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).
2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux, Loire Valley, France: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. Nomacorc closure. Again, as if it were a broken record, the crappy synthetic closure has doomed this wine to the vagaries of statistical probability. In other words, this “cork” is so unworthy of this wine that the result in the glass is a literal “crap-shoot.” With this bottle, we crapped out. The “cork” started to spin after the worm of the corkscrew had made but two half tuns. Holy effing crap. Are you kidding me? Sure, at $25 the winery does not feel that this deserves a competent closure, but I have had iterations of this wine that have caused me to contemplate proposing to the winemaker, regardless of gender. The issue is clear in the glass with this golden (and no other way to describe it) wine with oxidative notes, plenty of sherry, and, well, rather unpleasant, Ugh. This wine deserves better than this closure. “Good.” 86 Points. (And that is being very kind.)
2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux, Loire Valley, France: Retail $25. 100% Chenin Blanc. Based on my visit to the winery in 2016 (?), I bought a case of this wine, which I thought was one of the better Chenins I had had in recent memory. In my mind, and only second to an aged white Burgundy (and certainly white Château la Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape), aged Chenin from the Loire is other worldly as it is loaded with secondary and tertiary (and beyond) flavors and aromas. But based on the bottle above, after tasting that horrible bottle, I decided to sacrifice my only remaining bottle from that case, since I figured, well, “what the hell?” When I popped and poured this wine, I was worried that the previous bottle would once again rear its ugliness as the color was, at best, questionable. Golden. And there is no other description for the color. That implied oxidation, which was the death nell for the other bottles of this wine closed with this #$%@* “cork.” But. Wholly cow. It seems as though this piece of doo-doo cork did its job (for once) and delivered a beautiful wine. Sure, there was a bit of oxidation and, yes, one could question holding on to this wine for more than a heartbeat, but holy cow. This is what I had hoped from this wine when I bought it a case: rich, unctuous, fruity (kinda) and a lengthy finish. Please. Pretty please. Couly-Dutheil hear me: Change. The. Effing. Closure. On. This. Wine. In the name of everything holy. Please use a stopper worthy of this wine. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Watching the NCAA tournament, my team didn’t win. Oh well, I did with this wine. Brilliant bubblegum reddish-pink with strawberry confit, watermelon, canteloupe, and a host of other aromas on the nose. The palate is fruity, tart, and focused. It seems as though they are pretty close to the level of sugar here in the dosage (8g/l) but it could still go a tad lower, in my opinion. Rich fruit, zingy tartness, considerable minerality, and a touch of yeasty goodness dominate the palate. Fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2016 Petit Moulin Bandol Les Galets Rosé, France: Retail $21. 60% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsault, 10% Grenache. Bandol Rosé has been known to last for a while–decades, even. Unfortunately, this bottle had much more muted notes, and was just rather listless in the bottle. Then I noticed the stopper. Nomacorc. Ugh. That explains it. Very Good. 88 Points.
2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $48. My son was having his friends over for a poker tournament for his 18th birthday and I was in need of something good (those of you who have had eight teenagers screaming in your kitchen know what I mean). This was the call. Whoa Nellie. I last had this wine in 2015 and based on the comments and suggested consumption date, I should have had this second bottle (and the third that is still in my cellar) shortly after the first. Um no. There is no doubt that this wine is drinking better than that first bottle a handful of years ago. Rich black cherry on the nose with earth, leather, spice (cinnamon?), and a whole lot of Whoa. The palate, as hard as it is to believe, is even better. Fruity? Yes, but also quite layered and a little bit rustic–what always identifies Hank and Maggie’s wines for me. Holy cow, this has really improved and has convinced me to hang on to the last bottle for a spell (although a ton of convincing was not required–I have known for some time that Skewis wines can age for just about as long as you want). Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 44 to 48 % Pinot Noir, 25 to 29 % Chardonnay, 13 to 18 % Pinot Meunier. As I have said countless times: Veuve is good, excellent even. If you can’t deal with that, fine. Move on. But I will happily keep drinking these bubbles. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: By every objective measure, the 2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve, Anderson Valley should be this week’s Wine of the Week. It was certainly memorable, easily the “best” wine I consumed over the week, and it dulled the pain of what was transpiring in the house at the time. So why did I, instead, opt for the 2015 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Chanteaux? I guess because it showed how ultimately vulnerable a good (great?) wine can be and how we should celebrate when a wine endures even despite the poor choices made by the producer. I also happened to remember to take a picture of it.
What was your Wine of the Week?