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).
2011 Amelle Zinfandel Mori Vineyard Russian River Valley: Retail $25. OK. I am a fan of this producer, which I have stated countless times. I have also lamented the fact that the winemaker, Eric Buffington, is no longer producing wines. At all. I bought these at an extreme discount (but I feel terribly guilty about it), and I have loved every bottle that I have opened thus far. It’s big (relatively), and fruity (relatively), but also deep, introspective, and, frankly, lovely. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Domaine Maby Tavel Prima Donna: Retail $20. 65% Grenache, 35% Cinsault. Most people, I assume, when they see a six-year-old rosé, would run the other way. Why? For some reason, they have it in their heads that rosés last about as long as roses (as in the flower). That is dumb. A well-made pink wine will have a similar cellar life as a well-made white wine since they are essentially made the same way (no, I am not including saignées as “well-made”). As one would expect with a Tavel, this is quite dark in the glass, as dark as some Pinot Noirs. Still good red fruit with flint and a bit of earth, the palate is simply lovely and improves as it warms. Tavel makes some of the most compelling rosés in the world, and you don’t have to throw them out two weeks after Mother’s Day. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
NV Salmon Champagne Montgolfière: Retail: $35. 50% Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. We have had several bottles of this wine and, while all Very Good (or better), they have been rather inconsistent. This bottle seemed a bit older than the others: Dark, on the verge of concerning, but lovely notes of peach, pear, and tartelette emit out of the glass with an interesting touch of Christmas spice. The palate is delightful: tart acidity, lemon zest, fresh croissant. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
NV J.P. Secondé Champagne Brut: Retail $45. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. I am a sucker for what I perceive to be a “good deal” and that is multiplied several fold when it comes to champagne. When I received the notice for this deal, I dove head-first. While certainly not disappointed, I wish the producer would reduce the dosage (the amount of sugar added after the fermentations). The wine is delightful (despite the added sugar) with a vibrant sparkle emanating from the salmon-colored wine with strawberry and cherry aromas on the nose. The palate is lovely, although lacking fruit initially. Said fruit comes through on the midpalate with plenty of rich strawberry and a touch of yeast. A solid wine by any measure. Very Good to Excellent. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Looking back over the wines we drink over the course of a week is almost always nostalgic (at least one bottle provokes some sort of memory), usually a good exercise (it often causes me to evaluate which wines that remain in the cellar might need to be consumed soon), and unfortunately informative (we drink a lot [too much?] wine). This week checked all of those boxes: I realized that there are several bottles of champagne that will not really benefit from any real aging (the Secondé Champagne is too high in sugar), some rosés (the Domaine Maby Tavel), on the other hand, might actually improve with age, and Eric Buffington is (was?) quite talented. As I have lamented in this space countless times now, the winemaker of this week’s Wine of the Week, the 2011 Amelle Zinfandel Mori Vineyard Russian River Valley, is no longer in the winemaking business, which is nothing short of a shame. He seems to be much happier now (as far as I can tell) as a stay at home dad near Sacramento, but from a selfish standpoint, I hope he eventually gets “back in the game” as the wine world is a better place with him in it.
What was your Wine of the Week?