August 25, 2009


Avoid small children if you can. Especially, your own.

Off and on, for the past several weeks, I have been running a low-grade fever and been plagued with aches and soreness. On at least one occasion my fever spiked above 104 degrees (40.2 centigrade) and I was sure I was done for. Thankfully, I survived. But my condition has kept me from the Lab. The backlog of experiments is mounting.

I've discovered today that I have Parvovirus B19 which I acquired from my otherwise delightful school-age daughter.

The best part? There's no cure. You just have to wait it out and eventually your body conquers the virus. Or you get terrible anemia and need transfusions. I'm hopeful I can avoid this eventuality.

I'll let you know.

August 6, 2009

Something New: Day 2

I've always been curious about the idea that a wine that holds up on the second day is well suited for aging. It is certainly well suited to handle exposure to oxygen for 24 hours. But is this really proof of longevity? Everybody thinks so. But everybody thinks a lot of things that aren't true.

Before you start writing letters, I'm not making any claims for or against here -- unlike the controversy I started by claiming that decanters are just for show which is definitely true, and you can write all the letters you want but the facts won't change) -- I'm just expressing a curiosity on the topic.

It's a tough hypothesis to test rigorously. But regular readers know that rigor isn't actually one of The Lab's strong suits. So we'll test it in our own way.

I figured since I'm watching the evolution of the Pyramid Valley Riesling anyway, I might just add this test to the mix. So last night, I left a single glass worth of wine in the bottle -- which did require a great deal of discipline on my part. No inert gas; no pump. I just capped the bottle and put it back in the fridge.

Twenty-four hours later...

It was still brilliant. No discernible fade. The acidity was crisp and bright. The fruit luscious. If anything the aromatics had improved.

If there's any truth in this notion, this wine should hold up for the duration.

Guess we'll see about that.

And if you do write letters, please be sure to mention the Stelvin closure (screw top) because The Lab is just looking for an excuse to enter into the whole cork controversy as well.

August 5, 2009

Hello Again


It's time to check in with our Evolution programme wherein we follow a single wine for the long haul. Today we taste the white category entrant, the 2006 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Lebecca Riesling (and by "we," I mean me, hiding in my office, hoping none of the staff wander in and force me to share.).

The nose first shows subdued petrol notes, followed by lemon oil, citrus pith and something herbal/green (verbena?). In a profound way, the wine tastes just like it smells. The attack is citric acidity with enough energy that you briefly think frizzante? The mid-palate has terpene notes intertwined with apple, nectarine, clover and honey. A limestone finish almost completely eclipses the sweet. With some time in the air, you would swear you can smell the lees in your glass.

This wine seems to have gained some flesh since we last tasted it, as if the orchard fruit were ripening in the bottle. There's still some glycerin but it seems less obvious at this stage. But the structure of the wine seems more forward now, an architecture finding a foundation.

I've always thought this wine had an unexpectedly Mosel quality, like a brilliant counterfeit. But with time the forgery fades and you have to acknowledge the unique artistry that's there in the (new) original.