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).
2009 Amista Vineyards Syrah Morningsong Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $30. On my first-ever press trip (of sorts), I was invited to hang-out in Dry Creek Valley (DCV), ride a bunch, meet a slew of local winemakers, and, of course, taste a bunch of wines. I am not entirely sure how it happened, but I ended up with a case of DCV wine from their annual auction, including this bottle. Last night, knee-deep into an insufferable chick-flick with my wife (for which I predicted the ending three minutes into the movie but kept it secret for the sake of my marriage), I grabbed this from the cellar. Good choice. While there is certainly some age on this inky dark wine, there is also considerable fruit ( blackberry, cassis), a bit of earth, and some mocha and anise. Yeah, a bunch going on. The palate is quite harmonious: fruity, tart, savory, with several layers of complexity, and just a hint of tannin on the finish. This is wonderful now and while it might have a few more years of life, but why risk it? Glorious. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV André Clouet Champagne Silver Brut Nature, France: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. Zero Dosage (no extra sugar added). I have been a fan of the wines from Bouzy in general and André Clouet specifically for a couple of decades now. And this wine is why. Bold, sharp, balanced, delicious. Yeasty and oaky on the nose, it is tough to discern much fruit here. The palate, however, has plenty of pear and golden apple. There is also that yeastiness and a driving tartness. Yowza. There are a few Clouets in Bouzy, and they all seem to be spectacular. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut, France: Retail $42. 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. I saw this on sale for under thirty bucks at my local grocery store and I thought I would take a flyer. The first bottle was Very Good, so I went back and bought the remaining six bottles. While this is certainly not in my wheelhouse (I prefer champagnes that are more Pinot Noir focused or, increasingly, 100% Chardonnay with some age on it). But for the price? This certainly does the trick: tart (citrus), fruity (green apple), with some floral (hibiscus) aspects. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Paul Dethune Champagne Grand Cru Nature Ambonnay, France: Retail $60. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. This Grand Cru beauty comes from a relatively small grower/producer in Ambonnay, one of the storied villages on the Montagne de Reims. I have never visited but based solely on this wine that I got from Last Bottle, it is going to have to be on my agenda on my next trip to Champagne. Whoa. A bit of dark amber in the glass, with yeasty, toasty aromas. Yum. The palate is more of the same: a bit of fruit, yes, but this is more baked goods, more brioche, more croissant. Whoa. Oops, I already said that. Excellent. 93 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Carneros Selection, Carneros, CA: Retail $40. Well, there is not much more that I can add to the previous notes other than this is the last bottle (not to be confused with Last Bottle) of six bottles of this wine that I purchased from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) back in 2011 for $20 (while there were the occasional deals such as this one, the PLCB was close to a complete disaster). Back then, if you told me that I would be drinking this bottle in Houston, Texas just past the four-year anniversary of moving into our house, I am not sure what I would have said, but I certainly would not have referred to you as “Nostradamus.” The wine has held up well and fits with this beautiful Fall evening, which is likely considerably chillier in Philly. Bright fruit, tangy acidity, integrated tannins, this wine is not going to get any better folks. And neither is the PLCB for those in the Commonwealth. Excellent. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, we consumed a bit of champagne, which is not all that unusual, with a few bottles being popped on Saturday night. One of those bottles, the Collet, I picked up from our local grocery store–an ability that I hope I never take for granted (having lived in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where that was not possible, is still a scar, but I only feel gratitude for my former town and state right now). Another, the André Clouet Silver, I picked up from the local liquor store behemoth, Spec’s. The Wine of the Week, however, I received from my favorite online store, Last Bottle. I had originally bought six bottles of the NV Paul Dethune Champagne Grand Cru Nature Ambonnay a couple of years ago and was delighted to see it pop up again on the sight a couple of weeks ago when I purchased another six bottles. And I should have bought more.
What was your Wine of the Week?