What We Have Been Drinking—10/21/2013

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:

2006 Buena Vista Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard Series Ramal Vineyard: Retail $35. I picked a couple of cases of these up from the PLCB for the insane price of $12 (plus tax). I wanted a case for myself and got another case for friends. I might keep both cases. Good fruit and enough complexity to keep you interested, this is a good deal at $20 and a complete steal at $12. Very Good.  92-94 Points.

1996 Duval-Leroy Champagne Blanc de Chardonnay Brut: Retail $55. I am a complete champagne groupie–that is well known. I am not, however, all that fond of Blanc de Blancs–they just seem to lack the backbone that I love, which is provided by Pinot Noir in champagnes. I have had a couple of these bottles already and while they were decent, they were nothing really to cause me to stand on my head. Curiously, this bottle was different–it was fantastic. Certainly, context plays a huge role–we were over at friends and they broke this out, which surprised me. It was also after another little league baseball game where my son struck out every time he was up (again). Last, we drank the bottle while I was recording the second half of the Buckeye game, which they were losing. Yes, I needed some sparkle in my life at that point and this was near perfect. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2010 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Carneros Selection: Retail $35? Another wine that was on sale for $12 at the PLCB, So I picked up a case. Gary Farrell is a bit of a legend and even though he sold the winery, it remains one of my favorite spots in Sonoma. The wine was fantastic with my wife’s roast chicken–some tropical fruit and just the right amount of oak. Very Good. 88-90 Points.

2007 Freeman Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $40. We have been going to Freeman for a few years now–we developed a friendship with the (now former) “assistant” winemaker (he was only assistant in name, but that is for another post), Eric Buffington. Eric moved on to another winery so that he could be closer to his family, but opening this bottle very much reminded me of the time we spent in Freeman’s cellars, tasting wine and comparing notes on our in-laws. The wine? My wife was not going to drink, but once she saw it was a Freeman, she gave me a smirk and then got up to get a glass. Outstanding. 90-91 Points.

2003 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles: Retail $55? I have had a couple of these now, and each time I worry about the vintage (it was extremely hot in France) and every time I realize that I am being a complete moron–I have had several bottles and they all have been fantastic. This was no exception–good fruit and surprising acidity–this is drinking well now, but I should probably get to the remaining two bottles rather soon, I think (not a ton of tannin there). Outstanding 85-87 Points.

1998 G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne René Lalou: Retail $80. Cellar Tracker says that this wine should have been consumed by 2006. Huh? While this wine lacked just a bit of sparkle, and my wife claimed that it was a bit “musty”, this was very nice–“mature” flavors and texture and great spirit (OK, that is a bit touchy-feely, but it is my anniversary). 1998 was the year that I met my wife and for me, it will always be the best “vintage.” Outstanding. 91-92 Points.

2006 Novy Family Wines Syrah Parsons’ Vineyard: Retail $30. I have been a Siduri/Novy fan for quite some time now, and although I usually gravitate toward the Pinot, their line of Syrahs is very good and can be a great value. We might have held on to this one just a bit too long, though–the fruit was practically absent, rendering it rather austere. Very Good.  86-88 Points.

2000 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Carla’s Vineyard: Retail $25.What a difference a few days (or bottle variation) make. My wife promised pizza for dinner as I went off to the gym (don’t judge–I was only going to have a couple pieces) and all through the class I envisioned my little slices of heaven–I might have even worked a little extra hard because of it. I was planning on having this wine as well since I really love old Zins and I thought it would work well with the pizza. Well, in the end, my wife decided against ordering pizza so I was left to scavenge from a few nights worth of leftovers–certainly a bit of a let down. I was not going to vary from this wine, though, and I am glad I didn’t. Great, rich fruit this time around, perfectly balanced. This wine salvaged my night (and probably my marriage). Outstanding.89-91 Points.

2001 Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: Retail $65. Trefethen was one of the first wine clubs I ever joined and it holds a special place in my heart. That is why I chose this to take to one of our favorite BYOBs for our anniversary dinner. Great nose of raspberry and mocha–great color and a fantastic food wine. Did not pop this too early, as the tannins are integrated. And all this wine-speak crap does not matter since my wife loved it–and in the end, that is all that is important since I looked like a hero. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

1998 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Séléction de Grains Nobles: Retail $125? After a wonderful meal with friends, our hosts pulled out this bottle and it immediately grabbed my attention–the SGNs from Olivier Humbrecht are close to legendary, and this wine lived up to it. A richness and depth on the nose that required extended moments of contemplation, once in the mouth, it was painful to have to swallow and let it go. One of those rare wines that are impossible to describe that I get to drink far too infrequently. Phenomenal. 96-98 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: It was not all that difficult to chose a wine of the week this go around–I knew it as soon as I stuck my nose in the glass that it was not only going to be my wine of the week, but it would be in the running for my wine of the year. Of course, the two wines that we had on our anniversary (Sunday night), the 1998 Mumm Rene Lalou and the 2001 Trefethen Estate Cabernet were special for at least a couple reasons, but the 1998 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Séléction de Grains Nobles was other worldly. Sure, it is not technically a Grand Cru vineyard, but this wine shows that the whole Grand Cru system in Alsace is out of whack. Phenomenal.

What was your wine of the week?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Champagne, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rosé, Sauternes, Sparkling Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking—10/21/2013

  1. Stefano says:

    I am fascinated by your WOTW, Jeff: I never had a botrytized PG, let alone a 15-yo one! Did you guys enjoy it as a “meditation wine” or did you pair it with cheese/dessert or other? And, of course if you remember/took notes, what would you say the main descriptors of its bouquet were? Really fascinating – great bottle!


    • It came at the end of the evening after the ’96 Champagne, the Côte Rotie and a fantastic Washington State Syrah (that I did not comment on here). I was stunned when the SGN appeared on the table and literally could not stop smelling it. My wife had made a pumpkin cake with a cream cheese frosting which actually worked (although I wouldn’t have minded eating toenails with that wine). I did not take notes at the time, but there was certainly honey, some tropical and floral notes and certainly botrytis. It really was remarkable and could easily go another decade (or more).


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