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).
2014 Acquiesce Grenache Blanc, Lodi, CA: Retail $28. I got a few bottles of this wine for a tasting I did in Philadelphia over four years ago and for some reason, I was waiting until now to pop a bottle. Some critics think I’ve waited too long and while they may be right, it is hard to find fault in this wine: tropical aromas rise from a slightly golden-straw colored wine. The palate is bright, fruity, and fairly nuanced. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $75. 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier. This is, without a doubt, one of the standard-bearers for rosé champagne. It’s characteristic salmon hue, great red berry fruit, subtle yeastiness, and searing tartness. There is a reason that many rosé champagnes are measured against this wine–it’s fantastic. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Antoine Derigny Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $60. 100% Chardonnay. Pear fruit and brioche-like goodness proceeded the tart, fruity, and yeasty palate. Plenty of depth, and a lengthy finish. We have had several bottles of this wine now, which we acquired from Last Bottle and we have been thrilled with this Grand Cru Chardonnay. And at $30 on the site, it represents a considerable value. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée, France: Retail $65. Disgorged January 2019. 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier, 20% of which was fermented in barrel. This is undoubtedly from the same “batch” of wines as the last bottle I tried and even though this was disgorged just a few months before the previous bottle, there seems to be a decided difference. Sure, there is the characteristic citrus fruit, but the yeasty component is far more pronounced and integrated. Yowza. And a whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Passaggio Barbera Rosé, Lodi, CA: Retail $28. Under screw. Back in 2015, I wrote this: “I called this the “Wine Geek’s Rosé” and I am standing by that. Rule #1 don’t serve this very cold. Once it warms up this is really unlike any rosé I’ve had.” While I hate to say that I am prescient, but this wine is even more amazing five years later. So, OK, yeah, I was right. Whoa. While this is great cold, it gets better and better as it warms. Particularly dark in the glass, almost a red, in fact, with intense aromas of strawberry jam, lemon rind, and interestingly, passion fruit. The palate is, well, amazing. Sure, there is the aforementioned fruit, but there is so much more: marzipan, white pepper, an herbal note (sage?), and a viscosity that is rare even in dessert wines. I said upon release that this wine is a wine geek’s dream, but that has changed–it is a wine geek’s paradise. Whoa. Tell me again how rosé can’t age? Outstanding to Outstanding Plus. 94-96 Points.
2007 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Temperance Hill, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. I bought this nearly a decade ago online and I had pretty much forgotten about it in my cellar. St. Innocent is a pillar in the Willamette with Mark Vlossak founding the winery in 1988. Known for its earthy, location-driven style, St. Innocent has never been a huge producer, thus, I have only tasted a handful of their wines. This bottle? While the 2008 vintage received all the accolades, I have preferred 2007, a more “classic” Willamette vintage. An absolute delight: tons of cherry, earth, a bit of spice. This was Excellent on Day One, but even better on Day 2, ratcheting up to Outstanding and a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $22. It is really difficult to believe that it has been the better part of five years since I have tried this wine. Today, it is a bit darker, but that is really the only significant difference. Still plenty of petrol, yellow apple, and peach on the nose with a sweet (although far from unctuous), fruity, tart palate. Delightful. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: With all the fabulous wines we opened this week, it was surprisingly easy to identify a Wine of the Week. As I mentioned in the note above, I had a feeling back when I tasted the 2014 Passaggio Barbera Rosé in the tasting room five years ago, I was confident that it would age well, and it has. While, like most people, I prefer to be right, the real story here is this beautiful wine and the talent of a truly fantastic winemaker, Cindy Cosco, who is not afraid of taking risks (quick, can you name another American rosé made from Barbera?) in order to craft beauty that endures.
What was your Wine of the Week?