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 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. I am not entirely certain, but I believe that Clos Pepe was my gateway drug to high-quality American Pinot. For those that have had the pleasure of meeting Wes Hagen, they likely will never forget the encounter. The wine? Light in color, but strong in heart, this Clos Pepe has aromas of tart cherry, menthol, and eucalyptus. This is perhaps not as robust as other iterations of the Clos, but that is what is great about the winery. Perhaps more than any other California Pinot, Clos Pepe exhibits more vintage variation than any other. Is that a good thing? I think so. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Flaunt Wine Company Brut, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $45. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Back at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2017, Adam Lee handed me a couple of bottles of this (then) new venture by his wife, Dianna Novy Lee. After working with Adam to build Siduri, this is Dianna’s first solo venture. A very active mousse froths up from a medium-dark colored wine with aromas of pear and green apple. The palate is delightful with crisp acidity, tart fruit, and a slightly yeasty finish. Very Nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2013 La Follette Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $40. Surprisingly similar notes, a year and a half later: Deep yellow with citrus, vanilla, and oak. On the palate, this is yet another solid offering from the Sonoma legend Greg La Follette. Rich, and tasty with balanced fruit and tartness with noticeable oak, but it works. And it works well. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2009 Maria & Manfred Hick Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Stiegelstall, Wachau, Austria: Retail: $25. I bought a couple of bottles of this wine back in 2011 when my wife and I were in Salzburg. We had tried the wine at a tiny restaurant called Köchelverzeichnis, located in the Steingasse. The restaurant seats maybe 15 people, has one item on the menu (which changes daily), and has one employee, Andrea Hick, the cousin of this wine’s maker. We loved the wine, so I bought a few bottles off of Andrea on our way out of town. As I pour the deep golden liquid today, I recall the wonderful meals (I went there three times) I had at the restaurant I have no hope of ever pronouncing. The wine, even a decade out, is fantastic: slight petrol and luscious peach on the nose, plenty of weight and fruit on the palate. Incredible. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2010 Tallulah Marsanne Como Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley: Retail $25. I waited too long. Ugh. I bought several bottles of this wine a few years ago, and the first few were stellar. This one? Not so much. No fault of the winemaker, Mike Drash, this was customer error. Not Rated.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Solid wines across the board this week (with the unfortunate exception of the Tallulah–I’m such an idiot). All four brought back pleasant memories: The Clos Pepe caused me to reflect on Wes Hagen and his almost mad-scientist approach to winemaking. With the Flaunt, I thought about all the years that Dianna Novy Lee spent working hard for Siduri, and it made me happy to know that she has a project of her own now. I first met Greg La Follette when I was hanging out a bit with Hank Skewis and Greg was next door at the little wine ghetto of sorts in Sonoma County. Since I have come across Greg and his colorful ties on a few occasions. All worthy of Wine of the Week, but this week it is the 2009 Maria & Manfred Hick Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Stiegelstall, which I purchased at a memorable restaurant (in a subsequent trip to Austria, I visited the winery, but that is a story for another time) with my wife. I had to remind her of when and where we came by the wine, but that’s fine, I knew exactly where it came from.
What was your Wine of the Week?