What We Have Been Drinking–4/14/2014

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:

2004 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Bynum & Rochioli Vineyards: Retail $45. Alright, I hate the PLCB (the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that controls all wine sales in the state). Normally, it is easily the worst place on the planet to buy wine. There are exceptions to every rule. This was one. I got this for about $10. Yes $10. This is a fabulous wine and I have been trying to resist drinking them. Tonight I succumbed, and i am glad I did. Wonderful fruit, great balance, plenty of intrigue. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

2010 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Carneros Selection: Retail $30. This continues to get better and better. This is another wine that I got from the PLCB at a pretty good price ($13) and we bought a couple of cases. The first few were a bit, um, well, less than ideal. For whatever reason (more time in the bottle, becoming more familiar with the wine, loss of brain cells), with each bottle we open, we like this more and more. Should that continue, by the end of this second case, we might be looking at the wine of the year (or at least wine of the week). Very Good, on the verge of Outstanding. 88-90 Points.

2004 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Vieilles Vignes: Retail $25 (from 375). There are a few great tragedies in life. There is the girl in high school that you always wanted to ask out, but never did. Then you find out at your reunion that she really had the hots for you back then, but she thought you were not interested. Then there was the job that you stayed in for far too long because you were afraid of the unknown, you hang on, bored out of your skull, just collecting a paycheck. Then one day you look up from your desk and tens years have gone by. And then there is white Burgundy. They just keep getting better and better, so you wait and wait, keeping them in your cellar, letting them develop. Then you decide to pop one. And it is oxidized. And you kick yourself. Until it hurts.

2004 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Vieilles Vignes: Retail $25 (from 375).  Given the experience with the previous bottle, I decided that I would try another while I was waiting for my wife to get home and then head off to the airport. I have four more bottles of this wine so I was trepidatious. I might have even said a little prayer as I removed the foil and popped the cork. I was immediately relieved to see that although dark, this was nowhere near the previous bottle. The wine was fabulous–that older white Burgundy combination of subtle fruit, light oak, a bit of butter, and precise balance. I used to think half bottles were a great idea. When I have a wine like this, and I want to have more, I realize they might be the worst idea of all time. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

2009 Qupé Chardonnay Reserve Bien Nacido Block Eleven: Retail $25. Oak. Big oak. This is certainly a “traditional” California Chardonnay, which I actually do not mind. Sure, it is not my preferred style, but this is well made–good balance, a bit of fruit. But if you do not like oak in your Chardonnay, this is certainly not for you. Very Good. 86-88 Points.

2012 Stateland Cellars Chardonnay: Retail $25. A bit of oak on the nose with some lemon. On the palate, the oak is certainly present but in check with some bright fruit. Not much if any malo here, which certainly helps maintain its brightness. A nice quaff. [Full disclosure: my wife’s cousin’s husband is somehow involved in this wine.] Very Good. 86-88 Points.


This is a 2005, but it was the closest I could find (from Cellar Tracker).

This is a 2005, but it was the closest I could find (from Cellar Tracker).

WINE OF THE WEEK(s): This was a very light week wine-wise at our humble little abode. On Tuesday, we went to a play in the city and did not really have any time to pop any corks. We also jumped on a plane on Friday, having “dinner” at the airport. We did make our way to the US Air lounge before the flight, however, where I had a few glasses of a perfectly regrettable Chardonnay.  It was cold, and wet. Positives end there. I tried to get a glass of the red Conundrum that was behind the bar, but the bartender wanted $8 a glass for that. Um, no thanks. On the plane, my wife got upgraded to First Class, but demanded that I sit there instead. I resisted and told her that she should take it (really, I did), but she would have none of it. There, I had some more crappy wine and I was forced to do something that I never thought I would ever do. I told the flight attendant to stop re-filling my glass when he tried to do it for a third time. Yes, the wine was that bad. When I asked him what kind of wine it was, he looked at me somewhat perplexed and said “Red.” He did not utter the word “Duh” in conjunction, but he certainly added it with his expression.

All this means that there were some slim pickings for Wine of the Week this week. In the end, it came down to the 2004 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Bynum & Rochioli Vineyards and the (second bottle of the) 2004 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Vieilles Vignes. Since I did not take a photo of either, well, I am at a loss of what to do. I guess you can decide between the two….

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 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking–4/14/2014

  1. heila2013 says:

    I wish I could try all those wines. Wine has been causing me migraines for the past year or so. This evening I am going to “dare” and take a few sips of Riesling… If that goes well, I might go back to drinking wine regularly. Just wish I had a connoisseur at my side… Heila


  2. Loved your comments on airplane wine. I used to get excited about the 1st class upgrade: wine! No more, if I’m thirsty, I’ll have a beer. They pour really horrible stuff (domestically anyway).


  3. Josh says:

    Your dislike for the PLCB stores is interesting to me because whiskey people I know in PA have a similar loathing for the stores but one of their usual complaints is that the PLCB cares too much about wine to the exclusion of bourbon & rye. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other since I don’t have to deal with them (praise Bacchus).

    In a related note, have you seen Lew Bryson’s Abolish the PLCB blog?


    • I have seen Lew’s blog, but it seems to get bogged down a bit and is more vitriol than solutions. If whiskey people think that the wine folks have it good, I REALLY feel sorry for those peeps….


  4. TheSybarite says:

    My wine of the week was a great 2009 sauv blanc from Brander down in Santa Ynez! So good. Have you have many other bottles from Qupe? I tasted there when i was in the area last time and was thoroughly unimpressed. Some of their bottles were going for $100 and I wouldn’t have given them $20 for it. I see their stuff popping up here and there so people must like it but I just don’t get it. Am I missing something?


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