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 are wines that were not sent as samples—in most cases, I actually paid for these wines (although a few have been given as gifts).
2007 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Las Alturas Vineyard: Retail $55. I have already written about Belle Glos’ distinctive wax seal (if you are going to have wax, go all-in—don’t have the pull tab to make opening it easier—it would be a kin to producing a manual transmission car with an “automatic option button” for those that fear the stick), so no need to go there again (although I think I just did). The wine, though, is still faring quite well. Opulent fruit, a touch of earth, and a solid finish. What’s not to jump up and down about? Well, in a word, nothing (since I don’t think they are going to heed my advice regarding the wax). Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2008 Foley Estates Chardonnay Rancho Santa Rosa: Retail $40. After the disappointing Wente Nth Degree (see below), my wife demanded that I produce another Chard for my homemade chicken salad, so I grabbed this. Well-played. Slightly golden-yellow with a lemon creamsicle vibe wafting over the rim. Solid acidity and verve on the palate, terminating with a lengthy finish. Solid up and down. I think I was able to redeem myself. For now. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé: Retail $65. 100% Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria). Dark. Amber dark. Dark amber dark. Honeyed orange zest on the nose and quite sweet on the palate, but all that acidity battles the sweetness admirably. In the end? This is Outstanding—but be ready; this is not for the faint of heart, but Zibibbo is incredibly fun to say. Go ahead, try it… See? Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2013 St. Amant Winery Zinfandel Old Vines Marian’s Vineyard Lodi: Retail $24. There are a few people in the wine industry that I would consider walking up to, smacking them on the back, and say “How the hell are you, you son of a gun?” Stuart Spencer is certainly near the top of the list. His father did more to put Lodi on the map than perhaps any other individual outside the Mondavi family and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The wines of St. Amant mirror Stuart’s personality: quiet at first, but once they open up, there is a lot there to discover. This wine was rather tight initially, but with time, solid fruit and balance. Stuart does not try to hide the fruit in his wines, nor should he. Yet another example of why Lodi is one of the more under-valued wine regions in the world. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2010 Wente Vineyards Chardonnay Nth Degree: Retail $85? This is becoming a disturbing trend: I waited just a touch too long. Golden color, oxidized notes, muted fruit. Still enjoyable (in a wine geek, masochistic kind of way), but this puppy is on the downward slope and screaming to the bottom. Not Rated.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As even a bad high school student could see, there really is no common thread to the wine that we consumed this week. If it were not for the pesky little Sicilian in there, it would have been a solid California-only week, but that sound a bit too limiting, verging on sinister. There were, however, many solid wines popped this week here in Houston: that Sicilian dessert wine was a stunner, and both the Belle Glos Las Alturas and the Foley Rancho Santa Rosa were stellar. Of course the Wente Nth Degree was a disappointment, but I learned a long time ago that you are going to get some stinkers in this wine appreciation thing, so better to just roll with it. For the wine of the week, though, I have to go with the 2013 St. Amant Winery Zinfandel Old Vines Marian’s Vineyard Lodi for several reasons. First, I have actually tried some St. Amant while standing in Marian’s vineyard with both Stuart Spencer and Bruce Fry of Mohr-Fry Ranches (who owns and farms the vineyard). Second, I recently ran into Stuart at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium and actually slapped him on the back and called him a son of a … gun. And third, it is really great expression of Lodi Zinfandel.
What was your Wine of the Week?