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 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat Vineyards: Retail $35. I had been away in Europe for more than a month, drinking wines from some of the best regions in the world. Once I got home, I wanted a slice of the US and I grabbed this and plopped it in the fridge. Glad I did–great fruit, a bit of oak (might be heavy for some) and impeccable balance. A nice welcome home. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2002 Domaine Jean Chauvenet Nuits St. Georges: Retail $45. This wine has been staring me down for years now, but since ’02 was a fabulous year, I have exhibited some restraint. Bad move. Impressive initially with good fruit and ample acid. Rather quickly, though, the fruit started to fade, leaving the wine overly tart and one-dimensional. I was a bit surprised by the rapidity of the transformation. Still, it is a NSG… Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Docteur Parcé) Collioure Clos du Moulin: Retail $25. I pretty much spell “Collioure” incorrectly every time I try, which is why I hesitate to ever write about it. lt is also very difficult to find on these shores, but I got these online several years ago and it is time to start popping them. Although not technically in the Rhône (it is just across the line in Rousillon), the wines are a classic Rhône-style GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blend. The last bottle I had of this was corked, but not here. Very nice red berry fruit (stopping just short of being “stewed”). Good acidity and an ample finish. Very Good, but no need to go out and do any cartwheels here. 87-89 Points.
2005 Matanzas Creek Winery Merlot Bennett Valley: Retail $30. I do not pretend to like Merlot. It’s not that I dislike it, but I have not ever really found a place for it. If I am looking for a full-throttle wine for my beef, I grab a Cabernet. If I am looking for a wine with more finesse, I go Pinot. More spice? Syrah. Big and juicy? Zinfandel. Merlot? Um…. This wine might go a long way in helping me find some room in the cellar for Merlot. Despite being 9 years old, still fruity, but also with a ton of depth, from a very good producer. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2001 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Retail $50. I have used this forum countless times to disparage our Canadian neighbors to the North. I have a few reasons for that: 1. I grew up in Detroit, right across the border from Canada and 2. Ohmygod was Canadian. I have always been a fan of the wine being produced up there, however, and this is a case in point. An Outstanding wine from the first sniff to the last swallow—great red and black currants, vanilla, and a hint of spice, with a lasting finish. I only wish I had bought more as this was the last bottle. 92-94 Points.
2006 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir: Retail $50. Initially, tighter than, well, a drum (I was going to get more colorful, but…). After a bit of time (45 minutes), this really opened up: earth, eucalyptus and allspice on the nose. Muted red fruit and that spice on the palate, with a lingering finish. A bit brutish initially, but worth the wait. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2009 Domaine Pignier Côtes du Jura (Pinot Noir): Retail $25. If you were to limit yourself to only New World wines, you might not ever come across Brett, a fungus that most American winemakers consider a fault. In Europe, however, it is still widely prevalent, so much so that one could safely assume that winemakers there might consider it an asset. It is nearly impossible to drink French Pinot Noir and not experience the sensory characteristics associated with Brett: bacon, smoke, and my favorite “barnyard’ (aka horse poop). It does not appeal to all, but since my Pinot roots are firmly planted in Burgundy (where Brett runs rampant), I do not mind it in the least. As for this wine, it has more than enough Brett to go around—perhaps too much. A bit blew off as the bottle wore on, but still, when I say a wine is “Brett-y” there might be a problem. Unrated.
NV Peter Weber Crémant d’Alsace: Retail $15. When I got home from a month in Europe, I thought I would take a week or so and dive back into American wines (which now have equal footing in my cellar). When I saw this bottle on the counter, however, I quickly threw that plan out the window. My personal motto is “If it doesn’t sparkle it doesn’t matter” and until the US can produce widely available high quality sparklers at this price point (yes, I know there are some, but not many), I am going to continue to lean toward Alsace and the Loire to quench my thirst for bubbles (full disclosure: that was a bit of a lie—I will always have some Crémant in the cellar no matter what the domestic situation—come on, I am a French wine snob!). Great acidity as always, and bright citrus notes. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK(s): I tried. I really tried. I wanted to either opt for the ’06 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay or the ’06 Penner-Ash Pinot as this week’s Wine of the Week, but I just couldn’t. No, this week’s WOTW is the ’01 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin. I think it might be close to time that I bury my long-festering disdain for all things Canadian, particularly since wines like this are now being produced up there. The wine was fantastic, stopping just short of other-worldly; Does that mean I will now start embracing the Canada Goose, Molson Beer, the Maple Leafs, and the Twooney? Baby steps. Baby steps. Even if I eventually become an unabashed lover of our Northern neighbor, I will always reserve the right to make a disparaging comment or two about the Canadian accent when I encounter it.
What was your Wine of the Week?