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 Marcel Deiss Engelgarten, Alsace, France: Retail $50. Single vineyard field blend of Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Deiss touts this as a Premier Cru, which means basically nothing in Alsace. Well, perhaps it should based on this wine. It has been a couple of years since I have opened a bottle, but I would venture to say it has improved. Sure, the golden–even amber–color causes some concern, but the lovely, rich nose of ripe peach, tropical fruit, and honeysuckle allays those fears almost instantly. The palate, while touched by a kiss of sweetness, is gorgeous with weighty fruit, balancing acidity and incredible depth. And the finish here is off the charts. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2017 Flowers Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Surprisingly golden in the glass, but no other signs of oxidation, and plenty of aromas of lemon curd, white flower, yellow delicious apple, even some tropical notes, and certainly some oak (but far from over-powering). The palate is pretty much what one would expect from one of the leading producers of California Chardonnay: rich, dense fruit, multiple layers of depth, and touches of butter and oak. While this is not the oaky butter-bomb that Chards from California certainly used to be, it does not abandon its heritage altogether. Instead, that rich fruit and touches of butter and oak are in lovely balance with the acidity and minerality. Lovely. Excellent. 92 Points.
2014 Kemmeter Wines Riesling Sheldrake Point Medium-Dry, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $30. Under screw cap. I first met Johannes Reinhardt way back in 2015, when I bought this bottle, in his tiny but tasteful tasting room within a few hundred meters of Feuka Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Johannes is quintessentially German with his stern demeanor, his attention to detail, and his precise wines. While I had wanted three of the slightly sweeter versions of this wine, I was sent two of the drier style and I can’t say that I am disappointed. At. All. While the sweeter Riesling lies quietly in the cellar, this tarter, more food friendly (perhaps) wine is singing in the glass. Still barely a light straw in color, the lemon rind, petrol, and minerality leap out over the rim, engaging the olfactory sensors, inviting a cannonball-type dive in. And I did. Whoa. Great fruit but even more impressive acidity with that flintiness and an incredibly lengthy finish. If there is a better Riesling producer in the Finger Lakes, well, I have to meet him/her. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2017 B Kosuge Pinot Noir The Shop, Carneros, CA: Retail $40. I have been a fan of Byron Kosuge’s wines almost as long as I have been exploring American Pinot Noir (which is a fairly long time at this point). This is my wife’s favorite of his bottlings and the first we have tried together in some time (she usually drinks them on her own when I am on the road—almost all of the other tasting notes of “mine” are actually hers). Really dark in the glass, not just for a Pinot, but this seems to be darker than most full-bodied Cabs I have had of late. The nose is rather brooding as well, with dark cherry, black and blue berries, some spice, and an ever-so-tiny amount of earth. The palate is much lighter on its feet than the nose suggested with mostly red berry (although some darker berries peek through as well) fruit, a bit of that spice, and, well, the earth has left the building, er, glass. Still, there is plenty of acidity (as is the case with all of Byron’s wines) and a memorable finish. Nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2014 Château des Sarrins Côtes de Provence Blanc Secret, France: Retail $20 (?). 100% Rolle. I stopped by this producer on a trip to Provence despite the fact that it was a bit out of the way. Why? Château des Sarrins is owned by none other than Bruno Paillard of Champagne fame. It seems as though Bruno spends considerably more time in Provence now that he has passed off the running of his eponymous Champagne house to his more than capable daughter, Alice. I have stated on a number of occasions that there is far too little Rolle (those in the more uncivilized areas of the world know it as “Vermentino”) produced in Provence (about 5% of the total production is white) and this is clear evidence to that assertion. A little more evolved (even less fruity & more vinous in nature) than the bottle I had a year ago, which had already long since moved on from the fruity marvel that I first tasted in the summer of 2016. Lovely nutty and floral notes on the nose, with just hints of lemon curd and ripe pear. The palate is much the same, but the acidity, which can be lacking in Rolle, is still near laser sharp and drives the wine to its lengthy finish. Yowza. Outstanding. 93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Well, by any measure, these were five solid wines from top to bottom and picking a Wine of the Week would not be easy. Anyone of them, in any given week, could warrant top honors, but, well, that is not how the game is played. In the end, I narrowed it down to the two wines that I had actually purchased at the respective wineries, the 2014 Château des Sarrins Blanc Secret and the 2014 Kemmeter Wines Riesling Sheldrake Point Medium-Dry, Finger Lakes, with the latter eventually taking home top honors. Why? Well, the Kemmeter was fantastic, I had remembered to take a photo of it (as I did with the Sarrins, by the way–go me), and I believe the Sarrins has already been the WotW, so I thought I would throw some love the Finger Lakes’ way.
What was your Wine of the Week?