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 Amelle Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. As I often do when trying to select a wine for dinner, I order my CellarTracker by the Drink By date in order to consume those that should be popped first according to the fine community that is Cellar Tracker. While the indicated date for this wine (2015) might be a bit extreme, there is little doubt that if you have any remaining bottles of this wine, it would be best to get to them relatively soon. A tad stewed on the nose, but still incredibly rich fruit, acidity, and some secondary flavors of menthol and leather. Another gem by Eric Buffington. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Paul Berthelot Champagne Blason d’Or Brut, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay all from the Grand Cru Village of Aÿ. I bought this a little over a year ago from Last Bottle for the rather modest sum of $35. Aÿ is simply one of the greatest villages in Champagne, situated just 6 kilometers outside of Épernay. While there is not a whole lot to the village itself, riding through the home of Bollinger and Gosset (among others) gives me goosebumps every time. Rich and opulent both on the nose and the palate, this is a treat. Lemon curd and peach, brioche and lightly grilled toast, this is fantastic. And gets a whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2013 Ehlers Estate Merlot St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $55. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. I have been a fan of Ehlers Estate, or more precisely of winemaker Kevin Morrisey, for several years now, so when I saw this Merlot pop-up on Last Bottle, I leaped and bought half a case. I should have bought more. While Ehlers is in the heart of Napa and Cabernet country, perhaps Kevin’s best wines were his Merlots (although his Cab Francs were pretty darned good as well). Rich blue fruit, a bit of heft (more than your average Merlot) and spice (black pepper in particular) characterize this wine, which is downright tasty. I still don’t know what happened to Kevin (he left Ehlers abruptly around this time last year—if you know, please send me a note), but holy crap do I love his wines. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2015 Château d’Esclans Rock Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $35. Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Rolle, Syrah, Tibouren. This is a step above on the quality scale from the ubiquitous Whispering Angel, Sacha Lechine’s uber-popular and successful Provençal rosé. My contention is that well-made, intentional, or as I call them “True Rosés” can age well, even gracefully. Case in point: solid red berry fruit on the nose with a splash of citrus emerge from this pale pink with a slight orange tint wine. The palate is bright and tangy with fruit, albeit subtle at first, but it grows more intense on the mid-palate and finishes quite fruity as well. I know this was fantastic upon release, but I dare say it might, just might be better now. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2011 Failla Chardonnay Estate Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, CA: Retail: $45. Failla. Oh, Failla. I do not recall how originally I came across this “boutique” winery on the Silverado Trail, but there is no doubt that I am glad that I did. Founded by close-to-rock-star-status winemaker Ehren Jordan, this might be the protocol-typical small-winery-gone-wild. A bit of color in the glass, suggesting I need to get to the other two bottles quickly. and aromas of oak, lanolin, vanilla, and lemon rind. The palate is, well, delectable, with ample fruit, depth, weight, and complexity. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: In choosing the Wine of the Week this go around, I knew I would end up splitting at least a few hairs since each of the wines has a legitimate claim to the “crown.” I decided to approach the decision, though, a bit backward–I eliminated one wine at a time until I was left with just one. First to go was the 2007 Amelle Pinot; a fabulous wine, but a different Amelle won last week. And I fear being repetitive. The next to go was the 2013 Ehlers Merlot. Again, quite tasty and worthy, but I bought six bottles and this was the first we tried–I also fear to peak too soon. Next to go was the Berthelot Champagne, which suffered from a combination of the first two reasons–the was the first bottle we’ve tried and wines from Champagne have “won” the Wine of the Week more than any other. The last to be eliminated was the 2011 Failla Chardonnay for no other reason, that I like to be right–and I am right about well-made rosés being able to age. That is why the 2015 Château d’Esclans Rock Angel is this week’s top wine.
What was your Wine of the Week?