Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife. Here are some of the wines we tasted this last week:
2008 DuMOL Chardonnay Clare: Retail ~$65. Before you get all excited, I didn’t buy this bottle—remember my wife has not yet taken the job with Bristol Myers Squibb—although I reserve the right to berate her further to reconsider. She no longer needs to save the world—just bring home the Benjamins so I can drink more wine like this on a daily basis. No, good friends brought this to dinner one night after our kids’ Back to School Night (BTSN). When I was a teacher there was nothing worse than BTSN—I hated it with a passion. You get all these jerk parents who know nothing about education asking moronic questions and making absurd comments (“Don’t you think French is essentially a dead language and the school should be teaching Mandarin instead?” How do you want me to answer that pal? Didn’t you just basically say that I should be fired? Need I remind you that I am the FRENCH TEACHER! Or: “With all the advancements in artificial intelligence, hasn’t the study of Algebra become obsolete?” I had to repress the flippant response—“Listen chum, your kid can barely walk and chew gum at the same time—you have much bigger fish to fry…”). As I circled the block for 35 minutes looking for parking somewhere in the same area code as the restaurant, I came to the very sad realization that I was now one of those parents (at least that is what all of the teachers at my sons’ school were thinking). Perhaps I did not ask any inane questions (yet) but I certainly heard a few from my fellow parents over the course of the evening. Ugh. Right when I needed a drink the most, this DuMOL was waiting for me once I finally parked the Prius. Other than perhaps Morlet (and Kistler, but I have only had that on a couple of occasions), I have not had a finer California style chardonnay. Sure there is oak (listen folks, oak is not what is/was wrong with Cali chards—it is over using that oak to disguise faults with the wine that is the problem) and there is malolactic fermentation. Yes, this is big and buttery, but it is a big, beautiful bundle of bright fruit and balance (yes, that was an attempt at alliteration). The wine is really remarkable, but if you are one of those killjoys that thinks that the big style of Cali chard is an abomination, well (I would say you are ‘wrong’ but that goes against one of my more basic tenets that you should drink what you like)…. Outstanding. 94 points.
2001 Louis Jadot Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Barre: Retail ~$40. I have been sitting on this for a while, and I think I might have waited too long. While this was certainly not horrible, it seems it has turned a bit of a corner—and not the type of corner that, say, Alec Baldwin seems to have turned. No this is more of a Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention type of corner turning. The wine seemed a bit tired and had my wife been there to taste it she would have said it was ‘raisin-y’ which is basically the term she uses for any red wine that she does not particularly like. It was not quite that bad, but there was just not enough fruit to round out the earthiness. Good to Very Good. 86 points.
N.V. Mailly Grand Cru Brut Réserve: Retail ~$35. If I were independently wealthy (or if I ever convince my wife to go to work in the pharmaceutical industry) I would drink this wine every day of the week. Not the most complex of champagnes, but it is amazingly consistent and very well made. Nice fruit followed by some of the brioche/biscuit flavors that really separate champagnes from other sparkling wines. There is a hint of sweetness which is my only real gripe—I like my champers bone dry. Excellent. 91 points.
2007 Row Eleven Viñas 3 Pinot Noir: Retail ~$20. Many people (including yours truly) have said that it is “very difficult to make a good Pinot Noir for under $30″. Well, it depends on how you define ‘good’. If ‘good’ means ‘knock your socks off’ or some sort of religious experience, well I might agree. But if ‘good’ means just that (and not ‘great’ or ‘fantastic’ or ‘mind-blowing’) well, then, this Row Eleven Pinot makes me want to revisit my oft repeated quote above. Clean and honest with some nice fruit upfront, uncomplicated and pleasant. This is a good mid-week pinot option. Good to Very Good. 86 points.
2006 Testarosa Syrah Subasio: Retail ~$25. I came to a realization when searching for this bottle: I have too much damned wine (I can see my wife nod her head bobble head style and I hear some of you groan—’we should all have such problems’, right?). I spent the better part of twenty minutes looking for this freaking bottle and I almost went insane (yes, I said almost). I finally found it (it was actually right where I originally thought it was, but for some reason I believed it was a screwcap—it wasn’t—so I passed over it about seven times thinking it was something else). Glad I found it—great fruit, fantastic balance, very long finish. Maybe I should get just a few more bottles of this…. Excellent. 90 points.