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 Camlow Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $25. As happens with many a True Rosé (intentional pink wines, not saignées), this has improved. A year and a half out, this is really singing! A bit of funk on the nose (but I love the funk) and great fruit and acidity on the palate. This is particularly tasty right now (even after a day open!), but perhaps the most remarkable aspect? The finish lasts for minutes. Bravo. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
1996 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Fiacre, France: Retail $100. 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir. I bought three bottles of this wine way back in 2008 and I tried one right away. The other two have remained in my cellar (first in Philly, then here in Houston). I liked that first bottle but I was less than whelmed. Nearly twelve years (and 1500 miles) later? Yowza. Caramel color with a fairly vibrant sparkle and a honeyed brioche on the nose that is pretty darned incredible–the type of wine that I could simply smell for days. The palate is certainly “old champagne” with a caramelized note, that lovely brioche, but also a tartness that remains focused from start to finish. Yowza. I rated this 90-92 points a dozen years ago, but that was then. This is Wow. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2009 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Hommage to Chablis, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $40. I have been an unabashed fan of Clos Pepe for well over a decade, and I have almost always felt that the Chards outperform the Pinots (although it was close). This Chard might be on the downward slope, with ripe, but stewed fruit (pineapple and Bosc pear), a touch of white pepper, but it still is pretty incredible. The palate is tart and just a touch spicy, and perfectly delicious. Close to a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Chanoine Frères Champagne “Cuvee Rose”, France: Retail $45. 70% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. I picked this up at Total Wine a couple of days ago, without much thought but I will likely be back for more. Fruity and rich, great acidity, just a hint of dosage, this really presses all of the buttons. I dare say that this might be the best bottle of bubbles at Total Wine under $27 (when you buy 6+). Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Jean-Pierre Launois Champagne Brut Tradition, France: Retail $50. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. I bought received four bottles of this wine from Last Bottle at Thanksgiving, but this is surprisingly the first bottle we have tried. The winery is located in Le Mesnil sur Oger, which is 99.4% Chardonnay, so the Pinot comes from Avize (a Grand Cru village as is Le Mesnil), so I am surprised this is not labeled as a “Grand Cru.” Also surprising, this has a dosage of 9 grams/liter, which is by no means “high” but this tastes more like an extra Brut (or even Brut sauvage–0 to 4 grams) than a standard Brut. Regardless, a lovely wine: peach and brioche dominate the nose, but there is also acacia flower and a hint of green apple. The palate is a bit austere and quite tart but the fruit arrives with time as does considerable minerality. Wow. And a Whoa. The finish lasts for quite some time. Perhaps not a champagne for the masses but for those who prefer a drier style (9 grams, really?). I hope I can hold onto a few bottles for a decade or so. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
NV Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rustico: Retail $25. 100% Glera. It has been a while since I have had Rustico and it seems as though either my tastes have changed or they have increased the dosage as this seems noticeably sweeter than past iterations. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a delightful wine, with good fruit, acidity, and sparkle, but it just seems a tad sweet tonight. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2011 Purple Star Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $20. This is one of the first wineries that started following my blog and I have had a few of their various wines over the years. While all of the wines are quite tasty, this flagship Syrah is clearly the best value. Juicy fruit, tart acidity, a bit of depth on the mid-palate, and even some silky tannins on the finish. Great value, holy cow. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I guess today I should have only reviewed THC-enhanced wines, but those sound fairly awful and I have yet to be sent one to sample, so I am left to choose from the lot above. Not a bad lot. My first thought for Wine of the Week was the Clos Pepe Chardonnay since I really liked the picture I took, but I figured that was a bit too self-serving, even for me. My next thought was the Chanoine Frères Champagne, since I was really pleasantly surprised and I will certainly be buying more soon. No, in the end, I opted for the 1996 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Fiacre. I mean, any time you open a bottle of wine from a previous millennium it should be at least the Wine of the Week, right (provided it is not horrible, causing incessant retching, of course).
What was your Wine of the Week?