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 De Ponte Cellars Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. When I attended my first International Pinot Noir Celebration (2010), I was a consumer and I was paired up with De Ponte–they served as my host winery–and they were fantastic. They gave me a bit of the lay of the land and answered all of the rather inane questions that I had. I spent bit of time at their winery, tasting through their wines. 2008 was the “hot” vintage (as in popular, not temperature) at the time and I bought three bottles of this flagship bottling. This is the first bottle I have opened, nearly eleven years after that visit. A bit on the dark side for a Pinot Noir both in color and aromas, with a luscious black cherry, black earth, and a splash of vanilla on the nose. The palate displays much of the same traits along with a stunning tartness that harmoniously ties the fruit and earth together. Yowza. This is rather fantastic. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2007 Domaine Fontaine du Clos Vacqueyras Château Font Clos, Rhône Valley, France: Retail $20. 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah. Well, it has been a minute since I last tasted this wine. According to my notes, I liked the last bottle far better than the previous and so on. Well, that trend continues as this bottle is clearly the best of the four bottle lot that I purchased online so many years ago. While the previous iterations were laden with Brett and a bit of reticence that one only experiences in the most austere instances, this wine is, well, stellar. And it’s a wine of conflict: Fruity, yet austere; fresh, yet stewed; round, yet tart. Whoa. I don’t know if I have ever tasted a wine that was initially so aggressive and standoff-ish, but evolved into a megatron–powerful, beautiful, elegant. OK, my Transformers references need work. But this is close to mind-blowing. Excellent. 91 Points.
2012 Frick Winery Grenache Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $25. I bought two bottles of this wine way back in 2014, plopped them in my cellar, and then forgot about them. I popped the first cork back in August and the second cork yesterday. That first bottle was a bit tired and past its prime and this second bottle could have been thrown into that category on night one as well. But there was a night two. I honestly thought that the second night of the second go around on this wine would have been close to catastrophic, well, in a word? No. Sure, it is beyond golden in the glass–I’d assess it as “golden with brown undertones”–but the nose is reminiscent of an aged Riesling. Good citrus fruit, pear, peach (along with some oxidative notes) dominate and the palate jumps completely out of this paradigm. Rich fruit, acidity, and just the slightest sherried note. On night one? This was close to “pour-down-the-drain” status, but night two? A whole lot closer to gangbusters. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Remy Massin Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay. This is the second bottle we’ve opened and after being a bit underwhelmed by the first cork popped, I had low expectations here. Well, a funny thing happened with the second bottle–pretty gangbusters. Fairly dark in color for a rosé champagne with aromas of fresh red berries (cherry, strawberry) and just a touch of fresh croissant. The palate is quite fruity, even really fruity but balanced by a zingy tartness and some yeasty goodness. This is clearly a step or two above the first bottle, which seems to be happening a lot to me lately… Excellent. 91 Points.
2008 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $65. It was a bit shocking to realize that I only had six bottles of Siduri left in the cellar. For years, this was my go-to CA Pinot as both the wines and the story were compelling (Adam and Diane Leemet in a while working at the mall, made a wine, submitted it to Robert Parker and scored a mid-90 and then things took off rather rapidly), but so is the vineyard and wine. Dark berry fruit (that is ever-so-slightly stewed), black pepper, and a bit of Christmas spice, this is an incredible Clos Pepe, even over a dozen years out from vintage. Rich, unctuous, but also tart and playful. This is amazing. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2009 Skewis Pinot Noir Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50. Skewis was one of the few wine clubs I ever joined and I am now down to about 30 bottles of Pinot left from the dynamic duo of Maggie and Hank Skewis. I have popped dozens and dozens of their wines over the past decade, and they never disappoint. Such is the case with this 2009 Salzgeber-Chan. Fruity on the nose with dark berry fruit (blackberry, blueberry), earth, flint, and a touch of earth. This gets a Whoa from the jump. The palate might even be more Whoa-worthy with multiple layers of fruit, incredible depth on the mid palate, a unifying tartness, and a finish that takes backseat to few. Yowza. Every time I open a bottle of Skewis I am both ecstatic to reminisce about our (limited) time together and saddened when I realize that no more bottles will be produced (after their well-deserved retirement). Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As some of you no by my earlier posts this week, life in Houston has been rather harrowing these past few days (and is ongoing–see below) but I thought I would try to get back to at least a modicum of normalcy by choosing a Wine of the Week. The choice, as it often does, came down to three wines this week, all of them Pinots, and all with a rather compelling story behind them. In the end, I opted for the 2009 Skewis Pinot Noir Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard as this Week’s Wine of the Week for no other reason than the wines are no longer made–Hank and Maggie Skewis have retired, taking their eponymous brand with them. While that certainly makes me a bit sad, they are two incredibly nice people and I wish them all the happiness in the world.
What was your Wine of the Week?
A quick update on the situation here in Houston. Yesterday afternoon, we were quite excited when the power was restored! We still had no water, but we took the moment to celebrate! Then, about three hours later, out it went once again, only to restored moments later. We went to bed with warm bellies from a quick reheat of food and relatively warm beds as the temperature in the house had risen from about 49-50 up to 65-ish. The power then went out again around 3 a.m., only to be restored at 6. Alas, this good thing came to an end, only 90 minutes later. Still no water, intermittent power, but generally getting warmer here outside (it should be above freezing most of the day). We are all in desperate need of a shower (some more than others) and the toilet situation is rather, well, I’d rather not say… Stay safe and warm everyone!