What We Have Been Drinking–8/24/15

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 over the past few weeks:

As I sat down to compile this post, I realized that there were a lot of tasting notes that had piled up. I became a bit worried that I might have a bit of a wine drinking problem, but then I noticed that I have not written a “regular” one of these posts in over a month. That does not mean that I do not have a bit of a problem, but it does mean I can ignore it for at least a while longer….

2003 Caldwell Flame Jumper Napa Valley Red Wine: Retail $75? I got this wine several years ago, and the story goes something like this: John Caldwell stored most of his high-end wines at a warehouse in Vallejo, CA, a few miles south of Napa in Solano County. On October 12th, 2005, there was a terrible fire (which turned out to be set by the owner of the facility) that destroyed practically all the wine stored there by 23 different wineries. Miraculously, I guess, this Cab/Syrah blend survived the fire, but it was rebranded as the “Flame Jumper” and was sold at half the price. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to pop this bottle and see if I had been duped. Chocolate, raspberry, and spice upfront. Very rich on the palate even a dozen years out. Considerable depth behind the fruit, and the tannins are integrated completely. This is gangbusters. Not duped. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.

NV André Clouet Champagne Grande Réserve Brut Grand Cru Bouzy: Retail $45. I bought a case of this several years ago and this was the next to last bottle. It has been a year or so since we have this wine and while it had been great from the jump, but my last foray into this wine was good, but less than stellar. So I was a tad worried when I popped this bottle. No need to worry, however, the champagne has taken on a bit of age and was phenomenal. A bit sherried, but full of brioche and depth. I might have to give this a whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

NV Bernard Ledru Champagne Tradition Brut 1er Cru Bouzy: Retail $40. Basically, if it says Bouzy on the label I’ll buy it since the tiny town of Bouzy produces, in my humble opinion, the best Pinot Noir in Champagne. I prefer my bubbles with Pinot Noir dominant and this is a perfect example why: Pinot adds backbone and depth to champagne, and when done right, it makes perhaps the best food wine on the planet. For this wine, the nose was incredible: yeasty and lemon. I could have smelled it for a while. On the palate, just as wonderful. A bit tart, but the acidity balances out the brioche component. Finish is long and memorable. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

NV Jean Milan Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Sec Tendresse: Retail $50. A bit tired and less sweet than I would have thought (“Sec” means “dry” but it generally has more sweetness than a “Brut”), but there is enough bubble and enough verve to underscore its pedigree. I have another bottle left, which I need to get to in the very short term. Still, Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2003 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley: Retail $50. My wife thought we might have waited too long, and as the cork crumbled upon extraction, I feared she might have been right. Raspberry and spice with just a hint of green pepper coming in on the end. On the palate the tannins are completely integrated and pure fruit comes through.  My wife was wrong. Really wonderful but no need to wait any longer! Outstanding. 91-93 Points.


IMG_4251WINE of the WEEK: Looking back over these wines, it was certainly my kind of week as we went through a bit of bubbly–always my wine of choice. I was just trying to live up to my motto: If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter. Even though the Milan was a bit disappointing, I still think I would rather have a mediocre bottle of champagne than a stellar bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. At least that is what I have convinced myself as I write this. Having said that, I can’t get away from the fact that I had two pretty stellar bottles of Cab this week. The 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was exactly what I had hoped it would be (actually, I had hoped for at least a hint of tannin on the backend, but alas…) and is precisely why I like to hold onto bottles for a while. It does not always turn out this well, but as I often say, age is perhaps the most difficult aspect to acquire in wine, and it is always educational. The same certainly holds true for this week’s Wine of the Week. I had no idea what to expect with the 2003 Caldwell Flame Jumper Napa Valley Red Wine so the fact that it was one of the better big reds that I have had this year was a surprise. So much so that it is this week’s WotW. How could it not be–after all it has been through?

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 Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Syrah, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking–8/24/15

  1. Great story re Flame Jumper. Glad you weren’t duped.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. frankstero says:

    If Champagne is on the young side I prefer Pinot dominated blends but aged Blanc de Blancs can be fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth says:

    Vallejo is in Solano County. But what a cool story. I am glad you weren’t duped. 🙂


  4. I think I’m rather keen to make Flame Jumper my wine of the week. Must hunt that one down.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love when a bottle has a story behind it like the Flame Jumper.


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