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:
2007 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Las Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands: Retail $65. Honestly, I think the whole wax thing is a bit over the top. In fact, even Wagner sees it as simply decorative as they have a pull tab on top to assuage the fears of the wax averse. Once I get past the wax, this comes close to a whoa. Really close. Cherry and eucalyptus on the senses and the fruit continues to tantalize by tickling the tongue. Impeccably balanced with just a hint of tannins. Drink in the short term since there is no reason to wait. It is a big juicy Pinot and if you like that style, you will certainly love this. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2005 Domaine de l’Oriel Gérard Weinzorn Gewurztraminer Cuvée Claire: Retail $35. Sadly, the last of six bottles of these, which I have consumed one a year since 2010. Classic Gewurztraminer: floral and lychee with some clear sweetness coming through. On the palate the wine much sweeter than I remembered but holy (whatever God you observe) this is unreal. Sure it is sweet, but impeccably balanced. Ok. Whoa. Maybe two. Sad to see this one go—I guess I will have to just head back to Alsace to get some more! Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut: Retail $45. Ok. I am biased. I have always liked Piper, a lot, but I tended to be more focused on smaller producers in Champagne. That was a misstep on my end: many of the larger producers are making fantastic wines that tend to be passed over in favor of the much more trendy “grower champagnes.” Well, I have decided that is simply dumb. Piper-Heidsieck is firmly in my wheelhouse: Emphasis on Pinot, great depth and balance, astounding consistency. It also helps that I have met the winemaker. And he is a hoot. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2001 Rizzi Barbaresco Riserva: Retail $50. 100% Nebbiolo. The last bottle I had of this was less than stellar. In fact it was down right forgettable. This one? Completely different ballgame. I do not have a ton of experience with the region but if this is not a classic Barbaresco, I might have no desire to find out what that is. A bit of funk on the nose but quite rich on the palate with near perfect balance. This is why those who say to wait on Barbaresco are right. Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2001 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Kitterlé: Retail $50. I picked this up from Nicolas in Paris more than a decade ago. Rather dark. And sweet. In fact, it is down right dessert like. Then I read the back label: “Moelleux” which means, essentially, “sweet” and it was. The nose gives off a little botrytis even. Honey, candied orange peel and caramel. On the palate, clearly sweet but with ample acidity to balance it out. In fact, the brightness lasts well through the finish. Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé: Retail $69. On the dark side for rosé champagne and a bit musty initially. Strangely, there is a chocolate note on the palate. We have had this for a bit and the evolution seems to be going in a wonderful direction. Deep, rich, and that chocolate thing. Just short of a whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: Another solid week, with really no complaints about the wine we had from the cellar. I started looking a little more closely at my Cellar Tracker and realized that a) my inventory badly needs to be updated (I will get to that some day) and b) there are a ton of wines that really need to be consumed in the short-term–particularly before we move south. Each of the wines this week had been in the cellar for a while (even the champagnes) and I was a bit worried when I pulled them that I might have waited a bit too long. Well, there was no reason to fret, all were fabulous. I was perhaps most concerned about the Rizzi Barbaresco Riserva particularly considering that I was less than impressed when I tasted the first bottle (eight years ago). The Belle Glos is a bit big for my tastes, but there are certainly fans of the style. I firmly believe that holding it for a while (I bought these back in 2010), allowed for the fruit to mellow out a bit and reveal a bit more. I have had both of the champagnes for a few years (the Piper-Heidsieck since ’08 and I bought the Veuve Clicquot a year later), and while the folks in Champagne claim that non-vintage wines typically don’t improve with age, I like to hold them for at least a few years as the wines take on color and a slightly sherried note. Then there were the two Alsatian wines. There are not many white wines that can age as gracefully as those from the Eastern-most region of France and while the ’01 Schlumberger (purchased in a Parisian wine shop in ’06) was certainly worthy of Wine of the Week this go around, the nod goes to 2005 Domaine de l’Oriel Gérard Weinzorn Gewurztraminer Cuvée Claire, which I purchased at the winery in ’07. Not only did it bring back fond memories of my time in Alsace, but it once again proved that the best Gewurztraminer in the world comes from my adopted home.
What was your Wine of the Week?