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Wednesday, December 14, 2011


by Robert Farmer


It’s been a weak year.
Several old chateaus and rising stars
out of  market competition altogether.
Others’ expectations dashed by late spring freezes.
Some negative summer crop surprises.
Connoisseurs still scouting for acceptable varietals in December.
Recent assessments:

Great Northern

Whites exclusively.
Green grapes and inexperienced vintner
produced a shrill, tart, lean wine.
Backward and closed,
too young even for whites.
Short hard finish.
Generally a premature offering.

Old Pauli Boy

An older independent red,
stock brought out from 2008 and earlier.
Previously consistent, simple and straightforward,
but now musty,  some corked to faultiness.
Occasionally a few strong residual hints of oak
which loyal followers may enjoy again.

Cambridge Estates

Variable whites
occasionally dry to emptiness,
but mostly smoothly sweet.
Inconsistent, light to heavy bodied,
but without weight.
Sometimes a sickly sweet finish.
New Venture Vineyards

A harsh, bold new red
that is premature,
though intense and earthy.
Chewy and overly big for its age.
Withdrawn after marketing reconsideration.

Chateau Potomac

unusually complex, occasionally to point of confusion
and inconsistent with earlier vintages from here.
Heavily acidic to astringent usually.
Harsh, bitter, long finish.

Alamo Ridge

Single red released from 2000 vintage.
Newcomer nationally, but with good local reputation.
Strong horsey barnyard aroma,
more than a bit of Brettanomyces.
While bold and big, has poor balance,
leaning to strong tannins.
Long astringent finish.

Salt Lake Vineyards

Sensible limited offering of  whites.
Smooth, with solid structure,
lightly dry and highly aromatic.
Hints of blueberry and citrus.
Pleasant short finish

Western Reserve

Single red,
probably a sneaked-in rerun of 2008 vintage.
Once adventurous, oaky, spicy with hints of pepper,
now lacks structure, is musty,
flabby to point of probably being corked.
Almost no finish.

Robert Farmer is a retired university professor of forest ecology who views the world from Cleveland, Ohio.