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).
2011 Amelle Zinfandel Mori Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $25. 100% Zinfandel. Well, I can’t believe that it has been the better part of two years since I have had a bottle of this wine. Wait, yes I can: my wife pooh-poohs just about any wine that I grab from the cellar that has more than 36 days of age on it. We had friends over, however, and I pulled this out for two reasons. First, it challenges the conception of “Zinfandel” as, given this was grown in a cool climate, more closely resembles a Pinot Noir than its jammy, big cousins from other regions. Second, this continues to age beautifully. There is virtually no sediment and no noticeable tannins, but the brilliant acidity is still alive and kicking, protecting all that lovely red berry fruit, spice, and considerable verve. Three bottles to go. How long should I wait? This is off the charts delicious and might be still improving. Whoa and Yowza. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2012 Maison Bouachon Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Tiare du Pape Blanc, France: Retail $45. 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Roussanne, 15% Bourboulenc and 5% Clairette. Only about 5-7% of the wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape are white. Since there is no rosé or sparkling, that means 19 out of 20 bottles emblazoned with the appellation are red. On top of that, while I do not have the figures, the amount of white CdP that reaches these shores is even less than 5%. Whoa. So finding a white from the region is slightly easier than discovering a unicorn, it is only by a few percentage points. Slightly golden in the glass with an lovely mélange of lemon rind, golden delicious apple, glycerin, and a touch of white pepper. The palate is initially a bit round with subtle fruit but when the acidity kicks in, it goes into overdrive with the fruit, some spice, and a mouth-coating unctuousness that is characteristic (at least in my limited experience) of the genre. Close to a Whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2015 Camlow Cellars Pinot Noir Magna Porcum Big Pig, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $45. I picked up a little over a case of this wine a couple of years ago when the winemaker gave a tasting at our house. We have gone through more than half of those bottles now, and if anything, the wine is improving. Really expressive nose of intense wild cherry, black earth. The palate, however, is even more impressive. All the fruit that the nose promised (and more), a zingy tartness that keeps all that fruit in check, a subtle vanilla. The previous bottles were fantastic, this bottle was even better. Outstanding. 94 Points.
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.
2013 Soléna Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $30. Under Nomacorc-like stopper. Big ass bottle. I got a couple of bottles of this wine as samples back in 2015 and, based on my note, I really liked the first bottle and while that wine was apparently defined by its abundant fruit, this wine, while still fruity, also has developed into a more mineral-driven, tart, multi-layered wine. I thought, given the rather general appellation of “Willamette Valley,” this wine would have suffered by now. But it hasn’t, not by a long shot. Chardonnay, in my opinion, will be the predominant white wine variety in the Willamette in a matter of a dozen years or so, and this is a good argument why: still fruity, quite complex, and delicious even after nearly eight years from harvest. Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This is the second time that this wine is the Wine of the Week, which is unusual since I like to spread the wealth around a bit, but it is just that good. Add to it that not only is the winery no longer producing wine but the winemaker is no longer in the business, how could I not choose the 2011 Amelle Zinfandel Mori Vineyard as this week’s top wine?
What was your Wine of the Week?