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).
2018 Cave d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. Grenache, Cinsault, and Rolle. We have been fans of Whispering Angel basically since it was first released when Sacha Lachine set out to make the best rosé in the world. It has since become the top rosé in the U.S. (and maybe the world?) for good reason–it’s delicious. Now I know it is hip to bash this wine for no other reason than its success. For many in the wine world, if a wine is popular then it must be a mass-produced behemoth that should be scorned until the end of time. While the production of this wine is huge (and keeps increasing), it does not seem that the quality has dipped: bodacious, juicy fruit (strawberry, peach), aromatic floral notes (rose, acacia), and a minerality that is often missing in rosé. Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle–I have no doubt you will be able to find it. Excellent. 91 Points.
2014 Goodkin Vineyards Merlot Estate Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, CA: I am not a huge fan of Merlot. It’s not that I hate it, not at all, it’s just that I do not see a place for it. If you want something big and bold, grab a Cabernet. If you want a little more fruit? Zinfandel. More spice? Syrah. More finesse? Pinot Noir. So where does Merlot fit in? More “middle of the road”? More “I can’t really decide what the hell I want”? So I have pigeonholed it into another category: “I don’t really have time to figure this grape out.” Until now. This is a wine that was made for a good friend of mine, from the fruit from his vineyard which is usually sold off to rather big players. This year, though, he wanted to keep some for himself and asked one of the best winemakers in Dry Creek (at least in my opinion) to make it for him. I had no real hand in the endeavor (other than helping with the bottling), and therefore (?) the results are stellar: great boysenberry and plum notes with a splash of black pepper on the nose. The palate is balanced and rich with fruit initially, depth on the mid-palate and finish, and just an overall yumminess that yells to me: “Drink More Merlot.” Message heard. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 B Kosuge Pinot Noir The Shop, Carneros, CA: Retail $40. I am not entirely sure how long I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines, but it certainly predates my blog (which I started in January 2012, in case you are wondering). Byron was one of the first producers I visited when I first started down the path of Pinot Noir obsession. I am not sure there is a nicer guy than Byron in the wine world with his calm, introspective, almost erudite approach to winemaking. This wine is a near-perfect reflection of his philosophy with great fruit upfront with dark cherry, a touch of mocha, and hints of earth. The palate is along the same line: fruity, earthy, subtle but equally intriguing. Fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
2012 Masút Pinot Noir Estate Vineyard, Mendocino, CA: Retail $40. I bought six bottles of this wine back in 2014 from the now-defunct Wineshopper.com which was the Wine.com answer to Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO.com), the original (and still best?) wine flash site (one wine on sale until sold out). Still surprisingly fresh with black cherry and some darker fruit (blackberry) lighting up the nose. The palate is quite, well, fun, with plenty of fruit, a near-searing acidity, and several layers of complexity. Fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Grand Cordon Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 14% red wine. A solid pink here, brilliant color in the glass. Gorgeous color. A bit flinty and yeasty on the nose, little fruit coming through. More of the same on the palate, this is screaming for food as it is fairly austere but still tasty. As I have previously stated, I think that there are other wines at this price that offer up “better” value. While that is undoubtedly still the case, perhaps the gap has narrowed as this wine scored ever-so-slightly higher. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, the Wine of the Week was decided even before I pulled the bottle out of my cellar. I learned several weeks earlier that my friends, who owned a vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, had sold the property and were moving out of the state. While I am happy for them opening a new chapter in their lives, I will miss the times we have spent chatting about just about everything from congress to Cabernet. He was the person who I feel really jump-started this blog several years ago by organizing a meeting with a few growers and winemakers from Dry Creek Valley, giving me invaluable access and insight into the region. I will be forever grateful to the Goodkins not just for hosting me in their home and becoming valued friends but also for the support and encouragement that they have provided. So the 2014 Goodkin Vineyards Merlot Estate Reserve is this week’s Wine of the Week for all the reasons stated but also for the fact that the wine itself is pretty darned fantastic.
What was your Wine of the Week?