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).
This week, returning from almost a month in Europe, Houston seemed even more abnormally hot than usual. With the high temperature above 95° every day, summer has no end in sight. As such, this week I decided to go through a bit of rosé. Now, I am firmly in the camp of those that drink rosé all year-long, but that does not mean that the pink stuff is not also perfect for a hot Houston evening.
2014 Château d’Esclans Rock Angel: Retail $35. Primarily Grenache and Rolle. There are many that think that rosés need to be consumed within minutes of release. I am not one of them. In fact, I believe firmly that well-made rosés can age, and age gracefully. This bears witness to my assertion. 3-4 years out and this is still a beautiful wine. Sure, it has likely lost a bit of exuberance, but it is perhaps more complex as a result: a pinkish orange (more Pacific than Atlantic salmon) with strawberry, melon, and a smidge of citrus, this is clearly a step up from the Angel, and oh so delicious. Yes, even several years out. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2017 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel: Retail $25. Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle, Tibouren, Syrah. A few years ago, Sacha Lichine, son of famed wine writer and producer Alexis Lichine, anticipated the growth in rosé wines and purchased Château d’Esclans in 2006 with the goal to make the best rosés in the world. Whether one agrees that they are the best in the world (he produces four Rosés under the label) is of course arguable, but there is no debate that the “entry level” wine, Whispering Angel, is one of the most successful rosés on the market today. And it should be. Quite pale salmon color with rose petals, tight red berries, and hints of rhubarb and crushed rock. Clean, pure, liquid sunshine from the Côte d’Azur. If this can’t make you love summer, you either fear the warmth of the sun or you are the Snow Miser. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2017 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé: Retail $25. Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, Syrah. Once rumored to be on the market, Château Miraval is still owned by the couple formally known ad Bradgelina (or was it Brangelina?). I think the fact that it is half owned by the famed Perrin family (who makes the wine), kept it from being sold, but what do I know? I do know that this wine has been solid for years. Though it is available in most grocery stores with an even slightly above average wine department, that does not make it the enemy of the wine lover. Pale salmon with floral, melon, and light flinty notes. The palate is fruity, yet restrained in a perfectly Southern France style. A lengthy, melon and strawberry tinged finish rounds it out nicely. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley: Retail $30. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 30-35% Pinot Meunier, 10-15% Chardonnay. (While technically not a Chardonnay, there is some in there, and I felt like bubbles, so it counts for “Chardonnay Week.”) Way back when, as I started this fun but expensive voyage of wine appreciation, I was living in Sausalito, California on a shoe-string budget (insert “teachers should get paid more” comment here). In order to fuel my insatiable need to learn more about wine (without necessarily paying for it), I would attend tastings at my local Beverages & More store. They happened to be led by none other than Wilfred Wong, wine storyteller extraordinaire and über nice guy. I remember distinctly the sparkling wine tasting that he held one chilly (for Greenbrae) winter evening. We tasted through a bevy of bubbles, but the Piper-Heidsieck Extra Dry really stood out and it remains a favorite to this day. Rich fruit (lemon and pineapple), plenty of minerality, and oodles of yeasty goodness. Not sweet by any means, but the extra sugar in the dosage rounds out the vibrant acidity just enough. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé: Retail $65. 50 to 55% Pinot Noir, 15 to 20% Pinot Meunier, and 28 to 33% Chardonnay. Most of the disdain for the good Veuve, as far as I can tell, is reserved for what they call the “yellow label” (which I have always seen as more of an orange, for what it’s worth). Why is that? I am not entirely sure, but make no mistake, this is a solid sparkler. Darker than I remember, more of a light crimson/orange with a persistent bead, and aromas of strawberry, rhubarb, and cassis. The palate is delightfully tart and fruity, with the rhubarb really coming through. Initially, this was way too cold, but as it warmed? Wow. Fantastic. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Looking back over the list of wines here, I noticed that all (save the Roederer Estate) are often maligned by the “hip” faction of the wine world (i.e., primarily sommeliers) perhaps due to the fact that they are all successful (as well as produced in large quantities and widely available). In my mind, that is just stupid. While these wines do have very high production levels, they are also quite good, and that is what should matter. While it is very difficult to single one out for the top wine of the week, that is the point of this section of the post. Thus, I am opting for the NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé—it has all the elements of a fine wine plus it sparkles, and as you know, my motto is “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter.”
What was your Wine of the Week?