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).
2015 Domaine Besson Chablis 1er Cru Montmains, Burgundy, France: Retail $33. 100% Chardonnay. I picked these up from Last Bottle even though I had sworn off Burgundy for all the premature oxidation issues I have encountered. But I figured that popping this early (relatively) would avoid all that (and the issue has been far less prevalent in Chablis, for whatever reason). Dark in the glass. Ruh roh, here we go again. My wife tried to convince me that it was more “golden.” Uh huh. Happily, a surprise: a tropical nose of guava and pineapple. Subtle fruit on the palate, great tartness, admirable finish. Nice. Still, I need to get to my other four bottles pronto. Very Good. 89 Points.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé, California: Retail $24. 73% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 1% Pinot Meunier. The in-laws like this wine, so we have been buying more. This bottle presents as decidedly better than the last. Fruity, fresh, tart, precise. Not much more you can ask for, non? Very Good. 88 Points.
2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux, Loire Valley, France: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. Where to start? With little doubt, this is one of my favorite Chenin Blancs as it comes from an iconic vineyard from a legendary producer in one of my favorite regions in all of France. But. For whatever reason, the current head(s) of this winery decided to close this wine with one of the absolute worst stoppers ever invented. In fact, it might have been better to have crammed one of my teenage son’s sweat socks that he had worn for 72 hours straight than this abomination of a plastic “cork” that starts to spin after a mere two turns of my waiter’s corkscrew. Really, what were these knuckleheads thinking by systematically ruining one of the best Chenin Blancs on the market?? Decidedly golden, almost brown in the glass, clear signs of oxidation, but this wine nonetheless resists, determined to show its mettle. Fruity (albeit caramelized) on the nose and tart, fruity (and just a hint of sweetness) on the palate, this wine really sings. Yes, it would have been better three (four?) years ago. Yes, the “cork” is to blame for its demise, but this wine perseveres despite its mishandling. But I am forced to ask: “What could have been?” Excellent. 90 Points.
2009 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Old Vine Ribbon Ridge, Oregon: Retail $45. I bought several bottles of this wine a *while* ago and I have no idea why I have waited so long to pop this first bottle. Not too long before buying this wine, I discovered that I had attended college with the winemaker, Jim Anderson. When I met up with him in 2010(?) we discovered that our paths never really crossed at school despite there only being ~400 people in our graduating class. It is also rather melancholic to drink this wine as Patty Green passed away a few years ago and she was universally loved and admired. Oh. The wine? Simply delightful. Slightly opaque in the glass with rich (and only slightly stewed) cherry fruit, earth, and clove. The palate is wonderfully balanced between fruit, acidity, and depth and the finish lasts for well over a minute. Bravo Jim and R.I.P. Patty. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 44 to 48 % Pinot Noir, 25 to 29 % Chardonnay, 13 to 18 % Pinot Meunier. One of our “house champagnes” full of fruit (strawberry, cherry), yeastiness, considerable minerality, and plenty of Veuve, er, verve. The palate is quite fruity: oodles of cherry, strawberry, tartness, that minerality, and a baked croissant aspect. Listen, opinions of Veuve are pretty baked-in (wait, is that a pun?), but if you are one of those who think it is schlock, come on over for a blind tasting. Bring your wallet, because we will be making a wager. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I decided to choose a bit of a different path with this week’s Wine of the Week. Instead of opting for the “best” wine I had all week, I opted for the wine most worthy of note and there is no doubt that wine was the 2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux. The most obvious reason for its noteworthiness is that despite the cataclysmically poor choice to close this wine with a synthetic Nomocorc stopper (which has likely lead to the early demise of this beautiful wine), the wine continues to survive (at least this bottle did). The other reason? Chinon is simply one of my favorite places on earth and opening this bottle served as the catalyst to bring forth the many wonderful memories of the time I spent in the medieval village on the Vienne River. It is a charming, yet unassuming, village with cobbled streets, a ruinous castle, and a passion for Joan of Arc who famously heard voices in the Château in March of 1429, telling her that she would save the kingdom of France. All that from a bottle of wine stoppered with, essentially, ABC bubblegum.
What was your Wine of the Week?