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 that stood out:
N.V. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne: Retail ~$40. There are a few things in life that I really do not understand: why people still think Darwin was right (if some of the people that I see from day to day are ‘the fittest’ I would hate to see those that did not survive); why some people will blindly vote in opposition to their own self-interest; and why I am devoid of any sense of direction.
I also add to that list why so many people consider Veuve Clicquot to be such an offensive beverage. I drink a fair amount of champagne and I read quite a bit about it. It is rather ‘in’ to be ‘against’ the Veuve these days. On a certain level, I get it. ‘Grower’ champagnes (which are made by the people actually growing the fruit as opposed to the large houses like Veuve that purchase most of theirs) are generally more expressive and interesting. They also have the tendency to make the drinker feel better about spending the $50 (or more) to purchase the wine since there is this underlying sense that you are helping out the ‘little guy’ by buying it. I get that. But la Veuve is not bad. Sure, there might be better options out there in the price range, but I feel like La Veuve gets a bad rap. This is the result of two factors: 1. it has been a successful brand and, perhaps more to the point, 2. many young, obnoxious non-serious wine types always have a bottle of it in the fridge and keep paying north of $40 for it. Not liking Veuve for these reasons is just stupid. You can try to say it is a bad wine, but it isn’t. There are many more serious issues to concern the oenophiles out there, like how to spell ‘oenophile’. Very Good. 87-89 points.
2002 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Rancho del Oso: Retail ~$75. I was tired. It was one of those days that I awoke at 4:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep, which made the day at work that much more exhausting. I was on pick-up duty for the boys since my wife was working late. That also meant that I was in charge of dinner–which is usually not a problem, in fact it is a situation that I relish. Today though, I was exhausted so I was easy prey when I asked the boys what they wanted for dinner.
Well, I was not that tired. Eventually, after several volleys, they got me to capitulate with hot dogs. “Donuts” took away my last line of defense and the opposing army sensed it so they went in for the kill. I surrendered and also bought tater tots (OK, I love the tots so it was not much of a sacrifice), and cupcakes. Cupcakes? (Can someone please explain the relatively recent fascination with cupcakes?) I got a couple of steaks for me and my wife since there is no way in hell that I was going to have a hot dog for dinner (unless, of course, I was at a Phillies game).
I bought this Beringer a few years ago and the folks on Cellar Tracker seemed to think it was time to pull the cork. So I did. Baaaahhh (that was a sheep sound indicating that not only was I leaving culinary decisions up to a four year old, but I was so tired that I was leaving wine decisions up to an unnamed horde of alcoholics with whom I only occasionally agree). I am not a big California cabernet guy, but these Beringer Single Vineyard Cabs were supposed to be rather good. I decided to decant it mostly because I have a bunch of decanters that I rarely use–when I do use them it makes me feel cool, like I know what I am doing (but we all know how likely that is).
One of the reasons I am not that big of a California cab fan is that it seems that most of them are made high octane: full throttle fruit and not all that interested in pairing with food. I like wines that are a part of the meal, not a meal in itself. Well, happily, this was not one of those. The Beringer had a great nose with red fruit, some licorice and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, there was certainly fruit, but it was far from a one trick pony: nice weight and balance with a bit of oak and a long finish. It was a great pairing with the steak, which, I must say, I did a fabulous job grilling. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 points.
2002 Cellar Vall Llach Priorat Embruix: Retail ~$30. This past Friday was International Grenache Day. Most people could not have cared less (notice I said ‘could not’–it annoys me to no end when people say “I could care less.” Well, if you could care less, that means you care at least a little–when you could not care less, this means you do not care at all–don’t make me smack you….). I understand that, but ‘wine guys’ are not most people when it comes to wine–we are actively looking for excuses to drink wine. That is why all these ‘International’ days exist. So far, I have ‘celebrated’ the international celebrations for: Cabernet (8/30), Pinot Noir (8/18), Chardonnay (5/24), and Champagne (10/26/11). Those are just the ones I remember. There is also the ‘Open that Bottle Night’ when you open a bottle that you have been saving for a special occasion, but that occasion never seems to come. Of course there are other special nights that some people call ‘Tuesday’ or ‘Thursday’ or even ‘Monday’ that are reasons to open a bottle of wine. I take advantage of them all. This was no different. It could have been International Pick Your Nose Day and I would have celebrated with a bottle of wine as I had one digit jammed up my nostril. For Grenache Night, I made Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pasta (new photo added).
This was my third bottle of this wine and there has been some variation. This one fell right in the middle: good fruit on the nose and the palate but also showing some age. Nice dark fruit with mocha and vanilla. A bit of black cherry Kool Aid. Nice finish. Excellent. 90-92 points.