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).
2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. I had recently sampled a domestic Chenin that was, well, not ideal. The producer of said wine asked me to expound. As I do not normally take notes on wines that are less than ideal, I was running on memory, which is essentially a paraphrasing of Jackson Browne’s 1977 classic. To help me lend valuable information to said winemaker, I popped this wine from what I consider to be the epicenter of Chenin Blanc: Chinon and the Loire Valley. This wine is rife with tropical notes of pineapple, lemon, and even papaya. Sure, the bottle is stopped with a complete joke of closure, but for now, this wine is delicious: great fruit, acidity, depth, body. While this is not the apogee of Chenin, it is certainly on the slopes on the way up to the top. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2002 Robert Hunter Brut de Noir: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir? When I purchased a few bottles of this wine several months ago from Last Bottle, I was unfamiliar with the producer, let alone the wine, but at the time I figured: “It’s a Blanc de Noirs from Sonoma, how bad could it be?” Although the information on the wine is limited (I could not determine the blend, but I did find that it spent 10 years [!] on the lees), the wine is certainly tasty: golden in the glass with citrus and a definite yeasty component. On the palate this is better than I remember it. Tart, creamy, delicious. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Cuvée Réserve Brut: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Noir. Muuuuch better than the last and more along the lines of what I expected when I bought these from Last Bottle about a year ago. The golden color suggests some age and the nose confirms: citrus fruit, tons of baked bread and ever so slightly oxidized. On the palate this is quite tasty and not just because I opened this within a few minutes after getting crushed in yet another basketball game. No, this is bright and vibrant with tons of yeasty notes and a lengthy finish. Stops just short of a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2010 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet: Retail $35. 100% Chardonnay. Normally, I use this space to lament those here on CT who have tasted a given wine before me and failed to see the attributes, the poetry, or even the potential of a wine. In this case, however, those who preceded me seem to have hit the proverbial nail squarely on the noggin: this wine is not great. In fact, it is even on the border of “good.” Sure, there are some Chablisien characteristics there: a flinty core, some citrus notes, and a tart acidity, but…. Yes, but…. The color is decidedly on the dark side, the flavors are certainly on the oxidized side, and the wine is certainly on the tired side. That should simply not happen with a wine of this pedigree. No wonder that it was relatively “cheap” through Jonathan Newman and Wines ’Til Sold Out? No wonder? Good. 84-86 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: When I looked over the cellar consumption this week, I noticed that there was a minuscule thinning of the proverbial herd. I have been trying to catch up with some of the samples that had piled up over the last few months and neglected to delve into our own personal stash. There was only one “stinker” this week: the Simonnet-Febvre 1er Cru Chablis was a disappointment, for sure, particularly considering the fact that I have another three bottles of the schlock in the cellar. The other three bottles, though, were quite nice. The ’02 Robert Hunter was rather remarkable–I do not know of any domestic producer of sparkling wine that gives a wine ten years on the lees, that is quite an investment! The ’15 Couly-Dutheil Les Chanteaux was wonderful, but every time I open one, I get depressed when the cheap closure starts to spin in the bottle before the “worm” of the opener is even half way in the bottle–it reminds me that I need to drink the rest sooner rather than later lest they all suffer from oxidation. This week, though, I settled on the NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Cuvée Réserve Brut, as my Wine of the Week as it had all I look for in a bottle of bubbles: a touch of fruit, plenty of depth, and oodles of verve.
What was your Wine of the Week?