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 $60. 100% Chardonnay. That’s more like it. After a second bottle that was a bit below what the first bottle had been, the third and fourth bottles have been 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. I get a lot of my champagne from Last Bottle and this has been one of the best. Back on top, indeed. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Gardet Champagne Premier Cru Blanc de Noirs, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier. I picked this up (well, I “picked” it up once UPS dropped it on my doorstep) from Last Bottle for $29 (I actually used referral credits, but that is another story). Great green apple and yeasty notes on the nose and the palate with plenty of sparkle and verve. A fine Premier Cru Blanc de Noirs. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2010 Failla Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $60. A bit translucent yet still cloudy in the glass with aromas of cherry, earth, and just a trace of spice. The palate is quite amazingly fruity, stopping just short of “amazingly-so.” The palate is a delight: fresh cherry, hints of spice, and a zesty tartness that persists through the finish. Yowza. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2010 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Balcombe Vineyard Dundee Hills, OR: Retail $50. It’s been over two years now since Patty Green passed away and each bottle I’ve opened since causes me to pause. She was such a force and such a bright light. But her wines, crafted by my college classmate Jim Anderson, live on. This Balcombe is simply amazing. Fairly light in the glass with lovely dark cherry, cedar, and eucalyptus. Close to a whoa. The palate is balanced and precise, even close to a decade out. With a finish that lasts a couple of minutes, this is close to a Whoa. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve, France: Retail $40. 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. I would venture to guess that I have had more of this wine than any other produced on this planet (or any other planet for that matter) and second place is distant ant barely recognizable. While it has remained startlingly consistent, this bottle is a decided derivation: much tarter and drier than previous iterations. While not a disagreeable departure, it is worthy of remark. Still fruity, yeasty (although slightly less so), and tart. And delicious. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2014 Pech Merle Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $25. Some clown named ‘Now_in_Mi’ on Cellar Tracker wrote 11 tasting “notes” for this wine. Ten times s/he gave it an 85 and the 11th time? An 88. Well, s/he got one thing right, it has improved over time. My original notes have held true, but this bottle has more tropical notes (mango, guava) than tree fruit. I did not mention it before, but this is much closer to Sancerre than it is to New Zealand. Thank goodness, as that is a very good thing in my book. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV J.P. Secondé Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut, France: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. This is the fourth different champagne that I have tried from this producer from Mailly-en-Champagne (home to our favorite house, see above) and the common theme remains: too high of a dosage that renders the wine too round. Don’t get me wrong, this is my style of champagne with tons of body and great structure, but it is partially hidden by that sugar. Drop it to 5-7 grams/liter and I would guess this wine would soar (this bottle was 10 grams/liter). Peach and apple, a splash of citrus, and good acidity (albeit masked). As I sipped through this, it continued to grow on me to the point that the sweetness started to fall away a bit and the brightness of this wine came through. Please, please, please, drop the dosage! Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week with several bottles of champagne consumed with all four in the “Excellent” range. I would have to check, but I am not sure that Mailly Grand Cru has ever been the Wine of the Week. I am sure it has since we have had so much of it, an interesting exercise, nonetheless. I do know that the Patricia Green Balcombe has been Wine of the Week (December 2017, just a few weeks after Patty died) and quite possibly will be again (I have three bottles left). This week, though, the 2010 Failla Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch, Russian River Valley is this week’s Wine of the Week. Ehren Jordan has long been one of my favorite winemakers and this is a perfect example why: near perfect balance nearly a decade out. Lovely.
What was your Wine of the Week?