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.
NV Herbert Beaufort Champagne Grand Cru Carte d’Or Tradition Brut: Retail $50. 90% Pinor Noir, 10% Chardonnay. I tend not to get all that excited—I much prefer the even-keel approach. There are some exceptions, though: a perfect stretch of road while riding, an Ohio State football game, and any champagne with the word “Bouzy” on the label. Bouzy is one of the seventeen Grand Cru villages in Champagne and it is where the best Pinot Noir grapes are grown in the appellation. My favorite champagnes are dominated by the particularly pesky Pinot, and if Bouzy is on the label, I can be fairly confident that I am going to be a fan of the wine. This is a perfect case in point. Even though I have had many a Beaufort wine, I had never tried this one when I saw it on sale the last week I lived in Philly. Knowing my predilection for the town’s wines, I bought a case without trying it or thinking twice. Brilliant. I have gone through half of that case now, and each bottle has been exactly what I had hoped. A bit dark in the glass, with some red berry goodness and a bakery full of yeastiness. The palate is tart and rich, with a tingly sparkle and a lengthy, brioche-laden finish. Bouzy. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Cuvée Réserve Brut: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Noir. The in-laws were over and my wife requested bubbles. We started with a domestic rosé (Gruet) which was fantastic. My father-in-law, though, had an unsated itch for the sparkle, so I grabbed this without much reflection. I paid a scant $25 for this on Last Bottle, but it punches well above that weight: slight golden tinge with a lemon-meringue brioche goodness on the nose. The palate does not disappoint: brilliant sparkle with oodles of yeastiness and dashes of fruit. Yeah, at $25? A complete bargain. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Kemmeter Wines Sonero Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York: Retail $14. Screw. Light yellow/golden with aromas of grapefruit and pear. This is easily one of my favorite Finger Lakes Rieslings: nice tree fruit flavors, good tartness, subtle sweetness. Johannes is a genius, there is no dispute, and this is witness: an entry-level wine with character, precision, and verve. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Mumm Napa Brut Rosé: Retail $24. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. If I had a “house” sparkling wine, this would likely be it. We always have a couple of bottles on hand and usually there is at least one in the fridge, ready to be popped. Mumm Napa was one of the first wine clubs that I joined, way back when, and it remains one of my favorite producers of domestic bubbly. Sure, it is a behemoth in the Valley, but they keep churning out quality wines. This wine had the characteristic coral pink color with small to medium bubbles frothing at the top. Red and black berries dominate the nose with a distinct creaminess on the palate. Easy to find and never disappoints. What else could one want from their “house wine”? Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2007 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: Retail $40. It has been a while since I have tasted this wine, I guess I was in a state of denial since the winery has been sold since the last time I popped a Penner-Ash. Still youthful, even a decade out with dark cherry, blackberry, anise, and a smidge of tar. On the palate, this is fruity, but certainly complex—not as boisterous as the 2008s, but so refined. Delicious. Outstanding. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This has been my first full week home it what seems like forever, and I made a concerted effort to dive into the cellar and pull out a few wines that I have not tried in a while. Having just returned from the Finger Lakes and a visit to Johannes Rienhardt, I was eager to discover how his entry-level Sonero was faring. Quite well, even though I can hear Johannes telling me to not wait any longer to open my last bottle. The Penner-Ash goes even further back—I had purchased it back in 2010, before I started this blog while I was out at the International Pinot Noir Celebration as a consumer. Both worthy options for Wine of the Week, but this week, I am opting for the NV Herbert Beaufort Champagne Grand Cru Carte d’Or Tradition Brut, which was the very last purchase that I made at the PLCB (the state liquor store in Pennsylvania) before leaving my beloved Philadelphia. As much as I loved to bash the PLCB (and there remain plenty of reasons to do so), there were very good deals to be had, like this wonderful Bouzy champagne.
What was your Wine of the Week?