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 over the past few weeks:
2013 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: Retail $28. I have enough bottles of Pinot in storage to, well, drink one every day for quite a while. But all of those are in storage and essentially inaccessible for the time being. Thus, when I found myself with nary a bottle of Pinot Noir to celebrate National Pinot Noir Day, I had to run out to the local wine shop for a bottle. When I came across this wine, I picked it up without hesitation. Why? I had just returned to Houston from several weeks on the road, which included a week in Oregon, where I met David Adelsheim for the first time. The tasting focused on Willamette sparkling wines, but my interactions with Dave, a legend in the valley, made an impression. I had tasted his wines many times before, but I never had a face or a reference to associate with the wines. After the tasting, though, Dave and I chatted a bit and he was an incredibly nice guy, so the wine was a no-brainer. Tight raspberry and cherry fruit, with hints of the forest, I feel like this over delivers at its price point. Good fruit upfront, certainly, but it is held in check with a brilliant tartness and that touch of earth. Wonderfully pleasant, just like Dave Adelsheim. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
N.V. Champagne Haton Extra Brut: Retail $45. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. I have a limited history with the house of Haton, but I must say it is a happy one. Always on the lookout for an inexpensive “house” champagne, I bought a case of the standard Brut a few years ago for ~$30/bottle. This is a drier version of that Brut as not as much sugar is added in after the second fermentation. The result is a much more food-driven style with a slightly golden in the glass with a steady stream of delicate bubbles. A lemon brioche (is there such a thing?) on the nose with plenty of verve and yeastiness on the palate. Noticeably drier than the rosé (below), this is a much better accompaniment to my chicken with a mushroom crème fraîche dinner than the rosé (and the rosé was no slouch). As the bottle wore on, I grew more fond, so much so that I hid the bottle from my spouse. Sure I will probably rot in hell for that, but right now I really don’t care. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
N.V. Haton Brut Rosé: Retail $55. 35% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay. I do not have a lot of “rules” to live by, in fact, they are more “mantras” than rules: I try to exercise regularly, get to bed at a decent hour, and try not to get hit by a moving train. I do have at least one hard and fast rule, however: I always have to have bubbles in the house. On top of that, a sub-rule I guess, is that a good proportion of those bubbles needs to be pink. Why? Well, generally speaking, rosé champagne has a higher proportion of Pinot Noir in the blend, which for me makes all the difference. Pinot adds more depth, more backbone, and those wines are usually better with a meal. Thus, when I saw this on sale for $20, I bought a small boatload. One of the darker rosé champagnes on the market, a brilliant pink with a slightly orange hue. Fantastic vibrant mousse, with a muted nose of yellow peach, Bing cherry, and wet rock. It leads to great fruit upfront with a prominent chalkiness followed by an active tartness and a lingering finish. This is a solid wine at $45. At $20? This is a stupid great deal that will make you rethink many rules you might have (but keep the one about moving trains, trust me). Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
N.V. Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé: Retail $65. Pinot Noir (up to 55%), Chardonnay (about 30%) and Pinot Meunier (around 15%). The Veuve takes a lot of heat since it is the darling of the “I-think-I-know-a-lot-about-wine-but-I-really-don’t” crowd. Well, I am here to say that I am an unabashed fan. Yes, unabashed. I know it is not a popular stance among those in the wine appreciation crowd, but, well, I don’t give a rat’s rear-end. I have visited the Veuve Clicquot house on countless occasions and the tour of the facility is one of the best in Reims. The house also figures prominently in a little story that I have been writing about my years as a cycling tour guide in France. On top of all of that, there is likely no figure in the history of Champagne that has been as pivotal as the Widow Clicquot. Thus for many reasons, the wine has a soft spot in my heart. And, frankly, it is darned good. It has abundant bubbles, a deep salmon color, an active sparkle, very nice fruit, and vibrant acidity. The wine alone makes me a fan, but the accompanying history makes me a fanatic. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: This week? I have decided not to choose a wine of the week. Why? Well, as you may have surmised, there is a bit of a story behind each of these wines and I am loath to place one above the others. No doubt an actual WotW will return in this space in the future, but for now, suffice it to say that I am just getting to know my new city of Houston, Texas, and that is sopping up most of my brain power (and there was not all that much to begin with!).
What was your Wine of the Week?