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).
1985 Inglenook Reunion Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: Retail $100 (?). There are not many wines in Napa Valley that are more storied than Inglenook: Founded in 1879 by a Finnish Sea Captain Gustave Niebaum, the winery produced perhaps the best wines in the Valley until it closed in the early 1900s for Prohibition. Niebaum had died in 1908, but his widow re-opened in the 40s and the winery was soon a top the Napa hierarchy once again. Francis Ford Coppola bought 1,500 acres of vineyards from the brand in the mid-70s (with the profits he made off of The Godfather), but the winery kept producing high quality wines until it was sold several times in rapid succession in the years after this vintage went into the bottle. Several decades of producing really low quality wines ended in 2014 when Coppola purchased the name of the winery (for a ton of cash) with the hope of returning the brand to its former glory. The wine? Stewed on the nose, but gangbusters on the palate. Fruit depth whoa. Might not last long but oh so good right now. Made better by tasting all the history behind it. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2006 Clos Mogador Priorat: Retail $80. 40% Grenache, 28% Cabernet- Sauvignon, 17% Syrah, 15% Carignan. One of the legends of the Priorat. Whoa. A bit stewed on the nose with black cherry, graphite, and loads of spice. The nose was nice, but holy goodness on the palate: Rich, full, dark fruit and a full spice rack of secondary flavors, with a finish that lasts for several minutes. This was the first of six bottles that I bought several years ago. I will get to the next bottle fairly quickly as I am a bit concerned about the stewed nature of the nose, but I am fairly confident that this wine could hold up well for the better part of ten years. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Champagne Fabiènne Prié Champagne Cuvée Brut Reserve: Retail $45. It was Cinco de Mayo and we had my Korean in-laws over for an Italian themed dinner, so I figured a French wine made sense. I bought this nearly three years ago from Wines Til Sold Out, and this is the fourth or six bottles. Rich and full, this Pinot dominant (75% Pinot, 25% Chardonnay) from the Côte des Bar really delivers what champagne hounds seek out the most: baked bread, yeasty goodness. This was a steal for $25. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Salmon Champagne Montgolfiere: Retail $40. 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. 87-89 Points.
2013 Zaca Mesa Syrah Estate Santa Ynez Valley: Retail $25. 100% Syrah. My wife was bugging me for a wine that she could drink without permission (I am not nearly the ogre that it makes me sound), so when this came up on Last Bottle for $14, I thought it would be perfect: my wife loves Syrah and I had visited Zaca Mesa a few years ago and I was impressed. Inky dark with blackberry and pomegranate, this is fruity. Nay, this is really fruity. Rich and intense, one could easily mistake this for a Petite Sirah. Good weight on the midpalate with a spicy finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This was simultaneously an easy week and a difficult one to choose a Wine of the Week. It was clear that it was going to be one of two wines, but choosing between those two was particularly difficult. This was my first Clos Mogador, after hearing about the wine’s attribute for many years. And it was fabulous. In the end, though, there was no way that I could not select the 1985 Inglenook Reunion Cabernet Sauvignon. So much history, a vintage that essentially marked the end of the brand, for the most part, and ambrosia in the glass. A wonderful wine.
What was your Wine of the Week?