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).
NV Henri Abele Champagne Brut Rosé: Retail: $45. 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier. It was but a Tuesday night, not a typical situation where I go searching for a bottle of bubbles to accentuate my early week, but this is basketball season, and I coach my son’s J.V. team that has won a grand total of three games over the last four years. Tonight, we played the #2 team in the state and they showed us no mercy. Less than no mercy, if that is even possible. Up 45 points late in the third quarter, they were still pressing us full-court (which by any measure is a jerk thing to do, to put it mildly). I asked the opposing coach: “How many points do you need to call off the press?” He ignored me. I persisted: “50? 60? What will it take?” I suggested that he would have more competition in lay-up drills, and even though this drew laughs from the officials, the leader of our opponent remained stoic. I guess he defined his own self-worth by how many points his team was able to hang on a group of hapless 15 year-olds. Eventually, he called of the press, and was able to eek out a 68-8 victory. For me? Although I detest losing, on the drive home, I took solace: I knew I had this bottle of champers waiting patiently in the fridge. Dark, even for a still rosé, with oodles of strawberry, a bit of rhubarb, and just a hint of baked bread on the nose. Fruity and lovely on the palate with all those fruity flavors buoyed by a bracing acidity and a lengthy finish. While it did not do much to ease the pain of yet another blow-out defeat, damn, it was good. Wait, what was I talking about? Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2007 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé: Retail $30. 100% Zibibbo. Having recently returned from Pantelleria, where the Zibibbo for this wine was grown, I figured I would dig out a bottle of this flagship wine from Donnafugata. Really dark in the glass with gorgeous aromas of peach and orange peel. The palate is quite sweet, with gorgeous peach fruit, honey, and roasted nutty aspect. Amazing wine. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2010 Benovia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast: Retail $45. As Pinot goes, this is pretty darned dark in the glass, but that fit perfectly with my mood: my wife volunteered me to coach my son’s Junior Varsity basketball team and I, surprisingly, had agreed. Why? Although it had been a solid two decades since I had coached, I had experienced quite a bit of success in my previous life as a high school teacher and head basketball coach. I had won conference championships, I had gone to Final Fours (two, to be precise). I HAD this.
But I didn’t.
Not even close.
While I am not yet ready to look in the mirror to discover the problem, losing 68-8 would cause anyone to re-evaluate previously held axioms. After the loss and back home, my wife and I had already exhausted the bottle of champagne (reference Napoléon’s famous quote regarding champagne if you need to know why I was popping bubbles on such a night), and my wife wanted another bottle. Realizing that there was a modicum of pain yet to numb, I readily agreed, and grabbed this Sonoma Pinot. While Champagne is certainly my first love in such instances, California Pinot is not far from that pantheon of premier pain-killing potions. And this was a fine choice: dark in the glass, particularly for a Pinot, with black cherry, black pepper, and a splash of black licorice—a whole lot of darkness going on (which matched my mood perfectly). The palate, though, started to turn my mood in the other direction: bright (albeit darker) fruit, mouth-perking acidity, and a touch of earth, which proved to be a grounding aspect—much needed. Fantastic. When is the next game?? Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé Brut: Retail $80. 58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir (including 8% still Pinot Noir). Long before I started my blog, I constantly professed my love for Gosset as their Grande Réserve was consistently my favorite NV Brut. This Grand Rosé is also on the short list of favorite Cuvées. A bit fruity and full-bodied no doubt due to the additional Pinot Noir in the blend, accentuated by a pale orange color with rose petals and red berries on the nose. Great acidity and a constant sparkle. Delicious. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Pech Merle Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley: Retail $22. A couple of years ago, I was out in Dry Creek Valley and on a whim, I stopped into the Peach Merle in Geyserville. As I am won’t to do, I struck up a conversation with the very attractive tasting room manager (don’t tell my wife). As I stated through the current releases, I kept thinking of this wine, the first that I had tasted, and I purchased a couple of bottles. A couple of years have passed, but this wine is still alive and kicking wildly. Bosc pear and white flowers dominate the nose, with a rich palate of pear and apple, with some minerality on the mid palate and a lengthy finish. A very un-Sauvignon Blanc SB. Yum. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2008 Skewis Pinot Noir Lingenfelder: Retail $55. I have been a fan of Hank and Maggie Skewis’ wines for a while now, and I was a member of their wine club for some time. Now that they have retired and there will no longer be a new vintage of Skewis Pinot Noir, I have been rather stingy on the 50-odd bottles I have in my cellar. Until tonight. I am not sure why, but I was jonesing some Skewis. Since this was the oldest bottle I still have, it was sacrificed. Beautiful. While my wife usually eschews older Pinot, she loved this wine as well. As bright as a new release, with great red berry fruit, plenty of acidity, and an incredible finish. Yowza. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Context is everything in so many aspects of life and if you do not realize that yet at your stage in life, well, there is not a whole lot I can do for you. I say that because it is often difficult to factor out context when determining the Wine of the Week (WotW). There are, though, other times when a wine so outweighs all the others that context, while far from being moot, has been reduced to its bare minimum. Such was the case this week. While there were several contenders (Donnafugata Ben Ryè being the most obvious), I tried to divorce myself from the feelings that I had for the wine(s) and tried to focus solely on the merits. By any given measure, the NV Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé Brut is a stellar wine, with all the attributes that are attributed to a stellar champagne. It also happens to come from my singular favorite producer in the region. Wait, is that context??
What was your Wine of the Week?