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).
2007 1789 Wines Pinot Noir Single Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, OR: Retail: $45. As far as I know, this wine is only available from the winemaker, Isabelle Dutartre, whose full-time gig is making wine at De Ponte Cellars in the Dundee Hills. Still fairly dark, over a decade out, but there is some slight bricking on the rim–otherwise, it would be near impossible to know that this is from the somewhat maligned 2007 vintage (at least by the critics, but not so much by the winemakers). Quite fruity, mostly black cherry, with earth and eucalyptus (?) on the nose. The palate is simply lovely: fruit, tartness, earth. This is really close to a whoa. Really close. In fact? Whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
NV Herbert Beaufort Champagne Grand Cru Carte d’Or Tradition Brut: Retail $50. 90% Pinor Noir, 10% Chardonnay. We had just returned from the first victory for my son’s team, and felt the need to celebrate. It has been six months since I last tried this wine, which I bought as I drove out of Philadelphia for the last time. We were moving to Texas and it was my final purchase from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), the state monopoly for all wine commerce. I had grown to love to hate the PLCB, but there were the occasional gems, this being a notable one. These were on sale for $25, and they are clearly worth twice that much. Still youthful and bright in the glass with a delicate yellow glow, ample citrus fruit, and the yeasty deliciousness that defines the best wines from the best region for sparkling wines. The palate is equally enticing with that bright fruit initially, followed by freshly baking bread, hazelnut, a vibrant sparkle, and a finish that endures well past a full time-out. Fabulous. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Champagne Pierre Legras Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut: Retail $45. 100% Chardonnay. I bought a case of this when I lived in Philadelphia–a Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc for under $25? Normally, this would go for $50 or more, but it was one of the quirky aspects to the PLCB–they would get incredible deals for some wines, but charge 10-20% more for almost every other wine. Another great bottle of this wine–it seems like the second bottle we had was the aberration, not the rule. Dark in the glass, showing its age. Not much fruit on the nose or palate, but plenty of biscuity goodness on both. This is proof why it makes sense to hold onto even non-vintage champagne for a couple of years to enhance those flavors that make the bubbles from the region the best the world. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2011 Nicolas Potel Pouilly-Fuissé: Retail $25. 100% Chardonnay. It was late, my wife was on her Peloton, but I needed more wine. So I scanned my cellar for wines that were “past prime” and this popped up. I looked at my notes from the past three bottles that we had opened. I shuddered. Or maybe I cringed. None had been great, but my wife was not partaking so I would not hear the all-too-familiar: “See? I TOLD you so! We hold on to wines far too long.” I am not saying that was my wife saying that, it could very well be my conscious self chastising me in a voice that sounds an awful lot like my wife. But I digress. The über-golden color in the glass caused alarm as well as the desire to hide this from my wife if she were ever to emerge from her Peloton Bat Cave. The nose follows the color: oxidative, but with some lemon curd. The palate? OK, Not a mind-blower by any stretch of my already elastic imagination, but this is pretty good: citrus, oak (in a good way), oxidized slightly (again, in a does-not-stink way). And a tart, vibrant finish. I really like it. But I did not save any for my wife. I am not an idiot (I think. Or at least I am fairly certain. OK. Maybe.). Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This weekend finally marked the end of one of the more trying basketball seasons I have experienced personally. I coach my son’s Junior Varsity High School Basketball team and we only won four games all year (which is actually a vast improvement over last year, but still is only four games). My other son (Sebastian) had an equally trying season (they only won two games), but it was perhaps more difficult since I did not coach his team and thus forced to merely watch. “Always carry champagne. In victory you deserve it and in defeat you need it.” Those words are attributed to Napoléon Bonaparte, but it is not clear that he actually said them (though while in exile on St. Helena, he was afforded one bottle of champagne a day, so clearly he loved the bulles). They are words that come to life for me every basketball season, though, as this week proved—I pulled out two of my favorites even though I will likely not be able to buy either again any time soon. While both bottles of bubbles were strong contenders for Wine of the Week, instead I opt for the 2007 1789 Wines Pinot Noir Single Vineyard as this week’s winner. Popping a cork always seems to take me on a voyage, either to a place on the map or a moment in time. This bottle achieved both as I was whisked back to 2010 and the Willamette Valley, where I was trying this wine with the incredible woman who made it.
What was your Wine of the Week?