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).
2010 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Mount Carmel: Retail: $40. I pulled this out for a cheese plate with some friends over and it was fairly well received. Obviously made before the sale to Jackson Family Wines, this is surprisingly golden in the glass with decided lemon notes and a hint of oak. The fruit is still hanging on, but it is showing signs of waning on the palate. The acidity is still strong, though, but nonetheless I am going to get to my two remaining bottles soon. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2005 Dopff & Irion Pinot Gris Sporen: Retail $30. I was feeling nostalgic for my Alsatian home, so I dived deep into the cellar and pulled out a bottle of this Pinot Gris. I bought this almost a decade ago when I returned to the area where I studied a few decades ago, my wife and two young kids in tow. We stayed in Riquewihr, perhaps the center of the Alsatian vineyards. Just feet from the front door of our VRBO was the D&I storefront near the gate to the town. So, yeah, I ventured in once. Or was it 12 times? After tasting through the line once (12?) I settled on buying three bottles of this PG, forgetting about them until now. Quite dark in the glass with caramel and apricot and a bit oxidized. The palate has a touch of sweetness and still impressive acidity. There was also a bit of minerality, but in a metallic sense. I was not enthralled with the first bottle, a bit dejected that I had waited too long. So I grabbed bottle number two, which was marginally better. Still not great, but better. I corked the bottles and moved on. The next day, they were both quite a bit different. And darker. And better. The first bottle was richer, with better flavors, but still that metallic element on the finish. The second bottle was impressive–vibrant for an older wine and reminiscent of a dessert wine, but lacking the unctuous sweetness. A fabulous example of the axiom that “there are not good wines, only good bottles.” The difference between the two was slight, but certainly there. And day 2 for both was decidedly better. So how to rate them? Good question. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-92 Points.
2006 32 Winds Pinot Noir: Retail $60. We had just plowed through a 2012 Clos Pepe Pinot, but my wife wanted more (get your head out of the gutter), so I grabbed this. I bought 6 of these many years ago, and this was the last bottle. Fairly light, and certainly translucent in the glass with Bing Cherry, a bit of smoke, and verve. The palate followed suit with a bit of eucalyptus and a searing tartness. Just short of a whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2012 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir: Retail $58. Clos Pepe as a winery died a painful death (my interpretation) a few years ago, but the wines live on, at least for now. That classic black cherry and eucalyptus on the palate with luscious fruit, remarkable tartness, and a lengthy, earthy finish. This might be near the top of the Clos Pepe standard Pinots I have tried. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2007 Greg Linn Wines Chardonnay Grangerville: Retail $45. It has been a solid year since the last bottle of this, and that year has certainly had an impact. Much darker in color with a bit of mustiness along with the tropical fruit and oak on the nose. The palate is still marked by a lively acidity, but the fruit has certainly faded. Yes, I waited too long, but still a fine wine. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2007 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $60. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, & 3% Petit Verdot. A Napa stalwart, this winery has been on Route 29 for nearly 40 years. Dark and brooding in the glass even a decade out. Blackberry and pine, a dash of sweetness, and the slightest hint of green (a good thing for me). Spicy and rich with dark red fruit and the tannins are close to fully integrated. Not a game changer, but I am glad I waited on this one. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I guess I could go back and check (but where is the fun in being factual these days?), but I am fairly certain that choosing a wine from Clos Pepe for Wine of the Week has been fairly rare. My thinking has been fairly straightforward as to why: I have a ton of it in my cellar and there would be plenty of occasions in the future to select one as Wine of the Week. Well, that time is now. Sure, the 32 Winds was fabulous and the Dopfff & Irion brought back some fond memories, but I have to admit that both my wife and I got a little giddy opening the 2012 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, and the wine came through—it was fabulous.
What was your Wine of the Week?