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).
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut, France: Retail $42. 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. Consistent notes with the previous bottle (Quite nutty, yeasty, and creamy on the nose, this pale straw wine has a vibrant sparkle and subtle fruit in the glass. The palate is a bit aggressive–between the effervescence and tartness, this wine borders on combative. But as it warms? This actually approaches “Whoa status.” Sure, that vibrant tartness persists, but the luscious yeastiness pushes its way to the front, demanding attention. While this falls short of “mind-blowing” or “life-altering” it certainly falls under “way-too-good-for-the-surprise-visit-from-the-in-laws-who-live-around-the-corner.”) I noticed that this wine is once again on sale at my local grocery store (but at a higher price, how does that work?), so I might need to get some more? Excellent. 91 Points.
2007 Koehly Pinot Gris Gloeckelberg, Alsace Grand Cru, France: Retail 8€ ($12). I bought this wine from the winery back in 2009 when my wife, my two boys (then six and one), and I were visiting Alsace for a week in October. Eight Euros for a Grand Cru Pinot Gris? Sign me up. I had largely forgotten about the bottle until this rather grey February day, making Thai Basil Chicken for the family (and making a few mistakes in said meal). Golden, closer to amber, in the glass with ripe peach, ginger, honey. Close to a Whoa right there. Sweet on the palate, off-dry kinda sweet, maybe a little more than that (an inherent problem with many a wine from the region–no way of knowing the sweetness level), with great peach flavors, a touch of orange peel, and hazelnut on the palate. This is clearly a bit past its prime, as indicated by the sherried nuttiness, but it is still fantasmagorical (technical term). Excellent. 92 Points.
2014 Miner Family Viognier, California: Retail $25. Under screwcap. From the website: “98% Viognier, 1% hugs, 1% back rubs.” And wow. Apparently, I received a couple bottles of this wine as samples back in 2016. I would like to think that I wrote a note about that first bottle I cracked but alas, I can find no such evidence. That’s highly irregular as I both enter my wines here and write a tasting note when I drink them. Alas, there is no such evidence. Thus, I either neglected to note on the wine or I was completely wasted and, well, you know. A slight notch above pale straw with grapefruit a go-go and tropical notes: mango, coconut, lychee (wait, is that “tropical”?). The palate is rich, fruity, inviting, and ever so-slightly sweet. The palate, however, while fruity, is also reserved, with plenty of widely dispersed tanginess that serves to balance it all out. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Grand Cordon Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 14% red wine. We have now had quite a few bottles of this wine. A solid pink, brilliant color in the glass. Gorgeous. A bit flinty and yeasty on the nose, with a little fruit coming through. More of the same on the palate, this is screaming for food as it is fairly austere but still tasty. This latest bottle seemed a slight notch above the previous bottles, for some reasoning there was also a distinct mineral/flinty aspect. Excellent. 91 Points.
2013 Rued Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $18. Just a couple of years into my blog, I visited Rued in Dry Creek Valley and they treated me like a bit of a big shot (at least I thought so at the time). The Rueds were some of the nicest people I have ever met, real salt of the earth folks, trying to make an honest living. I bought this bottle for half off (“media discount” cha-ching) and I had forgotten about it until now. Yowza, this is close to gangbusters. Just a hint of color in the glass, I would put this firmly in the “pale straw” category. A fantastic nose of peach, pear, and splashes of lemon zest and vanilla. The palate is quite tart, with plenty of that vibrant acidity to go around. There is also fruit, albeit reserved, richness, and a nuttiness on the finish that works marvelously. A Russian River Chardonnay for under twenty bucks (or under ten in my case)? Heck yeah, and twice on Sundays (today is conveniently Sunday). Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut, France: Retail $50. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, 15-20% Pinot Meunier. I’ve mentioned many a time that the Veuve is perhaps over-valued by the wine drinking public and way under-appreciated by wine geeks. Sure, some of the critics give it decent scores, but the sommelier crowd goes out of their way to look down their noses at the yellow label-clad bottle (although I have always felt that it is more of an orange, but what do I know?). Good fruit, sparkle, acidity, and yeastiness. I get this at a bit of a discount, and for what I pay for it (hint: it’s not $50), it is well worth it. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Even though I scored all of the wines this week in a rather narrow band, I had little doubt that the 2007 Koehly Pinot Gris Gloeckelberg, Alsace Grand Cru would be this week’s Wine of the Week. Even before I pulled the rather fragile cork, I knew this would be my choice even if the wine were completely oxidized and undrinkable. Why? One of the great powers of wine is the ability to evoke memories since, in essence, it is a moment in time captured in a bottle. For me, this represented the 15k bike ride that my family took back in October of 2009 from our base in Riquewihr, Alsace, France to Kintzheim to visit the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, a magnificent replica statue high above the Alsatian plain. I was pulling Nathan, then six, on a trailercycle while my wife was pulling Sebastian (about 14 months) in a trailer. When I popped this, said wife asked how many bottles we purchased and was shocked to learn that this was the sole bottle (normally we buy at least three of any wine). I laughed as I reminded her of the purchase–it was at the winery in Kinzheim, at the base of a rather large hill and the only place to carry the wine was in the back of the trailer. Someone, who was struggling to make it up even the slightest incline, had to be convinced to even add this singular bottle to her burden.
What was your Wine of the Week?