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).
I spent the entire week deep in the heart of Texas this week, which was a bit strange, I have to say. I leave this week for Walla Walla, and then right off to Paso Robles, so I had to pull a few faves from the cellar as it will be a while before I will be able to access my cellar again.
NV Gardet Chigny-les-Roses Brut Premier Cru: Retail $45. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. I picked this up a while ago on Last Bottle, and have really been happy with the purchase. Pale Straw with a citrus, yeasty goodness that is just off the charts. On the palate a fine sparkle and an intense tartness before the freshly baked bread comes in like gangbusters. Fantastic plain and simple. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2011 Maria & Manfred Hick Chardonnay Smaragd Ried Mitterbierg, Wachau, Austria: Retail $24. There is not a whole lot of Chardonnay in the Wachau, and that is too bad since those that I have tried have been amazing. This is no exception. Whoa. Gangbusters on the nose with melon, lemon, and thyme. The palate is remarkable: great fruit, acidity, and depth. But the most impressive aspect might be the weight—it coats the mouth and lingers for minutes. Whoa. Acidity, fruit, depth. It has is all. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Kemmeter Wines Sonero Riesling, New York: Retail $14. Under 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 Reinhardt is nothing if not meticulous, and his wines are always clean and precise. But there is also plenty of soul as well, testament to how he cares for the land that produces his fruit. And this $14 wine is witness: an entry level wine with character, precision, and verve. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2000 Rizzi Barbaresco DOCG: Retail $45. 100% Nebbiolo. I got this wine from the PLCB (the Pennsylvania State Liquor Store) on a whim and, well, I think it was high-class robbery. There were some reviews on Cellar Tracker that were less than enthusiastic, but those were all from a decade ago when this wine was obviously not ready to drink. Now? Fantastic. Red, albeit stewed fruit, with anise and pine forest. The palate is tart, fruity, and vivacious. Starting with the mid-palate the fruit is more reserved, and stewed. Mocha dominates along with red berry fruit. Nice. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2005 Domaine Rolet Vin de Paille, Arbois, France: Retail $50 (375ml). 40% Chardonnay, 40 % Savagnin, 20% Poulsard. The color is simply amazing: Coca-Cola that has been in a glass with ice cubes for a couple of hours. Nose of rich caramel and roasted walnut, which gets a whoa. A double whoa even as I could just smell this for hours on end. On the palate, this is sweet, but short of unctuous with orange marmalade, a distinct nuttiness, that rich caramel, and lip-smacking acidity. Another whoa. Or seven. Outstanding Plus. 95-97 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: It has been a while since there was a week with two multiple whoa wines in it, but that was the case this week. The other wines were no slouches either, and each of them are Wine of the Week (WotW) worthy, but it is a bit of an unwritten rule that a whoa warrants a WotW. The problem, obviously is which one? There is no doubt the the Rolet Vin de Paille is in a class almost by itself with impeccable balance, the perfect amount of sweetness, and oh that nose. Then there was the Hick Chardonnay. My goodness what a wine. It is even more remarkable considering that I paid a mere 10€ (about $12) for it a few years ago. In the end, I selected the 2011 Maria & Manfred Hick Chardonnay Smaragd Ried Mitterbierg as this week’s WotW, but for none of the reasons already listed. Wine has perhaps a unique ability to evoke emotions: be it the vintage was a year that wakens a memory or the purchase of the bottle itself provokes a fond flashback. The latter was the case here as I remember having dinner in a tiny restaurant across the street from Mozart’s favorite brothel in Salzburg. The owner, who prepared all the food on a hot plate, was a vivacious, lovely woman who loved Austrian wines. This particular wine was made by her cousin, whom I visited a day later after a beautiful drive through the Danube Valley. Drinking the wine this week immediately took me back there—to that meal, the wonderful conversation about wine, to the drive along the Danube. Wonderful.
What was your Wine of the Week?