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 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Franc Stepping Stone, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $40. 95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot. I picked this up way back in 2013 when I was out in Napa for one reason or another. I am not sure why we have held onto it for this long, but it certainly was tasty tonight. Dark berry fruit, a tad stewed, but still quite fruity in the mouth, sweet, almost. A bit of spice and mocha on the rather lengthy finish. Very nice. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
1988 Inglenook Vineyards Merlot Reserve, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $100? I bought a few Inglenooks several years ago for a song and this is sadly the last of the lot. The first bottle was less than impressive, in fact, I found it rather pedestrian. A completely different story here, however. It has that classic old red wine nose: stewed fruit, green pepper, a bit of spice. The palate, however, is gangbusters: slightly stewed fruit but oodles of spice and plenty of swagger. Yowza. It’s great when the last bottle is the best. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2006 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Savennières, Loire Valley, France: Retail $125. 100% Chenin Blanc. Wow. It has been a while. Seven years? Yikes. Still amazing despite the amber color, it has a nose of lanolin, honey, and white flower. Whoa. The palate is tart and full of secondary and tertiary qualities. Whoa. Tart, acidic, retrospective, deep. Yowza. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.
2012 Lambert Bridge Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $75. A friend of mine is the general manager at Lambert Bridge and a really nice guy. The wines (at least those that I have tried) are excellent, maybe more, as is the case here. But 75 bucks? Whoa. That’s a bit aggressive. Don’t get me wrong: great fruit, depth, balance, finish but a phone call short of a C-note? Ummm. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2005 Fattoria Lavacchio Chianti Rùfina Cedro, Italy: Retail $18. 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo Nero, 5% Ciliegiolo. A classic Rufina with dark, slightly stewed cherries and a bit of earthiness thrown in. Despite being ten years out, this still shows youthful intentions and bright acidity. Not much in the way of tannin left, so I would certainly drink in the near-ish term, but this still has a couple of good years left. Very Good, maybe more.Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
1985 Château de Marbuzet, St. Estèphe, Médoc, Bordeaux, France: Retail $50. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. Green and black pepper dominate the nose, but there is also plenty of fruit on this 35-year-old wine. Holy cow. Fruity on the palate as well, with great acidity, and completely integrated tannins. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no sediment whatsoever. All that CSI stuff aside, this is a wonderful wine. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2001 Trimbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre, Alsace, France: Retail $40. 100% Gewurztraminer. Just about every time I taste an Alsatian Gewurztraminer, I have the same thought: why can’t producers of the variety in other regions follow the model of northeastern France. Gewurz from regions not named Alsace are too dry which makes the spiciness and floral aspects stand out far too much. This wine is close to gangbusters: pineapple and mango on the nose with just a hint of white flower and spice. On the palate, this is certainly sweetish, but far, far, far from unctuous and balanced with bright acidity and plenty of fruit. Nearly two decades out, and this is still crazy good. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: OK, I have been living a lie. In the past several weeks, the wines featured in this space were not actually consumed the week prior to publication. They were usually opened 2-3 weeks earlier, as is the case this week. [In other words, yes, I am a bit behind.] Many of the wines this week were opened with a few fellow Houston-based wine writers on Open That Bottle Night, which was February 29th. There was no doubt when I started writing this recap that the Wine of the Week would come from the trio of bottles that I opened that night, the only problem was choosing which one. The Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant was the best wine and the 1988 Inglenook Merlot was perhaps the most iconic wine. But The Wine Of The Week is the 1985 Château de Marbuzet, St. Estèphe. Not because it was the oldest, nor due to the fact that it was particularly tasty. No, the reason I chose this wine? I have been holding it for a dear friend for over a decade–he entrusted it to my care when his family moved to France permanently. We were going to open it the next time he visited us. Well, it was pretty clear that the visit would never happen (he has stated repeatedly that he has no reason or desire to visit Texas). So I opened it. The next day I got an email. He will be visiting in May. Uh oh.
What was your Wine of the Week?