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).
1999 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année, France: Retail $150. 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay. 82% Grand Cru, 18% Premier Cru. As one might expect, a bit dark in the glass with an utter lack of fruit on the nose, but plenty of yeastiness and biscuity goodness. Whoa. If you don’t like older champagnes, keep moving, this is a graciously aged beauty. A bit musty, musky, and more than a bit sherried on the palate, but whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
NV André Clouet Champagne Grande Réserve, France: Retail $40. 100% Pinot Noir. I have professed my allegiance to Mailly Grand Cru as my preferred everyday champagne (my wife is a huge fan as well–such a fan that she insisted we name our dog “Mailly”). Yet I have also declared my adoration for the town of Bouzy and the champagnes that are produced there. While I prefer the wines of Paul Clouet, the wines of André Clouet (there is a relation, but it’s a bit fuzzy) are fantastic as well. This Grande Réserve, the main production of the house, is impressive. Tree fruit aromas (pear, green apple) and more nutty than yeasty, I would guess that it has a relatively high dosage as it comes off a tad sweet. Still, this is wonderfully balanced, has a vibrant sparkle, and a lengthy finish. This is creeping up on our beloved Mailly, but it still has a ways to go. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV André Clouet Champagne Bouzy Rosé, France: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Noir. She did not start out this way, but my wife is now a champagne lover, perhaps even more than I am at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the bubbles, but it is all that she wants to drink. So, for her birthday, I bought her a case of André Clouet, a grower/producer from Bouzy, perhaps my favorite town in Champagne. Strawberry and bés de bois. Tart. Vibrant. Just short of rich, but delicious. Worthy of the $45 fo sho. A touch of mustiness on the finish. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Gardet Champagne Premier Cru Brut, France: From magnum. Retail $100. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. We have had a few of these, both 750ml and magnum, and this was our fifth of the six 1.5 liter bottles that we have popped. As with the others, this is simply a solid champagne. Perhaps not so “simply” as there is fruit (pear) and yeastiness as well as complexity and depth. I hope more of it shows up soon on Last Bottle. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
1995 Jean-Pierre Marniquet Champagne Prestige Millesime, France: Retail: $100. 60% Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay. Whoa. It was my anniversary and the in-laws were coming over for dinner so I decided to pop this before they arrived. Does that make me a horrible person? Perhaps. But in this case, horrible is pretty close to brilliant as I know the in-laws would not appreciate the subtleties here. And there were plenty. Golden in the glass, which was really the only clue as to the age of this beauty. Red delicious apple, Bosc pear, and aromas from a Parisien boulangerie waft over the rim of the glass. The palate is delightful. Tasted blind, I doubt I would ever guess that this is a 1/4 century old wine as it is vibrant, tart, lively, and expressive. Whoa. And maybe more. Excellent. 94-96 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As I mentioned in one of the notes above, my wife has become a real champagne hound, but it was not always that way. In fact, I can still recall a time when I was pretty much on my own once a cork was popped and the bubbles began to flow. That has all changed. So much so that an open bottle now has become essentially a race to get to the last glass. Wisely, I have instituted a “three fingers” rule–she needs to leave three fingers worth of wine in a bottle so that there is enough wine remaining to write at least a semi-coherent note. This new rule has been met with resistance, particularly when it involves champagne, specifically really good champagne. Such was the case with this week’s Wine of the Week, the 1995 Jean-Pierre Marniquet Champagne Prestige Millesime. Even though it is a vintage wine, and an aged one at that, I am surprised I liked it so much. Why? Well, I am usually not that much of a fan of Pinot Meunier, and the Marniquet is loaded with it. What does it mean? I guess I have the ability to adapt? Nah, that can’t be it.
What was your Wine of the Week?