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).
2003 Château Belle-Vue (Haut-Médoc): Retail $25. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc. We were deep into a game of Cards Against Humanity and I was getting crushed. Not just beaten, but trucked. By a lot. The others wanted another wine and I decided to dig a bit deep and challenge the others who were burying me in the game to blindly identify the wine, And they failed. Joy. I guess. Coffee, campfire smoke, anise, and raspberry on the palate with balance and plenty of spunk. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2011 Elyse Zinfandel Morisoli Vineyard: Retail $35. 87% Zinfandel and 13% combination of Alicante Bouschet, Carignane, Durif, Grand Noir, Muscat Hamburg, Négrette, Syrah, and Valdiguié. This has always been one of my wife’s favorites, so I am usually lucky to get so much of a glass when there is a bottle open. Really dark and brooding color and fruit, with blackberry and cassis predominate. On the palate, not nearly as brutish as the nose suggests as the fruit is in a happier, more ebullient mood, and while it is certainly big, it is by no means a monster. After the first wave of fruit, there is some depth and a respectable finish. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2013 Michael Caitlin Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills: Retail $55. I received this as part of a mystery case from Last Bottle for ~$25. I have spent a fair amount of time in the Sta Rita Hills and I can honestly say that I have never heard of this winery, so I did a bit of searching and I found… nothing. Absolutely Zero. That does give me some pause given the lawsuit filled a while ago against Wines Til Sold Out. Nonetheless, this wine has many of the characteristics I associate with the appellation: luscious fruit, hints of eucalyptus, and an earthiness that is far from gritty, but certainly has some texture. At first, it felt a bit over the top on the fruit scale, but I came around by the end of the bottle. Delightful. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé: Retail $25. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle. Yes, it is only a year old, but this wine is doing much, much better than the marriage of its owners (was that too harsh?). There is a reason that this is one of my wife’s (OK, our…) favorites: it’s pretty good. Pink (enough), fruity (enough), deep (enough), vibrant (enough), young (enough), cold (enough), yummy (plenty). Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2009 St. Innocent Chardonnay Dijon Clone Freedom Hill Vineyard: Retail $45. 100% Chardonnay. OK. Completely different animal from the last bottle I had of this wine (which was not a pleasant experience). This one has the same color as the previous (slightly golden with a muted nose) but on the palate? A different story: fruit (although subtle), acidity (vibrant), and attitude (although respectful). This is heads and shoulders above the last bottle and gives me faith (?) or encouragement for the third (and last) bottle of this wine in my cellar. Don’t fret—I have been called a fool before. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Choosing a top wine this week was fairly easy. There were several stellar wines from the Elyse Zinfandel (perhaps my wife’s WotW) to the St. Innocent Chardonnay (that restored my faith in holding onto wine for a few years), and the Château Miraval (I am a bit worried about this wine–one of my favorite rosés–as the winery is reportedly up for sale and no one really knows what is going to happen). All fine bottles, all deserving. This week though, I opened a bottle of 2003 Château Belle-Vue, which was significant on a few fronts. One, the wine is considered, at best, “middle of the road” in the panoply of Bordeaux wines. Second, 2003 was a very tough year in the region as it was beset by an epic heatwave that lasted most of the summer. Third, our first child was born in 2003, and therefore the vintage has special meaning for us. Oh, and it was really, really tasty (but I still lost t.
What was your Wine of the Week?