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).
2005 La Bastide Dauzac, Margaux, France: Retail $35. 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. As one might expect, this is rather austere on the nose, particularly when compared to more recent New World wines: dark color, almost inky, with tar and dried black raspberries and plums (I guess that would be prune?). The palate, although far from austere, is certainly reserved, with subtle dark fruit, black pepper, anise, and that tar (which, although it seems rather off-putting, certainly fits). Look, most people used to Napa or Sonoma Bordeaux blends might find this a bit lacking, but this is a legit Bordeaux, folks. From a killer appellation, and a mind-blowing vintage. Yeah, it’s a classic Bordeaux. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2015 Château Bonnet (Pierre-Yves Perrachon) Saint-Amour Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais, France: Retail: $30. 100% Gamay. A little over a year ago, I visited Château Bonnet, having never heard of, let alone tasted, any of the wines from the estate. When I was there, I tasted through a number of the wines and was impressed (so impressed, that I bought a few bottles and brought them back from France). Thus, when I saw this wine on Wines Til Sold Out, I jumped and bought half a case. The first night, I was less than moved–there really was not much to go on. The second night, however, was a different story–fruity, rich, good acidity, and a hint of tannin on the backend. I am looking forward to the next five bottles. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Ramal Vineyard, Carneros, CA: Retail $40. Doing very well, thank you very much. With climate change/global warming, Gary Farrell no longer makes this Pinot Noir so I have been fairly stingy on the bottles that remain in my cellar. Tonight? With the family over and a mini-chess tournament underway, I popped this puppy. Cherry and eucalyptus with plenty of verve. This wine is a baller, plain and simple. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Carneros Selection, CA: Retail $40. My inventory said that I did not have any of this wine left, but it turns out I had mistakenly “consumed” this wine (I had actually consumed another bottle from the same producer and same vintage). Well, I wish I had that other bottle tonight as this one is corked. Slightly corked, but corked nonetheless, which is too bad since it is clear that this would have been a good, potentially excellent bottle otherwise. Fruit, good acid, balance, but it is oh so hard to get around the funky basement smell. Flawed.
2014 Goodkin Vineyards Merlot Estate Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $N/A. I am not a huge fan of Merlot. It’s not that I hate it, not at all, it’s just that I do not see a place for it. If you want something big and bold, grab a Cabernet. If you want a little more fruit? Zinfandel. More spice? Syrah. More finesse? Pinot Noir. So where does Merlot fit in? More “middle of the road”? More “I can’t really decide what the heck I want”? So I have pigeon-holed it into another category: I don’t really have time to figure this grape out. Until now. This is a wine that was made for a good friend of mine, from the fruit from his vineyard which is usually sold off to rather big players. This year, though, he wanted to keep some for himself and asked one of the best winemakers in Dry Creek (at least in my opinion) to make it for him. I had no real hand in the endeavor (other than helping with the bottling), and therefore (?) the results are stellar: great boysenberry and plum notes with a splash of black pepper on the nose. The palate is balanced and rich with fruit initially, depth on the mid-palate and finish, and just an overall yumminess that yells to me: “Drink More Merlot.” Message heard. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
NV A. R. Lenoble Champagne Cuvée Intense Brut: Retail $45. 30% Chardonnay from Chouilly (Grand Cru), 25% Pinot Noir from Bisseuil (1er Cru), and 45% Pinot Meunier from Damery (Marne Valley). A well-respected family-owned negociant house, with most of its wines highlighting their Grand Cru vineyard in Chouilly. Nice and tart nose with good floral notes and plenty of citrus. Well-balanced on the palate, delicate sparkle. Really nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: With a slight nod to the NCAA Tournament that begins in a couple of days, choosing the Wine of the Week was a lay-up. Sure, we went through a bunch of solid wines this week, from a classic Bordeaux to a Carneros Pinot, a Beaujolais Cru to a solid Champers. But this week was all about the 2014 Goodkin Vineyards Merlot Estate Reserve. There was only one barrel made (which renders the term “Reserve” a bit tongue in cheek), and it is not available to the public, but I received a case as a thank you for assisting in the bottling. I am halfway through that case now and this wine is really singing. More than what is actually in the bottle, though, drinking this wine opens up a flood of memories of time spent with a friend who helped show me the treasure that is the Dry Creek Valley.
What was your Wine of the Week?