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).
2013 Vinkara Kalecik Karası Yaşasın, Ankara, Turkey: Retail: $25. 100% Kalecik Karesi. The first traditional method wine ever made in Turkey, I first tried this a few years ago in New York, and I was impressed. Somehow, I ended up with a bottle of it and I have held onto it for the last two-plus years, deciding to pop it today while watching the game. My first thought? I remember this being better. It is by no means “bad,” not at all. In fact, it is quite good with yellow apple, good acidity, and a nice sparkle. It is just a tad sweet for a Brut. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
NV Bruno Paillard Chardonnay Champagne Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée: Retail $65. 100% Chardonnay. Disgorged June 200? (the last digit was rubbed off). When I saw this in my cellar, I realized that I had pretty much forgotten about it. I bought two bottles of this almost exactly a decade ago, and I drank the first bottle shortly after buying them. Based on my note, it was good back then, but I would classify it as great today. It has taken on some color, some oxidation, and lost a bit of sparkle, but there is still citrus fruit and oodles of baked bread goodness. This is why I hold on to well-made champagne for a decade. Whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2009 Freeman Chardonnay Ryo-fu: Retail $55. There was a time when Freeman was a “must stop” for me on every trip to Sonoma County. That has changed a bit since there has been more demands on my time whilst visiting wine country, but the tiny winery in Sebastopol still maintains real estate in my heart. Most of that affinity is a result of the time that I spent with the former Assistant Winemaker Eric Buffington, whom I met on my first visit to the winery. The wine? Surprisingly still quite pale in the glass even nearly ten years out, with classic lemon curd, a hint of oak, and a touch of vanilla. The palate is delectable: good fruit, incredible acidity, and a finish that lasts longer than my post three-hour ride showers (too much information?). Whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2012 Weingut Knoll Chardonnay Smaragd Loibner: Retail $38. I visited the Knolls several years ago, where we sat down in their familial kitchen (the tasting room was under renovation) and tasted through the line. I was particularly drawn to this Chardonnay, a variety which represents less than 5% of the plantings in the entire Wachau region. Whoa. Pale in the glass with aromas of baked pear, a bit of earthiness, and just a hint of smoke. The palate? Holy goodness. Subtle fruit, perfectly balanced with the acidity, and a finish that lasts forever. Whoa. The others at dinner assumed it was a Riesling. Nope. It is one of the best Chardonnays I have had in a while. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé: Retail $65. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. 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. 91-93 Points.
2009 Mailly Champagne Grand Cru L’Intemporelle: Retail $90. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. I manage my cellar on Cellar Tracker, perhaps the leader in cellar management. One of the great aspect of the site is that there are several millions of reviews. For this wine, there has been a scant three reviews thus far and I have to ask: “What the heck is the matter with you?” This wine is perhaps the best rosé champagne I have had all year: strawberry and brioche seamlessly interact, with a fine sparkle and on point acidity. We had this immediately after the NV Mailly Rosé, and this was clearly a couple of steps up on that fine non-vintage champagne. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2004 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Docteur Parcé) Banyuls Rimage: Retail $18 (375 ml). 95% Grenache Noir, 5% Mourvèdre. I bought several of these over a decade ago now, and this is the third that I have opened. The first was corked, the second was tasty, but I did not offer much more than that in my assessment. There is quite a bit of sediment in this fortified wine that is loaded with black berry fruit, fig, and black tea. Sweet, but far from unctuous with plenty of black tea on the palate as well. This might be a tasty alternative for Texas Barbecue. Or the Houstan Texans. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Before I sat down to write this section of the post, I thought it would be tough to select a Wine of the Week since I had quite a few spectacular wines from which to choose. There was the Freeman Ryo-fu which brought back many memories; the Bruno Paillard that I had been holding onto for some unknown reason; the Mailly Grand Cru Brut Rosé, which is literally the name of our puppy (we call her just “Mailly” but her actual name is the entire name of the wine); and the Vinkara Kalecik Karası Yaşasın, the first traditional method wine from the troubled country of Turkey. But this week came down to just two: the 2012 Weingut Knoll Chardonnay Smaragd Loibner and the 2009 Mailly Champagne Grand Cru L’Intemporelle. I opted for the latter for the simple reason that it was my only bottle (at least for now) and I still have a couple of bottles of the Knoll. Is that too simplistic of a reason? Perhaps, but how else to choose between two such remarkable wines?
What was your Wine of the Week?