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).
2008 Amelle Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $45. Amelle is, sorry, *was*, a very small producer of cool-climate Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. I have professed my admiration for the brand and the winemaker (Eric Buffington) countless times, and this is yet another example o why it was a fairly tragic art when Buffington decided to shutter Amelle a few years ago. This is the second bottle of four of this wine, and it is delightful: bright cherry, eucalyptus, spice. Another wonderful wine from Buffington that has held up extremely well. Excellent. 92 Points.
2007 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $25. This is the second bottle of this vintage now and it is showing a bit better than the first (which was also fabulous). Yes, the big fruit is still there, but it seems slightly more balanced this time around. Dark, a bit brooding, and full of power, this stands in stark opposition to the 2008, which is much more lithe and nimble. Still, this is right in line with what one would expect from a California Zin. And then some. Excellent. 91 Points.
2008 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $25. I went back and checked, other than a certain sparkling wine, I have purchased more bottles of this wine than any other in my 16 years or so here on Cellar Tracker. While I have bought several bottles for friends, it still remains the case that, again, with the exception of a sparkling wine/champagne or seven, I have consumed a ton of this wine. Sadly, I now have two bottles left (assuming my inventory is correct–big assumption). This is my 19th note (!) on this wine and while I might be a bit partial, this might be the best of the lot thus far. Great fruit, acidity, balance, verve. Two bottles left. Sigh. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2009 Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure Côtes de Bergerac L’Extase, France: Retail 20€. 70% Merlot, 30% Malbec. We were vacationing in the Dordogne with good friends back in the summer of 2012 and we happened across this winery in Bergerac and decided to give it a go. Whoa. I was impressed with all of the wines, but this L’Extase (ecstasy) lived up to its name. I was so enamored, I bought two of this wine, and two of the Monbazillac (both wines, I felt, were a bit over-priced for the region, but they were stellar). We opened this on a Zoom call with the other couple that had voyaged with us that summer and the wine was stellar: inky dark in the glass with dark fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, and cassis. The palate is equally intense with said fruit and an over-arching tartness, an acidity that defines the wine. Sip after sip, minute after minute, this wine improves until perhaps 3 hours in, it reaches it apogee and really starts to sing. During these dark days I long to travel and the memories that this wine provokes serves as a momentary hiatus, it also creates an itch that I hope will be scratched soon. Excellent. 91 Points.
2010 Mounts Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 337, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $50(?). Despite my best efforts, I could not find any information about this wine. I “won” this bottle at the Dry Creek Valley Wine Auction in 2014 while I was on my very first “press trip” (there is a bit os a story there, but now is not the time). Dark. Brooding. Both in color and aromas, this is a dark lord. Yes, this is a bit of the Darth Lord of wines: black plum, cassis, blackberry–tons of dark fruit. The palate is equally ominous with oodles of dark, dark, fruit, plenty of balancing tartness, and a bit of intrigue. Fantastic (even though not my style by any stretch). Excellent. 91 Points.
2005 Domaine de l’Oriel Gérard Weinzorn Riesling Florimont, France: Retail $30. I bought six bottles of this wine back in October 2009 when I was in Alsace with my wife and our two sons (then 6 years old and 15 months). It was chilly and we only had bicycles for transport, but we managed to make our way all over the region, including to Niedermorschwihr, where this winery is located. That involved a rather steep hill, so steep that my wife had to dismount and walk (I powered up, only barely making it). It was worth it. This is the last of the bottles and it is clearly showing its age: a deep golden color with slight notes of oxidation, tropical fruit, peach, and a touch of petrol. The palate is hanging in there, with still plenty of acidity, somewhat faded fruit, petrol, and just the ever-so-slight hint of sweetness. Again, it is a bit tired, but still magnificent (and pleasant memory provoking). Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: While I certainly had better wines this week, many worthy of earning the Wine of the Week “award” but none of those bottles had more sentimental value than the 2005 Domaine de l’Oriel Gérard Weinzorn Riesling Florimont. As I look across the room at two sons, now 17 and 12, devouring their dinner, barely taking the time to actually taste what they are eating, and wonder where all the time has gone. Our interaction these days often consist of the grunts and mumbles for which teens are infamous. Over the course of this bottle, however, I chose to think of them as their younger selves, on that trip to Alsace when we bought this wine. And I smile.
What was your Wine of the Week?