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:
These first three wines I picked up while I was out in California when I went to Cosco with my father-in-law.
2014 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel: Retail $25 ($20 at Costco). Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino), Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvedre. As with all Provençal rosés, this is a blend of at least two varieties, although the composition can change from vintage to vintage. I was sitting there in the Costco, having the greatest time just browsing (Costco in Pennsylvania can’t sell wine) and eventually it came down to this or the Château Mirabel (aka “Brangelina”). My wife opted for the Angel (I would have bought both, honestly), but you really can’t go wrong. This is a fantastic rosé: red berry fruit, wonderful tartness, lingering finish. If you have not had this yet, why are you waiting? Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
N.V. Kirkland Brut Champagne: Retail $20. 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay. This champagne is made by Manuel Janisson of the well-respected producer Janisson et Fils in the Grand Cru village of Verzenay. You know, I was skeptical. In fact, I was dubious. But for $20? I thought I would take a flyer and I am glad I did; this is a solid sparkler. A shy nose of lemon and a hint of baked bread followed by a distinct yeastiness and plenty of backbone that all would love in a champagne. Perhaps just short of delicious, this is certainly Yummy. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
N.V. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé: Retail $30 ($17 at Cosco). 64% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay. Sourced from vineyards from Mendocino down to Santa Barbara, this California appellate sparkler (Schramsberg’s second label) is a bit closed on the nose, but bursts strawberry, cherry, and raspberry on the palate. Initially comes off a tad sweet, but the ample acidity adds some tang all the way through to the lingering finish. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2009 Gloria Ferrer Merlot: Retail $25. 100% Merlot. A bit of a funk on the nose somewhat obfuscating the black raspberry in the background. Ample fruit on the palate and a bit of depth, but nothing really stands out here. I guess that is not a good thing, but it is not bad either. As the volume of the bottle got lower, I came around on this wine: a solid effort yet not spectacular. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
N.V. Jaffelin Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Brut: Retail $20. 100% Chardonnay. The first few glasses of this were used for Kir Royales, but I ran out of Crème de Cassis so I drank the last glass straight up. Good red apple on the nose with plenty of sparkle. On the palate, very nice acidity and a bit of baked bread. A good bottle of bubbles from a solid producer. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve: Retail $50. Ah Hank and Maggie….I recently learned that you will be retiring and heading off to that wine cellar in the distance. I wish you the best of luck, but I will miss your deft hand in making some of the best Pinot in California. This bottle was a perfect example of why I cherish your wines: tart cherry and a bit of earth, this is what California Pinot should be. Reserved, tasty, contemplative, it is all there. Wonderful. I will be holding on to my last few Skewis wines with white knuckles. Cheers. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: There was really only one choice for this week’s Wine of the Week (WotW): the 2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve. I had learned last month that Hank and Maggie were retiring and the brand would be going with them so I had to open this bottle as some sort of tribute (I know, a rather lame “tribute” but, well…). Sure, I could have opted for the Kirkland (aka Costco) Champagne as WotW, but even though it was a very pleasant surprise, I still have a bit of an issue getting over “Kirkland” on the label (though once I move to a state that actually respects wine drinkers and allows wine to be sold by various outlets, I am confident that I will get over it). There was also the Whispering Angel, which really is a fantastic rosé. Sacha Lichine has set out to make the best rosés in the world, and after tasting through the whole Caves d’Esclans line (post coming shortly), it would be hard to argue that he is not.
In the end, I really did not give much consideration to any other wine for the simple reason that opening a Skewis has always been a special occasion for me, no matter what the circumstance. Now that will only be magnified as the number of bottles of Skewis wine will soon become finite as they put their last harvest into glass. Then, with each successive pull of the cork, that number will continue to diminish.
What was your Wine of the Week?