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).
2011 Amelle Pinot Noir Pratt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. I hazard to count how many bottles of this wine we have opened (actually, I do know, since it is recorded right here on Cellar Tracker–we’ve opened 16). Still as luscious and fruity as the first bottle we opened however many years ago. Yes, I consider the winemaker a friend, and I will rue the day that I drink my last sip of Amelle (the winemaker has left the business), but it is still great juice, as I put on an objective hat here: cherry fruit, earth, acidity, depth. Yowza. And a Whoa. Oustanding. 94 Points.
2009 André Clouet Champagne Brut Millésimé, Bouzy, France: Retail $70. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. 100% Grand Cru. There are few places on the planet where I would rather relocate than Bouzy. Sure, there is not a single grocery store, nary a gas station, and certainly, no Michelin starred restaurants, but the town produces arguably (well, not according to me), the best Pinot Noir in Champagne. And I love me some Pinot in my bubbles. I bought this from our local, large, chain wine shop in Houston (Spec’s) for just under fifty bucks and I could not be happier. Pale straw in the glass, but all kinds of maturity on the nose: yeasty, musty, a tad nutty, and holy cow. This is my first foray into vintage André Clouet and it will not be my last. Whoa. Oustanding. 94 Points.
NV André Clouet Champagne Rose No. 3, Bouzy, France: Retail $50. 100% Pinot Noir (10% Bouzy rouge added to the vin clair). There are few words in any language that stokes my palate more than “Bouzy” as it has a singular meaning: the best Pinot Noir in Champagne. And therefore Rosé from the famed Grand Cru village has to be considered among the best in the world. The mere name of the town takes me back to my days riding the vineyards, hustling the last few kilometers to get into town before the wineries close up for lunch. Then, after a quick tasting, taking a bottle of Bouzy Rosé to the steps of the tiny church in town to pair with the sandwich I bought on my way out of Epernay. This non-vintage bottling from one of the village’s titans, André Clouet (established 1741) is a brilliant representation. A gorgeous salmon with a savory strawberry-rhubarb blend of aromas, the palate is tart and precise, with laser-sharp acidity, a delicate sparkle, and, eventually, fruit. The relatively modest dosage (6 gr/l) comes off as just about perfect. OK. Whoa. Oustanding. 93 Points.
2010 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Mount Carmel, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. Obviously made before the sale to Jackson Family Wines, this is surprisingly golden in the glass with decided lemon notes, a hint of oak, slightly browned butter, and hyacinth. The palate is pretty close to glorious with great acidity, still vibrant fruit (even a decade out), and a lengthy finish. There has been quite a bit of variation among the six bottles of this wine that I purchased from Last Bottle several years ago. Excellent. 91 Points.
2003 Faiveley Nuits St. Georges, Burgundy, France: Retail $75(?). I bought this way back in 2009 from the Pennsylvanian Liquor Control Board (PLCB) for the paltry sum of 18 bucks. By just about every estimation, Faiveley is a (the?) leading négociant in Burgundy, and even in a difficult year like 2003 (extreme heatwave), one would expect a stellar wine from the leader in the region. And that is what we have here. While this wine is certainly showing some stewed notes, it is surprisingly fruity and lively with plenty of acidity (which was no doubt difficult to achieve in 2003), multiple layers of complexity, and a well above average finish. While I might have waited a *tad* too long, this is still stellar. Excellent. 91 Points.
2009 MacLaren Syrah Samantha’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50(?). I bought six bottles of this wine from Last Bottle back in 2009 and this is the fifth bottle cracked (and the first since 2017). Based on my notes from the previous bottles, I was less than enthused (but still content) with the previous iterations, but this bottle is fairly fantastic: dark in the glass with plenty of dark red fruit on the nose, and then plenty of the same on the palate. It is fairly amazing that this wine is still this fruity eleven years out. Plenty of tartness and verve, this is pretty gangbusters. Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Given the amount of champagne that we consume on a weekly basis, it may come as a shock that we don’t drink a bunch of vintage champagne. The reasons for that are quite simple I guess: 1) It’s more expensive, 2) It’s a lot more rare, and 3) much to the chagrin of my wife, I prefer to keep vintage champagne for several years before popping the cork. In general, vintage champagne is already aged longer than non-vintage champagne (at least 2-5 years more), but I usually think that it could use even more. Thus, I was excited to pop the 2009 André Clouet Champagne Brut Millésimé, this week’s Wine of the Week, to find that is proceeding quite nicely and, again, which only added to my wife’s angst, it will continue to improve for at least another 5-10 years. She will thank me later. I hope.
What was your Wine of the Week?