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 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $35. Under screwcap. I bought a half a case of this final vintage from the winery when they were closing up shop, and this is the first bottle we have cracked. I’d go with light yellow in the glass with lemon curd, a bit of green apple, and slight hints of vanilla and oak. The palate is quite tart, but also full-bodied (13.9%) and rich with multiple layers of flavor. Opening a bottle of Clos Pepe these days is always bittersweet–I love the wines, but my supply is finite as Wes Hagen will not be making any more. Sure, the vineyard still exists, but those making a Clos Pepe today are a far cry from the passionate, ebullient, and, at times, mercurial Wes Hagen. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Cuvée Réserve Brut, France: Retail $48. 100% Pinot Noir. 30% Reserve wines, 10% from a reserve solera of 6 vintages. We ordered a case and a half of this wine from Last Bottle and we were down to three bottles until I ordered another case today. Some color in the glass–slightly golden with what seems to be a hint of pinkness. Classic Pinot nose: rich, fruity, plenty of baked apple pie, a touch of salinity. The palate is downright lovely: rich, balanced, nuanced, with a lengthy finish. Yowza. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2007 Louis Latour Corton Domaine Latour Grand Cru, Burgundy, France: From magnum. Retail $200? 100% Pinot Noir. The reviews for this wine on Cellar Tracker are all over the map, ranging from 70 to 95 points. Obviously, I am much closer to the upper end of that scale. Wonderful fruit of cranberry and raspberry on both the nose and the palate along with considerable depth, earth, zingy acidity, and a lovely finish. As amazing as this was on night one, it was perhaps even better on the following evening. One more magnum and three single bottles left, I’m in no hurry. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2009 Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Brut Grave di Stecca, Italy: Retail $40. 100% Glera. Grave di Stecca is a rather small vineyard in the heart of the Valdobbiadene appellation, but technically this is not a Prosecco (despite being listed as such on Cellar Tracker). Initially, the powers that be in the DOCG decided that this wine was too far outside the “norm” of what it was to be a ‘Prosecco.” Yeah. Weird. After a few years of making the wine, though, the DOCG folks relented and allowed the wine to be included in the appellation. Primo Franco, politely declined. Plenty of fruit (pineapple) and sage on the nose, while the palate is loaded with minerality, a bit of roasted hazelnut, and just a splash of ginger. Delicious. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2002 Domaine Pierre Gelin Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Prieur, Burgundy, France: Retail $80? 100% Pinot Noir. It has been a minute since I have had this wine (the last was in 2013) and it seems as though the time has done wonders. Intense mocha aromas with a savory edge. The palate is classic Burgundy: subtle fruit, multiple layers of depth, near-perfect balancing acidity, and a finish that lasts for several minutes. We opened this with friends as I tried out my 50-hour sous vide short ribs. And while the short rib was pretty darned amazing, this Gevrey more than held its own. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Trione Sauvignon Blanc River Road Ranch, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $23. When I see a bottle of six-year-old American Sauvignon Blanc in my cellar, I get nervous. Usually, I ignore it since I assume it is likely on a downward slope and once again I had waited too long to open a wine that I was particularly excited about upon purchase (I also want to avoid the inevitable reprimand from my wife who thinks that we should drink every bottle we acquire within minutes of bringing it into the house). This bottle? Decidedly a tick on my side of the ledger. When I visited the winery back in 2105, I rated this wine 89-91 Points, but holy cow has it evolved. Still a very light straw in the glass with just a hint of green, the palate is accentuated by tropical notes (mango guava), salinity, and minerality. The palate? Off the charts. Rich, on the verge of unctuous, with myriad flavors and a finish that lasts for several minutes. Whoa. Had I known back in ’15 that this wine would turn out this good? I would have backed up the truck. If I owned a truck. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Well, this week was certainly a spectacular week as all of the wines we opened from the cellar were well into the Excellent (and Outstanding) range. Without a doubt, the biggest surprise of the week was the 2014 Trione Sauvignon Blanc, which I liked a lot when I first tried it, but it had transformed itself into a nearly ethereal version of itself. Three other wines, the Clos Pepe Chardonnay, the Gallimard Champagne, and the Nino Franco Grave di Stecca, would likely have been the Wine of the Week in any “normal” week, but it came down to the two Burgundies for the top honor this week. In the end, I opted for the 2007 Louis Latour Corton Domaine Latour Grand Cru, as the Wine of the Week. 2007 is often a bit of a forgotten vintage in the region as it was sandwiched between two highly regarded years, 2005 and 2008. But 2007 was considered a “classic” or “typical” Burgundian vintage and the wine, from magnum, was certainly fantastic.
What was your Wine of the Week?