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:
2009 Argyle Brut: Retail $30. 59% Pinot Noir, 41% Chardonnay. I have had quite a few of these and I have to say that I have never been disappointed. Solid, bright fruit (tart green apple, a bit of lemon, and just a hint of baked bread), a driving acidity, and a lingering finish. The price has inched up over recent years, but the quality has always remained steady. While this used to be a steal, it remains a bargain. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2005 Château Bourgneuf: Retail $30 (for a 750 bottle). From 375. A right Bank blend of around 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. A hint of greenness on the nose, but this is buoyed by subtle dark fruit and some forest floor. This was a legendary vintage in Bordeaux and while this is certainly not the most prestigious wine in the region, this is a stellar wine. Not a block-buster by any means, but I have a few bottles left, and I hope I can manage some restraint. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2008 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay: Retail $35. I pulled this out and served it blind to a few guests and the consensus was that it was an older Chablis. How could I argue? Reserved nose of lemon curd and a hint of spice. On the palate? Whoa. Bright, focused, and incredible. The winemaker, Wes Hagen, always said that the Sta Rita Hills AVA was more aligned to Chardonnay than Pinot. Tasting this wine? Hard to argue. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Cornerstone Cellars Pinot Noir: Retail $45. This bottle started out slowly, and that is a bit of an understatement. Closed on both the nose and the palate, but I was watching Game of Thrones and had other issues at the forefront of my focus. After the show, though, the wine had really opened up: good berry fruit, some earth on the mid-palate, at a memorable finish. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2015 Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Demoiselle Rosé: Retail $20. 100% Pinot Noir. If you have never had a Sancerre Rosé, you might just be dead to me. This is what a rosé of Pinot Noir should be. Slightly fruity, but not too much. Slightly tart, but not too much. And the finish? Lasting, and that can never be too much. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis: Retail $40. From 375. Whoa. Dark Amber with a nose of roasted hazelnut and caramel corn. On the palate, unctuously rich with the slightly burnt caramel aspect that plays exceedingly well. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2005 Olek-Mery Chinon Cuvée des Tireaux: Retail $25. 100% Cabernet Franc. A bit vegetal on the nose, but far from that on the palate. Fruit? Yes, but depth, acid, and a bit of funk. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
WINE of the WEEK: I hate to admit it, but by the time I got around to familiarizing myself with American wines, Robert Mondavi was pretty much out of the picture. As I mentioned here several times, I really started getting into wine when I was a regular bike tour guide in Europe. Perhaps needless to say, I drank a ton of European (OK, French) wines during that time. Riding through some of the greatest vineyards in the world and then having dinner in towns just down the road gave me a rather personal connection to the wine and a greater understanding of the “sense of place” that so many people in the wine world reference. At the end of the summer, returning to the U.S. and back to my teaching job, when I was able to afford wine, I would usually stick with what I knew and grab a Burgundy or a Sancerre. My teaching career eventually landed me in California, teaching for a few years in Marin County. Although I did not take advantage of it nearly enough, I did make a couple of forays up to Napa Valley. I hit a few wineries back then, but one of the places I never stopped was the Robert Mondavi winery. Why? I am not sure I have a good answer for that, but I am certainly kicking myself now. I know it would have been highly improbable that I would have encountered the man who had done so much for wine in this country, but I have heard many times that there was just a certain “vibe” when he was still alive and working at the winery that bears his name. This past week, I had a little of that “vibe” in a bottle when we had the 2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis after dinner one night. As I sipped the golden elixir, I could not help but think about my time in California and driving by the Robert Mondavi Winery numerous times wishing that “present day me” could have told “20 year-ago me” to stop in and have a look around–who knows? I might have bumped into him after all….
What was your Wine of the Week?