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).
NV Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. Over 85% Grands and Premiers crus. Another young bottle, but this time, when I went to pull it from my cellar, I noticed that a bottle was missing. While this was far from the first time this has happened, in fact, it happens quite more often than I care to admit, this was a Bolly that I was missing. A Bolly. So I asked (accused?) my wife if she happened to know what may have happened to the missing bottle. She expressed (feigned?) ignorance. Hmmm. J’accuse! Bright and tart, bubbly and vibrant. Slight hints of oak, citrus, and fresh baked goods, plenty of sparkle, loads of bubbles, and a lingering finish. Wonderful, but proof that this needs time, even as a non-vintage. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Jean-Noël Haton Champagne Extra Brut, France: Retail $50. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir, 5 to 7% of which is vinified in oak barrels. Hmmmmm. This wine comes from the Marne Valley, which is known for its Pinot Meunier. But this wine has no Pinot Meunier and at the risk of being labeled a heretic, that is a good thing. Even a really good thing. Citrus, toast, vanilla. Oodles of aromas and flavors here and while I would love to dislike this wine, it is actually gangbusters. $25 at the local grocery store? Giddy-up. Excellent. 92 Points.
2004 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $70. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc. I bought this over a decade ago online and decided to open it tonight for whatever reason. While it is far from tired, it seems to be on a downward slope. The bottle, even after just the first glass poured, is coated with sediment, an aspect that continued to the last glass (which I should have poured more carefully). Good fruit (blackberry for days), only slightly stewed/oxidized, and plenty of tart acidity to keep that fruit in check. Surprisingly, there are still some tannins to be resolved, but this is pretty close to a Whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2007 Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Narbantons, Burgundy, France: Retail $45. 100% Pinot Noir. Stewed black cherry on the palate with some oxidation, this is clearly on the downward slope at this point. But. There is plenty still going on and it is a rather delightful quaff. Some other dark fruit underneath that stewed cherry, along with plenty of spice and herbal qualities. The palate is actually rather fantastic: tart, rich, earthy, decidedly Burgundy. Yeah, I might have waited too long here, but this is still pretty darned good. Excellent. 91 Points.
2012 Muret-Gaston Syrah, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $50. 96% Syrah, 2% Counoise, 2% Grenache. I have known the fine folks at Muret-Gaston/Purple Star for a while now and Kyle’s talents as a winemaker are always abundantly clear (I have told them that they actually do not charge enough for their wines, but luckily for the consumer, they have not listened yet). This is another example of their habitual under-valuing. Sure, this is more expensive than their other brand, but Wow, this delivers. Rich dark berry fruit with pine needles and spice—classic Syrah. This instantly engulfs the palate with luscious fruit and just a touch of tannin. there is a hint of mocha at the back-end, but dare not pair this with chocolate, for if you do, I will hunt you down. This wine either needs a bit of animal flesh or a romantic fire. Seriously. Excellent. 91 Points.
2004 Veuve Doussot Champagne Memory Cuvée Guy Joly, France: Retail $125. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. Every time I see a bottle of bubbles with “Veuve” on the label, I get a bit apprehensive. Given the enormous popularity and success (albeit largely unwarranted according to many “experts”) of Veuve Clicquot, I fear that the wine is but an imposter, trying to capitalize on some confusion (“veuve” means “widow” in French, thus adding another perhaps morbid aspect to my mini-conspiracy theory). This wine, however, proved me wrong. In a big way. This is the top of the line offering (tête de cuvée) from Veuve Doussot in the Aube Département, southeast of Troyes, which has been producing some of the best champagnes from the rather newer addition to the Champagne appellation. A bit on the dark side in the glass with a tart lemon curd nose buoyed by a shot of yeastiness. The palate is quite tart with an active sparkle. A bit of nuttiness comes in on the mid-palate and finishes with a healthy dose of acidity. Very nice. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week was characterized by the popping of several good corks, which is normally what I do this time of year, I guess. I was pleased that the two older bottles (the 2004 Grgich and the 2007 Savigny) both had held up particularly well, thus neither causing internal angst or external derision (from my wife) for having held the bottles too long. The 2012 Muret-Gaston was also a pleasant surprise not so much that it turned out to be quite tasty but rather I had completely forgotten that it was in my cellar. The week was also accentuated by three bottles of bubbles, with one, the 2004 Veuve Doussot Champagne Memory Cuvée Guy Joly, the clear choice for Wine of the Week. I have a few bottles of vintage champagne in the cellar which I am usually reluctant to open as there are few delights that I cherish more than an aged bottle of champagne. So why this week? There was no special occasion, no event worthy of note, no milestone reached. It was just a Tuesday, which is often reason enough to enjoy a nice bottle of wine.
What was your Wine of the Week?