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).
2009 Argyle Brut, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail: $25. 59% Pinot Noir, 41% Chardonnay. I can’t remember exactly when I jumped on the Argyle bandwagon, but it was a while ago. I had an in at the winery that got me the “good stuff” for relatively cheap. For instance, I picked up these 2009 Sparklers for less than half of the suggested retail. Yeah. I know. It has been a while since I have popped one and I remember the previous iterations to be characterized by an abundance of green apple. Well, no longer as it seems to have evolved into more of a pear and even peach nose with plenty of yeasty goodness. The palate is simply delightful with a vibrant sparkle, great flavors, and a near searing acidity. Nearly a decade out and this is beautiful. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2009 Argyle Pinot Noir Spirithouse, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. It’s been nearly a year since I have twisted the top off a bottle of this wine, and not much has changed–still dark-ish with a translucent backbone, and aromas of black cherry and just a touch of anise. I don’t know how many times I have stated in this spot that I am a big fan of Argyle. Sure, they are fairly big, and certainly there have been a few changes at the winery over the course of the last decade-ish, but I firmly believe this is a beautiful wine. Rich-ish, full-ish, and delish-ish, even nearly a decade out, this is wonderful. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2012 Freelance Wines Coup de Grace, Lodi, CA: Retail $35. 64% Zinfandel, 19% Petite Sirah, 11% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc. I am not entirely sure how I came to possess this bottle of wine (all I noted was “received as a gift”), but this B.A.B. (not a good thing) packs a powerful flavor punch. Inky in the glass with dark fruit, anise, and black pepper predominate on the nose. The palate is rich and fruity, even seven years out. Really fruity, maybe a bit more Jolly Rancher fruity than I would like, but this is still a delightful quaff. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée: Retail $65. 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. There are few champagnes that fail to etch a smile on my face, but a bottle of Bruno Paillard provides an added element of glee. I have never met Bruno, but by all accounts he is a very good guy. I have met his delightful daughter, Alice, on several occasions, however, and she is fantastic. I have tasted many a glass of her family’s champagne with her, and it has become one of my favorites from the region. I have had some fairly old bottles of this wine over the years, but this, certainly by comparison, was fresh and new (I bought it in January, 2016–disgorged December 2015). A bit golden in the glass with citrus and baked goods on the nose. The palate is quite tart and lively–a bit too much so for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, this is excellent champagne, but I just think that it will be better in a few years. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé: Retail $90. 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay. While there are others in contention, I see Ruinart Rosé as the standard bearer for rosé champagne. Consistently one of the top non-vintage rosés, I compare all other pink bubbles against it. Perhaps that is not fair, given the rather healthy retail price, but, well, life is often unfair. Fairly dark for a rosé champagne, with a deep pinkish-orange with a beautiful nose of ripe strawberry, tart cherry, and a decided yeastiness. On the palate, this initially comes off as a bit sweet due to all the fruit–and there is a lot of fruit–but on the mid-palate the complexity comes in with mineralogy, freshly baked bread and a vibrant sparkle. The finish lasts for well over a minute. Whoa. There is a reason that this is one of the benchmarks for rosé champagne. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week where we put away a few excellent bottles of sparkling wine, including two of my favorite champagnes, and all three bottles are worthy of Wine of the Week. There was also the Argyle Spirithouse, one of the top wines made by the Willamette Valley stalwart. The only real “disappointment” (strictly by comparison) was the Coup de Grace, but for what it is, a fruity Zin blend, it was a solid effort. All the preceding words in this paragraph were just an attempt to add a little drama to what was a fairly straightforward decision. Any time I open a NV Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé, it is going to be difficult for any other wine to grab the Wine of the Week title.
What was your Wine of the Week?