, and having no real storm damage to deal with, I’ve just pulled the cork on a Numanthia Toro 2000 for no good reason at all. This wine was made from 100% Tinta de Toro grapes from ungrafted vines of 70 to 100 years old, 2300’ above sea level.

I’m feeling kind of topical and am listening to the best of hurricane related songs. As in so many different kinds of playlists, Dylan takes the cake with “Hurricane”, though Golden Smog’s “Hurricane” is also pretty great in a completely different kind of way. For melodrama- and yet another tragedy verité- you’ve got to love Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald”. It’s not much of a stretch from hurricane to storm and I stream through, from Woody Guthrie’s “The Great Dust Storm” to the Minutemen’s “Storm in My House” and The Spaniels “Stormy Weather”, and then back to Dylan with “Shelter From the Storm” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. Honorable mention: “Cold Rain and Snow.”

This label has only been around containing their current cuveés for a little over a decade, and while these wines are consistently bold and beautiful, we’re just beginning to get an idea of their true aging potential. This Numanthia Toro 2000 has settled down considerably since last tasting; the alcohol, the tannins, and the oak, once an overbearing cacophony of monolithic structure, no longer obscure the considerable fruit and cavernous depth of this beast. If a color can approach opaque and/or black and still qualify as some kind of brooding ruby, this would be it. The nose is initially somewhat muted, showing some black fruit, glycerin, and asphalt, but this wine’s gifts are largely of the deep palate of red currant, under blackberries, followed by the less prevalent cassis and vanilla extract. After considerable breathing time a deep mid-palate dryness evolves, stretching the experience through the long, undulating finish. Today, the Numanthia 2000 is serious juice, and while warm and welcoming, this wine still maintains significant weight and shows a touch hot, and will only improve with continued bottle aging.

Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux 2007 and Patti Smith’s New York Minute

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Conflict(s) of interests run as rampant in the wine world as almost anywhere else, besides the intertwined upper echelon of government and industry. Many reviewers make it a point to make known their connections to wines reviewed and many more are slammed in the blogosphere for not disclosing such details. In reviewing another Gerard Bertand wine, I feel I should say that, when contacted, Bertand’s rep wasn’t interested in helping to locate and new releases of Le Viala and La Forge, Bertand’s flagship bottles. On top of this, to my request to pre-pay and have some ordered from the same distributor from which they acquire the more modest bottles, BQE Wine & Liquors, with whom I do a fair amount of business replied, “No special orders.” Everyone involved seems to have the same attitude as the Frenchmen who make the stuff: There isn’t very much of it, it’s very good, and it will all sell without much effort on our part. Unfortunately, all of these things are true, and, besides those aforementioned flagship bottles, Gerard Bertand makes a number of very nice wines per dollar spent. Most recently I tasted Bertrand’s white bubbly: Cremant de Limoux 2007.

I was just reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, about her early days in New York and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorp. Smith’s best known record is of course, Horses (without which there may very well be no Ani DiFranco), which got me thinking about “Wild Horses”. Which lead my ears to find themselves listening to Beggar’s Banquet on shuffle. I’m not sure any other song has such particular visceral connection to a book as does “Sympathy for the Devil” with Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Records did a stunning old time radio show style reading of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s finest work, which predates and outclasses the film, that would eventually follow.

Back to Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux 2007. At just under $15 a bottle (from my friends at BQE Wine & Liquor), this delightful bubbly compares quite favorably on the world stage, versus Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco. In the glass, the Bertrand Cremant is very pale yellow, with the faintest green hue, tapering off to almost clear in the very point of the flute. The palate is sweet, lightly honeyed, and light on its feet, but with enough yeast, citrus, and lively acidity to maintain balance. As it breathes, white grape, Bartlet pair, and green apple build on the palate, unusual in its pleasant grapiness. The moderate finish is with the presence of yeast and a texture that’s near powdery. This is a highly enjoyable sparkling wine for its price point and makes nice summer cocktail.