TN: Black bamboo

Last year, we planted a stand of black bamboo in our yard. Recent daily rains have initiated a growth spurt and I have been watching as it appears to practically grow before my eyes. It’s putting on at least two inches a day. ‘Never saw anything like it.
While keeping one eye on this remarkable plant, we’ve tried a few wines:


2005 Pieropan, Soave La Rocca:
For a wine that sees wood, I could barely pick-up any influence – which, for me, is a good thing. Golden in color; powerfully scented and intense in the mouth, this wine will probably outlive me. But it was also delicious with a dish of pasta with smoked salmon, artichokes and fava beans in a light cream sauce. In this vintage, this bottling is very, very good.

2002 Luneau-Papin, Muscadet Excelsior Terroir de Schistes:
Complex and clean nose with lots of bright aromas and focused scents; similar in the mouth but with more breadth and concentration; good length. More mineral/earth in the mouth but less precise than the Granite de Clisson but very similar in texture and depth. Perfect with Bún chả (chicken). About $20, although I got this on sale for less.

2006 Louis Michel, Petit Chablis:
Reticent nose; slightly herbaceous (dried herbs – not green) and a touch thin but otherwise, fairly representative village-type Chablis; surprising length. The length makes me think this could use a year or two in bottle but its tasty now. Done entirely in stainless; screwcap. About $20.

2003 Château Réal D’Or, Côtes de Provence:
Made of marsanne, grenache blanc and picpoul, 12.5% alcohol and about $6; slightly tired nose with a hint of oxidation; much the same in the mouth, lacking freshness, solid flavors and medium length. Past it – ‘might have been nice on release but it isn’t worth the calories now.


2007 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin:
Translucent salmon color; pomegranate, baking spice and mineral nose; beginning to fill out in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose and add wild raspberry accents, dry, intense and beautifully balanced; quite long. Exhilarating wine.

2006 Overnoy, Arbois Pupillin:
Much the same as the foregoing wine except that this is built more for the long term, has greater concentration and structure but is less open now and speaks to me of the character of a mature Burgundy in ways the 2007 does not. Beyond good with a fresh tuna and white bean salad.

(Aside: Both of these wines (as well as past vintages) are some of the most enjoyed in my cellar. They have a distinctive character that is unlike any other, they are terrific with food, they make me happy to drink them, and they appeal to the intellect. A tip of the cap to Louis/Dressner, the importer; people who truly care about the wines they select for their portfolio.)

2007 Cadencias, Ribera del Guadiana:
Half and half tempranillo and syrah; 13.5% alcohol and about $10; has a bit of chocolate covered cherry in the nose but also some earthiness and spice; much the same in the mouth, no wood, moderately concentrated, not quite of a piece and medium length. So much better with food that I would not drink it by itself again.

2006 Emperador de Barros, Ribera del Guadiana:
Mostly tempranillo, 13.5% alcohol and about $8. Smells like someone made cotton candy out of wine and tastes similar . . . at first. As it opens, more depth and character arrive but this never stops being fairly sweet. Not my style but I can see this appealing to folks who don’t like their reds “too dry.”

Lot 48 Marietta Cellars, Old Vine Red:
Adequate quaffing wine but after it gets some air, too much wood for me and a little thin. Still, pleasant. About $14.

2006 Primarius, Pinot Noir:
Charming, amiable wine; not over-stated or over-oaked, pretty aromatics, elegant textures, lovely flavors and good length. Not something to cellar but a very easy to drink Oregon pinot. $14.

2005 Domaine des Chassaud, Côtes de Rhone:
Smells mostly of grenache and earth; tastes dark and somewhat tannic and has good length, albeit slightly drying – but this could be CdP if one wasn’t looking at the label. A nice wine with structure and more complexity than expected. 14% alcohol and about $11; ‘worth a try.

2006 Vinosia, Irpinia Aglianico:
13% alcohol and about $15; smells a little like talcum powder; tastes pretty good but has a semi-sweet edge that doesn’t seem to go away and medium length. Neither obvious tannins nor noticeable structure. Definitely not reminiscent of Taurasi and, IMO, not anything I’d buy again.

2005 Domaine A. et P. De Villaine, Bourgogne La Digoine:
12.5% alcohol and about $32, on release; wild cherry nose that is focused and stylish; youthful, etched fruit with a firm, mineral underpinning, precise balance, vigorous yet nicely austere; dense on the finish (think young Corton). A wine of breed and class with many years left in the cellar. Lovely.

Best, Jim

Jim, thanks for the notes as always. After wanting to try it for a long time, I had the chance to drink the '02 Excelsior twice this past week. The first time it was more as you note here, clear and focused, not quite as expansive and frankly rich (for Muscadet) as I thought I’d heard it was. The second time, in a line up with '07 Briords and other Loire whites, it showed much more honeyed and waxy, not so much evolved as simply more rich than the first bottle. Both were clearly Muscadet with great focus, the second just had another level of complexity. Wonder if you’ve had any similar experiences with this wine.

I have had that very experience and I’m not certain the cause.
Best, Jim

Another CA wine ruined by an ill-advised wood regimen in an effort to pander to the “oak is a good thing at all times” crowd. This used to be dependable year in and year out and it boggles the mind why someone would deliberately add up to $4 to the cost of production while making the wine less appealing in the process.

I’m sure they’re using chips and staves; I can’t imagine new barrels at this price point.
Best, Jim