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).
2015 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $80. Ugh. So, I have spent most of my wine-drinking life disparaging wines such as this since they typically lack gusto, soul, veritas. Well. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum… this is actually, well, good. Sure, there are some extracted elements and the flavors seem to be a bit contrived, but on a whole? Yeah, I can kinda dig it (to borrow a phrase). Yes: extracted, contrived (to an extent), and maybe manipulated, but you know? It’s pretty good. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2003 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Corton-Renardes Grand Cru, Burgundy, France: Retail $105. 100% Pinot Noir. More than seven years out since the last note on this wine, I feel like I have a bit of free reign to wax poetically. While I am not quite sure how poetic I might be, this wine is certainly enticing: subtle fruit, earth, anise on the nose, with tartness, slightly stewed fruit, and forest floor on the palate. Delightful. 2003 was a difficult year for most of France (intense heatwave), but this Grand Cru seems to have suffered far less than others. Excellent to Oustanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve, France: Retail $40. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Wow. Looking back at my tasting notes, I can’t believe that with the sheer volume of bottles of this wine we consume, I have only written a couple of handfuls of notes (and most of those were regarding the jeroboams–don’t get me started). It is easily our “house” champagne, a favorite of both mine and my wife’s. So much so that we named our dog “Mailly” (to be precise, since she has a decided amber/liver color, we named her “Mailly Grand Cru Rosé”). Mailly Grand Cru is one of the few cooperatives left in France, let alone Champagne, which produces roughly a million bottles a year. Always rock-solid in quality, this is simply fantastic: slight golden color with citrus, pear, and freshly baked croissant. Really close to a Whoa. The palate is fruity—perhaps as rich in fruit as any NV Brut I can remember with near-perfect acidity, the yeasty goodness that separates champagne from most other sparklers, and a delicate yet vibrant bubble. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2008 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $40. I had been getting down to the last few bottles of this wine, without a doubt one of my favorite Zins, when I received a new influx of bottles from the producer (the reasons for which would require a couple of hundred words on its own). The age on this wine is starting to show a bit more with this bottle, particularly on the nose with noticeably more stewed fruit. The palate, though, is its same old spunky self with great fruit, acidity, depth, and earth. Still a yowza and almost a Whoa. Excellent to Oustanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $80. 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay. It has been close to a decade since we’ve had the last bottle of this wine, which I bought for a song ($40). More orange than pink in the bottle, with muted fruit, orange rind, and minerality. The palate is tart with secondary flavors of dried apricot, tart strawberry, and general goodness. Close to a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2007 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer, Alsace, France: Retail $75. I bought this several years ago from the PLCB before I moved away from the Commonwealth. I bought six bottles, which have a “drink by” date of 2021 on Cellar Tracker. That might be conservative as this is gangbusters and still just a pup. Decided lemon and petrol on the nose of the golden elixir with plenty of fruit and acidity on the palate. This is one of the more profound Rieslings I have had, though, with incredible depth and an extremely long finish. Whoa. And Whoa again. Excellent to Oustanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week of this new “normal” and it seems like we have settled into a routine. Personally, I sit on the couch a lot more watching the numbers creep up and up and stare at a computer screen thinking that I should be creative and write something that people want to read (I am still perplexed why anyone reads what I write, but that is another discussion). A common thread between our “past” life and the current reality is that we drink wine on a daily basis. This week, I grabbed some old favorites, as we continue to make our way through the cellar. The Wine of the Week came down to two wines: the 2003 Domaine Michel Gaunoux Corton-Renardes Grand Cru and the 2007 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer. Both great wines, but in the end, I opted for the latter as Alsace was my home several more “normals” ago.
What was your Wine of the Week?