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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).
2014 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Anderson Valley: Retail $38. Ferrari-Carano’s winery on the Northwest end of Dry Creek Valley is known for its fairly big reds and racy whites. It is not, however, the first winery that comes to mind when one is looking for Pinot. On the other hand, Lazy Creek Vineyards, which Don and Rhonda Carano purchased in 2008, has been known for quality Pinot Noir for close to half a century, and this is where this wine is made. I met with Christy Ackerman last year at Lazy Creek and came away impressed. This wine, too, carries on in the same direction. Decidedly a New World Pinot, this checks all the boxes (and adds a few others): fruit, depth, acidity, complexity, verve. All in spades. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
The next two wines I tasted as a mini-vertical with some good friends in South Carolina as they had introduced me to their favorite restaurateur in Mougins, France who then introduced me to this wine. I was so enthralled, the next day I drove to the winery to take a look for myself. After convincing the owner to meet with us without an appointment, she then proceeded to show us around the beautiful grounds of her home/winery where they only produce white wine. To put that in perspective, only 3% of all wine made in Provence is white. Well, there is certainly something to be said about that since these are the best white wines I have ever tasted from the region. (The only one better that I have tasted is the Gavaisson Côtes de Provence Emotion—their top wine—and it’s a lot better.)
2012 Gavaisson Côtes de Provence Inspiration: Retail $25? 80% Rolle, 20% Semillon. I tasted this bottle along with the 2013 and this 2012 was darker than its slightly younger sibling by at least a couple shades, but this might be the better of the two from a quality perspective, if ever so slightly. Great fruit, but this wine is much more than that as it is almost toasty with plenty of gravitas. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Gavaisson Côtes de Provence Inspiration: Retail $25? 80% Rolle, 20% Semillon. This is decidedly “fresher” (a word that I particularly hate hearing and detest using, but is appropriate I guess when comparing the two wines) with more citrus (lemon), more minerality, and just a hint of oak. While the “freshness” (ugh) might be welcomed by some, the cost is complexity (which I prefer). Regardless, this is also gangbusters. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Montaudon Champagne Grande Rosé Brut: Retail $40. 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. We popped this after a bottle of Veuve Rosé (see below) and frankly, this blew the Veuve out of the water. Don’t get me wrong, the Veuve was solid, but this is fruitier, tarter, and slightly more complex. There is also more of a baked bread component with a lengthy finish and generally speaking, it is considerably cheaper, so it has that going for it, which is nice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé: Retail $60. 44 to 48% Pinot Noir, 13 to 18% Meunier, 25 to 29% Chardonnay. The good old Veuve takes a lot of heat. Why? I am not too sure, but the best I can figure is that people disparage the wine since it has a huge production and it is insanely popular. Well, there might be a reason for that popularity—it is pretty darned good. Sure, there are better rosé champagnes out there, but this has solid strawberry fruit, some toastiness, and fantastic tartness. Is it the best rosé champers I have had? No. But it is readily available and I paid $40 for it. Solid. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This one was easy. Yes, both the Montaudon and the Verve Clicquot were tasty (and the fact that they are champagnes make them even more enticing in my book) and the ’14 Ferrari-Carano more than satisfied my Pinot itch for the week, but the only real question to answer this week was not which wine, but which vintage? As i mentioned above, I took the bottles with me when I went to visit some good friends for the week in Greenville, South Carolina. We opened them as soon as we were able to get them cold and we were all presented with the conundrum of which one was “better.” While they both were scrumptious, I eventually settled on the 2012 Gavaisson Côtes de Provence Inspiration as this week’s Wine of the Week. Perhaps it was the additional year in the bottle, or maybe it was due to some of the vagaries of the vintages in question, but the 2012 seemed to have just a little extra—a little more “oomph.” At least for me—others in our little tasting group preferred the 2013, but that is one of the great things about wine: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if it is wrong.
What was your Wine of the Week?