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:
N.V. André Clouet Bouzy Grand Cru Rosé Champagne: Retail $50. I was down in Houston with the family scouting out schools for the boys and houses for all of us when I picked this bottle up from one of the Spec’s Wine Shops. This Clouet checks off a whole host of boxes for me. First, I visit the winery every time I get a chance: located in the quaint town of Bouzy, it was one of my first loves in Champagne. Second, Bouzy is my singular favorite among all 17 Grand Cru villages in Champagne since Pinot reigns supreme in the town, producing some of the finest Pinot Noir grapes in the world–and I dig Champers that is mostly (or all) Pinot. A lot. And this is 100% Bouzy Pinot. Whoa. Third, this champagne is simply gangbusters: great fruit, piercing acidity and a finish that lasts longer than the Walmart checkout line on December 24th. Quite simply, this is one of the best rosés I have had in a very long while, and $50? Back up the truck. On a side note, I have a bottle of André Clouet’s 1911 Cuvée that I had been saving for a dear friend, but it does not seem as though he will visit before we move: anyone want to come and help me drink it? Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Ridge Lytton Springs: Retail $30. 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mataro. We were heading to a barbecue hole-in-the-wall type of joint in Houston that happened to be a BYOB (my kind of BBQ!) and I had no idea what to expect. I figured I wanted something a bit juicy and frankly, if the meal sucked I wanted a wine that would help me forget about my woeful choice of restaurant. Well, the restaurant did not suck. In fact, The Brisket House might have been the best BBQ I have had (but I have since been informed that there are far better choices in Houston, which is joyfully hard to imagine). $30 fed the whole family and after I was done stuffing my pie-hole with brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and ribs (plus creamed corn, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw), I turned my attention to the wine: blackberry, a bit of anise, and a hint of smoke were followed by big fruit initially, tons of depth. The wine is big without being huge, a real wine-lover’s Zin. Great on its own, but perhaps better with a meal. I only wish I would have paused stuffing my face to taste this wine with that meal. It would have been epic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Scarpetta Wines Alcamo Squadra Rosso: Retail $12. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Merlot. As mentioned, I was in Houston for the week, and we stopped in to the Whole Foods that was not too far from where we were hoping to live. As expected, they sold wine in this Whole Foods, as most of them do across the entire country. So for most of you this must seem like a non-event. Not for me. I have lived in a city and state where citizens can only purchase wine and spirits from the state-run stores: there is no wine in grocery stores, Costco’s, Trader Joe’s, gas stations, nowhere except for the stores run by the state. And the selection in those stores is horrible. So seeing any wine in the same spot where I purchase my groceries unleashed a giddiness that made my kids question my sanity (actually, they question that on a daily basis, so I am not really sure if this stood out in their eyes). After a bit of perusing, I spotted this bottle, and, well, I had to buy it (see photo). This is not a wine that will blow your mind. It might not even blow your nose when you don’t even have a cold. But at this price (and with that label)? There is no problem grabbing a few bottles to have on hand when your cycling buddies come over after a long ride. Let’s face it, you do not hang out with them based on their collective wine intelligence so there is no need to break out the good stuff. They will be captivated by the label and you will reinforce your position as their wine hero. Good fruit, but short on depth, still, a perfectly fine pizza/pasta mid-week wine. Good. 85-87 Points.
WINE(s) of the WEEK: We did drink a few more bottles during the week (including a couple of bottles of the Gruet Blanc de Noirs–one of the best values on the market), but the three wines above were the bottles that I sat down and perseverated over. All three deserve Wine of the Week honors, but for entirely different reasons. First, the ’13 Ridge Lytton Springs was fantastic (as it nearly always is), and we popped it in a bit of our soon-to-be new reality: a hole in the wall restaurant at one of the countless strip malls in Houston, with food so good (and cheap) that, despite my misgivings about moving to Texas, assured me that I would certainly not starve. The Clouet Bouzy Rosé could easily become my favorite non-vintage champagne, possibly supplanting the Gosset Grand Rosé. I need to buy a few bottles of the Clouet and hold on to them for a bit before making that call, as the acidity needs to calm down just a touch. One of the positives of my soon-to-be new residence is that a relatively small grower/producer is even available kind of blows my mind. Then there was the ’14 Scarpetta Squadra Rosso. On its own? A mediocre wine. At best. But the fact that I could pick it up with a dozen eggs, a couple of pounds of skirt steak, and organic “alive” gluten-free almond butter, made it seem so much better.
What was your Wine of the Week?