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).
2017 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Provence, France: Retail $25. Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle. For a number of years now, I have been a fan of Château d’Esclans and Whispering Angel. I’ve also been of the opinion that this True Rosé (i.e., not a saignée) has the ability to age, not indefinitely, of course, but certainly for at least a few years. This 2.5-year-old beauty has turned much more floral than fruity on the nose. The fruit is still there in droves on the palate, though, with minerality and salinity. Wonderful. Perhaps better than last year. Excellent 91-93 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Carneros Selection, Carneros, CA: Retail $35. When asked what she might want to drink, my wife responded with but one word: “Pinot.” Luckily, there are a few bottles of Pinot in the cellar, too many, in fact. Seeking precision, I pressed: “American? French?” She simply extended her left arm, palm facing me, and said: “Good.” I think this fits the bill: great fruit (still) on the nose and the palate with cherry fruit, and bits of anise, earth, and a touch of heat (14.2%). The palate is fruity yet refined. Delicious. Due to climate change (at least in part) Gary Farrell no longer makes a Pinot from Carneros. That’s indeed a shame as this is delightful. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $65. 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay. Including 7% Bouzy Rouge, a still red added for the color. A bright composition of Pinot & Chardonnay leads to a floral, nose with some candied red fruit and splashes of yeast. The palate is much fruitier than I expected. While I had hoped for a lot more, this was certainly a lovely quaff. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2010 Mounts Family Winery Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $40. Perhaps more than any other region, I associate closest with Dry Creek Valley, which is likely surprising since there is little sparkling wine and even less Pinot Noir. But my first ever “press trip” related to my blog was to Dry Creek, due in large part to a wonderful benefactor, of sorts. I have been back a number of times since that first “real” encounter, often staying with said benefactor. On one visit I am pretty darned sure that he introduced me to David Mounts, a third-generation farmer (and second-generation winemaker) in the Valley. Ok, fairly sure (I’ve been introduced to a lot of folks in Dry Creek, usually with a wine glass in hand, so…). Anywho (as my grandfather would say), this is a pretty amazing wine–inky dark with oodles of sediment coating the bottle, blackberry fruit along with plum, cassis, and forest floor on the nose, followed by rich, dark fruit (mostly blackberry), a bit of tar, and plenty of mouth-drying tannins on the palate. Amazingly, this is still but a pup–those tannins are fierce and have a ways to go before they stubbornly integrate. Now? Fantastic. In 5-10 years? Perhaps even better. Excellent 91-93 Points.
2018 Château Roubine Côtes de Provence Lion et Dragon, France: Retail $50. 50% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 50% Syrah. I picked this up on my visit to the winery in Provence last summer. Usually, when I see an elaborate bottle like this, I am a bit apprehensive–far too often producers put too much effort into the packaging and not enough into the contents. That is not the case here the orangish-pink wine exudes peach, rose, and hyacinth along with noticeable salinity and flintiness. The palate comes in a bit soft with plenty of fruit, but then a tangy apricot shows up on the mid-palate. The two tango a bit before melding on the finish. Fabulous. Excellent to Oustanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I have vowed to try and keep everything as “normal” as possible during this surreal time, but “normal” is, of course, a relative concept. “Normally,” we would invite people over for dinner a couple of times a month, I would go out on a group ride on either Saturday or Sunday (or both), I would be invited to a series of lunches and dinners with various wine folks, and be preparing for my next press trip to an at least somewhat exotic locale (I was supposed to be on a flight to Paris this afternoon). Now? The only trip I plan for is the weekly trip to the supermarket, trying not to freak out at the people wearing N95 masks (either they are infected or selfish hoarders–I don’t know which is worse). Group rides are now taboo, lunches are leftovers (and never involve wine), and the only people I see during the week are my wife, my two kids, and if I’m “lucky” my in-laws (have I mentioned they live right behind us?). So, “normal” for me this week is choosing a Wine of the Week. It’s the 2010 Mounts Family Winery Syrah. That’s all I can muster.
What was your Wine of the Week?