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).
2011 Domaine Pascal Aufranc Chénas En Rémont Vignes de 1939, Beaujolais, France: Retail $25. B.A.B. In many ways, this is a curious wine. I bought four bottles of this wine from Wines Til Sold Out way back in 2013 and I have tried exactly one, within days of receiving the wine. And it was chockful of Bret. Tons and tons of Bret. So I put the other three bottles in my cellar and forgot (ignored?) it. Until today. I figured I’d give it another shot. No Brett. And close to a whoa. Fruit (red and dark), herbs (sage), and earth (well, earth). Pair all of that with great acidity and balance? Fantastic. And a whoa. But that big, heavy bottle? Why? Outstanding. 93 Points.
2013 B Kosuge Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $65. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle. I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines for a long while now and, coincidentally, I have been convinced for essentially the same amount of time that the Hirsch Vineyard is an American Grand Cru–one of the nation’s premier sites for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Those two views come together in this wine, which I purchased from Byron back in 2016 and this is the first bottle that we have cracked. Nearly translucent in the glass, but still with rich color and fantastic aromas: black cherry, earth, maybe some clove. The palate is delicate and refined, which runs in contrast to the Hirsch Vineyard which, just a scant few miles from the Pacific Coast, can be a bit harsh and rugged. The tannins are nearly integrated, the balance is impeccable, and the finish is lengthy and delightful. Whoa. Yeah, I was pretty much right about both Byron Kosuge and the Hirsch Vineyard. I like being right. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2016 Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé, North Coast, CA: Retail $18. True Rosé. A nice salmon color in the glass with aromas of strawberry, peach, and wet rock. Quite fruity and tart with strawberry, minerality, and impressive depth. Sure, I consider Robert Larsen a friend, and I have a penchant for True Rosés, but this is an impressive wine. I liked this wine a lot upon release and it is still going strong as many True Rosés will. The fruit has slipped a bit, perhaps, but only a bit. Still fruity, crisp, precise. Really well done. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $65. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, of which 7% Pinot Noir is added as a still red wine (for color). Even though Nicolas Maillart is in Écueil, a Premier Cru village on the other side of the Montagne de Reims (which is really just a glorified hill), the fruit for this wine comes from perhaps my favorite Grand Cru Village, Bouzy. Thus, I had high hopes and it definitely delivered. Medium salmon color with intense aromas of wild strawberry and Bing cherry paired with a delicate, yet vibrant, sparkle in the glass. The fruit comes through right away on the palate but is quickly followed by a healthy dose of tart (6g/l dosage), zingy acidity, followed by a touch of yeastiness and a lengthy finish. This is not the “best” rosé I have had from Bouzy (I think it has a bit too much Chardonnay), but it is certainly Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial Rosé, Champagne: 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. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: We drink a boatload of champagne here in the drunken cyclist abode and I would say without equivocation that, given the choice, a bottle (or seven) of the singular best region for wine on the planet would be on the table for my last meal here on this beleaguered planet. Each and every week, we polish off several bottles and would probably exclusively limit intake to the bubbles if that did not seem both elitist and fascist. Once again, this week we had a couple of fine rosé champagne, both worthy of Wine of the Week in a “normal” week. But nothing about this year has been normal and with tropical Storm (Hurricane?) Beta already affecting the Houston area, I decided to pull out a “big gun.” I figure if this is the end of days, I want to clear out the cellar a bit, which is why I pulled the 2013 B Kosuge Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard, this week’s Wine of the Week. I figured if this is truly Armaggeddon, I wanted to empty a few of my finer bottles before the darkness fell. As expected, it did not disappoint.
What was your Wine of the Week?