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 Argyle Brut Willamette Valley, Oregon: Retail $30. I can’t remember exactly when I jumped on the Argyle bandwagon, but it was a while ago. I had an in at the winery that got me the “good stuff” for relatively cheap. For instance, I picked up these 2009 Sparklers for less than half of the suggested retail. Yeah. I know. It has been a while since I have popped one and I remember the previous iterations to be characterized by an abundance of green apple. Well, no longer as it seems to have evolved into more of a pear and even peach nose with plenty of yeasty goodness. The palate is simply delightful with a vibrant sparkle, great flavors, and a near searing acidity. Nearly a decade out and this is beautiful. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV L. Aubry Fils Champagne Premier Cru Brut: Retail: $50. 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromenteau (Pinot Gris). 50% comes from the 2015 vintage, and 50% from a “perpetual reserve” (solera system) that dates from 1998. We picked up a few of these from our local Costco where they were $33/bottle. I should have bought more. Citrusy and yeasty with a bit of color and a fine bead. The palate is equally enticing with more than ample acidity, a freshly baked bread note, and a bit of pear. This is a classic Premier Cru from a respected house and has three of the rare varieties still allowed in Champagne. What else could one want? Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2008 Brick House Chardonnay Ribbon Ridge: Retail $40. Wow. I picked this up back in 2010 when I was out at the International Pinot Noir Celebration. There are few U.S. Chardonnays that I have had that would be able to run with this one. A classic style with reserved fruit and subtle flavors. A bit of the tropics on the nose and impeccable balance on the palate. Best Chardonnay I’ve had so far this year. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2012 Gruet Winery Grand Blanc de Noirs: Retail $30. After the last bottle of this wine, I was both a little apprehensive about this final bottle as well as fully cognizant that I needed to pop this puppy sooner than later. In fact, I was thinking after tasting the last bottle just a few weeks ago that I should have opened this one right away—as I feared the worst. No need to fear (or better said: this is proof that there are not bad wines, only bad bottles). Quite golden in the glass after the rather energetic opening of the wine, with an active sparkle resulting in a lively, frothy mousse. Peachy and yeasty, with an interesting white pepper aspect—quite lovely. That adoration continues on the palate with that gorgeous peach, a flinty minerality, and a killer finish. Fantastic. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Jean-Noël Haton Champagne Brut Classic: Retail $45. I first picked up a couple of these from the PLCB in Pennsylvania, and then from Central Market here in Houston (the bottles in Texas were almost 20% cheaper, naturally). I pulled this out on the last night with my family for Thanksgiving weekend since it is champagne, but it is not necessarily a game changer (and not a wallet buster). Good citrus, plenty of yeasty goodness, and hints of minerality. The palate is equally enticing: fruit, baked bread, depth. While I am not entirely sure where exactly this falls on the Champagne continuum, I imagine it is not far from average. But average in Champagne is pretty amazing. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Kessler, Alsace Grand Cru: Retail $45. When I was scrolling through my wines on cellar tracker, I was a bit shocked to see this, to be honest. I am not sure why, exactly, but I know that since I had six of them in the cellar, I knew that I needed to pop one tonight. Dark, not gold but more orange with lanolin, petrol, and a touch of citrus. On the palate, there are certainly signs of oxidation, but plenty, plenty of acidity, lanolin, and so much verve. Whoa. Yes, this is a bit outside of the mainstream, but whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: What a great week this turned out to be. Sure, the basketball team I coach got shellacked (again), my wife went out of town leaving me to try to keep both boys alive by myself, and my favorite college football team got left out of the playoff, but the universe felt like compensating me with all Outstanding wines from my cellar. Each wine could have been wine of the week, but three really stood out. The Aubry was not only fantastic, but it has traces of three grapes that you really don’t see all that much anymore in champagnes: Petit Meslier, Arbanne, and Fromenteau—all three very fun to say. Then there was the Brick House Chardonnay, which was arguably the “best” wine of the week. In the end, though, I went with the Alsatian wine mostly because it reminded me of my second “home” where I studied and played basketball a million years ago. (Another feather in its cap? It was the only one of which I remembered to take a picture.)
What was your Wine of the Week?