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 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. I have waxed (hopefully poetically at least once) about my admiration for Clos Pepe and winemaker Wes Hagen. Slightly less often, I have lamented the demise of the winery, which I will not go into yet again here. While I still have a grand total of 6 cases from the Clos, with each bottle, the universe shrinks. I opened this bottle as my Eagles were battling the 49ers on Sunday Night Football and had pulled ahead of the team from the Bay. As a typical Eagles fan, I was sure that my team would blow it and I would retire for the evening once again dismayed, disappointed, and disgruntled. To ease my pain, I pulled this from the cellar. Whoa. And then another. We had tried a bottle nearly a year ago at Thanksgiving, and it was stellar. This bottle? Likely better. Gorgeous red berry fruit, eucalyptus, subtle black pepper, and perhaps some sage on the nose. Yowza. The palate is even more incredible with a wave of fruit, depth, perfectly balanced acidity, and a finish that lasted until the last failed pass attempt by the 49ers that ended the game. While I was happy that the Eagles won, this wine (almost) rendered the final score irrelevant. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2003 Marcel Deiss Rotenberg, Alsace, France: Retail $45. A field blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris. Rotenberg is one of Deiss’ celebrated Crus, which he had designated himself (he eschews the Grand Cru classification in Alsace as political and not quality-based). This is the last of the three bottles I purchased from Wine.com nearly a decade ago and despite the clear evidence that this bottle had some leakage and the color of the wine was a deep golden color, it was remarkable. Honeyed lemon, petrol, ripe peach, and minerality on the nose are all on the nose with a decided sweetness on the palate. But this is far from a “dessert wine” and would be welcome on just about any dinner table. Good fruit, balanced sweetness, and a lip-smacking acidity that really brings all the elements together seamlessly. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Le Rosé, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 14% red wine. I saw these on clearance at my local grocery store for $34 and I decided to take a flyer. Glad I did. While this is not the *best* non-vintage rosé that I’ve had, it certainly is solid, even better when closer to cellar temperature. Nice red fruit, healthy backbone, ample depth. Solid wine. $60? Maybe not, but under $35? You bet. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Perrier-Jouët Champagne Grand Brut, France: Retail $50. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay. I do not drink a ton of Perrier-Jouët and I am not exactly sure why. I guess like most people (or at least most champagne drinkers), I find an NV Brut (or two) that I like and I usually just stick with that. Thus we drink a lot of Mailly Grand Cru, which I like given the predominance of Pinot Noir in the blend. While 80% of this wine comes from black grapes, half of that is Meunier and its characteristic floral aspect is evident on the nose, along with under-baked bread, and freshly grated lemon grind. The palate is tart and yeasty with a vibrant sparkle and the finish is slightly above average. Yes, I know that P-J is owned by a huge corporate conglomerate, but one could do worse in the category and price point. Excellent. 90 Points.
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. Outstanding. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, I vacillated at least a couple of times between the 2011 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir and the 2003 Marcel Deiss Rotenberg in choosing the Wine of the Week. On one hand was the Clos Pepe, one of the best Pinots I have had this year. On the other was the Deiss Rotenberg, a beautiful wine from one of my favorite regions in the world. I think my wife would have chosen the former, as it was a Pinot “right in her wheelhouse” (her words). But she does not write this column (although she is required to write tasting notes when I am out of town). Therefore, I opted for the 2003 Marcel Deiss Rotenberg as the Wine of the Week. In part, obviously, because it was an excellent bottle of wine, in part because it comes from a favored wine region, perhaps the most under-valued region in France, and in part because I remembered to take a photo of my final bottle of this wine (I still have a few bottles of the Clos Pepe).
What was your Wine of the Week?