Now I will admit this may seem a cheap shot, to agress a man for his name, but David Schildnecht‘s posts and notes for The Wine Advocate are unremittingly and unrewardingly complicated.
He has historically been their reviewer of German wines, which are themselves, quite frankly, a complicated bunch. They remain for many the zenith of white wine with certain reaching even beyond the peaks of the finest white Burgundies. Refinement, elegance and ethereal in every way.
He has also reviewed white burgundies and now champagnes.
I once had the task, no challenge, of translating his reviews of a Meursault producer for whom some friends were creating a website. I took it on blithely. It was herculean, as I found myself lost in a labyrinth of endless, serpentine sentences awash with microscopic references to smells, tastes and nuances I had never even thought existed. It was exhausting.
I suppose his views are meant to be regarded as erudite, but where as the Wine Spectator‘s James Molesworth strays into a fantasy world of hyperbole (and in any case all of his reviews can be reduced to one intrinsic flavor: persimmon), I fear Schildnecht’s writing is just suffocation. You can never really understand what he says or get a feel for the wine he describes. It is unpenetrable, and perhaps even disturbed. And with that reflection he reminds of Russel Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind“. There may be brilliance in there, but it is confused and hysterical.
And so this morning I was hoping to read up on Champagne Philipponnat’s Cuvée 1522. I reverted to the Advocate and this,
“Philipponnat’s 2004 Extra Brut Cuvee 1522 Disg. 3/2013 represents the latest in a “1522” series begun close to two decades ago of cuvees that have always showcased, to at least a significant extent, estate vines in Ay, in this instance specifically those of the Le Leon vineyard, which are joined by 30% Chardonnay from Le Mesnil and Cramant. Chamomile and mint; almond and freshly milled grain; smoky black tea and bitter quinine inflect the scents and lusciously juicy abundance of white peach, apple, grapefruit and lime, for a performance as fascinatingly complex as it is compulsively seductive. Silken-textured and subtly but expansively effervescent, this coats and soothes even as it stimulates the palate. A marine amalgam of salt, alkali, and iodine lends intrigue and saliva inducement to a peacock’s tail finish. As this takes on air, the smoky and bitter elements become more prominent; nutty and cereal elements transform into walnut oil and buckwheat; apple takes on faintly bruised skin pungency; and the combination of these dark shadings with persistent inner-mouth floral and herbal high-tones strike me as typifying Ay. This wine continued to dazzle with its complexity and sensuality for four days (at which point I could not resist the temptation to finish it off!) and I strongly suspect that its bottle evolution will be worth pursuing for at least a half dozen years.”
With that penultimate phrase I could also agree but would omit the sensuality and substitute “it” for him. This is not the worst I have seen for him, but he makes the art (sic) of breathing difficult.
So David, it’s all very earnest and such, but please chill out, and filter. It’s too much. Reduce it down to an essence. If the wines are that good, know that more is less.
Addenda: I note with a slight sadness, bitterness or regret that he has now left the Wine Advocate; what will the future bring? Good good I feel as though I have the leaden touch of Midas…