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 Paul Berthelot Champagne Premier Cru Eminence, France: Retail $50. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. I had finished Tiger King a while ago, and now The Last Dance is in the rearview mirror. I have watched all the replays of my favorite college football team beating their “rival” for each of the last eight years, thrice (is it still a “rivalry” if you have won eight in a row and 15 out of 16??). I was out of sports to binge-watch (OK, Tiger King is not really “sports” but you get the idea). The boys offered to let me watch them play video games, which caused me to contemplate knocking their heads together. Watch them play video games? Are they insane? Instead of inflicting bodily harm on my offspring, I opted for champagne instead. Perhaps I was channeling my inner Napoléon (“In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it”) and as soon as I popped the bottle I felt better. Golden in the glass with an active sparkle, which faded fairly quickly. Not much fruit on the nose but plenty of rich tree fruit on the palate and plenty of yeastiness all the way through. I am not sure how tomorrow will turn out, but the wine is fabulous tonight. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Domaine Besson Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, Burgundy, France: Retail $30. 100% Chardonnay. There was a time that I would have waited for another 3-5 years to pop another bottle of this, but I am deathly afraid of pre-mature oxidation these days. Still pale straw in the glass with lemon curd and mineral notes. The palate is lovely: tart, precise, fruity (although reserved). It has been a while since I’ve had a white Burgundy that has not utterly disappointed me. Restart the clock, this is pretty close to gangbusters. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. “Primarily Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Rolle.” This is the last bottle of 2016 that we have and this seems to be even better than the last two. Subtle red fruit and quite floral on the nose, this is delightful on the palate with plenty of that subtle fruit, a distinct tartness, and an elegant minerality. Excellent. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2011 Failla Chardonnay Estate Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, CA: Retail $45. It’s been nearly a year since the last bottle and still going strong. Here were the notes from the last bottle, which still apply: Failla. Oh, Failla. I do not recall how originally I came across this “boutique” winery on the Silverado Trail, but there is no doubt that I am glad that I did. Founded by uber-winemaker Ehren Jordan, this might be the protocol-typical small-winery-gone-wild. A bit of color in the glass, suggesting I need to get to the other two bottles quickly. and aromas of oak, lanolin, vanilla, and lemon rind. The palate is, well, delectable, with ample fruit, depth, weight, and complexity. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 88-90 Points.
NV Gérard Loriot Champagne Brut Cuvée Tradition, France: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Meunier. I bought six of these back in 2013 (before the great southern migration to Houston) and according to Cellar Tracker, I have consumed five bottles now, but this is the first tasting note I have written. Huh? I thought I was better than that. Decidedly golden with that characteristic Meunier floral note, but there is also tons of baked goods: brioche, croissant, Twinkies (OK, that was a joke). Tart and creamy on the palate with a fervent sparkle, I am not usually a fan of 100% Meunier, but this will do quite nicely, merci. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2012 Roadhouse Winery Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $35. I am a fan of Zinfandel with a bit of age on it and then throw in that it comes from Dry Creek? No brainer. While I am not all that familiar with the brand, I have thrown back a few age-worthy Zins from the appellation and this falls into the “well-done” category. Dark fruit, a bit of spice, and a touch of stewed fruit initially, but once on the palate, this is still all about the fruit )dark and brooding). But there is also still plenty of acidity, balance, and oodles of verve. This is close to both a Yowza and a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As I mentioned in the note above, there was a time not too long ago that I would have held on to this week’s Wine of the Week, the 2014 Domaine Besson Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu for another half a dozen years or so. Not any more (at least not intentionally). There was a time that high-quality white Burgundies would age beautifully–I’m talking 10, 20, even 30 years. Starting in the late 1990s, however, the wines would pre-maturely oxidize even after five years. No one really knows why (at least I have not heard it) but aging the greatest white wines in the world became, and remains, a risky proposition. This is tragic since a wonderfully aged white Burg is one of the world’s greatest treats.
What was your Wine of the Week?