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).
2009 Argyle Pinot Noir Spirithouse: Retail $65. It was late-ish, after my wife had long since gone to bed, and I was craving Pinot. I had been trying to get through a bunch of samples all week and, frankly, most of the wine I had tried had not been all that good (and that is being kind). So I delved into the cellar to grab a bottle that I could confidently state would not disappoint. Argyle, a 20k or so case producer in the Willamette Valley, is perhaps best known for their stellar sparkling wines, so I would hazard a guess that most do not know about their incredible reserve Pinots. Spirithouse gets its name from the original Argyle farmhouse in Dundee, that has purportedly been haunted for over a century. The wine is marked by black cherry cola and touches of clove and Christmas spice. The fruit is wonderfully integrated, as are the tannins, both of which meld with a tartness that holds it all together. Fantastic now, perhaps another few years before decline. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé: Retail $25. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle (Vermentino). I got back home from another drubbing of my basketball team (after a 20 year hiatus, I am back coaching high school basketball) and I needed some rosé. Sure, it was late November, well past what most consider to be rosé “season” but it was 75° in Houston today, and well, I drink rosé all year. And this is one of my favorites. Sure, there is the Bradgelina (or is it Brangelina?) thing, but this is a solid wine: good fruit (melon, rhubarb, strawberry) balanced by a tart acidity and a distinct minerality. Not sure if this is the remedy for a 30 point drubbing, but by the end of the bottle, I really did not care. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
NV Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs: Retail $30. 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Gris. Well. Apparently a bit has changed since I tried the last bottle of this wine. Yes, I have left Pennsylvania and moved to the very different state of Texas, but I am referring to the changes in the wine. Right out of the bottle, there was a very odd odor to this wine—an odor that while not quite repugnant, it was definitely not good. It was also eerily familiar, but for several moments, I just could not place it. Then it hit me: Pepper. Neither the spice nor the various iterations of vegetable, but rather our neighbor’s cat when I was in middle school. The wine does not smell like the cat, but rather Pepper’s food—I used to cat sit when the neighbors were out of town, and the smell of that canned food has remained etched in my olfactory memory. On the palate? This is actually quite nice—good tartness, a bit of biscuity goodness, and plenty of lemon rind, but that Friskies wet cat food on the nose was, well, a less than pleasant trip to my misspent childhood. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley: Retail $25. 56% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay. Still owned by the descendants of the founder of Roederer in France. Good fruit (strawberry, rhubarb), great tartness, and plenty of sparkle. There is a reason that many consider Roederer Estate one of, if not THE, top sparkling wine producer in the country, and this is a fine example. Bright, fruity, plenty of verve. Well-done. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Salmon Champagne Montgolfiere: Retail $45. 50% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. I am never shy to try a champagne brand and although I have had this wine before, it is certainly not in my regular rotation of producers. I picked this up from Last Bottle and right out of the gate this is citrus a go-go with plenty of yeast. Even though this is a Non-Vintage Brut (which the fine people from Champagne claim needs no cellar time), this comes off as a young Champers and indeed needs some time. Still? Bright, cheery and full of verve. Nice.Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I am now well into my third week of being under the weather (actually, it feels more like being under a truck), but my olfactory abilities have returned, for the most part. So, I decided that regular trips to my cellar would help speed the healing process along. My wife, who is a “real doctor” (as opposed to my Ph.D.), claims that there is no support for my contention that good wine always trumps a bad cold. No, her position is that there is very little I can do other than wait it out.
I showed some restraint. I did not file for divorce.
Instead, I popped some corks. The Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs was, well, interesting, but the other wines this week were all stellar: the other two sparklers were fantastic, and the Miraval really scratched an itch, so to speak. The top wine this week, however, was the 2009 Argyle Pinot Noir Spirithouse, which reminded me how much I like American Pinot with a bit of age on it–it is a shame that so many of them are consumed too young. I plan on going through a few more of these older Pinots over the next few weeks, in my attempt to kick this cold to the curb. It will also serve to reduce my cellar just in case I lose all restraint and need to start dividing up assets.
What was your Wine of Week?