The Naked Truth from an Underground POV

desert haboob? play on!

desert haboob? play on!

The Underground Wineletter is one of the finest newsletters covering wine obsessions since the 1980s. John Tilson is the editor and publisher. He knows wine and is a very decent writer. Much better than the tripe found here [ed. Hey. We like tripe and buches too.] John loves many more California wines than the tBoW Tasting Team. At least he knows so much about them that he is a peerless historian on the older established labels such as Ridge, Mayacamas, Diamond Creek…

We love reading his stuff. He also likes to go against the grain and “break news.” He is pretty good at being a newsbreaking contrarian. Among his more notorious subjects was one of his earliest editorial exposes titled Hokus Pokus Opus. He immediately saw through the marketing brilliance of Robert Mondavi and Baron Phil Rothschild [ed. Baron Phil. That’s funny.] Blending Cabernet from the top Bordeaux and the would-be top Napa Cab in a first-off-its-kind across-the-ocean venture that was Opus. Just ponder a moment how often this gimmick has been repeated. The Opus vineyard was too new to produce fruit close to the quality of Mouton so he sourced it… starting yet another super trend; custom crush indie labels.

Tilson was also among the first to suspect and write about fraud in the super-collectible wine market. He ridiculed the 100 point scale exposing the joke. What does a scale that never falls below 87 say about 100 points? That is really a lucky 13! Tilson often waits for the wine world to catch up with him. He is an ardent advocate of listing wine ingrediments on wine labels; a practice some winemakers abhor. We hope to read his thoughts on the “naked or natural wine” movement soon.

He is especially strong with California wines however he loves Burgundy. His annual trip to and review of the most recent vintages are highly opinionated in his very detailed way. Forget Parker and the Speculator. If you want to learn a lot about wine then you should read the Underground. You can get the UW for nothing except the effort to sign up online. A very worthy read.

Here are some really great wines we tasted recently. Let me amend. These may be the two of the three best wines we have tasted all year.

bramaterra082008 Antonioti Bramaterra $28 (Eno): This is beautiful wine. Originates in the northern most region of Piemonte. 72 acres comprises not the entire vineyard but the entire region. Thank you Louis Dressner for importing this gem. Thank you Eno Fine Wine and Mr. Goldun for getting it to us at such a great price. Juicy, completely balanced. It is the perfect wine right now. 13%

ladoix09CROP2009 Domaine Gaston and Pierre Ravaut Ladoix Premier Cru Les Basses Mourotte $32 (Eno): Mrs. tBoW who prefers New World Pinot Noir was impressed with this wine, another Eno find. “Sophisticated. Pour me a little more.” It is sophisticated high tone Burgundy. We do not know who is the producer or the vineayrd. “Situated on the east side of the Corton hill, Ladoix-Serrigny is one of three communes that produce both reds and whites entitled to the Corton grand Cru appellation. While Aloxe-Corton has the largest Grand Cru vineyard land by far almost equally divided between Corton-Charlemagne and the lions share of the great red Crus, Ladoix shouldn’t be overlooked.” Whenever Corton-Charlemagne is mentioned that is very good. This is beautiful Burgundy with all the finesse and sophistication that will never be found in a New World Pinot Noir. Get it. This is a terrific price. 13%

Eno Fine Wine is on a roll. Tilson and the Underground Wineletter are classics. Here is another classic completely out there on his own stretching the envelope of greatness.