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).
2010 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir: Retail $50. We had a little get-together for the 4th of July and invited a few people from the neighborhood. After tasting through a few samples, I broke out a Pinot from Chile, which was met with the following comment: “I don’t drink Pinot Noir.” Huh? How the heck did you get into my house with a stance like that?! Determined to sway her over from the dark side, I grabbed this bottle of perhaps my favorite Pinot (despite the fact that it is no longer being produced). Mission accomplished–she loved it (at least that is how it played out in my mind). Fairly dark color in the glass with dark berry fruit and a touch herbal. On the palate, this is pure Wes Hagen Clos Pepe: rich fruit, a touch of earth on the mid-palate, and a brilliant acidity that is present from the jump until well after the wine is gone. Bravo Wes. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2011 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented: Retail $35. I can’t believe it has been over two years since I have tried this wine. I guess I am reluctant to twist off the stopper since I know the wine will never be produced again. This time around, a bit darker in color, more of a golden hue on the otherwise straw-yellow wine. A bit funky, with lemon rind and tropical notes, the wine is certainly “older” with muted fruit but still vibrant acidity. I am an unabashed fan of Clos Pepe, and this is why. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Jermann Vinnaioli Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: Retail $25. Under screw. Pale yellow in the glass with barely any signs of age, tropical aromas are prevalent with white flowers, and just a touch of funk. On the palate, like practically every Jermans I have tried, this is delightful. Yes, it is a Pinot Grigio, a style that I despise, but this is much closer, at least in spirit, to the Alsatian Pinot Gris, which I adore. Relatively rich, with some muted tropical fruit, considerable minerality, and a dominate tartness. Why are other Italian Pinot Grigios more like this? Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills: Retail $58. I was worried that I had waited to long on this wine and those worries were justified, at least to a certain extent. It was corked. Not terribly so, but enough to, well, turn up my nose. Too bad. The fruit on the palate is ample and full and there is just the right amount of acidity. Tannins integrated.
2007 Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Narbantons: Retail $45. I keep holding on to my older Burgs, hoping that they will magically transform into what I imagined their potential to be when I bought them close to a decade ago. The color has certainly started to fade with a decidedly orange brim. A funky black cherry on the nose leads to a wonderfully tart and earthy palate. This is a quintessential red Burg: Earthy, tart, deep, slightly tannic, and god-damned delicious. From an “off” year, this is gangbusters. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I made a concerted effort to go through some of the wines in my cellar this week as well as making my way into the growing mound of samples that have landed on my doorstep over the last couple of months. As such, I had a few neighbors over to help so that much of the wine would not end up down the drain. One of the guests made a rather provocative statement: she did not like Pinot Noir and would not drink Chardonnay. Now, I have encountered card-carrying members of the Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) crowd before, but never one who also included Pinot Noir in the mix. Regardless, I approached the situation as I always do: my goal was to prove to her that it was not the varieties that had done her wrong, but rather the producers of those wines. In other words, she had just been drinking the wrong wines. When I pulled out the Clos Pepe Chardonnay (one of my favorite domestic whites), though, she took one sniff and passed. So I moved on to Pinot. While she was not thrilled with the Savigny-lès-Beaune, she did finally admit the 2010 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, was incredibly tasty, and she vowed to give Pinot Noir another look, making it the Wine of the Week. She wouldn’t budge on Chardonnay, though. Yet.
What was your Wine of the Week?