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:
2005 Cosentino Winery Syrah: Retail $22. Cosentino was my gateway wine to California and this was an entry-level wine with the fruit coming from Lodi. Under a composite closure. Meh (just use a screw cap). Dark berry fruit and a bit of spice, the tannins are nearly completely integrated and this is quite tasty. We cracked this on our anniversary and while it might not be as sexy as other wines in the cellar, this brought both of us back to the days when we started dating, living in the Bay Area, escaping on occasion to wine country when my wife wasn’t on call. Just under two cases of Cosentino left. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2005 Fess Parker Syrah American Tradition Reserve: Retail $40. This is big. Not super, fruit-bomb, in-your-face, going to make you feel like you are drinking-ethanol-straight-up-big, but it is certainly hefty. Having said that, it is also tasty. Really tasty. Dark and brooding in the glass with cassis and anise wafting above the rim, on the palate, there is some surprising balance as the acidity admirably battles with the fruit. The finish is impressive, as is the wine. I am not a big brooding wine kind of guy, but this works. And works well. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2005 Ridge Syrah Lytton West Vineyard: Retail $45. Popped and poured. This gets a Whoa right out of the bat: A fanciful mélange of mocha, black raspberry, mint, and eucalyptus. And probably loads of other stuff that I am not picking up, but it smells so damned good, I need to swallow some ASAP. Whoa, rich, but stopping well short of being syrupy. I am not sure if this is a wine for a meal, but it is gang-busters with an episode of Game of Thrones. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2008 Skewis Pinot Noir Lingenfelder: Retail $50. I have never hidden that I am a huge Hank Skewis fan, but I need to start opening a couple different bottles of his at the same time. He is such a talented winemaker, I feel that I am selling him a bit short by not looking for the delicate nuances between his wines. This was a classic Skewis–great cherry and earth paired with impeccable balance. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2008 Skewis Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard: Retail $50. In another life I might want to be Hank Skewis. He makes some of the best Pinot from the Sonoma Coast, is married to a wonderful person, and is an extremely nice guy. Right now, I am only one out of three. Classic Skewis with tart cherry, eucalyptus, and characteristic Skewis balance, the only part better than the nose is the palate. Bravo Hank and Maggie! Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
1996 Taittinger Champagne Brut Millésimé: Retail $85. I pulled this out on our anniversary since we met in ’96 (not really–we met a few years later but ’96 was such a great year in Champagne I’ve decided to retro-actively declare it the year we met). The golden color had me really worried as I have had more than my fair share of oxidized wines this year. On the nose there is caramel, a hint of citrus, and freshly baked croissant. This is fantastic, a wonderfully mature champagne with all those favors coming through on the palate too. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: I am not entirely sure how many of these weekly wine reviews I have done, but I am fairly certain that a majority of the time I lament in this space how difficult it was to choose a Wine of the Week (WotW). I realize now as I write this that all previous lamentations pale in comparison to this week. Looking back over the wines, all of them could easily be WotW: the Cosentino since it was really the winery that really introduced me to and got me hooked on California wines (and the fruit in this wine came from Lodi–a region about which I have grown passionate). I am learning to better appreciate bigger wines, and the Fess Parker was certainly big (I think I mentioned that in the note), but also impressively put together (plus I love Daniel Boone). I had two bottles of ’08 Skewis this week as people on Cellar Tracker seem to think the wines are past their prime (they’re not) and any time I have one of Hank and Maggie’s wines, it will always be in the running for WotW. Then there was the Ridge Lytton West Syrah. Whoa, what a wine. I bought it after trying it during a rather epic tasting at the Dry Creek winery. The wine caused me to halt my binge watching of Game of Thrones–I literally took a sip and had to pause the DVR for quite some time. In the end, however, I had to stay true to my first love, champagne. 1996 is turning out to be the best vintage in Champagne in the past 40 years or so (at least in my humble opinion) and the 1996 Taittinger Champagne Brut Millésimé is a perfect example why. It is not the “best” wine made by Taittinger (most would argue that would be the Comtes de Champagne, which carries a price tag twice that of this wine), but this wine was utterly gorgeous. A mature champers, certainly, but if you have read this site before, you know that is right in my wheelhouse.
What was your Wine of the Week?