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:
2001 Cosentino Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Hoopes Ranch Vineyard: Retail $65. Whoa. On the nose: Mocha. Raspberry. Ambrosia. On the palate? Rich and on the verge of ridiculous, still 13 years out. Some tannins on the backend suggest a little life to go but this is crazy good now. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.
2010 Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $25. One of the better Napa Sauvignon Blancs I have had. Tropical fruit a go-go with an unctuousness that is almost Viognier-like. Unbelievable weight for the variety, but still racy acidity. Really impressed. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2005 John Duval Wines Plexus: Retail $45. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre (GSM). I do not have a ton of experience with Duval’s wines, but given that he was the winemaker at Penfolds (think La Grange) for 29 years, I took a flyer on these a while ago. Since she did not particularly like the wine that I had pulled up for her, my wife found this in the cellar while I was out with the kids Trick or Treating (guess who will be taking the kids around next year?). I got home with half the bottle gone. I grabbed what remained and sequestered myself in the cellar to evaluate. Fruity GSM nose of cassis and boysenberry, past the lips, surprising fruit for a nine-year old wine. Tannins seems mostly integrated, might want to get to the other three bottles I have soon. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2007 Domaine Fontaine du Clos Vacqueyras Château Font Clos: Retail $25. Vacqueyras (vack-EAR-ahss) is a Southern Rhône town, between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. While Grenache is the dominant variety, they include, generally, a bit more Syrah here than in the other two regions. Dark and brooding–a great wine for Halloween night (we opened this before the Duvall). Great Rhône nose of blackberry, bacon, and a bit of beef. On the palate, it is surprisingly a bit flinty with plenty of tannin left, there is no real rush yet, but it is drinking very nicely now. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2008 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières: Retail $22. The Corbières region is in the Southwest region of France and the reds are made of Carignane. I did not know what to expect here as I have not had a ton of Carignan, but after the wife went to bed, I decided I needed another glass. Well, a bit of funk and stewed fruit on the nose, but tons of red berry (that is a bit stewed) fruit combined with a meatiness on the palate. A fun, surprising wine. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2001 Domaine de La Laidiere Bandol: Retail $25. Bandol is an AOC in Provence, and not surprisingly, produces some high-quality rosé wines. This was a red, however, which means Mourvèdre. I thought I would have had this bottle sooner (as i mentioned in my tasting note from the other bottle—back in 2010!), but, well, you know how things go. A little less funk than the last, but still some Brett, and the fruit has mellowed. This wine needs food (as many Bandols do). I liked it, but the wife was not as much of a fan. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2007 Porte du Roy Saint Emilion Grand Cru: Retail $35. A Bordeaux blend dominated by Merlot. We broke this out with some good friends who had brought this over to our house several years ago (before I adopted the “You bring it, we drink it” Policy). A bit vegetal on the nose, with a bit of anise, black pepper, and a tiny bit of heat. On the palate a classic St. Emilion with reserved fruit, great verve and an ample finish. Great with food. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2009 Rafael Reverte Garnacha Cistum: Retail $40. At $13 from the PA state store, this is a solid purchase. Good fruit and adequately balanced, a nice quaff. At the $40 that the PLCB claims to be normal retail? Um, no. Still Very Good. 87-89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Looking back over the week, I was a bit surprised how many Rhône style wines we went through. The Duval Plexus was quite nice and the Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic, but who are we kidding? I knew as soon as I pulled the 2001 Cosentino Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Hoopes Ranch Vineyard from the wine fridge that it would likely be the wine of the week. Mitch Cosentino was the winemaker who essentially introduced me to California wine. The woman who I was dating at the time took me to a wine dinner that featured Cosentino wines and I was hooked (on the wine). Up until that point, I was strictly a French wine snob (and still am to a certain extent), but those first few Cosentinos showed that California wines could be made with some restraint while still highlighting the fruit. Cosentino was my first wine club, and I still have numerous bottles from the “golden years” of the winery when Mitch was still the winemaker and he was producing fabulous wines. Luckily, this wine, that I purchased ten years ago, has held up quite nicely. Make no mistake, this is a big Cali Cab, but wonderfully balanced and a joy to drink.
Mitch has since moved on to start another label, pureCru, but I have yet been able to get out to visit and taste his new line. Maybe on my next visit out West….
What was your Wine of the Week?