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).
2006 32 Winds Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $100. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. B.A.B. This is my next-to-last bottle of this wine, from the inaugural vintage of 32 Winds. As I have stated here in the past, this is a phenomenal wine made by no other than Ehren Jordan, of Turley and Failla fame and one of this country’s top winemakers. Whoa. Rich, fruity, deep, introspective. Despite being more than a dozen years old, this wine is still st the top of its form. Only one bottle left. Oustanding. 93-95 Points.
2009 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $65. I bought three of these bottles at the winery way back in 2011. I have been a big fan of the Clos Pepe Vineyard for just about as long as I have been interested in American wine. Those who have produced a Clos Pepe Pinot are pretty much the who’s who of Central Coast Pinot Noir: Loring, Roessler, Ken Brown, Au Bon Climat, Babcock, and, of course, Brewer-Clifton. Fruity, peppery, and chock-full of vanilla, this is delightful from the first sniff. The palate is fruity, loaded with depth, great acidity, integrated (but present) tannins, and a lengthy finish. Whoa. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2001 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage, France: Retail $70. I bought a case of this wine a decade ago and this is the tenth bottle we’ve consumed. For some reason, this is only the second tasting note I have written and the first was five years ago! Well, the wine continues to do quite well, thank you very much. A bit more stewed fruit than that previous bottle, but still gangbusters: rich, fruity, balanced, great acidity, and mostly integrated tannins. Like I said, gangbusters. And a whoa. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2003 Marcel Deiss Grasberg, Alsace, France: Retail $75. Most likely a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer. Given the age of the wine and the relatively high degree of mystery that Marcel Deiss likes to maintain, information about this wine is scant. It has been an amazing six years since I last tried this wine, and it has fared exceedingly well. Golden in the glass with peach, pear, honey, hints of petrol, and a splash of citrus on the nose. I would classify the palate as more off-dry than sweet, with levels of flavor and complexity. If I were to nit-pick, it would be that it is on the low side of acidity, which is understandable given the extremely hot vintage. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2014 Château de L’Escarelle Côteaux Varois Cuvée 1718, France: Retail $50 (from magnum). Grenache, Syrah. I was gifted a couple of these magnums when I visited the winery back in 2016, and I just got to this second bottle this weekend. Really light in the glass, more orange than pink, quite floral, with peach and mandarin orange on the nose. The palate is full and luscious with ample, but subtle fruit, nice acidity, and a lip-smacking finish. Excellent. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2013 La Follette Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $38. Another six months since the last bottle we tried and this wine is still Excellent. Deep yellow with citrus, vanilla, and oak. On the palate, this is yet another solid offering from the Sonoma legend Greg La Follette. Rich, and tasty with balanced fruit and tartness It leans more toward “traditional Chardonnay” with its noticeable oak, but oaked Chards need loving too, and this one is particularly loveable. After all, it’s Sangiacomo! Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2004 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $75. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot. Cinq Cépages is a blend of all five main Bordeaux varieties and it is fairly rare that one reaches at least 75% as this vintage did. Dark in the glass with oodles of black fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum) along with black pepper and spice on the nose. The palate is glorious: good fruit, integrated tannins, balanced acidity. Just an Outstanding wine from top to bottom. Whoa. Oustanding. 93-95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week was a rather special one, with four of the wines we opened pushing into the “Outstanding” category. I would hazard to guess that this is a record, of sorts, for a non “special” week (i.e., a birthday, anniversary, Thanksgiving, etc.). Choosing a Wine of the Week, however, was fairly easy. While I could certainly argue that the 2004 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages was the best wine of the week (although the 2006 32 Winds Cabernet would give it a run for its money), it was definitely the wine that evoked the most emotion. Although I did not receive this wine from him, one of the nicest people in the wine world, Jim Caudill, last worked for Treasury Wine Estates, owners of the Chateau St. Jean brand. Sadly, Jim passed away this past December, a shock to all who knew and loved him. Drinking this lovely wine was therefore so much more than just consuming what I found inside the bottle.
What was your Wine of the Week?