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).
2007 Château Fontclos Vacqueyras, France: Retail $25. 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah. I have not spent a ton of time in the Southern Rhône, but the time that I have spent there has been fabulous. The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a must for any wine lover and Gigondas might be one of my favorite villages in all of France. Vacqueyras? Well, I drove by, but never went into the town. Why? Well, even the locals told me that the town is rather boring and bland—a distant cousin to its aforementioned neighbors. It seems as though the view of the wine suffers a similar fate with most considering CdP the king of the region and Gigondas a not-so-close second. Vacqueyras? Lucky to be mentioned by most. Well, if this wine is any indication, the town will be inscribed in stone on my tablet of must sees the next time I am in the region. The last bottle of this wine that I tasted was solid, but short of stellar (88-90 Points). Well, the extra year and a half has clearly benefitted this wine (assuming no inherent bottle variation, of course): Black and blue fruit with plenty of black pepper on the nose. On the palate, tons of fruit still, which is fairly surprising. Great balance throughout with a bit of earth and depth. Very Nice. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2005 Kilikanoon Cabernet Sauvignon Blocks Road Clare Valley, Australia: Retail $30. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, there is no bigger enigma than Australian wine. I have attended tastings where I tasted some truly incredible wines and I have spoken to dozens of people who aver that there is so much more to Aussie wine than what is available to the masses here in the U.S. Thus, when I bought this online nearly a decade ago, I had no idea what to do, so I held onto it. It was buried deep in the recesses of both my cellar and my mind. A buddy of mine texted me the other day, telling me simply to “bring red to the pool.” I obliged. Black and red fruit on the nose, surprisingly fruity, with some black pepper. On the palate this is close to gangbusters. Great acid, great fruit and depth. Close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. Grenache, Syrah, Rolle, Tibouren, and Cinsault. I have been on the Château d’Esclans fan tour for several years now. I am not sure when it started precisely, but I was a firm believer in “Rosé Everyday” long before I moved to Houston where 68°F sends the locals into a frenzy, looking for their wool cowboy boots and wondering whether school will be closed for fear of ice on the roads. One of my last few dozen trips to New York, before I made the transition to life south of the effective Mason-Dixon Line. There seems to be quite a few “wine people” out there who object to Whispering Angel for no other reason that the wine is, frankly, successful. I guess the reasoning is that if a wine is both largely popular and produced in large quantities, that it must be, well, crap. Meh. I have 99 problems and a rich rosé ain’t one. Having said that, I was slightly less impressed this go around with the Angel. Still a stellar pink, I am just chalking it up to vineyard variation. Light salmon color with strawberry, a touch of cherry, and even rhubarb. Good tartness, solid fruit, mineral finish. Say what you want, this is a good rosé. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Château Miraval, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $24. Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, Syrah. Much like the Whispering Angel, Miraval catches a lot of shade, but for different reasons. Here, I guess detractors have a problem with the idea that the former Bradgelina power couple could actually make a decent wine (despite the fact that the wine is actually made by the much-respected Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel fame). Like the Whispering Angel, I have been drinking this wine for several years and I always placed it on par or slightly below the Angel (although the difference was minuscule). Well, for me, this is well beyond decent and for this vintage at least, I prefer the Miraval to the Angel: Pale pink salmon with lovely red berry fruit and just a touch of funk on the nose. The palate is rich with that red berry fruit, fantastic tartness, and a lengthy finish. I feel I have tried enough vintages of this wine to state confidently, that this is the best vintage thus far of this wine. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This was not an easy week to select a Wine of the Week (WotW), despite the fact that we only consumed four bottles from our cellar over the course of the last seven days. I was surprised by both the Château Fontclos Vacqueyras and the Kilikanoon Cabernet Sauvignon Blocks Road. I really did not know what to expect when I took these to the pool to have with friends, but they were both stellar. I have one more bottle of the Vacqueryas (which give it another chance to be WotW), but only one of the Kiikanoon (I am still far to ignorant of Australian wines, though, to take a WotW leap). That leaves the two rosés from the Côtes de Provence. As I mentioned above, the Whispering Angel is as solid as it is popular, but this week I am going with the 2017 Château Miraval, Côtes de Provence as the Wine of the Week. How could I not after saying that it is their best effort to date (insert tasteless failed marriage retort here).
What was your Wine of the Week?
I’ve enjoyed Whispering Angel, but the vintage of Miraval I tasted had a tart bite finish. I’ll have to try the 2017.
One of my favorite roses.