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).
2010 Ayres Vineyard Pinot Noir Pioneer Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35. Red berry fruit, eucalyptus, and even a bit of mint emanate from the translucent vibrant wine. The palate is initially very fruity and quite tart, with sour cherry, a bit of earth, some mineral notes, and just a hint of tannin on the finish. This is pretty darned good now and might improve, though only slightly, in the short term. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2005 Joseph Drouhin / Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, France: Retail $100. 100% Chardonnay. Although certainly tired, this is far better than the previous bottle that I opened a mere week ago. Yes, there is oxidation (as witnessed by the golden color and the toasty nose), but there is also fruit (pear and slight citrus). The palate, while far from exuberant, is tart, expressive, and fairly deep. Most would argue that this wine would have been better a handful of years prior. While I am in no position to argue that assertion, it is far (quite far) from “past” tonight. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2005 Fattoria Lavacchio Chianti Rùfina Cedro, Tuscany, Italy: Retail $22. 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo Nero, 5% Ciliegiolo. I bought six bottles of this wine from Wines Til Sold Out way back in 2013 and I have been impressed, particularly given what I paid ($9). Notes solidly consistent from bottle one through this last bottle: “A classic Rufina with dark, slightly stewed cherries and a bit of earthiness thrown in. Despite being ten years out, this still shows youthful intentions and bright acidity. Not much in the way of tannin left, so I would certainly drink in the near-ish term, but this still has a couple of good years left.” (I wrote that in 2015.) Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $65. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay of which 7% Pinot Noir vinified as red wine. 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.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. There are so many reasons why Mailly Grand Cru is my go-to champagne. I first visited the winery as a cycling tour guide a couple of decades ago before they built the big, but stylish tasting room. It is a cooperative (I am a socialist at heart) and easily the best coop in Champagne if not all of France. It reminds of dear friends in Paris who, and this is in a bit of dispute, first told me about the wines (I think I told them, but…). We love the wines so much, that we named our dog Mailly. In fact, her full name is “Mailly Grand Cru Brut Rosé” (since she is decidedly amber in color). Need I say more? Oh yeah, the wine: More of a light red than a pink in the glass, which was a bit surprising. The nose is characterized by a rich strawberry and touches of yeastiness. The palate is luscious with red berry fruit, fresh croissant, and a vibrant, tart sparkle. This might be my favorite Champagne house, which, by extension, makes this my favorite rosé champagne? OK. I am good with that. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve, France: A delightfully welcomed return to the norm as this bottle falls neatly into line with the dozens (hundreds?) of previous bottles. Great aromas and flavors (peach and pear) with more than a modicum of yeastiness. Delightful. This bottle comes off as just slightly sweet, which is odd since the dosage on Mailly is usually spot-on. Regardless, this bottle represents a return to the norm, to the Mailly of memory, and the reason we named our puppy after the winery/town. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week of mainly staying home and cooking a ton, which has been surprisingly refreshing for some reason. When I cook, I seem to have fallen into the habit of having a glass of champagne always at hand, which no doubt contributes to the enjoyment of the process. Without a doubt, the house champagne is Mailly Grand Cru Brut Réserve, which is also this week’s Wine of the Week. Both the Brut and the Rosé were in the running for the top honor, but I opted for the former for no other reason than it enabled me to publish this photo of our then three-month-old puppy, whom we named Mailly.
What was your Wine of the Week?