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 past week I was out in Paso Robles for a few days tasting through the wines of many fantastic producers. Nonetheless, I was able to also pull a few corks at home.
2016 The Larsen Projekt Grenache North Coast: Retail $30. 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. This might be the first wine review that I have posted for someone I consider a friend. I met Robert Larsen a few years ago at a Wine Bloggers Conference while he was working for a different brand and his own wines were just a vision. Now, Robert has left the brand that carried him to the WBC and he is out on his own. He still works in PR, but he now also makes his own wine. This, for a Grenache, is a bit dark and brooding with dark fruit: blackberry, cassis, a bit of plum. The palate is rich and bold, with those luscious dark fruits, a bit of earth, and a splash of spice, this is lovely. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Bernard Ledru Champagne Premier Cru Tradition Brut: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. It was not until I opened this bottle that I realized that I have had these bottles for a bit of time. Sure, the color is a bit golden, and the nose is slightly oxidized, but the biggest clue was the cork: it never really expanded after extraction, which indicates that it has been in there for a while. A bit of citrus and plenty of yeastiness on the palate, with a small and rather faint sparkle, but boy, it’s pretty tasty. Plenty of Pinot in the wine (the way I like it), with plenty of back bone and more than a touch of verve. Yum. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Champagne Pierre Legras Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs: Retail $60. 100% Chardonnay. I bought a case of this when I lived in Philadelphia–a Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc for under $25? Normally, this would go for $50 or more, but it was one of the quirky aspects to the PLCB–they would get incredible deals for some wines, but charge 10-20% more for almost every other wine. Intense yeastiness and citrus on the nose with even a bit of freshly popped corn. I bought this a few years ago and there is a slight golden tint to it, with a fine bubble. The palate is toasty and tart with some minerality and a lengthy finish. I am not a huge fan typically of the BdB style, but this is a particularly tasty rendition. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2002 Montaudon Champagne Brut Millésimé: Retail $50. 54% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir. I read my last note (which still applies):
My wife says I am being a complete jerk (my word, not hers, which was much stronger), but listen: it’s not for everyone. Leave it for me. Reading through some of the tasting notes here on Cellar Tracker, I realize a rather poignant fact: some people should not be allowed to drink vintage champagne. If that sounds elitist, I apologize, but many clearly don’t get it. Older vintage champagne often loses some of its sparkle, it often starts to taste a bit oxidized, and yes, the fruit is faded, but those are precisely the elements that make older vintage champagnes so fantastic. This was a touch golden but nothing severe but the nose is serious: cooking brioche just before you take it out of the oven. Whoa. On the palate toasted croissant and lemon curd. Holy cow. I seem to say it all the time but THIS is why I hold on to vintage champagne.
I strongly believe that those who give scores on Cellar Tracker that are “sub-standard” really don’t get it and they should not be “allowed” to drink older champagne. OK, that does sound a bit elitist or even “jerks.” But still, Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Seeing that this past Friday was International Grenache Day (I find such “days” to be rather nonsensical, but that is a point for another day), I contemplated having the Larsen Projekt Grenache for Wine of the Week, but Robert Larsen is also a friend, so I thought it might be favoritism (which does not categorically eliminate one from consideration, but I do have several more bottles of this wine, so…). The rest of the slate this week was comprised of champagne (which is not all that uncommon in this house), and while the Legras and the Ledru were both fabulous, the 2002 Montaudon Champagne Brut Millésimé was in a class by itself. Yes, my approach to vintage champagne is a bit, well, snobbish, but for good reason—it is an acquired taste. At least that is what I tell people when they ask me for a glass.
What was your Wine of the Week?