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 Antoine Derigny Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. That’s more like it. After a second bottle that was a bit below what the first bottle had been, this third bottle is 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. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2007 Dutton-Goldfield Syrah Dutton Ranch Cherry Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50. Dark in the glass with more blackberry than cherry fruit on the nose with some white pepper, spice, and even cassis. The palate is wonderfully balanced with great fruit, incredible tartness, nearly integrated tannins, and just a slight stewed note on the finish. As expected, this is wonderful. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
NV Champagne Pierre Legras Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. I bought a case of this when I lived in Philadelphia–a Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc for under $25? Normally, this would go for $50 or more, but it was one of the quirky aspects to the PLCB–they would get incredible deals for some wines, but charge 10-20% more for almost every other wine. Intense yeastiness and citrus on the nose with even a bit of freshly popped corn. I bought this a few years ago and there is a slight golden tint to it, with a fine bubble. The palate is toasty and tart with some minerality and a lengthy finish. I am not a huge fan typically of the BdB style, but this is a particularly tasty rendition. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2011 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $40. I can’t believe it has been over two years since I have tried this wine. I guess I am reluctant to twist off the stopper since I know the wine will never be produced again. This time around, a bit darker in color, more of a golden hue on the otherwise straw-yellow wine. A bit funky, with lemon rind and tropical notes, the wine is certainly “older” with muted fruit but still vibrant acidity. I am an unabashed fan of Clos Pepe, and this is why. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut, France: Retail $40. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 20-25% Pinot Meunier, 15-20% Chardonnay with 10-20% Reserve wines. Surprisingly consistent. Or maybe not? The primary goal of non-vintage champagnes is to maintain the house style and the secondary goal is to be consistent year after year. Yes, there may be some overlap in those goals, but nonetheless, both are attained here: green apple and citrus with plenty of yeasty goodness. Tart and angular on the palate with plenty of depth and a finish that rivals the best wines from the region. Bravo. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2013 Westerly Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, CA: I really have no idea how I came across this bottle–it may very well have been a second bottle sample, but the notes are alarmingly lacking. The wine, though, is delightfully tasty: fairly clear in the glass, aromas of lemon and peach and a touch of creaminess. The palate is tart and precise with great fruit and plenty of verve. Quite good. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week marked the thankful end of the basketball season. While my Junior Varsity team had a decent record (6-3), it was largely against competition that had difficulty completing fundamental elements of the game like shooting and, well, walking. The Varsity team, for which I am an assistant coach, did not fare as well, and it was another long and somewhat painful season. So how did I “celebrate”? By doing absolutely nothing. Sure, I went for a couple of bike rides, but other than that I sat on my rather fat tuchus and watched the world go by. Oh, and we consumed some wine, the best of which this week was the 2007 Dutton-Goldfield Syrah Dutton Ranch Cherry Ridge Vineyard. While the wine was great, Dan Goldfield, the owner/winemaker is a Philly guy (he actually comes from the suburbs, but I give him a pass), which caused me to posit that the basketball season could have been worse. It could have been in a cold and snowy Philadelphia.
What was your Wine of the Week?