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).
2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Blanc Les Chanteaux: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. In my book, this is one of the best Chenin Blancs on the market, particularly given the price. It retails for around $20-25 and it is simply stellar. As with most well-made Chenins, this wine is built to age. Sure, it is fantastic upon release, but the variety, coupled with the terroir, make this close to an ageless beauty. Except. For some reason, the makers of this wine insist on using a synthetic stopper. Why is that significant? A few years ago, I bought a case of this wine and held on to half of it since I love aged Chenin, but after only a few years, the wine was a deep golden color and oxidized–undrinkable. Why? The synthetic stopper is a cheap, imperfect closure that allows oxygen to enter the bottle, spoiling the wine. While this wine is still delightful (citrus and lanolin with elements of petroleum on the nose, bright, vibrant acidity with a touch of spice on the palate), the color is decidedly golden, again. Ugh. This beautiful wine will suffer the same fate due to the crappy cork, and that is simply a crime. Please drink immediately. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Rosé: Retail: $180. 64% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir. It was a tough day in many ways. I had to attend a CPR class that was monotonously painful. My football team experienced a painfully embarrassing defeat. And my son blatantly lied to my face. Repeatedly. Painful. After my wife returned from her orchestra concert (which I could not attend), I decided to pull to mitigate the pain. It was our anniversary, after all. This is the first vintage of Celebris Rosé ever produced by the house, and I figured it was time to drink our last bottle. Amber in color, almost an aged Sauternes, with no pink, just an orangish brown. But this is still vibrant in sparkle, with a nose dominated by caramel and almond—intense and deep. Whoa. On the palate? Holy cow. This is precisely why you should age Vintage Champagne. Rich, luscious, nutty, decadent. Whoa. Outstanding. 96-98 Points.
2004 Veuve Doussot Champagne Memory Cuvée Guy Joly: Retail $100. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. Every time I see a bottle of bubbles with “Veuve” on the label, I get a bit apprehensive. Given the enormous popularity and success (albeit largely unwarranted according to many “experts”) of Veuve Clicquot, I fear that the wine is but an imposter, trying to capitalize on some confusion (“veuve” means “widow” in French, thus adding another perhaps morbid aspect to my mini-conspiracy theory). This wine, however, proved me wrong. In a big way. This is the top of the line offering (tête de cuvée) from Veuve Doussot in the Aube Département, southeast of Troyes, which has been producing some of the best champagnes from the rather newer addition to the Champagne appellation. A bit on the dark side in the glass with a tart lemon curd nose buoyed by a healthy dose of yeastiness. The palate is quite tart with an active sparkle. A bit of nuttiness comes in on the mid palate and finishes with a healthy dose of acidity. Very nice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2005 Domaine Rolet Père et Fils Arbois Vin de Paille: 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 was not a fair fight this week, not by a long-shot. Having said that, the 2015 Couly-Duthueil Les Chanteaux was delightful; I have another five bottles to prove my hypothesis incorrect, but I have little faith–I will be drinking them quickly. The 2005 Rolet Vin de Paille is simply a delight (I have a few more bottles of it as well), and the 2004 Veuve Doussot proved me wrong in a delightful way. All three of those wines, on any other given week, could have easily been selected Wine of the Week. But this was not any given week. My delightful wife and I celebrated our seventeenth (?!) wedding anniversary this week, and while there is no doubt that the wine was phenomenal, it certainly was made more special by the juxtaposition of an otherwise crappy day made right again by a joyful celebration.
What was your Wine of the Week?