December 21, 2011

Appel on Wine: Restraint puts Sinskey wines over the top


(Continued from page 1)

Pinot Blanc 2009, $19 (375 milliliters): A svelte, graceful bottle contains a svelte, graceful wine. It jumps off the palate, fresh with tarragon, candied lime and rock salt. White-flower notes provide both panache and pungency. If you equate "refined" with boring, enter here and be forever changed. Spicy appetizers, medium-soft cheeses.

Abraxas 2010, $30: Just so achingly stylish and poised, punctuated by a keen, rousing stoniness midway through the half-minute-long finish. Vibrant aromatics are equal parts herbal, piney, floral and fruity (ripe pears!). That Carneros fog carries plenty of sea salt too. Alsatian terroir's Deutschland-sud austerity is replaced by a downright American ripeness and optimism, blasts of sunshine. With herb-inflected meals of lobster, cream sauces or in-season-right-now Maine sea scallops (or Maria's suggestion of a Moroccan-flavored game hen), this is an unbeatable wine.

Pinot Noir 2008, $39: A large American heart pumps blood to a contemplative European brain. Strawberries and roses waft to the nose and in a full, frankly sexual flush of youth, carry into the introductory flavors. I love how appropriately ripe the fruit presents itself at first. Then history joins the fray: Garrigue, masculine strength, a rod of iron pulled from rocks. I love delicate-flower Burgundies, but this ain't that; no soft foliage here, but rather branches and bark. It develops magnificently in the glass over a few hours, and I'm sure it will age beautifully over the next five years.

POV 2007, $37: This is the most difficult Sinskey wine for me to decode. (Testament to its brilliance?) A blend of the Bordeaux varietals that the Sinskeys believe are so well suited to their Carneros terroir, it's like a precocious child. Shockingly well-integrated and capable of impressive feats of technical skill, the POV is nonetheless still holding something back; it's not yet at ease enough within its own skin to just let loose and be. All the pieces are in place, hinting at their ultimate communal power, which is yet to come.


Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:


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