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).
2012 Gruet Winery Grand Blanc de Noirs: Retail: $30. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Quite golden in the glass, so much so that it looks as if there must have been some red wine vestiges left in the glass before pouring. A touch of citrus and plenty of oxidative notes on the nose, with a touch of nuttiness and lanolin even. The palate has a vibrant sparkle and a hint of sweetness, but nice tartness, that nuttiness that presented itself on the nose, and a lingering finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
1990 Weingut Jamek Chardonnay Smaragd Barrique: 60€ (50 cl). I saw this on the menu at a wine bar in Vienna and flipped out–rarely do you see older wines in restaurants and never do you see nearly thirty-year-old white wines anywhere. According to the waiter, no one in Austria ages white wines in barriques anymore since Austrians want fresher wines. I had to try it. Amber, almost orange. in the glass with that slightly oxidized note that I love in old champagne along with orange peel and apricot. Even some cocoa. Whoa. On the palate tart and unctuous with caramel and that dried apricot. A lengthy, oily finish. I marveled over the wine for quite some time. How often do you get to drink something like this? Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Cordon Rouge Brut: Retail $45. 45% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier. I am a bit of a champagne slut, but interestingly I have much more familiarity with Mumm Napa than I do with the mother ship, G.H. Mumm. While the Napa version was born of the French original, it has long since been sold (several times). As for the “original” this is a solid champers: bright fruit and acidity, fervent sparkle, and lingering finish. Sure, there are more complex champagnes and sparkling wines, but this is solid to the core, and worthy of its heritage. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2006 Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir Great Oak Vineyard: Retail $50. 60% OK, my wife was right: I waited too long. How much is too long? It is hard to tell, but there is still plenty here to like. Sure, the wine has faded in color with orangish-brown picking on the rim, and yes, the nose is a bit stewed and clearly a tad musty. That is the end of the bad news. The palate still has oodles of fruit (albeit a bit stewed), and plenty of earthiness, but there is also considerable tannic structure on the finish. That last element makes it considerably more difficult to estimate when the optimal time might have been. Still, this is a lovely wine, yes, a bit old, but one should revere one’s elders, no? Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
1999 Domaine Wachau Grüner Veltliner “Kellerberg” Smaragd: 13€20 glass. I had been drinking rather uninspiring wine on the ship for several days and I was secretly wanting to be home at my cellar. On a day trip to Vienna, I ventured into a couple of wine bars and when I saw this on the by-the-glass menu, I smiled, as this is the type of wine that would be in my cellar. Tropical notes along with an oily petrol note that drives me crazy (in a good way). On the palate, completely dry with an unctuous mouthfeel and a nuttiness on the finish. Fantastic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: There were three solid options for Wine of the Week this go around. The 2006 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir, while not perfect, was still outstanding and caused me to recall the importance that Swan had on the California Pinot scene–the Swan clone is still widely planted in the state. The 1999 Domaine Wachau Grüner was lovely, and I love the house–it is a cooperative in the Wachau Valley–but it was only a glass. No, the choice was easy: the 1990 Weingut Jamek Chardonnay Smaragd Barrique is this week’s Wine of the Week for both what was in the glass, but also for the thoughts that it evoked. Where were you in 1990?
What was your Wine of the Week?