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Jenise

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WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by Jenise » Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:34 pm

Having discussed South Africa's Thelema winery here recently with Keith Prothero and others I had put a 2001 Merlot in the drinking queue, and last night that seemed a good match for a duck and wild mushroom ragout over parslied new potatoes. The wine was initially startling. I had not expected so big a wine. It's concentrated and full-bodied, and it bellows camphor for the first half hour or so while the wine's considerable other qualities catch up. Texturally it's very elegant and, as Bob put it, "expensive tasting". The fruit is that black huckleberry I find in so many South African wines softened with the plummier flavors that come with some age, and it seques into a long finish that turned a bit tannic toward the end of the second glass.

My husband had trouble identifying the camphor and distinguishing that from 'herbaceous', so for education purposes I opened a 2000 Bordeaux Superieur called Bois Noir. The wine is mostly cab franc with some merlot and that's a ripe year, so I hoped it would show how different the camphor in the preceding wine was. It did. Poured blind, Bob immediately guessed that the new wine was Bordeaux, and though the herbs came through loud and clear they were "sweeter" and "cedary" and "not medicinal" like the South African. The Bois Noir was also medium bodied, and rustic in style with some chunky tannins. Not a showcase Bordeaux by any means, but good in an average kind of way and drinking well now.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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keith prothero

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Re: WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by keith prothero » Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:17 am

Thanks for note Jenise. Although I like Thelema merlot,I am a much bigger fan of their Cab and recommend to you especially the 99,2000 and 2001. The 99 is drinking great now,and the other two could perhaps benefit from a few more years bottle age.
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by Jenise » Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:55 am

Keith, I do have the 01 Cab in the cellar and look forward to a bottle. I'll hold them awhile longer. Tell me, is that camphor note common to Thelema reds or just something about this vintage of the merlot?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by keith prothero » Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:23 pm

Jenise. Difficult that.Camphor is not a descriptor I use for any wine I taste. Do you think fennel smells something like camphor,because that is how I would describe that distinctive Thelema merlot smell. Fennel mixed with spicy plums,mocha and mulberries.
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Re: WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by Jenise » Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:01 pm

Hmmm, fennel. You know what, until a Buddhist monk in China last month gave me a bracelet made of camphor wood, it was a wine smell I'd run into but never had a name for. It was just in that family of green smells somewhere between herbal and medicinal. Fennel could be another way of describing it if like me you haven't been around camphor wood. But no matter, you answered the question by acknowledging a "distinctive Thelema merlot smell"--it's there, no matter what one calls it. Thanks!
Last edited by Jenise on Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Thelema and Bois Noir

by Dave Erickson » Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:06 pm

I rather like "camphor" as a potential descriptor. Thanks, Jenise, that's a good one!

PS: Isn't it amazing how recent experiences with smell influence the way we evaluate wines? Back in May, I went hiking around the Dordogne River valley, and was suddenly hit by the aroma known as "forest floor." It was one of those "Golly, that's really what it's like" moments. :D

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