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).
NV Remy Massin Champagne Blanc de Noirs Nature, France: Retail: $50. 100% Pinot Noir. Remy Massin planted his first vines in the Côte des Bar in 1865 and five generations have since maintained the passion and traditions. The family started making their own champagnes in the mid-1970s and have become one of the leading grower houses in the region. Even before I opened this bottle, I was a bit giddy for two reasons: it is 100% Pinot Noir (my preferred style and the variety that does the best in the region), and it is a Brut Nature, meaning that no additional sugar was added after the second fermentation, rendering the wine completely dry and rendering the wine an even better food pairing. The delicate bubbles lift aromas of peach, white hibiscus, and even white pepper, leading to a tart, yet still luscious palate. Rather austere on its own (which is by no means a negative), it really starts to shine with the first taste of any kind of rich fare—it was heavenly with paté. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2007 Marcel Deiss Engelgarten, “Premier Cru” Alsace, France: Retail $50. Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc (this is but a guess as it was very difficult to determine the varietal breakdown, which Deiss does not make readily available). It is amazing how consistent this wine has been–I have opened three bottles over the last three years and based on my notes, they have been strikingly similar. I had tried the last one of what Deiss calls a “Premier Cru” (but this is not an official designation in Alsace) about a year ago so I thought it was time to pop another. I was honestly worried by the rich golden color, but there are no signs of oxidation on the nose. Rather, there are aromas of yellow apple, lanolin, and a smidge of petrol. Initially, there is a healthy dose of acidity on the palate, followed by some faded fruit, the weighty lanolin, and a touch of sweetness. Very nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2013 La Follette Pinot Noir Van der Kamp, Sonoma Mountain, CA: Retail $40. For some reason, I had entered these as Pinot Meunier into Cellar Tracker, which is perhaps why it has taken so long to pop one open (what meal calls for a still, red Pinot Meunier?). On the eve of the anniversary of another trip around the sun, I pulled this. Reserved cherry fruit, dark soil, and red flowers on the nose with a brilliant tartness, dark cherry fruit, and a touch of spice on the palate. Pretty darned yummy, but honestly? I still kinda hoped that it had been Meunier. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2003 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $80. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought a two-pack of this wine from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (the state-run wine store in the state), over a decade ago for the rather paltry sum of $60 for the two (I believe the suggested retail of this wine was north of $70 per bottle). The first bottle, consumed just under two years ago, was stellar–still great aromatics, wonderful fruit, and balance. Lovely. While this is still a wonderful wine, the fruit in this bottle was slightly stewed, a bit musty, and frankly a wee bit tired. It can’t be due to the cork as both bottles had a glass stopper. Still, this is a delightful quaff with great Cabernet features (dark fruit, mocha, tobacco), and plenty of charisma. It is just a step below where the other bottle was a scant 20 months ago or so. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Four solid wines this week, all solid entries into the Wine of the Week Sweepstakes (there really is no such thing, but I need to fill this space with something). Both the Whitehall Lane Cab and the La Follette Pinot were solid wines, but given their respective pedigrees, I was hoping for a bit more “oomph.” The clear choice, if I were to select the Wine of the Week solely based on score, would be the Remy Massin champagne, and it was a beautiful bottle of bubbles, but, well, scores are not the be-all. No, this week the 2007 Marcel Deiss Engelgarten is the Wine of the Week. Why? Well. for starters, it is a white wine that is a dozen years old and it is still “banging” (a term that my teenage son uses and I choose to believe that it is not as vulgar as it likely is). Also, it is from Alsace, which is my spiritual home in France. I spent a year there in college playing basketball, learning French, drinking great wine, and, oh yeah, “studying.”
What was your Wine of the Week?