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  • 2010 La Clarine Farm White

    Another distinctive drinking experience from La Clarine. The nose captures the lush stone fruit character of California Viognier, the baked pear/apple/roasted nut presence of Roussanne, and the edgy, spicy, mildly aldehydic nature of skin-fermented Marsanne. Like La Clarine's Home vineyard red, the most compelling aspect of this wine is its texture- mildly salty, almost reminiscent of the Jura; bitter in an exciting, succulent way (somewhat akin to Campari's balancing presence in a Negroni); and rich, with the Sierra Foothills warmth coming through. A beautifully balanced wine, superb accompaniment to food, and utterly exciting. Looking forward to seeing how this will age.

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  • NV Frank Cornelissen Contadino 7

    After my experience with Dettori I was a bit nervous to try this. Thankfully it showed a much more promising beginning. Upon opening it showed a touch of VA, though it wasn't overwhelming; instead the nose was dominated by cranberry, black pepper, and some burnt orange peel. This was quite fizzy on the palate, with the resulting impression being somewhat akin to a really dry black cherry soda (Hansen's?). The finish possessed a touch of aldehydic character, with a strong walnut/almond note .

    With air, however, after about an hour or so, this became ever more dominated by VA. By day two, when I tasted this again, it was overwhelmed by VA and aldehydes. Unlike the Dettori, which had no redeemable qualities, this was perhaps even more tragic because a glimpse of beautiful terroir could be seen, yet it was marred by the winemaking. Again, it's nice to see someone taking winemaking to the edge, though in this case pulling back a bit from the extreme would have made a more sound, more site-driven wine.

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  • 2006 Tenute Dettori Tuderi Romangia IGT

    First off, some facts: I had the VA on this wine tested in a lab and it came back as 2.08 g/l. To give that number some perspective, the legal limit in California (and I believe Europe as well) is 1.2 g/l. So, objectively speaking the VA on this is quite high and also illegal. But numbers aren't everything, and I tasted this before knowing the VA, so how was the wine?

    To put it bluntly, this was the worst wine I've ever put in my mouth. The acetic burn of this wine was actually painful to swallow; I imagine this is what it would be like to drink nail polish. No fruit, no minerality, nothing but alcohol, VA, and pain. And I gave it plenty of chances: Tasted it over about 4 hours on day 1, then recorked and gave it a go on day 2; same horrible experience every time. I don't regret buying or drinking this, as there are lessons to be learned from wines this flawed. It does bother me however that this is passed off as being terroir driven- this is a complete obfuscation of site. There is no excuse for this but sloppy winemaking; call it hands off, call it natural, but the hand of man (or lack thereof) has obliterated any sense of place here. It is wines like this that give a bad name to the natural winemakers out there who are pushing the boundaries while still being meticulous about cleanliness and microbial health.

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