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).
2009 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $35. DIAM 10 Closure. OK, I am going to try to keep it together here as this was the last bottle of the case of this wine I bought I am not entirely sure how long ago. Sniff. I have a long history with Clos Pepe (and to a lesser extent, winemaker Wes Hagen), which I have chronicled many times in this space and on my wine blog (shameless plug alert): http://www.thedrunkencyclist.com. So I am a bit sad but this wine assuages me out of my melancholy–this is freaking gangbusters (no doubt Wes would have used slightly more colorful language there). Yellow straw in the glass with a warmly toasted-nut (basked with lemon curd) aspect in the glass. The palate is defined by the acidity (striking), but buoyed by the subtly intense (can that be a thing?) fruit, a dab of oakiness, layers of complexity, and a dollop of minerality. Since my first sip of Clos Pepe Chardonnay, I have berated (maybe too strong?) Wes that I thought the best wines made from what I consider to be an American Grand Cru, were not Pinots, but Chardonnay. This serves as justification. Whoa. Complete gangbusters, a wine that *few* would ever guess is over a decade old. Yowza. I miss Wes at the helm of Clos Pepe so much. Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $50. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. From LastBottleWines.com. When this showed up for 25 bucks on my favorite flash wine site, I did not hesitate–I ordered a case. The first bottle did not disappoint as it was fabulous. The subsequent four bottles were still delicious, but a decided notch below that first interaction. Curiously, this bottle is a return to the initial: fruit, yeastiness, complexity, verve. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2007 Littorai Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $65. Way back in 2010, on a visit to the winery (well before I started my blog), we visited Littorai as it was one of my bucket list Pinot producers. While I did not meet Ted Lemon, we did hear the story of biodynamics and sustainability that were relatively new concepts at the time. We also tasted through a slew of wines and settled on this Hirsch Vineyard Pinot to bring home. David Hirsch was another bucket-list kind of guy and it seemed like a convergence of man-crushes in one bottle (it helped that the wine was incredible). Now, more than a decade later, it is still absolutely singing. Fairly light in color, but rich in aromas: Bing cherry, dark earth, a bit of spice. Whoa. The palate is rich, but in a decidedly reserved (yes, Ted Lemon kinda) way. The fruit, acidity, depth, all come together rather seamlessly into one harmonious whole. Yowza. The kind folk here on CT say this wine should have been consumed by 2018. Um, no. Still going strong, thank you very much. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2002 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Epoque, France: Retail $150. 100% Chardonnay. I bought three bottles of this wine back in 2011 from some bloke on the internet and this is the second wine we’ve tried (the first was way back in 2013). Well, as most high-quality Blanc de Blancs do, this wine has aged quite gracefully and I would contest that it still has a bright future ahead of it. Not as dark As I suspected it might be–a solid straw color in the glass with a dominant yeasty strain on the nose which all but obscures the delicate golden apple, white hyacinth, and even a touch of vanilla. The palate is still bright, vibrant, lively with yellow apple, fresh croissant, and more than a touch of sweetness (perhaps too much?). Look, this is fabulous, rich, and balanced, but… a tad sweet… Outstanding. 93 Points.
2008 Vineyard of Pasterick Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $50. Big Ass Bottle. As I was perusing my cellar this particularly chilly February evening, I noticed this Pasterick Syrah and its rather striking “drink by” status here on Cellar Tracker (2019, for those following along at home). Upon opening, however, I knew I was in for a treat. Dark and brooding in the glass with sexy and spicy dark berry fruit (blackberry, cassis, black cherry), oodles of spice (clove, cardamom, black pepper), and a touch of anise, this is straight up gangbusters. The palate is more of the same, only ratcheted up to eleven: fruit, spice, layers of depth, weight, Yowza and Whoa. I would like to characterize Gerry Pasterick as a friend but tasting this wine? I am fairly certain that I am not worthy. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2009 Skewis Pinot Noir Montgomery, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50. I have a couple of “wows” here. First, it has been over a year since i last tried this wine and B., this was my last bottle of this wine, and finally, it was a signed bottle. So much to unpack, let’s just say “similar notes” and call it a tasting note?? Black cherry, a bit of earth, pepper, and just slightly stewed. The palate is fruity, albeit reserved, with great acidity, plenty of verve, and a lengthy finish. Fantastic. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, when I opened the bottle of 2008 Vineyard of Pasterick Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, was going to be “easy.” Rarely had I opened a bottle of 12-year-old-plus domestic wine and had been so enthralled. This was going to be the hands-down, run-away winner of the Wine of the Week. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to that ultra-hyphenated proclamation: I opened a few more wines. Suddenly, the 20o9 Clos Pepe Barrel Fermented Chard, the 2007 Littorai Hirsch Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Skewis Montgomery Pinot Noir all leapt into the running. And just like that? It was an epic horse race. In the end, I stuck to my initial assessment and Whoa. What a wine. It is quite likely that readers here have never heard of Gerry Pasterick’s wines. If you love Syrah (and Rhône wines in general), however, that needs to change.
What was your Wine of the Week?