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).
2013 Ancien Chardonnay, Carneros, CA: Retail $38. Before I pulled this wine, I read my wife’s note that she wrote when she had this wine while I was out of town almost two years ago. I figured she liked it so it was a safe bet. Popped, poured, and sniffed. While my wife is wonderful in many ways, apparently she can’t detect oak. While this is short of an “oak bomb” it certainly is loaded with wood. Me? I think oaky “traditional” California Chards need love too, and this is a particularly nice one. Good fruit, good acidity, well balanced. But definitely oaky. And creamy. And buttery. Now I’m faced with a quandary: do I tell my wife she was wrong?!? I don’t think so. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2010 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Mount Carmel, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. OK, this wine is officially all over the map: this was stellar, similar to the second bottle, while the other two were, well, meh. I bought these back in 2014 from Last Bottle for a fraction of the retail price (~3/5 for the fraction geeks out there), a pretty good deal, even the two lesser-thans. A bit of a golden straw in the glass with lemon peel, slightly browned butter, and hyacinth. The palate is pretty close to glorious with great acidity, still vibrant fruit (even a decade out), and a lengthy finish. Close to a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2008 Elyse Syrah Napa Valley, CA: Retail $40. I bought two bottles of this wine over seven years ago from the tasting room. The first I tried three years ago and loved it. Now? I still *love* it, but it certainly has more of an “older” vibe to it: dark, albeit slightly stewed, fruity (dark berries), and spicy (allspice). Yes, this particular bottle would have likely benefitted from an earlier consumption, but it is pretty darned tasty now. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2012 B Kosuge Pinot Noir The Habitat, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $50. I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines for longer than I care to admit, and much longer than I have been writing about wine. The Habitat is, after his Hirsch Vineyard, Byron’s top Pinot, and it is gorgeous. A bit darker than the average Sonoma Coast Pinot and is still quite fruity with black cherry, a hint of plum, and a smattering of spice. The palate is rich, harmonious, and balanced. Whoa. There are tannins on the backend and are largely integrated, but this wine could certainly go another 3-5 years easily. Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $65. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, of which 7% Pinot Noir was vinified as red for color. This bottle comes off as a shade tarter than its predecessors, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I usually prefer an extra dollop of body to increased acidity. Otherwise, similar notes: 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. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2013 Joseph Mellot Sancerre Domaine des Emois, France: I pulled this for an online wine tasting that I was conducting and it was… corked. Ugh. Unrated.
2013 Piedra Creek Winery Zinfandel Benito Dusi Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $30.Just a few months ago, I had written an article about Paso Robles Zinfandel in which the Benito Dusi Vineyard figured prominently. Thus, when I saw this pop up on Last Bottle, I grabbed a few bottles even though I was not familiar at all with the producer. Dark in the glass, really dark, with dark berry fruit (blackberry, cassis), a bit herbal (mint, sage), and plenty of gravitas. Over the course of the last decade or so, I have been fortunate to try more than a few Zins with a bit of age on it and this ranks high–it is lovely. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As I mentioned in the note, I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines for years, ever since reading Pacific Pinot Noir by John Winthrop Haeger back in 2008. I have visited Byron several times since and tasted through many vintages of his wines in general and the Habitat in particular and this might be the finest vintage of this wine. It also paired wonderfully with my Trofie con funghi, a meatless dish of mushrooms, potato, arugula, and Asiago fresco. The recipe comes from our favorite restaurant in Philadelphia (which unfortunately closed several years ago) and is available under the “Recipes” menu tab above.
What was your Wine of the Week?