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).
2007 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $25. The story behind this wine is a bit detailed and muddled, but I love this producer and the wines. But there will never be another as the winemaker left the business and the winery is no more. What a shame. Rich red fruit (black raspberry, plum) which comes off as only very slightly stewed, with spice (cardamom, black pepper), and just a hint of earth. The palate? Very close to a Whoa. Rich, fruity, slightly spicy, earthy. While this might be a bit past its prime, it is no where near the end of its trajectory. Holy cow, this is fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2008 DiStefano Meritage, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $40. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot. I actually bought this bottle from the winery, shortly after starting my website and while visiting some in-laws. A lot to unpack there. The wine, though? Still stellar after all these years. Plenty of sediment caking the walls of the bottle, dark in the glass, good, but slightly (ever-so) stewed fruit (blackberry, plum), earth, rather delightful. The palate is still quite fruity, rich black and blue fruit, a healthy dose of acidity, earth, and a lengthy finish, loaded with mostly integrated tannins. Wonderful. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Fourrier-Delmotte Champagne Brut, France: Retail $49(?). 100% Pinot Noir from la Côte des Bar. This second bottle (of six) that I purchased from Wines Til Sold Out (WTSO) was right in line with the first; it was *fine* but far from fantastic. Sure, there are some of the standard characteristics you find in champagne: good fruit, yeasty notes, a (relatively) delicate sparkle. There is still that strange metallic aspect, however, that comes pretty close to be off-putting—not enough to consider it “off” but certainly enough to not buy again from @WTSO even at twenty-five bucks. Very Good. 87 Points.
NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Grande Réserve Chardonnay, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. Another fantastic bottle, which is why I bought another case. Previous note: Over the past few years, Last Bottle has sent me two other champagnes from Gallimard and both were quite good. So, it was a no-brainer when this Blanc de Blancs became available. While the Côtes des Bar is best known for its Pinot Noir, this Chardonnay is delightful. Light straw in the glass with a fine and constant sparkle, this wine has plenty of green apple, baked spice, and just a hint of yeastiness. The palate is tart and incredibly fruity, with a bit of apple pie coming in on the mid-palate and racy acidity on the finish. Really a lovely wine. Excellent. 92 Points.
2013 Martin Ray Pinot Noir Green Valley of Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $40. I visited the winery almost five years ago now and I tasted through a couple dozen wines or so and this was one that really stood out. I brought it back to Philly and then packed it up a month later for the move down to Texas. Since then? I completely forgot about it until my wife said “red.” According to Cellar Tracker, this was in 39A and should have been consumed in 2017. Well. It was where it was supposed to be and there was more good news: Great fruit, earth, spice, it is all there both on the nose and the palate and in spades. While this is not the best Pinot I have popped this year, the list above it is quite short. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2003 Ojai Syrah Stolpman Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $55. B.A.B. 100% Syrah. I bought a couple bottles of this wine in what seems like a lifetime ago (and before I started writing about wine) and this still is amazing. Sure, it is another half a decade along the line and the fruit has become a little more stewed, but this is still fantastic. The fruit has morphed into more secondary and even tertiary fruit flavors: menthol, leather, caramel, and even hints of blackberry. The palate is rich, still tart, luscious. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As some of you no doubt know at this point (based on postings on my social media channels), I have been in California since last Sunday, the first six days with my older son, Nathan. We have been looking at a few of the colleges were he has been accepted for next year, driving up the coast, starting in Los Angeles. I had made a promise to myself that the week would be all about him and I would resist the urge to stop at any of a number of wineries that would normally be on my “must stop” list. There were several wineries in and around San Luis Obispo that populated said list, but they went unvisited–not even a drive-by was afforded. Perhaps the most difficult to ignore was a tiny little tasting room in the town that shared its name with the winery: Ojai. I have only been to the tasting room once, and it was a half-dozen years ago at this point. Holy cow did I want to stop, particularly after having tasted this week’s Wine of the Week, the 2003 Ojai Syrah Stolpman Vineyard, Santa Barbara County. But I didn’t. Instead I focused on my son, our trip, and securing Father of the Year, once and for all.
What was your Wine of the Week?