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 Chasseur Chardonnay Durell Vineyard: Retail $65? A great example of classic American chardonnay–pineapple and buttered popcorn on the nose and great balance on the palate. Some bright zingy citrus with a lingering finish that seems to increase in intensity. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2005 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir: Retail $60. One of the fruitier Clos Pepes I have had, even eight years out after the harvest. Juicy plums and red fruit with intensity and depth. The wine coats the mouth and persists for minutes. I am a huge fan of the Clos and this is a perfect example why–it is fruitier than I usually like, but this is just an incredible wine…. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2006 Dolce Winery Late Harvest: Retail $75 (375 ml). If like dessert wine and you have never had a bottle of Dolce, do yourself a favor and plop down the $50-75 bucks and buy a bottle. This is one of the few wines I have had that rival the great Sauternes (not including Yquem–let’s not fall too far into hyperbole). Near perfect balance–great acidity, fruit and just the right amount of sweetness. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.
2007 Expression Pinot Noir 44° Eola – Amity Hills: Retail $25? This is a solid effort, but nothing really to find the highest hilltop and start screaming your fool head of about. Most of the flavors are shy at best, and eventually become merely muted. OK, but not much more. Good. 85-87 Points.
2010 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Carneros Selection: Retail $30. We are gradually working our way through these and I am liking it more each time. Good fruit upfront and balanced. The acidity here makes this a very versatile wine–as an appetizer or with food, this will do well. We took a bottle to a Christmas party the other night, and I only got one glass before it was sucked down–a big hit. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Knot Wines Sinnet Sparkling Rosé: Retail $40. I decided not to push my luck with the remaining bottles of this wine since there has been some bottle variation. This was another really good one, so it seems like the questionable bottles might have been the anomaly and not the reverse. Previous note: “This was certainly better than the previous iterations as this one had far more sparkle and oomph. Red berry flavors throughout, and vibrant acidity. Had all the bottles been this good, I would have wished I would have purchased more, but given the bottle variation, still glad I didn’t.” Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points. Cellar Tracker says that I still have another bottle of this in the cellar, but the trick will be finding it.
2004 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Riesling Wiebelsberg La Dame “Partager avec toi”: Retail $25? I opened this and poured. Immediately my wife glanced over and said “Uh oh!” There was a deep golden color that really should not have been there. Sure, the wine had a bit of age on it, but not that much. The sherry-like smell confirmed it. Oxidized. Bummer. Flawed.
1997 Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut Millésimé: Retail $80-100. Wow. I had a bottle of this five years ago and it was OK, but no great shakes. This one, however, merited great shakes–this is one of the better champagnes I have had all year. Lemon cream pie nose with ample sparkle. On the palate, great verve and energy with a creamy consistency. There is a hint of age here, but it fits right in seamlessly. Long finish. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2007 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Rosella’s Vineyard: Retail $50. Normally, I am not a big “big Pinot” guy, but Brian Loring is a really nice guy and his wines are exceptional. Floral and red fruit notes on the nose. The transition to the palate is smooth and fantastic. Good balance, but a bit of spritz on the finish, which calls into question the alcohol (14.5%). All in all? I really like this wine! Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: In a week where I drank not one, but two Pinots from Sta Rita Hills (including a Clos Pepe) and a classic vintage champagne, you would think there would be a bit of a conundrum in choosing the Wine of the Week, but that was not the case. Sure, the Loring and the Clos Pepe were outstanding and the Laurent-Perrier was fantastic, but the 2006 Dolce Winery Late Harvest really stood out. We do not drink as much dessert wine as we once did and every time we have a wine like this I vow to rectify it (we shall see if that happens–we certainly have a bunch of it in the cellar). We were given this wine a few years ago by a dear friend and when she came over the other night, popping this was a clear choice, despite the fact that this has many, many good years ahead of it. So did this wine receive some preferential treatment due to the context? Of course! Wine drinking, in my opinion, is all about context. Had Wes Hagen or Brian Loring been over to share their wine, I have a feeling that there might have been a different wine of the week….
What was your Wine of the Week?