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: Retail $24. Dark and a bit stewed in the glass, this was really the first bottle of this wine I’ve had that is starting to show its age. The palate, though, is fruity, lively, and delectable–the nose might be a bit tired, but the palate is gangbusters. Really close to a Whoa (and it would be if not for the [slightly] stewed nose). Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2009 Babcock Pinot Noir Grand Cuvée, Sta. Rita Hills: Retail $50. Dark in the glass, almost Syrah-like, with aromas of blackberry and cassis, also Syrah-like. The palate is not nearly as brutish as the nose hinted, with plenty of dark fruit, yes, but also tart and complex with decided earth coming through on the finish. While this is not the most introspective Pinot I have had, it is juicy, fruity, and fun. Sure, there are more terroir-driven wines out there, but this is fantastic. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault and Syrah. The Angel catches a ton of grief and the only reason why, as far as I can tell, is that it is wildly successful. But the odd thing is, it’s good. Really good. Even two years out, this is a stellar wine with strawberry and tart cherry on the nose and palate, great balance, and a lengthy finish. Quite simply, you would be hard pressed to find a better rosé than the ubiquitous Whispering Angel. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2009 Qupé Chardonnay Reserve Bien Nacido Block Eleven, Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $25. I had forgotten about this wine. As in it has been five years since we opened the previous bottle and I had no idea that I still had two left. Half a decade ago, it was a bit overwhelmingly oaky. Today? Not so much. Sure, it is there on the nose, along with tropical notes (guava?) and a bit of minerality. The palate is rich, unctuous, and voluptuous, but the oak on the nose, while noticeable, is not nearly as prominent as the nose suggests (or as much as I noted back in 2014). A solid effort, and while not a Chassagne in disguise, it’s still quite nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2007 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer, Alsace, France: Retail: $60. I bought this several years ago from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board before I moved away from the Commonwealth. I bought six bottles, which have a “drink by” date of 2021 on Cellar Tracker. Since I had another five in the cellar, I thought I would pop another to see how they were doing. I had the first of the six almost a year ago and it was gangbusters, still just a pup. Well, this one might just have been better. Decided lemon and petrol on the nose of the golden elixir with plenty of fruit and acidity on the palate. This is one of the more profound Rieslings I have had, though, with incredible depth and an extremely long finish. Whoa. And Whoa again. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This was a rather solid week in wine consumption with each of the wines that I opened from the cellar reaching at least into the “Excellent” category. even though last year saw an influx of about a dozen more bottles of the ’08 Amelle Buck Hill Zin, there are just a few now remaining. While it is showing signs of age, it is still alive and certainly kicking. The Whispering Angel is always a good choice and, as this bottle showed, it can hold up quite nicely with a couple of years (at least) of age. Both of the ’09s (the Babcock Pinot and the Qupé Chard) I had basically forgotten about, but each was a pleasant surprise. There was little doubt, though, once I reached for the 2007 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer, that it would be the wine of the week. There are few white wines that can age as well as Alsatian Riesling, and there are few producers that do it better than Olivier Humbrecht. The fact that it also took me back to one of my favorite places on the planet was just icing on the cake.
What was your Wine of the Week?