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 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Premier Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau (Pinot Gris). 50% comes from the 2015 vintage, and 50% from a “perpetual reserve” (solar) that dates from 1998. It has been a while since we have popped one of these and there seems to be a noticeable difference as this comes off as considerably drier than the other bottles we have tasted. And that is a good thing. It is also fun to remember that this has six of the seven varieties technically allowed in the blend. Consistent notes otherwise, but I think it has improved in the bottle. Excellent 91-93 Points.
NV Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. Over 85% Grands and Premiers crus. We bought this wine just a few months ago and we popped it tonight, which is rare since I like to hold on to Bolly for at least a few years after release (more like ten). This wine is delightful (the French would probably say “fresh”) with bright fruit, lively tartness, and a fervent bubble. Subtle notes of brioche on the nose, and a tad yeasty on the palate. Like I said, delightful. However. With a bit of time (say five years, minimum) this wine would develop into a different animal altogether. While delightful now, I would much prefer it 5-10 years from now. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Ramal Vineyard, Carneros, CA: Retail $35. It has been a year since we cracked the last bottle of this wine (which I purchased from Last Bottle, coincidentally) and the wine continues to shine. A bit dusty on the nose, but with subtle black cherry, spice, and earth. The palate is still surprisingly fruity with plenty of tang, too. Not much tannin on the backend, which suggests that any remaining bottle (I have two more) should be consumed in the near term. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Sky High Ranch, Mendocino Ridge, CA: Retail $50. I purchased this back in 2016 while visiting the winery. Let me emphasize: I purchased this. I know it sounds snobby, but it’s a current reality–buying wine does not make sense (at least according to my wife). The “sage” users here at Cellar Tracker say this should have been consumed by 2017. Huh? This is, in a word, gangbusters. Red fruit and a touch vegetal on the nose (strawberry, but also plum, and sage). The palate? OK, whoa. Fruity, but not over-the-top, spicy, rich, other-worldly. Whoa. I was shocked by this wine and I have to say that it does not happen nearly enough. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2016 Petit Moulin Bandol Les Galets Rosés, France: Retail $21. 60% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsault, 10% Grenache. I bought six of these back in 2107 and drank the first three within a year. Thus, this is the first since 2018. And it has evolved, as it is much more vinous than it was a couple of years ago. Sure, it is still fruity, but that strawberry and watermelon fruit is more subdued replaced by a bit of oxidation (probably due to the crappy “cork” closure), a bit of glycerin, and quite a bit more weight. While this has definitely evolved and changed, it is still completely delightful. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2000 Tornesi Rosso di Montalcino, Montalcino, Italy: Retail $30. 100% Sangiovese. I am not entirely sure when or where I got this bottle or why it has taken me so long to pull the cork. Tonight, though, I had my first stab at making a Bolognese ragu (with homemade pappardelle, naturally) and this seemed like the right pairing. And it was. Only slightly stewed, but also with impressive dark fruit, balanced acidity, richness, and a really long finish. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week, another seven days locked up at home, afraid to peek my beak outside. While I know that the chance of catching the 19 is fairly slim, my wife, who is a physician in a hospital, would kill me if I brought it home. That would likely mean that she and the boys would move in with the in-laws (who live right around the corner–have I mentioned that before?) for a good two weeks. And that would be horrible? Right? Wait… Regardless, I have been cooking a ton lately and loving every minute of it. While the 2000 Tornesi Rosso di Montalcino was a near-perfect pairing for my homemade Bolognese, the 2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Sky High Ranch is this week’s Wine of the Week. When you have a wine as fantastic as this, you want a meal that will complement and not compete. My simple grilled salmon with Israeli couscous and sautéd broccoli was perfect. As is having your in-laws living so close. Right?
What was your Wine of the Week?