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).
2016 Benovia Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $40. I bought six of these at my local grocery store for the absurd price of $18/bottle. I have been a fan of Benovia for a while, and when I saw these on sale (a bit of a scratch-and-dent thing), I freaked out a bit. And then I bought six. The first was corked, but this is delightful with great fruit, balance, and lusciousness. This is a great wine at $40. At under $20? Stupid good. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
NV Paul Berthelot Champagne Eminence Premier Cru: Retail: $50. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. I was home alone and watching my favorite college football team in their conference championship and after a solid start, the game started to unravel a bit. So I opted for champagne. Perhaps I was channeling my inner Napoléon (“In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it”) as I was hoping for the best but fearing the worst. Golden in the glass with an active sparkle, which faded fairly quickly. Not much fruit on the palate but plenty of rich tree fruit on the palate and plenty of yeastiness all the way through. I am not sure how the game will turn out, but the wine is fabulous and helping the celebration (or easing the pain). Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Gardet Champagne Premier Cru Brut: 1.5 Liter. Retail $100. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. We had a bunch of people over for dinner and I opted for a single magnum instead of two (multiple) bottles of who knows what. I try to refrain from hyperbole, but opening a bottle of champagne results in an instant “event.” I really think there is no doubt about that. Well, what tops that? A magnum of champers, natch. I bought six of these magnums from Last Bottle at the beginning of the year, but this is the first that we popped. A bit of color, suggesting some age with a classic”older” champagne vibe of a touch of oxidation, plenty of nuttiness, and short of over-the-top baked bread. Given that it was champagne, with an older vibe, and a magnum? Forget about it. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2007 Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard: Retail $58. I bought three bottles of this wine way back in 2011 at the winery. That was before I started this blog, and a few years before my now ten year-old learned how to ride a bike. The first two bottles were evidently less than stellar since I did not write a note for the first one and the second was corked. Such is life, I guess, in the wine appreciation “biz.” This bottle, though? Whoa. Stellar from the jump, which is what I expected from one of the legends of Santa Rita Hills (the first vintage was in 1982). Although I have never met Richard Longoria, tasting this wine makes me want to jump in a Saab and drive to his doorstep. Eucalyptus and black cherry dominate the nose with hints of black earth and anise. The palate is simply luscious: great fruit, plenty of depth, and a finish that would linger until the closing credits. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
NV Mirabella Franciacorta Satén DOCG: Retail $45. 100% Chardonnay. Before I left Philadelphia, I bought a bunch of these from the state wine store for the incredibly stupid price of $15/bottle. I only wish I had bought more. A slight golden hue with a fine, active bead, with notes of green apple and pineapple. The palate is dry and tart with nice acidity and a lovely nuttiness that anchors the finish. Fantastic. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another great week when it came to wines that we pulled from our own cellar with any one of them “eligible” for Wine of the Week. The three sparklers were all fantastic and served as a strong start to sparkling wine month (as far as I know, there is no such thing, but with the amount of bubbles that will be consumed, particularly at the end of this month, it might as well be). The 2016 Benovia Pinot Noir was also a welcomed bottle as the first one we opened was corked. Even among all the stellar wines, the Wine of the Week stood out far ahead of the others. The 2007 Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard was everything I thought it would be when I bought it back in 2011 and maybe then some.
What was your Wine of the Week?