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).
2014 Benovia Chardonnay Russian River Valley: Retail $40. Almost two years ago, I bought four bottles of this wine from Last Bottle for $25/bottle. This was the first bottle from that purchase which we have tried. Yowza. Golden pear, mineral, luscious in the glass. Almost a Whoa right there. The palate is nothing short of delightful: fruit, vanilla, subtle oak. OK, whoa. I have been a fan of Benovia since the beginning (2006 vintage?) and this is precisely why: good fruit, tasty tartness, balance. Whoa. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Antoine Derigny Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. I usually shy away from 100% Chard bubbles simply because I feel they do not have the requisite “backbone” that Pinot Noir provides and that I covet. This wine, though, spent five years on the lees, providing it more texture and depth. I bought four bottles from Last Bottle two years ago and the first bottle was stellar. The second? decidedly less so, but the subsequent bottles were right back up there: Slightly golden in the glass with all kinds of baked goodness and golden delicious apples on the nose. The palate is tart and clean with apple, brioche, and verve. Back on top, indeed. So much so that I just purchased another case. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Janisson Baradon & Fils Champagne Cepages Collection Charme, France: Retail $80. 15% each: Pinot Blanc, Fromenteau, Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Meunier, 13% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay. For the last six or seven years (maybe eight?) I have organized a Secret-Santa sort of exchange with the readers of my blog (if you aren’t one of them, why not??). I received this last year (I think) and I could not be more pleased, for no other reason than it contains all of the seven varieties allowed in Champagne (most people only know of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, a few know of Pinot Meunier, very few know the other four listed). Even more, it’s fabulous: a bit golden in the glass with marzipan, candied red delicious apple, and a touch of baked croissant. Yowza. The palate is bone dry with dried apple, caramel, and yeast. Yum. I have absolutely zero familiarity with this wine, but I will need to change that. This is delicious. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2005 Domaine Bernard Morey et Fils Saint-Aubin Le Puits: Retail $65. 100% Chardonnay. I bought this way back in early 2007, and I have essentially forgotten about the two bottles in my cellar. As I was searching “Chardonnay” at the behest of my wife, I figured it was time to give one of these a pop. A bit dark in the glass with just the slightest hint of oxidation, the palate is pretty close to devoid of fruit. But there is a lot there: lanolin, hints of oak, a bit of citrus rind, and some vanilla. There is little doubt in my mind that this has lost a step, but it is still a lovely quaff. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2012 Passaggio Chardonnay New Generation: Retail $35. I bought this nearly five years ago at the tasting room at which point I think I met Cindy Cosco for the first time. She is a former-cop-turned-winemaker (you don’t type that every day) that moved out to California to follow her dream, and she is even more delightful a person than her wines are delightful in the glass. Still, light in color with pear and peach on the nose. The palate is tart and linear, with a bit of depth. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Looking over the wines this week, I noticed there was not a single red in the bunch–oh well, that’s “winter” in Houston (yesterday it was a rather “chilly” 82 degrees). This week, for the Wine of the Week, I selected the NV Janisson Baradon & Fils Champagne Cepages Collection Charme, not just for the fact that it has Fromenteau, Arbane, and Petit Meslier in the blend (although that would certainly be enough), but because this came from Debbie Gioquindo, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess. I met Debbie several years ago now, and every time I see her, she is like a breath of fresh air, much like the wine she sent me. Thank you Debbie for such a wonderful gift!
What was your Wine of the Week?