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 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $28. I had been getting down to the last few bottles of this wine, without a doubt one of my favorite Zins, when I received a new influx of bottles from the producer (the reasons for which would require a couple of hundred words on its own). The age on this wine is starting to show a bit more with this bottle, particularly on the nose with noticeably more stewed fruit. The palate, though, is its same old spunky self with great fruit, acidity, depth, and earth. Still a yowza and almost a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Henri Abele Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier. Often, people like me get far too geeked out by wine, we focus on the aromas of acacia (or is it heliotrope?), bayberry, or even crushed minerals (since they smell quite different than in the un-crushed state). There are times, though, that us writer-types should just sit back and enjoy a wine that is simply fun to drink. This is one of those. Sure, it’s dark, even for a still rosé, with oodles of strawberry, a bit of rhubarb, and just a hint of baked bread on the nose, it’s fruity and lovely on the palate with all those fruity flavors buoyed by bracing acidity and a lengthy finish. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s all of that, but it is also joy in a bottle and I often forget the glee that one can occasionally find in a bottle. This is not the most complex champagne, but it is delightful and, yes, fun. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV Paul Clouet Champagne Brut Rosé, Bouzy, France: Retail: $60. 80% Pinot Noir (15% of which is still Bouzy Rouge), 20% Chardonnay. On nearly all of my trips to Champagne, I try to make sure to pass through Bouzy. Not only is the name of the town a helluva lot of fun to say, but it also produces the best (in my opinion) Pinot Noir champagnes (with a decided nod to Mailly). There are a few producers with the name “Clouet” in Bouzy and while all are fantastic, Paul Clouet is perhaps the best (a nod here to André Clouet). This rosé bears witness to that assertion: medium color, fantastic fruit, plenty of heft, delicate mousse, and lovely yeasty notes (particularly on the finish). We love pink bubbles, and this is a delightful iteration. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $22. 100% Riesling. For sheer value, I am not sure if there are any other producers in the United States that consistently offer better wines at such reasonable prices as Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state. I bought a few bottles of this nearly a decade ago since my mother-in-law likes a little bit of sweetness in her wine, and while the Eroica wines, made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen of the Mosel Valley in Germany, always have some residual sugar, it is always very much in balance and never cloying. The wine also has a healthy dose of acidity, which enabled it to age this gracefully. A decade out from harvest, but still bright citrus and more than a splash of petrol on the nose. The palate is surprisingly tart (lemon-lime) and deep (great acidity). In the end? This wine proved that Ste. Michelle and Loosen “have it” in spades and that the wine was a steal for the $15 I paid for it. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another interesting week with wines from the cellar, so choosing a Wine of the Week was not easy. As I write these words, I still have no idea which wine it will be. There are two distinct categories: non-vintage champagne and still wines that were over a decade old. It would be easy to pick one of the champagnes as it is easily my favorite wine region and style of wine and we drink a ton of it. Similarly, it is always fun (OK, almost always) to open up an older wine and see how it has aged. My wife often chastises me when we open an older wine and it has not held up all that well, but that has not really deterred me from continuing the practice (I just don’t tell her). While all of the wines this week could certainly have been selected, I opted for the 2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica as the Wine of the Week for no other reason than to show that relatively inexpensive white wines can sometimes age pretty darned well.
What was your Wine of the Week?