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 Melville Chardonnay Estate: Retail $30. Golden in the glass suggests that we may have waited too long but the nose of lemon curd, vanilla, and oak suggests otherwise. Subtle but evident fruit with plenty of acidity. Rounded out nicely with some butter and oak. This is a fantastic balance between fruit driven and big buttery wines. Melville has been a favorite for a while and this is why. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Big River: Retail $40. I had a bottle of this a few years ago and I was impressed. Since then, I had forgotten about this bottle until I was scrambling for a big Zin when the in-laws were over for Christmas. While this is certainly big, it stops short of “yuge.” Deep red fruit with mocha, herbs, and verve. While front and center, the blackberry jam fruit is not dominant. There is also spice, tartness, and just a touch of forest floor. Really nice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2005 Sanctuary Estates Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard: Retail $45. I received this wine from a good friend in the wine business for the Secret Santa wine exchange that I organize every year through my blog. It comes from perhaps the premier vineyard for Pinot Noir in California (if not the U.S.) and has a bit of age on it—a winning combination if you ask me. When I entered it into Cellar Tracker, though, the kind reviewers of this wine indicated that it should have already been consumed…in 2010!?
That caveat as a backdrop, I popped and poured this beauty and it shows absolutely no signs of deterioration: dark in the glass with dark berry fruit and a bit of anise up front and wonderful fruit on the palate. Said fruit is reminiscent of a blackberry jam, but stops well short of being “stewed” and has plenty of acidity to provide balance. The finish is luscious and lasting, and the tannins appear to be completely integrated. I would not wait forever on this wine, but it is lovely now and will likely remain that way for at least a couple of years. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2012 Stateland Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley: Retail $30. Darker than your average dark Pinot, in fact, darker than your above average dark Pinot. Black cherry and earth with a bit of clove and spice. On the palate, this certainly sides with “big” but it stops well short of “over-the-top.” Good, even great fruit, tart, plenty of tannin. This is without a doubt a New World Pinot, but it really is fantastic. Good for a few more years at least. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2000 Vranken Champagne Demoiselle Tete de Cuvée EO Brut: Retail $80. 100% Chardonnay. I grabbed this to take to a local restaurant, which my wife told me we could open for $15 corkage. Upon arrival, we were informed that they no longer allowed outside wine. Great. I was hangry and a bit perturbed, but I was wise enough to keep the bottle on ice as I placed it gingerly back in the car. Back home, we popped the bottle (since it was already nice and cold) and DVRd a movie. Well, the movie had just started and I already knew the movie would be better than the wine. While the wine was not terrible, it was rather tired and old and lacked fruit altogether. There was plenty of secondary flavors, though–yeast, brioche, croissant. Yeah, they were all in there. So it was a mixed encounter. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week it was rather difficult to choose a Wine of the Week since most of the wines we drank were pretty darned good. That was not the case for the 2000 Vranken Champagne, though, as I was fairly disappointed (particularly since my wife paid full retail for it). The 2009 Melville Chardonnay was delightful—Melville makes some of my wife’s favorite wines—and the 2008 Ravenswood Zin was surprisingly still fresh. The 2005 Sanctuary Bien Nacido would have been the WotW had I simply remembered to take a photo of the bottle before I guzzled down the contents (I never said that selecting the WotW was an exact science). That does not mean that this week’s WotW is not deserving, however. It was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the week as I did not have the highest of expectations for it, but the 2012 Stateland Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir really delivered on all angles: great flavors, texture, depth, and price.
What was your Wine of the Week?