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 André Clouet Champagne Silver Brut Nature, France: Retail $50. 100% Bouzy Grand Cru Pinot Noir. Zero Dosage. It has been a minute or two since I last coaxed a cork out of a bottle of this wine and that is too bad as this is fantastic. Dark in the glass with an intense golden color. There is a heavy caramelized, honeyed, and even slightly oxidized note, suggesting that this wine has been in the bottle for a good while. I am also picking up some rich, baked apple—almost a Taste Tatin thing going on here. Yowza. The palate is deceptive as the nose suggests a sweet, candied fruit. But no. This is completely dry (it is a Brut Nature after all—no sugar added) but there is also plenty of fruit—think that Tarte Tatin, caramelization, and biscuity goodness but without the sweetness. Whoa. This is really gangbusters and a steal at the price (I think I paid under forty bucks).I could drink this forever. Maybe longer. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2014 Benovia Chardonnay Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $35. Another bottle, another fantastic experience. Sure, it’s buttery and oaky but it is also fruity and balanced. This wine teeters on the fence between Old World magnificence and New World opulence. Yowza. Golden pear, mineral, luscious in the glass. Almost a Whoa right there. The palate is nothing short of delightful: fruit, vanilla, subtle oak. OK, whoa. I have been a fan of Benovia since the beginning (2006 vintage?) and this is precisely why: good fruit, tasty tartness, balance. Whoa.. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé, California: Retail $24. 73% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 1% Pinot Meunier. Another “good” bottle here, that might benefit from a bit less sugar in the dosage. A bit on the dark side, at least as rosé sparklers go, with a fruity and somewhat floral nose. The palate is initially a bit sweet (the dosage is 10g/l, which is relatively high), but also quite fruity with a nice level of tartness. I picked this up for about $15, which seems about right. Still, great fruit, plenty of sparkle, one of the better values in sparkling wine. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Philippe Gonet Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $50. 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Meunier. It has been almost a year since I last popped a cork of this wine that I received from Last Bottle, and I think this has improved over the last 12 months. This bottle seems both yeastier and creamier than I remember, which are both positives, for sure. Add to that the rich tree fruit, fervent sparkle, and slightly oxidized aspect, yeah. Whoa. Slightly golden in the glass with plenty of toasty, yeasty notes as well as a bit of citrus and marzipan. Tart, fruity, yeasty, and tons of loveliness on the palate. Close to a Whoa. Yet another Pinot Noir-dominate wine that just lights up my Christmas tree, so to speak. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Premier Cru Platine, France: Retail $40. Disgorged July, 2018. It has been a year and a half since I have opened a bottle of this wine. Why? I am not sure, but it my be what is printed on the back label: “78% Pinot Noir, 16% Chardonnay, 8% Meunier.” Being a math geek, it is one of my pet peeves. Cringe. Worthy. But hey, the contents are fantastic, almost as if they put in a 102% effort with this wine. Straw colored with golden accents. Honeyed apple, dried apricot, vanilla wafer, yeasty on the nose while the palate is on the dry side of Brut, initially quite tart with some lemon zest, a biscuity goodness, and a lengthy finish. Very nice. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Remy Massin & Fils Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay. Purchased from www.invino.com last November, this is the third bottle we’ve opened and after being a bit underwhelmed by the first cork popped, and rather wowed by the second, this would serve as a bit of a tie-breaker. Luckily, this resembled that second bottle and was pretty gangbusters. Fairly dark in color for a rosé champagne with aromas of fresh red berries (cherry, strawberry) and just a touch of fresh croissant. The palate is quite fruity, even really fruity but balanced by a zingy tartness and some yeasty goodness. One bottle left. Fingers crossed. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Last week, I wrote the following in this space: “Looking over the notes from this week, it is abundantly clear that we drink a lot of champagne. Why? Why not? Not only is it fantastic on its own, it is also the most versatile wine when it comes to food pairings.” I then rambled on a bit, citing a few of our favorite pairings from oysters (classic) to steak (not so mainstream). I even took a bit of a shot at the Champenois (the inhabitants of the region) for successfully pigeon-holing the wine as one for celebrations. While all of that remains true, there is another reason that we consume Teslaloads of sparkling wine, particularly this time of year. It is freaking hot in Texas in the summer and the least appealing wine I can think of is a heavy, tannin-laden Cabernet when it is one hundred stinking degrees outside. But a cool glass of bubbles? That is certainly the ticket. And this week, the André Clouet Champagne Silver Brut Nature was the best of the week.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?