Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife. Here are a few of what we tasted this week:
2009 Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico: Retail ~$18. Available at the PLCB for $13. Picked one of these up to give it a try as I have had good success with this producer. A nice solid effort, with good fruit and balance, and an above-average finish. We had this with my spaghetti carbonara and it was a great match. This is a good (yet not profound) Chianti for the $13 price at the PLCB. Very Good. 87 points.
2011 Domaines des Carteresses Tavel Rosé: Retail ~$18. At the PLCB for $13. I have been on the rosé bus for some time now and in my mind, Tavel is one of the best regions for the pink stuff. Usually rich and full-bodied, but with nice acidity to both tweak the appetite and enhance food. This was all that except the acidity, it was regrettably absent. This is the main problem I have with the PLCB–they get the off vintages/wines. Now it certainly might not be the case and it might be just the style of this producer (who is new to me, admittedly), but in my mind, the winemakers (call the French a bunch of things, but they are no dummies when it comes to wine) knew this was not their best effort so they dumped it on the PLCB and their deep pockets. Still good (and I bought a bunch), but not up to the usual quality. Maybe I am just cranky. Good to Very Good. 86 points.
2007 Melville Estate Chardonnay: Retail ~$28-30. We were first introduced to Melville a few years ago when we were visiting the Sta. Rita Hills, doing our little Sideways thing. I was very impressed with our visit to Melville–both by the wines and the service and attention that were provided by the staff. I bought a case of this wine and we have been making our way through them. The color is a little darker, and the wine seems to have become slightly more viscous than the last bottle–with a texture similar to a dessert wine. This wine is certainly not light on the oak, but it integrates very well and is balanced out with the acidity. Very long finish. Outstanding. 91 points.
2010 Williams Selyem Unoaked Chardonnay Russian River: I had a meeting at our local BYOB with a couple people to talk about some ideas around wine and they surprised me with this bottle. I have had a few WS pinots, but not many of their chards. Unfortunately, I got to the restaurant first and cracked the Melville. We should have certainly had the WS first. It had some great fruit (one of the others picked up on some banana), great acidity, and nice balance, but the subtlety of the wine was somewhat lost on me after the much oakier Melville. There is no doubt that this was an outstanding wine, but I really could not appreciate it. Unrated.
2005 Point Concepción Syrah Cuvée Jalama: Retail $18. Another wine where I bought a case. The wine was made by Peter Cargasacchi, who is known as one of the top pinot growers in the Sta. Rita Hills. This vineyard is even closer to the coast than the Cargasacchi vineyard with an even cooler climate. The wine is very well balanced with subtle, with intriguing fruit and well-integrated tannins. This is one of the best food-friendly California syrahs I have had, regardless of price point. Outstanding. 90 points.
2005 Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz: Retail ~$60. Two Hands is one of those brands that gets a lot of press and are extremely well-made wines from Australia. They are not cheap, but they are huge. Really huge. On the verge of being ‘fruit bomb‘ huge. The difference between this and the Point Concepción could not be much greater across the board. This was almost like a port without the sweetness. I know a lot of people like this huge style, but I just can’t get there. I really could not focus on it all that well, so I will leave this unrated.
2006 32 Winds Cabernet Sauvignon: I bought these several years ago based on one simple fact: the winemaker was Ehren Jordan, who is the winemaker for Helen Turley as well as his own Failla wines. I have been a huge fan of Failla for a while now, and I always suggest a stop there when in Napa (call ahead, appointment required). This was at the end of going through a few bottles with a couple of other winos, and to me, this one really stood out. It had plenty of fruit and some mocha, but it was nicely balanced with a bit of tannin on the back end. The finish never seemed to stop. Outstanding. 94 points.
N.V. Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Rosé Brut: Retail $14: I had a conversation the other day about ‘house wines’. I proclaimed rather boastfully that there was no such thing as a house wine chez le drunken cyclist. Not really sure why I should boast about that, since it is a rather stupid thing about which to boast. Especially when it is not true. This is our sparkling rosé ‘house wine’. It is affordable (i.e., well under $20), very good, and easy to get (although it does involve a trip to either New Jersey or Delaware–surprise, surprise there is not a great selection of crémants at the PLCB). Very Good to Excellent. 88 points.
2010 Aveleda Vinho Verde Fonte, Portugal: I can honestly say that I do not drink enough Vinho Verde. It is light, refreshing, and slightly effervescent and we served it at our wedding. What’s not to like? In this country, it is very hard to find VVs of higher quality, however, and there is also such a thing as rosé Vinho Verde (but I have never had it). Two great reasons why I need to go to Portugal. Vinho Verde does not require a lot of thought and that is just what you need from time to time. Very Good. 86 Points.
2009 MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: Retail ~$16. This wine was by no means bad but I will not be running out to buy any more, either. When I think of people who say that they don’t like chardonnay because it tastes like they are chewing on an oak tree, this is likely what they are talking about. It is also rather ‘flabby‘ and it has a limited range at the table (maybe seared scallops–which is never a bad thing). Is it awful? Certainly not. But it is a style of chardonnay that is gradually disappearing (at least I hope). Average. 78 points.
Wine of the week: Well, this one was rather easy. I have been sitting on those 32 Winds cabs for 3+ years (and could go a bit longer) and it was not a disappointment.