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).
2010 Ayres Vineyard Pinot Noir Pioneer Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $35. This is the third and last bottle of this wine that I purchased at the winery back in 2012. The first two bottles were stellar as is this final one. Fairly light in the glass, a lovely, translucent ruby with aromas of Bing cherry, eucalyptus, black pepper, and herbal notes of mint and sage. The palate is equally appealing: incredible fruit, even ten years out, rich and layered with fantastic acidity. I drink a ton of Pinot and this $35 Ayres competes with many that are twice its price. Excellent. 92 Points.
2005 Domaine Clerc Côte-Rôtie, France: Retail 30€. 100% Syrah. I have been to a ton of trade tastings and, frankly, I don’t like them. There are droves of people usually in various stages of drunkenness, countless producers, and really no opportunity to talk to anyone about whichever wine for more than eight seconds. Meh. There are a couple of exceptions: VinItaly for the sheer magnitude and grandiosity of it all, and Le Salon des Vignerons Indépendents in Paris. I purchased three bottles of this wine in 2008 at the latter, and this is the first we’ve cracked. A bit stewed on the nose, but that can be expected from a 15-year-old wine, but the palate is simply marvelous: still great fruit (yes, a slight stewed nature), intense acidity, and integrated tannins. My wife said we waited too long and perhaps she is right. But. This wine took me back to my experience for those two days in Paris (and I love Paris), wandering the hall, tasting, chatting, spitting, eating. I would gladly go back in a heartbeat. Fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
2003 La Corte Ré, Salento IGT, Italy: Retail $35. 65% Negramaro, 35% Primitivo. A delightful wine from Puglia (roughly, the “heel of the boot”), I bought eight bottles of this wine back in 2006. The last cork I popped was three years ago already and while my tasting notes have not changed all that much since then, I have had the opportunity to visit the region for the first time a couple of years ago. While a Francophile at heart, visiting some of the (slightly) lesser-known regions of Italy is altering my entire world view on wine–Italy is creeping up there on France in importance. Similar to the last bottle, this is slightly stewed on the nose with tight dark red and blackberry fruit. On the palate rich dark fruit, on the verge of unctuous, with plenty of earth. There are some tannins on the back end, but most have precipitated out at this point as the wine is throwing some healthy sediment. Excellent. 91 Points.
2014 Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $55. The word “legendary” gets thrown around quite a bit in the wine world, almost to the point of causing the term to lose meaning. Although I have only met Rick Longoria once (and I am quite certain he has no recollection of the encounter), I have been drinking his wines for years. Fe Ciega, a small (just under 10 acres) vineyard in the Sta Rita Hills appellation, which Rick planted in 1998, has not only become synonymous with the Longoria brand, it has also reached “legendary” status. Rather dark in the glass with black cherry a-go-go but there is also plenty of red fruit (plum), floral notes (lavender, rose), a touch of spice (black pepper), and a bit minty, even. The palate is close to euphoric: fruity, rich, tart, multi-layered, and balanced. A fantastic Pinot, perhaps even better on Day 2. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut: Retail $50. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, 15-20% Pinot Meunier. I’ve mentioned many a time that the Veuve is under-appreciated. Sure, some of the critics give it decent scores, but the sommelier crowd goes out of their way to look down their noses at the yellow label-clad bottle (although I have always felt that it is more of an orange, but what do I know?). Good fruit, sparkle, acidity, and yeastiness. I get this at a bit of a discount, and for what I pay for it (hint: it’s not $50), it is well worth it. Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: There was little deliberation this week as to the Wine of the Week. I did consider for a moment opting for the Veuve Clicquot Champagne since that wine, more than most others, is the object of far too much derision, but I figured that the gigantic conglomerate LVMH that owns Veuve Clicquot (which includes some 75 brands across multiple luxury categories) is not looking for me to defend it. I also vacillated (albeit briefly) between the other two imports, La Corte Ré and the Domaine Clerc Côte Rotie, but in the end, I knew it was going to be a domestic Pinot that received top honors this week. While the Ayres Pioneer was fantastic (and it was my last bottle of the wine), the 2014 Longoria Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir was just a notch above and is this week’s Wine of the Week.
What was your Wine of the Week?