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).
2008 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County: Retail: $25. It is getting down to the nitty-gritty on this wine: I bought a ton of it a while ago from the winemaker whom I consider a friend, but this was the first of my last three bottles. The winemaker is no longer making wine (long story) and I have no idea where this fruit is now going (or if the vines are even still in the ground). It is just how I remembered it and why I fell in love with this wine: great fruit, impeccable balance, lengthy, killer (California term) finish. This one has a bit more spice to it than I remember, but all the better. Gorgeous. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2011 Del Carlo Zinfandel Old Vine Teldeschi Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $30. Made by Ray & Lori Teldeschi, fifth generation farmers in the Dry Creek Valley (who recently retired, I’ve heard)—Ray is one of the nicest people I’ve met in Dry Creek, and for several reasons (not the least of which were his sausage-like fingers) reminds me of my maternal grandfather (but Ray, by almost every account, is far nicer than my grandpa was). HIs wines? Some of the better values in the Valley, but also fairly difficult to obtain (there were only 290 bottles of this Zin produced). Great fruit, nice balance, really a lovely wine by any measure, but even better knowing that Ray is such a great guy. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Gardet Champagne Premier Cru Brut: 1.5 Liter. Retail $100. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. I got several magnums of this from Last Bottle over a year ago, but this is only the second we’ve opened. Some darker color in the glass suggesting a bit of age with lemon rind and a bit of brioche on the nose. Nothing says “happy” like a magnum of champagne (OK, a jeroboam says it more). Great flavors and a whole bunch of bubbles. Fantastic. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2011 Baglio di Pianetto Sicilia Cembali: Retail $45. 100% Nero d’Avola. It has been a while since my last trip to Sicily, and I was feeling a bit of withdrawal, so I grabbed this bottle that I picked up on my first trip to the island two years ago. Dark in the glass with classic black fruit on the nose. The palate is tart and even refreshing with black raspberry oozing in every sip. The first time I tasted this wine, I was at the winery, with a luscious spread of Sicilian meats and pastas, not far from majestic Mount Etna. This time I was at home in very flat Houston with my two kids complaining about how I cooked the steak. Pretty much the same thing. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley: Retail $25. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. A bit dark in color, suggesting a bit of age, which is surprising since I only bought this back last August. Baked apple pie on the nose with a rather weak sparkle, another curious sign of age. Tart and quite dry on the palate where the weak fizz is evident, but only slightly detracts from the experience. I have two takeaways from this bottle: producers really should include disgorgement dates on the labels so that consumers get an idea how long the bottle has been on the shelf. Second, Roederer Estate is without question one of the top producers of sparkling wine in this country. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, the top three contenders for Wine of the Week (WotW) had an element in common—they each evoked a pleasant memory, taking me back to a time and place as wine often does. Clearly the “best” wine we drank was the 2008 Amelle Zin, made by a talented winemaker who I would consider a friend. But I am in denial over that wine as I now have only two bottles left, and said winemaker is no longer making wine. It has been the WotW before (a couple of times) and will be WotW again (maybe a couple of times). For now, I am going to pretend that I have a cellar full of those bottles (as I once did). The Del Carlo Zin would also be a fine choice this week as it took me back to my first real trip as a blogger/writer to the Dry Creek Valley, where I sat around a table with several winemakers, including Ray Teldeschi, hoping they would not think I was a fraud. This week, though, I opted for the 2011 Baglio di Pianetto Sicilia Cembali as the Wine of the Week. Why? Simple. I have visited Sicily twice now, and it just might be my favorite wine region in Italy. I don’t know if or when I will get back to the island, but wines like this one remind me that I must.
What was your Wine of the Week?