If you play by the rules, your Brunello will contain nothing but the Sangiovese clone called Brunello. Put in anything else and you're looking at six years in the pokey. Compare this to California, where you can varietally-label your cuvee as long as it's 75% said varietal, and name the legally-defined region as long as you're using 85% indigenous fruit--the rest can be anything under the sun. Or to Bordeaux, where Bacchus help you if you make anything even approaching a single-varietal wine and your name isn't Moueix. Burgundy is a notable exception to this universal, intelligent acceptance of red wine blending, and I presume that's because no noble red grape other than Pinot Noir can thrive at such a chilly extreme (and because Pinot-Tannat-Mourvedre blends never really caught on).
So once again, Italy shoots itself in the piede with its overambitious notions of "purity". That the brilliant Montalcino oenologists have to risk screwing themselves financially to experiment with even 10% of varietals that have a track record of deliciousness in the Tuscan terroir is stultifying. The market will ensure lazily made wines get what's coming to them--give me an electrifying Brunello (90%) / Merlot (6%) /Cab Franc (4%) for $50 and my walletful of wet noodle dollars is forever open.
- Hogue Fume Blanc 2005 - This had been opened two days earlier and so had a certain bitterness that wasn't totally out of place with the wine's natural grapefruit and mineral flavors. Pleasing yellow color may be due to the 25% Semillon in the blend. I plan to drink gallons of this over the course of the summer.
- Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - A steal from the Central Coast--viscous cassis and plum flavor lead off, finished off by spicy cloves on the back palate. Doesn't overwhelm white meat, but its teeth gnash for a B.A. Barracus-level food challenge.
- Bee's Knees Sauvignon Blanc 2007 - Lush, suggestively floral nose, but don't call it cat pee. Not much depth, but a high-toned acidity integrates well with typical NZ flavors of grass, lime, and an edge of peach.
- Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2006 - A fragile, light-bodied wine that was perceptibly sour after less than an hour of being open. Also too warm, though lilting pear and banana flavors still squiggled through.
- Rusden "Bakery Hill" Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - Expecting a blueberry-menthol Slush Puppie led to disappointment--this is a restrained (13.0%) Barossa Cab that offers sharp acidity and earthiness while plum/prune and raisin flavors take a backseat.
- Highland Park 12 Year Single Malt Scotch - Still my favorite non-Islay whisky, with a round, toasty presence punctured on the finish by a tart spike. Best with a quarter-teaspoon of water swirled in.