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).
2009 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Las Alturas Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA: Retail: $65. Another wine that I purchased before I started my blog almost eight years ago and this is the first of the three bottles that wee have popped. Dark, big, and juicy, which is not a surprise given that the wine was made by the Wagner family, who also make Caymus (I won’t go into my thoughts on that wine here). Dark red fruit, a bit of eucalyptus on the nose, and the palate is fairly big and beefy, thick and rich, a touch of smoke, and a whole lot of dark fruit. To be honest, this is much more akin to a syrah than a Pinot, but I have to admit, I kinda like it. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV Paul Berthelot Champagne Premier Cru Eminence, France: Retail $50. 70% Pinot, 30% Chardonnay. I bought ten bottles of this wine from Last Bottle. The first bottle was corked and the second was just so-so and I was worried. Really worried. Eight bottles to go with a so-so wine? Ruh-roh. The next six bottles? Excellent, close to Outstanding even. I’ve noted all of the flavors and aromas in the previous notes, so I won’t bore you with more of that here. What I will say is that I just bought another eight bottles from Last Bottle. I wish I had bought a full case. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2006 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France: Retail $85. 100% Chardonnay. As I usually do, I asked my wife what she felt like drinking, even though I knew she would either say “I don’t know” or “Champagne.” There really is no variance, which begs the question: Why do I continue to ask? Well, tonight I got my answer. She was far from effusive as she uttered two words: Chardonnay. Good. With an unusual directive, I dove into the cellar in hopes of fulfilling both aspects of her request. I pondered American wines for a moment, but then settled on French as it had been a while since I had popped a white Burg–I had become disillusioned by all of the bottles that were prematurely oxidized (premox). Since I had two bottles of this wine, I thought I would give one a pull. Whoa. Slightly golden in the glass with that luscious lemon curd and vanilla on the nose. Yes, there are traces of oak, but they are subtle, even sublime. The palate is simply wonderful: tart, bright, fruity (although subtle) with depth and a lengthy finish. This is what an aged white Burgundy should be. Whoa. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.
NV Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. Bolly is Bolly. Yeasty, toasty, citrusy, there is a reason that this is one of the benchmark houses in Champagne. Sure, it is ubiquitous but it is still owned by descendants of the original Bollinger family and it is the preferred champagne of one James Bond (well, at least most of the time). Amazingly consistent, and oh so tasty. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2004 Domaine Bernard Morey et Fils Santenay 1er Cru Grand Clos Rousseau, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France: Retail $55. 100% Pinot Noir. I bought four of these, way back in 2007 (!) and this is the first that we have opened. Santenay was my gateway to Burgundy, way back when. As a struggling teacher, leading bike trips in France over the summer, I did not have a boatload of cash to drop on wine. The rustic yet tasty wines from Santenay, however, were reasonably priced and allowed me to delve into the Burgundian flavors and mystic without having to figure out how I was going to pay rent. This 1er Cru is a bit dark, on the border of brooding, but nowhere close to stewed, with dark cherry, lilac, and earth (no barnyard to speak of here either). The palate is close to pure Pinot pleasure: fruit, zingy tartness, lengthy finish. While my income has increased, sadly so have the prices of even the more “affordable” wines from Burgundy, rendering them mostly a fond memory. I still have a few bottles, though, and I will cherish each one. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: There was a time, not too terribly long ago, that I would drink Burgundy on a fairly regular basis. It was not that I was rolling in excess funds (I was a teacher), but rather I would spend my summers in France, returning with a couple of cases of the tantalizing elixir and with the knowledge of what (relatively) inexpensive versions were available for purchase in this country. Sadly, those days are over. I rarely lead bike trips anymore, and even the most “pedestrian” of wines from the Côte d’Or are hopelessly out of my price range. thus, it was with a bit of glee that I relived those days through a couple of bottles this week. The Bernard Morey Santenay was not only delightful, but it also caused me to pause and reflect on perhaps my favorite town in Burgundy. Santenay is not really all that special, but I loved it since the wines from the appellation were generally affordable, and there was a fantastic wine shop there where I would purchase many of the wines that I would bring home. One such wine, the 2006 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets, was not “cheap” but at 30€, it was a steal. I have one more bottle of this Wine of the Week, which I want to save, but I also want to open it soon. Like right now kinda soon.
What was your Wine of the Week?