Premier Cru. Very big nose - like Martinelli's sparkling apple juice with a rich honey note and relatively light yeast. Pure fruit and light yeast palate, small amount of toast, very lovely. Very very slightly bitter on the end, but barely at all. Finishes quite long and gently warm. Bold style, but executes very well. $79.
Spain, Andalucía, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Biscuits (English, not American), salt, bitter almond. Very dry, quite salty on the palate, reasonable acid but mostly on the front and back (where it is joined by the alcohol). The near-mid palate is quite empty. On the very back-end there's a distinct note of liver. Certainly an acquired taste and not really one for me. Take this rating with a pinch of salt - I've little to compare this with and it's just not really my thing. 15%, $18/500 ml.
Molasses, dried figs, dates and salt. Bone-dry - very disorienting after such a rich nose. But man, this is lip-smackingly delicious. Great acid, quite alcoholic, very rich palate, slightly drying mouthfeel, tons of dried fruit and some roasted nuts, level of oxidation very well-integrated. Delicious! 20%, $45.
France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux du Layon
Yummmmm. Light gold color. *Very* fruity - mango and candied peaches on the pretty ester-y nose with relatively light botrytis. A *lot* of mango on the palate, botrytis and acid on the front, just a little flabby in the mid-palate. Finishes a bit spicy and a little cloying. Delicious, and would be absolutely spellbinding if the acid-sweetness balance was just a little better. 12.5%, $46.
A little musty on the nose, quite oxidized (but not in a bad way), caramel. Still, great acid on the palate, very clean, lots of botrytis lingering on in the long finish. Too expensive for me. 10%, $82 / 375 ml.
Not very aromatic - lots of alcohol on the nose, small amount of tropical fruit (pineapple) and spice - not promising. Alcohol obvious on the palate, which is a little bitter, quite sweet and with not enough acid. Pretty cloying. Not *flawed*, just not good. Poor effort. A shame - I would want an American-French hybrid like Vignoles to do well (much as Vidal does in these parts), but not this time. 250 cases, 12.4% residual sugar, 10.8% alcohol, $23 / 750 ml.
First bottle was corked. Second seemed fine but had a pretty muted nose. Almost mango chutney it's so spicy. *Lots* of botrytis on the palate. A little off-kilter - the alcohol is coming through somewhat, but the acid-sweetness balance is good. Finishes a little short. 11.5%, $70 / 750 ml.
Light gold color. Deep, luscious nose, like honeyed buttered apricots. Quite oaky. Clearly very young on the palate - really needs some time. Excellent acid, again very luscious, quite fat. Very well put-together. Should improve with time. Very long. 14%, $36 / 375 ml.
Light copper gold color. Now this is *pure* tinned peach syrup on the nose. Holy cow. Plus your standard botrytis and oxidation. Peaches continue on the palate. Loads of botrytis, plenty of acid - quite beautiful, with a long, gently tapering finish dominated by dried apricots and an entire forest of wood. Funny - I've had this exact wine before and didn't make quite so much of it (90-91 P if memory serves). Tonight it really hit the spot. 11.5%, $40 / 500 ml.
WHAT?! Where did THIS come from? An island in the middle of a lake in Vermont??? Light copper color. Nose like a combination of triple-concentrated Manischewitz grape juice and concentrated mango juice. Unbelievably intense on the attack - almost eye-wateringly so. Sometimes you'll taste something that is so unbelievably sweet and so unbelievably acidic at the same time that your saliva glands just can't cope and they almost start hurting. Well I love that sensation, and this delivers in SPADES. This is *so sweet* (21% residual sugar) but it has such an unbelievably huge amount of acid that it finishes remarkably clean. I'd had very little luck with ice wines up until tonight, but whoa. This might be a bit too much for some people, but what a wine! Rounded out nicely by some flavor components I can't identify because I'm still trying to stop my eyes from watering. $45 / 375 ml.
Solera-style sweet Pinot Gris? Why not? Influenced by the Massandra wines. Copper-red color. Smells almost like an XO cognaac - very woody, caramel, dried fig, some apricot. However, very poor performance on the palate - disappointing after the nose. Almost completely lacking in any perceptible acid. This is an unctuous syrup but it lacks structure or much interest on the nose. 20.4% residual sugar, 13.5% alcohol (fortified). $45 / 375 ml.
Very dark - no bricking. Decanted 3 hours but still needs time. Nose still quite tight, but very warm - deep, sweet fruit. Very nice palate - great acidity, and starting to calm down. Well structured, but not moving me. Another couple decades perhaps? $120 these days in these parts.