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).
2008 Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: I bought a case of this wine way back in February of 2011, before the birth of my blog and in honor of the birth of my second son, Sebastian (August, 2008). This is the fifth bottle of this wine that I have cracked (the first over three and a half years ago). While the first wine was stellar, this bottle is following the theme of the subsequent three and is stellar: while certainly subdued, there is dark fruit, a touch stewed, earth, and a hint of heat on the nose. The palate is surprisingly fruity and tart, particularly for a decade-old (plus) wine. More Old World than New World-fruity, I guess, as it is restrained but oh, so, so, tasty. Wonderful. Excellent. 93 Points.
NV Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur, France: Retail $40. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. 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.
2014 Benovia Chardonnay Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $40. Almost three years ago, I bought four bottles of this wine from Last Bottle for $25/bottle. This was the first we have tried. Yowza. Golden pear, mineral, luscious in the glass. Almost a Whoa right there. The palate is nothing short of delightful: fruit, vanilla, subtle oak. OK, whoa. I have been a fan of Benovia since the brand’s inception (2006 vintage?) and this is precisely why: good fruit, tasty tartness, balance. Whoa. Excellent. 93 Points.
2016 Larsen Projekt Grenache, North Coast, CA: Retail $30. Under screwcap. I bought six bottles of this wine from the proprietor, a buddy of mine, and while this is the third bottle I’ve cracked, it is surprisingly my first note. Loaded with fruit (blackberry, plum) on the nose with hints of spice (clove, pepper). The palate is certainly loaded with fruit and it is front and center, but there is also great acidity and a bit of depth behind all of that fruit. Yowza. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. In general, the scores here on Cellar Tracker for this wine have been going up. I did not do a statistical analysis, but there seems to be a clear upward trend (particularly when you exclude the bozo who rated this wine seven times [his *only* notes written in his nine years on CT] with scores from an 85 down to a 64). This makes sense as the winery has both been continually modernizing and gradually reducing the amount of sugar in the dosage. Brilliant bubblegum reddish-pink with strawberry confit, watermelon, canteloupe, and a host of other aromas on the nose. The palate is fruity, tart, and focused. It seems as though they are pretty close to the level of sugar here in the dosage (8g/l) but it could still go a tad lower, in my opinion. Rich fruit, zingy tartness, considerable minerality, and a touch of yeasty goodness dominate the palate. Fantastic. Excellent. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This was a bit of a rare week as all of the wines that I pulled from the cellar scored at least in the “Excellent” category. And while that was expected from the Mailly Rosé (after all, we named our dog “Mailly”), each of the others was at least a bit of a surprise. The Larsen Projekt Grenache has always been stellar, but it had been a good while since we had cracked one, and the Ayala Champagne was a decided departure (in a good way) from the first two bottles that we had opened. The two biggest surprises, however, came from the Argyle Nuthouse and the Benovia Chardonnay, both of which are getting up there in age, but both also proving that well-made wine can age gracefully. While both are certainly worthy of this week’s top honor, I ended up choosing the 2008 Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Eola-Amity Hills as this week’s Wine of the Week.
What was your Wine of the Week?