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).
NV Alexandre Bonnet Champagne Perle Rosée Brut, France: Retail $40. 100% Pinot Noir. I bought this a couple of weeks ago for my wife for her birthday, so naturally, I popped this when she was out of town (so sue me). I had just returned from the airport and was craving some bubbles and this was the first bottle I saw (at least that is the story I will recount to my wife if she happens to inquire). Fairly dark for a rosé, but with a rather faint sparkle and aromas of cherry and strawberry. Bright and fruity on the palate with a solid tartness and decent finish. Not a world-beater, but a fine choice for a Wednesday night (or was it Sunday?). Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2011 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. I have said countless times that Clos Pepe is one of my favorite Pinot (and Chard) producers, and I have also lamented the fact that the winery is no more. Wes’ passion and talent lives on, though, in the several odd cases of Clos Pepe that lie peacefully in my cellar. Tonight, Thanksgiving, we decided to awaken one from its slumber for sacrifice. Dark cherry and eucalyptus on the nose, with plenty of fruit on the palate. This is certainly California in style, but it is oh so tasty. The tannins seem integrated, but this likely has another half-dozen (or more) years still left in it. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Henriot Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier,. I have been a fan of Henriot for some time now and when I find it at a reasonable price, I tend to buy it. That was the case here as I was buying my wife some champagne for her birthday–wines to keep around the house to open when I happen to be away. Having said that, I pulled this bottle when my wife was less than impressed with the white Burgundy I opened and demanded bubbles. It is “her” wine, after all, no? While this wine is certainly “Very Good” I am not sure that it is much more than that. A bit funky on the nose (but not in a bad way) with some red fruit and baking bread. The palate is fine but rather one-dimensional: plenty of fruit, but…. As I said, I have been a fan of Henriot for a while. This wine? Well, it’s fine. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2011 Domaine Mazilly Pere & Fils Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Castets, Burgundy, France: Retail $55. 100% Chardonnay. I bought this way back in 2013 from Wines Til Sold Out for $20/bottle and this is the first that I have opened. Meh. It is certainly Good, even Very Good, but it falls just short of Excellent. It has plenty of acidity and a bit of fruit, but it is lacking the depth and complexity that one would associate with a 1er Cru from Saint-Aubin. Reading the reviews here on Cellar Tracker, it seems that the thoughts on this wine are mixed. Here’s hoping the next three bottles help me to forget about this one. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2007 Ojai Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $65. It would be difficult to count the winemakers that have made a Clos Pepe Pinot. Off the top of my head, that includes Siduri, Loring, Brewer-Clifton, Ken Brown, WALT, A.P. Vin, Roessler, and Ojai. Pretty much a who’s who of the Central Coast Pinot crowd with Clos Pepe Vineyards leading the way. Ojai’s version is a bit darker than those I have tried before, dark in the glass with blackberry, anise, and an herbal aspect. The palate is rich and integrated with luscious fruit, a touch of earth, and a whole lot of moxie. Yum. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As happens fairly frequently around here, the week of wine consisted of but three varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. It is not a coincidence that those three grapes are the predominant varieties allowed in the production of champagne. When not drinking the bubbles, I tend to opt for the still versions of the components of my preferred region. Ido branch out occasionally, but most of the time my still wine purchases and consumption center around Pinot and Chard (there are some still Pinot Meuniers out there, but they are difficult to acquire). I had really hoped that the Henriot Rosé and the Ojai Clos Pepe would have taken the Wine of the Week honors this go around, but I have to fall back on the 2011 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA. Wes Hagen and Clos Pepe will always remain close to my heart even though the winery ceased operations after the 2014 vintage. And they will remain there until the last drop of my Clos Pepe stash (and probably longer).
What was your Wine of the Week?