What We Have Been Drinking—12/28/2020

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).

2005 Château Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France: Retail $50 (750/ml). 80% Sémillon, 18% Sauvignon, 2% Muscadelle. There appears to be quite a wide range of opinions on this wine on Cellar Tracker (where I manage my cellar) as the scores range from a high of 93 down to a low of 78 (?). The detractors note aromas and flavors of varnish and medicinal aspects, while those at the other end of the spectrum hail its honeysuckle, vanilla, and nutty (almond) characteristics. I am decidedly in the latter camp. Deep golden, almost amber color, with a rich inviting nose of honied orange rind, hazelnut, and elderberry. Close to a whoa. The palate is perhaps even lovelier with oodles of honey, a balancing tartness, and a decided hazelnuttiness (which I don’t think is a word, but it works here). Wonderful. Excellent. 92 Points.

NV Louis Chalvon Champagne Grande Réserve, France: Retail $30. 60% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. I got a case of this wine from Last Bottle a few years ago and I am getting down to the last couple of bottles. A perfectly serviceable champagne with notes of citrus and peach with a level of acidity one would expect in champagne. It does come off a tad sweet, though (I tried to find the dosage to no avail), which is why I have been saving this for my mother-in-law as she *loves* sweet bubbles. Still, for $22? I would buy more at that price, which would encourage her to visit more often. Wait. Um. I need to rethink this. Very Good. 88 Points.

NV André Clouet Champagne Rose No. 3, France: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir. I had a bottle of this wine a few months ago and I really liked it. A lot. This bottle? While I am certainly still enamored with this wine, I am not as head-over-heels as I was the last go around. Why? This bottle is fruity. Really fruity. Really, really fruity. To the point that it is close to not tasting like champagne. Fairly dark for a rosé in the glass with ripe red fruit and a touch of yeast on the nose. The palate is where the fruit comes in like gangbusters: ripe strawberry, cherry, even rhubarb to the point of coming off more than a bit sweet. Still, an excellent bottle of wine, but a clear divergence from the first bottle. Excellent. 90 Points.

NV Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $50. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. I almost could not believe it when I saw this wine on Last Bottle for twenty-five bucks, but I didn’t hesitate. Slightly golden in the glass with lovely, toasty aromas of lemongrass, wet rock, fig, and lime zest. Close to a whoa. The palate is equally enticing with a boatload of tart, zesty fruit, oodles of yeastiness, and a lively sparkle. $25? Really? Okie-dokie smokey. Excellent. 92 Points.

2011 Domaine Mazilly Pere & Fils Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Castets, Burgundy, France: Retail $45+. 100% Chardonnay. Saint Aubin was always my sweet spot for white Burgundy as it was always very high quality at relatively low prices (even for Burgundy). Since my initial revelation, Saint Aubin, like the rest of Burgundy, has soared through the roof in price. And that is a tragedy since that makes virtually *all* of Burgundy beyond the reach of the proletariat. Popped, poured, and pondered: decidedly golden with much more than a slight oxidated note, I was depressed. Here we go again? Another white Burgundy that has prematurely oxidized? Really? This is now beyond cliché and quickly approaching travesty. But the palate is better, and not only slightly so with muted fruit, yes, but ample acidity, secondary and tertiary flavors of lanolin, petrol (yes), and wet-rock-minerality a-go-go. Sure, this is not a *typical* white Burgundy (whatever that is), but if you like older Chards, particularly from the apogee of the genre, then this is worthy of contemplation. Excellent. 91 Points.

That is me, harvesting grapes at Bastor-Lamontagne, in 2017.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Another week in the books and another slate of decidedly delicious wines. While none stood out on a strictly quality basis, one bottle was certainly more powerful in provoking some fond memories, particularly given the current traveling (or lack thereof) climate. A few years ago, I was on a press trip to Bordeaux and Sauternes and one of the stops was at Château Bastor-Lamontagne. It was a fun visit as I was able to jump in and harvest a few bunches of the Botrytis-infected grapes. It was not “easy” work and helped me to appreciate what goes into making the sweet wines of Bordeaux and also caused me to select the 2005 Château Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes as this week’s Wine of the Week.

What was your Wine of the Week?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Chardonnay, Muscadelle, Pinot Noir, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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