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).
2006 Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. It was fairly late (10:00 p.m.), but I had just returned from the airport, the end of a day that started at 5:00 a.m. in Mendocino, California. I was out there to cover Winesong, a yearly wine tasting/celebration/auction that benefits the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. One of the events was a Pinot Noir tasting of mostly Mendocino County Pinots. Thus, as I turned on a football game, I was Jonesing some Pinot. I grabbed this. Sure, it is a dozen-plus years out now, and the fruit has faded a bit, but this is delicious: a bit brown in the glass, faded raspberry and notable earthiness. The palate is similar, but there are levels of complexity from the mid-palate through the finish. Lovely. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2002 Beresan Winery Stone River, Walla Walla, WA: Retail $40? 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. I was out in Walla Walla a couple of years ago and was invited to an event at Balboa (the sister winery of Beresan) and owner/winemaker Tom Glase took me into the wine library room: a hodgepodge collection of open cardboard cases and random bottles “arranged” in an odyssey of the mind type of configuration. After only a moment or two of scurrying about, Tom handed me this bottle to take home and try “at some point.” Based on the tasting window on Cellar Tracker (2010), I was more than slightly convinced that this wine would be at best regrettable. Was I wrong. Whoa. Still rich fruit, great earthy flavors, and plenty of acidity to hold it all together. The tannins are still kicking as well, so I would venture to guess that this old gal has another handful of years left. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
NV Paul Berthelot Champagne Premier Cru Eminence: Retail $50. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. I bought a case of this wine from Last Bottle and the first couple of bottles were, well, less than tasty. One was corked and the other was pretty much average. The next five we tried? Stellar bottle after stellar bottle, I am feeling confident that those first two bottles were outliers, which is why I bought another batch from Last Bottle. Yeasty and citrus on the nose, and a golden color in the glass, this has great tartness and a baked good-goodness along with a fairly vibrant sparkle. This Premier Cru from Dizy is turning out to be our house champagne (after Mailly Grand Cru, naturally). Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Joseph Desprois Champagne: Retail $35. It was getting late and a friend of ours was heading our way, A friend whose wife loves bubbles, but it was never overtly apparent whether he harbored the same feelings to sparkling wines. Nonetheless, I popped this. Delightful. It is not life-altering champagne. It is not even a week-reshaping sparkler but is darned tasty and every bit worth the $23 tariff that I paid at WTSO. It’s not going to change your life or cause you to switch political parties, but it is delicious: Tart, fruity, all kinds of yum. As I said, this will not cause you to question your religion, but you would certainly enjoy it while binging on Breaking Bad. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
1997 Château Moncontour Vouvray Néctar, France: Retail: $50? 100% Chenin Blanc. Wow. I knew I have had these for a while, but I did not know my purchase coincided with the year that I met my wife (1999). Add that the last bottle I opened preceded my blog (2012) by a couple of years, and I figured that it was time to open another. Only made in the best years, this 100% Chenin has aged beautifully: delicate amber in the glass with caramel, toasted nuts, and a hint of citrus on the nose, whoa. Initially a bit shy on the palate, but then? Holy cow. And a Whoa. Intense caramel, lemon rind, roasted hazelnut, and tartness. That acidity is what is truly amazing. 22 years after harvest this puppy is still banging. Two bottles left–I might wait another decade. Outstanding. 95-97 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: It was certainly not by design, but I went through a few older bottles this week, and all were wonderful. I also had a couple of bottles of champagne, and both of those were quite tasty as well. The still wines, though, were clearly a notch above. The Beresan Red Blend was a lovely surprise and the Argyle Nuthouse both scratched an itch and took me back to the purchase of the wine–I got it for a song–which I am rather confident occurred under somewhat less than above board dealing. The Wine of the Week, though, was clearly the 1997 Château Moncontour Vouvray Néctar, which not only was a fantastic, incredible wine, but it took me back to a time, a place, and a period in my life that has long since passed. That is, for me, the singular extraordinary aspect of wine–it can transport you back in time. Of course it’s the Wine of the Week.
What was your Wine of the Week?