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).
As I have said on a number of occasions, we drink a lot of champagne. A. Lot. While I try to diversify the bottles that we open, I tend to be a rather cheap S.O.B. and find it difficult to spend north of fifty bucks on a bottle of champagne. Thus we have a handful of “regulars” that we open on a frequent basis. Here are a few of those (with one exception):
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut, France: Retail $42. 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. While at my local grocery store today (I love my H-E-B) I noticed this was on sale for a heartbeat over twenty-six bucks. Thus, on my return home, I pulled this final bottle of this wine in my cellar to see if I should snatch up a few more bottles tomorrow (when the sale ends). Well, the jury is out. After trying a few bottles thus far, the returns have been mixed. This bottle falls decidedly in the middle. There is considerable fruit, plenty of floral notes, and that yeastiness that defines champagne. While the palate has all those attributes as well, this bottle comes off as slightly sweet (dosage: 9.5 grams per liter), sweeter than it needs to be (dial it back to 6-7 g/l). Very Good. 89 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. Well, I went to my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B) and there was this wine, staring at me with its sale price (it was reduced 10% and then another 10% if you buy six bottles). Well, it looks as though the store has jacked up the price again for this sale. Now sitting at just south of forty buck (before the 20% discount), this is still a pretty good deal at $32, particularly for a rosé. Medium salmon/pink in the glass, great red berry aromas paired with a French bakery yeastiness–fantastic. The palate does not disappoint either where all that fruit mingles with the yeastiness and all is welded together with a fine sparkle and a zingy acidity. Very nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut Réserve, France:Retail $50. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. From www.lastbottlewines.com and it continues to be a bit of a mixed bag. This bottle was particularly schizophrenic: upon opening, it was fairly metallic with not much fruit and very little verve (much like the two bottles that I rated 88 Pts.). Frustrated (and really tired from a long weekend), I put a stopper in the half-full bottle and went to bed. The following day, a different story; the wine was much more expressive, fruity, and yes, loaded with verve. Just for fun (as I am still a non-believer), I checked the biodynamic calendar. Both yesterday and today were “Flower Days.” As I said, more than ample fruitiness, a bit of a metallic aspect, but there is also a wealth of that yeasty, baked bread goodness that makes champagne the best of sparkling wines. How to rate this? Right down the middle between the two extremes I have experienced thus far. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Okay. I am going to try to be objective here but we named our dog “Mailly Grand Cru Rosé,” “Mailly” for short. So I have some bias. But objectively, this is fantastic. Deep pink color, one of the darker rosé champagnes on the market. Lovely, rich nose of strawberry, cherry, croissant, and a slight mineral aspect. The palate is laden with fruit, plenty of tartness, and considerable verve. Yowza. Yes, I am a fan of this brand and this wine, but there is a reason: it’s damned good. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2009 Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé, France: Retail $65. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. We drink a ton of Mailly. A. Ton. But most of it (by far) is the non-vintage brut. We also throw back a fair amount of Mailly Grand Cru Rosé (the wine after which we named our dog). This vintage Mailly? A rare treat, indeed. We broke it out for a dear friend from San Francisco, our first guest since the pandemic. Whoa, quite the nose emerges from this slightly golden elixir with deep yeasty, croissant-like aromas that slightly obscure the lemon curd beneath. Yowza. The palate is even more enticing but also reveals that this wine has a ways to go. Exuberant, lively, rich, engaging, yowza. This is one of the many reasons that I love champagne; this is close to a dozen years old, but it is as fresh as the proverbial daisy. Yet, it is also a wine with a bit of age, a bit of swagger, a bit of “je ne sais quoi.” Yeah, this one has it, if you give it the time to express itself. Rich, vibrant, expressive, young. All of these attributes apply and inform me that I opened this a tad (at least) too soon. Give it a year. Hell, give it a decade. Thank me later. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As my son says far too often: “I ain’t gonna lie.” The Wine of the Week this go around was the 2009 Mailly Brut Champagne. But. I didn’t remember to take a photo so, instead, I opted for the Non-Vintage Collet Brut Rosé as the official Wine of the Week (I am pretty sure a photo is required to garner such a prize). And before any of you claim that we need to overturn the election and start storming my house, the Collet Rosé does merit such a lofty honor. While it is not the best champagne we had this week (nor even the best rosé), it is certainly the best value. I purchase this for slightly more than thirty bucks at my local H-E-B which has resulted in this wine becoming our de facto house rosé champagne. Please don’t tell my dog (who is named after the Mailly Grand Cru Rosé), but her namesake champagne has just become too pricey–we used to buy it for just around thirty bucks (sound familiar?).
What was your Wine of the Week?