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).
2011 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Terra Alta Vineyard: Retail $25. 100% Grenache. Every bottle of Bokisch that I crack reminds me how incredibly nice both Liz and Markus Bokisch are. As nice as they are, their wines might even be better. 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.
2008 Amelle Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley: Retail $45. Fairly dark in both color and aromas (blackberry, plum) with touches of spice (clove, cinnamon) and earth. Much the same on the palate, thick and rich with plenty of dominant fruit even ten years out. There is also mocha and cardamom introduced on the mid-palate. The finish is lengthy and rich as well, with that ultra dark berry fruit lingering for minutes.Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Maria & Manfred Hick Riesling Smaragd Ried Stiegelstall zu Arnsdorf: Retail $30. Brought back from Austria. Lightly yellow with great tropical fruit and decided petrol. Great weight on the palate and fantastic acidity. Quite mineral yet also rich. I was worried I had held this too long but this was fantastic. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2009 Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay: Retail $40. The quintessential “Cougar juice,” this Rombauer is every bit as full-throttle as its predecessors: slightly golden in the glass with oodles of oak, cream, vanilla, and citrus. On the palate it is much of the same as the oak hits first, followed by all that buttered popcorn and a noticeable, though certainly shy, acidity. This is the style of Chard that has turned off all those ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) drinkers. There is just one thing: it is good! Sure, it is big, bold, and unabashed, but that style of wine needs loving too! Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve: Retail $75. This changed considerably over the course of an hour. First, it was slightly stewed with dark fruit. Eventually, though, it mellowed with black cherry, spice, and a bit of earth. On the palate, gangbusters. Fruit, depth, weight. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Today, my older son Nathan turns fifteen. Why do I mention that here? I am not entirely sure, but many of the wines we consumed this week represent a smattering of vintages that encompass his life. In many ways opening a bottle of wine represents a trip back in time. There is the vintage, of course, a year that my evoke certain memories that occurred during the time that the wine was at various stages of its production. As often happens around our dinner table, any given wine might spur trivia questions (who was president? who won the World Series?) or even math problems (was the year a prime number?). Any given bottle of wine will also conjure up the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the bottle, which is the case for this month’s Wine of the Week. Several years ago, my wife participated in a conference in Salzburg, Austria and I tagged along. Since my wife was embroiled all day in various medical discussions, I was free to roam the city, exploring. One of my favorite streets in the town is the Steingasse, a narrow, medieval, historical passageway, just to the north of the Salzach River. Even though the street includes the oldest brothel in Salzburg (which was apparently frequented by Mozart), the focus of my affection was Köechelverzeichnis (please do not ask me to pronounce it), a tiny restaurant that only seats 16 people, and is right across the street from where Mozart, well, “slept.” The sole employee of the restaurant is the owner Andrea Hick, a delightful woman who prepares just one dish a night, using a single hot plate as her “kitchen.” There is also a compelling list of mostly Austrian wines at reasonable prices. One producer figured prominently as they were wines made by Andrea’s cousin in the Wachau, along the Danube River. I ended up buying several of her cousin’s wines, and all those Salzburg memories reemerged when I pulled the 2007 Maria & Manfred Hick Riesling Smaragd Ried Stiegelstall zu Arnsdorf from the cellar this week. A magical wine for what was in the bottle, but even more memorable for the flashbacks that it induced.
What was your Wine of the Week?