Today is the first post where I reflect on many of the great wines that I was fortunate enough to taste over the course of the previous year. Here, I focus on the top ten whites (well, nine whites and one rosé) that I had purchased at some point over the last couple of decades and I pulled from my cellar.
2006 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Savennières, Loire Valley, France: Retail $125. 100% Chenin Blanc. Wow. It has been a while. Seven years? Yikes. Still amazing despite the amber color, it has a nose of lanolin, honey, and white flower. Whoa. The palate is tart and full of secondary and tertiary qualities. Whoa. Tart, acidic, retrospective, deep. Yowza. Outstanding. 95 Points.
1996 Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Moelleux Le plan de Jean, France: Retail $80. 100% Chenin Blanc. I kinda can’t believe that it has been over a decade since I last had a bottle of this wine. On top of that, I’m even more surprised how little the wine seems to have changed over those 13 years. Sure, it is a bit darker, but the aromas of apricot marmalade, honey, and a bit of crème brulée are just as intense. The palate comes off a bit less sweet than the last bottle, but it is decidedly on the sweet side. Intense flavors, great acidity, and a lengthy finish. Yes, I think this is even better a decade-plus out. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2012 Flowers Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $85. I picked up three bottles of this wine for $50/bottle from Last Bottle over four years ago, and this was the first that we popped. Whoa. I imagined that this would be good, but not *this* good. Slightly golden in the glass, with aromas of rich lemon curd, ripe pear, hints of vanilla, and just the slightest touch of oak (100% French, 20% new for 19 months). The palate is pretty close to mind-blowing. Imagine a Puligny-Montrachet, but only with more fruit even eight years out. Balanced, subtle nuance, depth, tartness, and a finish that lasts for minutes. Amazing wine. Outstanding. 96 Points.
2008 Flowers Chardonnay Camp Meeting Ridge, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $55. From way back, I have been a fan of Flowers. Out on the extreme Sonoma Coast, the wines have always been stellar and the vibe, well, fantastic. The winery was sold, there was a scandal, yet the wines continue to be “baller” (sorry, I have been hanging out with my teenage son a lot lately). I bought this wine over a decade ago at the winery and my wife, as she usually does, thought that I held on to it for far too long. Once I poured it in the glass, though, we were both pleasantly surprised. Just a touch golden in the glass, with loads of peach and lemon on the nose. The palate is near perfectly balanced between fruit, acidity, and depth. Yowza. And giddy-up. And Whoa. And I pointed out that I was right to hold onto this beauty. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2014 Passaggio Barbera Rosé, Lodi, CA: Retail $28. Under screw. Back in 2015, I wrote this: “I called this the “Wine Geek’s Rosé” and I am standing by that. Rule #1 don’t serve this very cold. Once it warms up this is really unlike any rosé I’ve had.” While I hate to say that I am prescient, but this wine is even more amazing five years later. So, OK, yeah, I was right. Whoa. While this is great cold, it gets better and better as it warms. Particularly dark in the glass, almost a red, in fact, with intense aromas of strawberry jam, lemon rind, and interestingly, passion fruit. The palate is, well, amazing. Sure, there is the aforementioned fruit, but there is so much more: marzipan, white pepper, an herbal note (sage?), and a viscosity that is rare even in dessert wines. I said upon release that this wine is a wine geek’s dream, but that has changed–it is a wine geek’s paradise. Whoa. Tell me again how rosé can’t age? Outstanding. 95 Points.
2010 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet Burgundy, France: Retail $40. 100% Chardonnay. Well, this is the last of four bottles that I purchased back in 2014 from Wines Til Sold Out for $18. And for perhaps the first time in recent memory, I drank the bottles in the more desired order: the first was, well, not very good, the second was certainly better, the third was excellent, and this last bottle was outstanding, on the verge of incredible. Only a slight amount of gold in the otherwise straw-colored wine with lovely aromas of golden delicious apple, lemon rind, an herbal aspect (celery seed?), and both salinity and minerality that have come to define the wines of the region. The palate, like all great Chablis, starts off subtlely with modest fruit and then is followed by balancing crisp acidity. If it were to end there, this would be a fantastic wine. But the finish is clearly the star of the show here: multi-layered (fruit, minerality, salinity) and long (at least several minutes), I almost did not want to take another sip until the last vestiges of the previous had completely dissipated (emphasis on “almost”). Outstanding. 94 Points.
2003 Marcel Deiss Rotenberg, Alsace, France: Retail $45. A field blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris. Rotenberg is one of Deiss’ celebrated Crus, which he had designated himself (he eschews the Grand Cru classification in Alsace as political and not quality-based). This is the last of the three bottles I purchased from Wine.com nearly a decade ago and despite the clear evidence that this bottle had some leakage and the color of the wine was a deep golden color, it was remarkable. Honeyed lemon, petrol, ripe peach, and minerality on the nose are all on the nose with a decided sweetness on the palate. But this is far from a “dessert wine” and would be welcome on just about any dinner table. Good fruit, balanced sweetness, and a lip-smacking acidity that really brings all the elements together seamlessly. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2004 Domaine Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Burgundy, France: Retail $100 (?): It was the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend when the main theme is leftovers, right? Well, we had been tasting and drinking the leftovers from my Third Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir and we were a bit Pinot-ed out. We were also watching the last episode of the Queen’s Gambit. What does any of that have to do with Corton-Charlemagne? Absolutely nothing (other than the tidbit that it was Charlemagne’s wife, according to the legend that caused the King to plant Chardonnay in Corton). Oh, the wine? Holy Goodness. While a golden-amber in the glass and a bit closed on the nose, this is all fantasmigorical on the palate: bright, tart, candied, and even sherried on the palate. I have a limited number of white Burgs left (and doubt I will be acquiring more–certainly not of this caliber) and there is little doubt that none will surpass the elegance and beauty of this one. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2012 Domaine Guerrin et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Sur la Roche, France: Retail 25€. 100% Chardonnay. I was on a press trip in Southern Burgundy and I wanted to buy a bottle of this wine from the winery–they offered it instead (does that make it a sample?). Based on the day-bright straw color of this wine, I would have been hard-pressed to guess that this was an eight-year-old Chardonnay, much less from Pouilly-Fuissé in Burgundy. Lovely lemon curd, minerality, and celery seed on the nose. The palate is tart, lively, and down-right delicious. This is what a nearly decade-old Burgundy should be: too young (yes, that is a thinly veiled criticism of the whites from the Côte d’Or that struggle to make it to this age without oxidation). Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2002 Maison Leroy Meursault, Burgundy, France: Retail $250(?). 100% Chardonnay. We received this as a gift over a decade ago (10/2007) when good friends came over for dinner. They implored us to not open the bottle with them (as is my normal want) but to save the bottle for a special occasion, whatever that might be. Well, given that said friends are unlikely to ever visit south Texas, I decided to pop this puppy when we were visited by some friends who professed their love for good white Burgundy. Whoa. And then another. And even a third. Well past straw in color, this golden elixir was a joy to behold in the glass. Ripe, honeyed pear, river-soaked rock, and maybe a touch of white pepper. Holy cow. And whoa (again). The palate? “Rich,” “luscious,” and “decadent” are but three words that attempt to describe the joy that attacks the senses with this wine. Whoa. I can count on one hand the number of white Burgundies that I have tried that approach this wine and maybe that is high. This is not just a wine, but the reason one dares to age white Burgs, and thus a once in a decade kind of experience, the type of wine for which one reserves the highest of scores. Extraordinary. 99 Points.