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).
2011 Amelle Pinot Noir Pratt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $40. While this is far from being over-the-hill or even on a downward slope (wait, is that the same thing?), this bottle does seem to have lost a step in relation to previous bottles. Don’t get me wrong, this still falls into the “Excellent” category, but this bottle is a slight departure than previous iterations. For now, I will say it is bottle variation and agree to monitor the situation with my remaining seven bottles. I know, tough work. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
1996 Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Moelleux Le plan de Jean, France: Retail $79. I kinda can’t believe that it has been over a decade since I last had a bottle of this wine. On top of that, I’m even more surprised how little the wine seems to have changed over those 13 years. Sure, it is a bit darker, but the aromas of apricot marmalade, honey, and a bit of crème brulée are just as intense. The palate comes off a bit less sweet than the last bottle, but it is decidedly on the sweet side. Intense flavors, great acidity, and a lengthy finish. Yes, I think this is even better a decade-plus out. Excellent to Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2005 Dopff & Irion Pinot Gris Sporen, Alsace Grand Cru, France: Retail $30. The last bottle (tasted in late 2018) was delightful–bright, lively, fantastic (91-93 points). This bottle?? not so much: tired, golden, old. Oh well. Meh. Good thing it was my last bottle. Unrated.
2017 MLB Houston Astros Club Series, California: Retail $50. “Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend.” There is no doubt that it is a cool bottle: embossed, engraved, enshrined, emboldened. But. The back label indicates that it was bottled by “Mano’s Kansas City. MO.” Well, color me a regionalist, but I know of absolutely ZERO quality wines out of Kansas City. Or Missouri. Or anywhere within 837 miles of Kansas City. Missouri. Or Kansas. Or Ark Kansas. Or… Still, the wine is not “bad.” A bit medicinal with faint signs of fruit and a bit of pepper on the nose. The palate? While not at all offensive, it is a bit contrived: overly fruity, lacking depth, a bit hot. Does that describe the 2017 Astros? That is for you to decide. Good? 85-87 Points.
NV J.P. Secondé Champagne Brut, France: Retail $40. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. This is the second bottle of this wine that we have tried and it is a departure from the first, albeit slight. After a more than disappointing bottle of another champagne, we opened this to hopefully right the ship. While it did that, it did so only just barely. Strawberry fruit sneaks through an otherwise rather dirty, muted nose. The palate is marginally better, with decent fruit, ample tartness, and an above-average finish. Not stellar by any measure, but it still merits a “Very Good” rating. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
MV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée, France: Retail $65. Disgorged April 2019. 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier. While I have never met Bruno Paillard, I have met his daughter and CEO, Alice, on several occasions and she might be the single nicest person I have ever met. While that is a lot, I don’t know how much that has to do with the wine (although I choose to think it means just about everything), which is fantastic. Nutty and citrus-ridden on the nose, with bright acidity and creaminess on the palate. This bottle is honestly lacking a bit in sparkle, but otherwise, pretty close to gangbusters. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Lingenfelder Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50. Under screw. Fairly dark in the glass, even eight years out. Dark berry fruit, a bit of spice, a tad of heat on the nose. The palate is a lesson in balance: fruit, acidity, earth, lovely. I have been a fan of Siduri for as long as I can remember and if this is what the “new” Siduri shall be under Jackson Family ownership, then I welcome it with open arms. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: The Aubuisières Vouvray was clearly the “best” wine this week and there were several others that were certainly “Excellent.” Any time I get a chance to recollect my time spent with Alice Paillard, that also merits special attention. This week, though, I decided to go another way. This week, the 2017 MLB Houston Astros Club Series Cabernet/Merlot Blend is this week’s Wine of the Week. Why? It is clear that much more time was spent on the bottle than on the wine and that is precisely why anybody bought the wine. I wonder, now that the Astros’ cheating scandal has come to life, how many of these bottles were taken down off of mantles (or wherever they were displayed) and opened? Even though the wine was regrettable, I was glad I opened it as it freed up space on my countertop. Literally, the day after we opened it, however, the people who gave us the bottle stopped by. And gave us another bottle.
What was your Wine of the Week?