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).
1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Extra Brut, France: Retail $150+. 64% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir. I am not an “expert” on champagne, although I pretend to be one, but this much I know: when it comes to prestige cuvées, the Chardonnay-dominant wines will be tart and acidic in their youth and the Pinot-dominant wines will be bold and precocious. Given time, the predominantly Pinot wines will mellow and entice while the Chardonnay-driven wines will become other-worldly. Yes, I am an unabashed fan of champagnes that feature Pinot Noir, but without a doubt, the *best* wines tend to be superior Chardonnays with a couple of decades on them. Case. In. Point. Golden in the glass with sherried, yeasty notes that cause one to get lost in the glass. This leads to the palate which is nothing short of morgasmic: tart, yeasty, dry as a bone, citrus fruit. Yowza. This was the perfect wine to open on the night that my wife was promoted to full professor. She is a rock star and this wine accentuated her brilliance. Outstanding Plus. 95-97 Points.
2018 Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Demoiselle Rosé, France: Retail $24. 100% Pinot Noir. Under screw. I *love* Sancerre, and I am particularly fond of the Pinot Noir that is produced there (both red and rosé), but it clearly takes a back seat to the Sauvignon Blanc, which is too bad. This is a case in point: fruity, fresh, tart, even four years out. A bit dark in the glass, with plenty of heft, this is a red wine drinker’s rosé. Excellent.. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial Rosé, France: Retail $60. 40-50% Pinot Noir, 30-40% Pinot Meunier, 10-20% Chardonnay. For a long time, I avoided Moët since I considered their wines over-hyped and under-performing. Then a couple of years ago I had lunch with the Chef de Caves, Benoît Gouez, and my perspective changed considerably. He has gradually increased the quality while simultaneously decreasing the dosage (amount of sweetness) in the wines. I was (and am) impressed with the changes. This wine is a good example, bursting with red berry fruit and buoyed by a subtle yeastiness and a tangy acidity. Fantastic. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Château La Nerthe Côtes du Rhône Villages Les Cassagnes Rose, France: Retail $21. 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre. I am not entirely sure how I acquired this wine, but I am pretty sure that it was a gift from the export manager a couple of years ago. A medium bubble gum pink, with lovely aromas of raspberry and hibiscus. The palate, even three years (nearly) beyond harvest is quite fruity, but also full: plenty of heft and richness. This is a wine lover’s rosé with multiple levels of flavor, great acidity, and even some tannin on the finish. Close to a Whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2014 Château La Nerthe Côtes du Rhône Villages Les Cassagnes Rouge, France: Retail $22. 55% Grenache Noir, 35% Syrah, 7% Cinsault, 3% Mourvèdre. Sure, it’s “only” a Côtes du Rhône Villages, but this comes from the oldest producer in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Raspberry, black pepper, and clove. The nose is close to a Whoa on its own. The palate is scrumptious: Subtle fruit upfront with spice and subtle tannins, this is pretty darned close to gangbusters. Full, in the old world way, with plenty of moxie. Very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV J.P. Secondé Champagne Brut, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. I picked up three bottles of this wine from an online “deal” for around $30/bottle. While I seemed to have really liked the first bottle and thus considered the purchase a bit of a “steal” the other two bottles have been very good, but nothing to warrant a tariff above the thirty bucks I paid. Good acidity and decent fruit, but like with other wines from this producer, I find the dosage (how much sugar is added back to the wine) to be a shade too high. $30? sure. $50? Not so much. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. I last tasted this a year ago and it was delightful. Today? Whoa. Ramp it up a notch. After spending several minutes trying to extract the cork which broke shortly after the initiation of the extraction process and running the wine through a small sieve to avoid any chunks of cork, holy cow. While the last bottle was a bit stewed, at least initially, this bottle was singing from the jump. Black cherry, mocha, and slightly herbal, the nose here is off the charts. The palate is perhaps better: fruit, tartness, earth. Yowza. Among the best Pinots I have had this year, for sure. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As I have tried to explain to my sons, particularly the older who is trying to figure out where he wants to go to college and subsequently what he might want to do with the rest of his existence on this planet, life is all about choices. At times, the process will be difficult and require a considerable amount of effort to hash over the benefits and the consequences options. At other crossroads, the correct path will essentially choose itself. I have stressed that at those moments, it is of no use to dither–make the easy selection and move on, saving brain power for decisions that will require more deliberation. I am following that advice (which I would like to consider “sage”) myself: this week’s Wine of the Week is the 1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Extra Brut.
What was your Wine of the Week?