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).
2008 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County: Retail $24. I have stated a number of times how much I love this wine and the fact that it is without a doubt my favorite Zin. But today I up the ante: It might also be my favorite California wine. Why? Well, since the first time I tried it, I have stated that this is a real Pinot Noir lover’s Zin. There is fruit (black cherry), but it is reserved, there is earth, but it is far from the star, and there is depth—the longer you hold it in your mouth, the more flavors appear. What makes the difference? The grapes come from a cooler climate spot, thus enabling more complex development. The result is a more delicate approach with integrated spice, and elements of earth. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Terra Alta Vineyard: Retail $18. Markus Bokisch is one of the nicest people I have met in the wine world and the fact that he makes such wonderful wines is an added bonus. This wine starts with a rich nose of cherry and cassis with a bit of spice. On the palate? Holy cow. We have had a few of these now, but they are just getting better. Rich yet balanced with a finishing tartness. Close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2012 Bodegas Franco-Españolas Rioja Royal White: Retail $20. 100% Viura. I seem to say this a lot, but this is one of the better purchases I have made. I bought this a year and a half ago from an online retailer for the paltry sum of $9. Well, well, worth it, although sadly, this was our last bottle (which is probably good, since it was showing a touch of age). Golden yellow. Lemon meringue and a bit of minerality. On the palate? Delicious. Just fantastic. The world should experience more white Rioja as every bottle I have had has been delicious. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Extra Brut: Retail $150. There are times In your life when you drink a wine and you get goose bumps up and down your arms, well this wine was not that–it was more–this wine also caused additional goose bumps on the legs. And the back of the neck. And in other regions I prefer not to mention. Dark golden color, yeasty and slightly oxidized, just short of Sherry, this is a wine I could smell for days. On the palate this austere–candied fruit, buoyed by an intense tartness. This is a classic older Champers, slight fizz et al. Gangbusters. And a Holy Cow. And a Whoa. Outstanding Plus. 94-96 Points.
NV Pierre Paillard Champagne Grand Cru Brut Bouzy: Retail $55. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. I tried to stop by this winery when I was in Bouzy this week, but alas, they would not see me without an appointment. Next time I will have to think ahead as this was a fabulous bottle from my favorite town in Champagne. Brioche, roasted almonds, and a touch of citrus. Wow. I am sucker for Bouzy and while this could use some cellar time, this is really fantastic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut: Retail $45. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 20-25% Pinot Meunier, 15-20% Chardonnay with 10-20% Reserve wines. Piper-Heidsieck has been one of my favorite champagnes for a while now as this red labeled little devil consistently delivers: citrus and yeasty notes with a vibrant sparkle in the glass with plenty of great acidity, brioche notes, and depth on the palate. Still a favorite. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: It seems that just about every week that I open an Amelle Buck Hill Zinfandel, I open at least a couple other pretty amazing bottles that causes the wonderful wine by Eric Buffington to just miss out being named Wine of the Week. Well, this was another such week. There was the Bokisch Garnacha for which I paid around $12, and just might be the best wine for the buck that I currently have in my cellar (but I only have two more—did you hear that Markus?). There was also the white Rioja, which was a treat and the pair of non-vintage champagnes (by Pierre Paillard and Piper-Heidsieck) which I would happily open in any situation. All worthy choices, but I am afraid this week, the Amelle Zin has to be happy with yet another runner-up award to this week’s WotW, the 1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Extra Brut. It is hard to go against Gosset, perhaps my favorite champagne house in normal circumstances (their Grande Réserve and Grand Rosé might be the best non-vintage champagnes not named “Krug”), but this was their tête de cuvée Celebris (which unlike many other houses is a relatively recent phenomenon, with 1988 being the first iteration). We drank this in preparation of visiting the winery in Epernay this past week, and it did not disappoint. Wait, that’ not true—it mesmerized.
What was your Wine of the Week?