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:
2003 Château Belle-Vue (Haut-Médoc): Retail $25. 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 27% Petit Verdot. Slightly stewed raspberries, tobacco, and black pepper up front leads to a rather rich mouthfeel with still solid fruit and dusty tannins. This is not a top flight Bordeaux, but it is certainly a solid wine, that has aged very well. One bottle to go and while I will get to it relatively soon, I will do it not because it is going anywhere but because it is tasty. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2002 L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley: Retail $40. The cork was a complete mess, or maybe it was me (it was the third bottle of the night for three of us). The wine certainly seems to be on the downward slope, but there is still a lot of goodness there. Dark berry fruit and earth with plenty of interest with a balance that would certainly welcome food (or live very happily on its own). Diggin’ it. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2003 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Old Vine Yamhill County: Retail $50. Fantastic nose of tart cherry and rhubarb. It might get a Whoa. On the palate? Even better, which is hard to believe. Rich fruit and integrated tannins–this wine might be in a near perfect spot right now. I know “perfect” is tough, but hey, it’s late. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2004 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir The North Slope Vineyard: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. Fantastic nose of boysenberry and blueberry with a side of eucalyptus. On the palate, this is simply yummy–the tannins have dissipated, but the fruit is vibrant and young. For me, this is an epic new world Pinot as it celebrates the gorgeous fruit, but has near impeccable balance as the acidity is still tart and precise. Well done. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Rued Winery Zinfandel: Retail $25. Corked. Ugh. The day before I opened this, I had mentioned to my wife that we had experienced a rather good run of avoiding any flawed bottles (which may have been more due to the fact that I have stopped opening any white Burgundies). Now, I am not one to believe in “jinxes” but perhaps this was a way for Bacchus to put me back in my place. Unrated.
2009 Tallulah Chardonnay Farina Vineyard: Retail $35. Big. Oaky. Big. From what I have ascertained, that is the way that the winemaker, Mike Drash, likes it. An old school Napa style big chard, but for me it works. Yes oaky. Yes buttery. But also, yes, Yummy. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: Early in the week, once opened and poured, I knew instantly that the 2003 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Old Vine Yamhill County would be this week’s Wine of the Week. Why? Well, I will get to that later. At that point I thought: “Well, it does not matter what else I drink this week since the ‘game’ is essentially over.” Obviously, I did not abstain from pulling corks the rest of the week, but a few days later, I opened the 2004 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir The North Slope Vineyard, and that wine certainly challenged the Patty Green Pinot for the top spot. I bought the wine several years ago and it certainly has held up well.
But, as I said, I knew when I popped the Patty Green that it would likely take top honors this week, and, well, I was right. Not only was the wine one of the best Pinots I have had this year, but I have another connection to the wine. Back in 2010, when I was out in Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Celebration, I stopped in at the winery for a tasting. As I usually do, I started chatting up the winemaker, Jim Anderson. I asked him how he got into winemaking, and he mentioned that he was originally from the East Coast and he went to a small school in New England that had nothing resembling “winemaking” as a major. Well, having gone to a small school in New England myself, I pressed on and discovered that not only did we attend the same school (Bowdoin College), but we were in the same class. Clearly, we did not travel in the same circles back then, for neither of us recalled the other, but every time I open a bottle of Patty Green, it makes me smile as I imagine passing by the future winemaker on the way to class.
What was your Wine of the Week?