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).
NV Paul Berthelot Champagne Premier Cru Eminence, France: Retail $45. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. Unfortunately, this is a return to those first bottles that we opened. Fine, but a bit listless, lacking fruit, depth, and the biscuity goodness that was certainly evident in the last 12 bottles or so. Again, not one to pour down the sink by any means, but not one to exalt, either. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $65. 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. My local H-E-B grocery store (I love my H-E-B) has this for an every day price of $43 and change. Buy six bottle (of anything)? 10% off. Thus, this comes in at just shy of forty bucks before tax. Nice. While I tend to shy away from predominantly Meunier Champers, this is quite lovely. Pale straw in the glass with a fruity nose of ripe peach, marzipan, hazelnut, and a whole lot a verve. Yowza (and almost a Whoa). The palate is clean, tart, precise, but also has a bit of swagger that one would expect form one of the more respected large houses in Champagne. While this group is perhaps more lauded for their Brut Rosé, this wine is no slouch. And for forty bucks? Load up the Prius (hopefully soon to be a Tesla). OK. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. Another bottle, more yum. 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. Went out and bought another four bottles. Why? That was all that was left at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B) and at >$30 on sale? Yeah. Done. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Fields Family Wines Grenache Blanc DeLu Vineyard, Lodi, CA: Retail $24. 100% Grenache Blanc. Under cork. I first met Ryan Sherman (winemaker at Fields) on my first ever press trip back in 2014 when I visited Lodi. I had never heard of the tiny winery (only about 3000 cases) but its real-estate selling winemaker (Ryan’s full-time job is selling houses as one of Lodi’s top agents) had a solid reputation in Lodi. Since that first visit, I have become quite a fan of Ryan’s wines and I make sure to stop by and say hello every time I am in Lodi, which usually devolves into a 2 hour visit and may include some basketball behind the winery. This Grenache Blanc is a perfect reason why. Still fresh after nearly five years in the bottle with fantastic fruit (citrus, Bosc pear, tangerine), an incredible acidity, and a lengthy finish. Holy cow, this is good, perhaps better than back in 2018 when I first tried it. Excellent. 92 Points.
2016 B Kosuge Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Under DIAM 10. If I am not mistaken, this is the first Chardonnay that Byron has put under DIAM, which I consider a fantastic idea (although I might prefer Stelvin?) since that 2009 I tasted in 2017 was badly oxidized. Byron’s wines deserve to be cellared, deserve to be aged. Case in point. Five years out, this wine is perhaps still too young as it is singing on both the nose and the palate. Pale straw, barely any color at all, there is plenty of fresh lemon curd, and a hint of white pepper. Whoa. And a holy cow, even. The palate is relatively subtle at first, with a bit of fruit but plenty of acid, and touches of vanilla and oak. By the mid-palate, though, this wine reveals its mettle as the subtle power wafts in, bathed in that acidity, but also striving to reach the stage. I would say this is much more Grand Cru Chablis in style as it needs to warm just a bit to reveal its depth–and there is plenty. With a bit of time in the glass, this really shines. Holy cow again. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut, France: From 375ml. Retail $30 (375ml). 50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, 15-20% Pinot Meunier. There is a decided difference between the regular, 750ml bottles and the 375ml half bottles. While the standard sized wines are amazingly consistent, the smaller ones are, well, not. While I can’t make a sweeping generalization due to the fact that the origin of these wines are, well, suspicious, it does seem to lead credence to my contention that half bottles are, well, stupid. Not Rated.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week’s battle for Wine of the Week came down to two wines: the Billecart-Salmon Brut and the 2016 B Kosuge Chardonnay. How would I choose? Would it be based on the fact that I know the winemaker of the latter? Or would my love for champagne carry more weight? Would, this day after Independence Day sway me? Or would I celebrate that the Tour de France cycling race is in full swing (although today is a rest day)? Flummoxed, I would let fate decide: which ever picture I found first on my phone would be the Wine of the Week. Problem. I had not taken a photo of either aside whatever I concocted for dinner on the nights the respective wines were consumed. Thus, on this extended July Fourth weekend, I have opted for co-Wines of the Week: the Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne and the 2016 B Kosuge Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?