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).
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Carneros Selection: Retail $40. This wine is doing very well, thank you very much, even with nearly a decade of age on it. With climate change/global warming, Gary Farrell no longer makes this Pinot Noir so I have been fairly stingy on the bottles that remain in my cellar. Tonight? With the family over and a mini-chess tournament underway, I popped this puppy. Cherry and eucalyptus with plenty of verve. This wine is a baller, plain and simple. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2010 Feiler-Artinger Spätlese Quartett: Retail $40. Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, Traminer. Another four years have passed since I opened to first bottle of this wine, which was three years removed from when I brought these back from our trip to Salzburg in 2011. Similar to the first bottle, this exceeded expectations, even based on the first bottle. This seems to have evolved even further and in a very good way–my previous notes are still spot on, but the wine is a tad more concentrated, a bit more honeyed, and certainly delicious. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Jean-Noël Haton Champagne Extra Brut: Retail: $45. 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, 5 to 7% of which is vinified in wood barrel. My family was in town for Thanksgiving, but they are not really fans of wine in general, and certainly not champagne specifically. As such, I did not pull out a “big gun”, although there was a good chance they would not even try it. But there was an equal chance that they might have a glass or two and there was no way that they would “get” the nuances of an older vintage champagne, so why risk it? I know that sounds awful, but one or two glasses would inevitably go un-finished or worse, poured down the drain which would result in me kicking myself in the head. And I don’t like kicking myself in the head (it is rather difficult to do, and it does not feel all that great). So while this is far from a “big gun” it is an interesting wine from a grower in the Marne Valley. A bit dark in the glass, with toasted brioche, citrus, and an active sparkle. Nice and toasty on the palate as well, with plenty of tartness and and a lengthy finish. So while not a “big gun” it certainly scratched an itch. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2013 The Hess Collection Grüner Veltliner Small Block Series Mount Veeder Estate Vineyard Mt. Veeder: Retail $35. I got this bottle from a friend that I have made over the last few years writing my little blog. He sent me this as part of a Secret Santa wine exchange that I organize every year, and this was one of the bottles that he sent me around this time last year. Well, I obviously don’t know if it was a bit past the hill last year, but it certainly is now. Still some great flavors from this riper style of the variety: peach and a bit of citrus, and plenty of weight. Still, the oxidative note takes away from the overall experience, but only a bit. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2009 B Kosuge Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard: Retail $70. Well. I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge for the better part of two decades now, and I have consumed countless wines and vintages from this veteran of Napa and Sonoma. Perhaps on a parallel axis, the Hirsch vineyard has been a stalwart of Sonoma Pinot Noir for at least a score or more. Nine years out and this is incredibly fruity: blackberry, boysenberry, and anise are in abundance on the nose and palate. There is certainly depth, but the fruit is the real star here. I am fairly certain that I have never had a nine-year-old wine with this level of intense fruit. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve: Retail $45. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. This is our “house” champagne and we drink a ton of it. I am pretty sure that this is the first one that has been corked (the cork was tainted with a chemical compound called TCA and causes the wine to smell and taste musty—like wet newspaper). Yes, even champagne can be corked. Ugh.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I was a bit all over the place this week, as I guess one would expect since it was the week of my favorite holiday. A holiday where I typically pull out some interesting (hopefully) wines. What added to the mix was that my family was in town and while they certainly drink wine, they tend to like their wines rather straight down the middle—they are not big fans of the funky or the obscure. With all of that as a backdrop, the wine of the week this go around was fairly straightforward: the 2009 B Kosuge Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard might just be the best wine of Byron’s I have tried (and I have had a few), as well as the best wine I’ve had from this famous vineyard.
What was your Wine of the Week?