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:
2011 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented: Retail $35. Regular readers of this site know that I consider Clos Pepe to be one of California’s “Grands Crus” for Pinot Noir (along with Bien Nacido, Hirsch, and a couple of others), but Wes Hagen, the winemaker and vineyard manager at Clos Pepe, considers the vineyard perhaps better suited for Chardonnay. And everyone who has ever met him, knows that it is hard to argue with Wes Hagen. Initially, this was far too cold–in fact, I think this wine should be served only slightly colder than the Pinot (perhaps 60-65 degrees) for that is where the tropical fruit and complexity really come out. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2005 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Rouge La Croix du Roy: Retail $25. The vast majority of Sancerre is white and many consider it the pinnacle of Sauvignon Blanc. About 20% of the production, though is red and in Sancerre, that means Pinot Noir. Often, Sancerre Rouge is light and whimsical, not inspiring much introspection. This wine, however, represents one of the best recent vintages and has aged quite well. Wild cherry and a hint of spice provide plenty of panache. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2010 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Carneros Selection: Retail $30. If it were not for the Sans Permis (below), this would be the runaway selection for best Chardonnay value in my cellar as I got a bunch of these from the PLCB for $13. This week, my wife convinced me to let her take this to her company picnic, while I took the boys to their final Fall baseball game. When I finally showed up at the picnic, the bottle was more than half gone. So I did what any self-respecting wino would do—I poured all the remaining wine into my glass. Sure, I got a few looks and it was impossible to swirl the wine, but I was still able to pick up the lemon and melon and taste the hint of oak. Yeah, I Bogarted the rest of the bottle, but with a wine this good, you would have too. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Henry Fessy Régnié: Retail $22. Do yourself a favor: buy a few bottles of Beaujolais Cru (the name of the village is on the bottle–there are ten villages in all) and sock them away for a few years (or more). Sure, they are made from Gamay and not Pinot Noir, but a Beaujolais Cru with a bit of age on it starts to feel a lot like Burgundy—at a fraction of the price. From top to bottom, this is a solid wine–still good fruit and characteristic Beaujolais tartness. surprisingly a bit hot on the nose, but this does not come through on the palate whatsoever. A classic Beaujolais, at a great price. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2000 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Carla’s Vineyard: Retail ??? I have stated repeatedly that I am a huge fan of older Zinfandels and I realize that is not a common affinity—even in my own home. My wife is not a big fan, for she often finds the fruit “stewed” and therefore shies away from the older Zins. Honestly, that is just fine with me since that means I do not have to share. This was my third bottle of this wine and this was clearly the best. Fruit, depth, finish. Whoa. Exactly why I love old (ish) Zins…. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2009 Rued Winery Zinfandel: Retail $25. This past Spring, I was out in Dry Creek and I visited Rued and spent some time with Richard and Dee Rued. So when I saw this wine pop up on Wines Til Sold Out for $12, I jumped in. Somewhere along the way, I had one, so this was the second bottle, but with no previous note. Really great fruit, but nowhere near over the top–intriguing and fun at the same time. I just bought six more…. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2006 Sans Permis Chardonnay La Chanson Argentee De Cuillere: Retail $40? It is getting down to the nitty-gritty on this wine. I bought two cases of this a couple of years ago for the stupid price of $10/bottle, and after this one, there are but two left. A bit of an old-style Chardonnay with a bunch of oak and vanilla, but I really dig this wine. I think I need to get to the other two bottles soon, but the last drop will be a melancholic event. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonatera Vineyard: Retail $45. Well, this seems to be getting better and better. I opened this after a month in Europe and this fit the bill. Fruit that you do not find in the old world coupled with depth that you do. Wineries like Siduri make me question my allegiance to the “established” ways. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Alright, I am about to say something that I thought I would never, ever say. I need a moment before I get there, though. There were a few wines that were certainly WOTW-worthy this week: the three Outstanding Chardonnays (the ’11 Clos Pepe, the ’10 Gary Farrell, and the ’06 Sans Permis); and the ’00 Rosenblum Zinfandel was on the verge of other worldly. This week, though, I am going with the 2007 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonatera Vineyard as the wine of the week. Why? Here comes the blasphemy: after a week in Burgundy, drinking the greatest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the world, I got home and really wanted a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. There, I said it. It does not prove that I no longer love Burgundy, nor does it suggest that I no longer consider Burgundy the apogee of the Pinot Noir world.
As the better Burgundies become largely unaffordable (I did not see many Premiers Crus for under 60€—about $80, the Grands Crus? Forget about it…), Pinot from California and Oregon, while no means “cheap” are becoming the go to regions for this unabashed Pinotphile. And as I mentioned in the tasting note, there are few that surpass Adam Lee and Siduri in challenging the traditional (i.e., “Burgundian”) approach to making great Pinot.
What was your Wine of the Week?