What We Have Been Drinking, Taking Our Son to College—8/16/2021

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).

After being out in Oregon for nearly two weeks, I returned home last Monday only to head out the following morning with my two sons to drive the 1500+ miles to Cleveland, Ohio to drop him off for his first year of college. I still found a a way to tear into a few bottles of wine, however, and given that my birthday occurred on the night we finally made it to Cleveland, I was able to justify digging a bit deeper into the bank account.

NV Agrapart Champagne Grand Cru Terroirs Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, France: Retail $70. At L’Albatros in Cleveland $162. Disgorged September 2019. 100% Chardonnay. My son wanted me to drive him to school for his freshman year of college in Cleveland. And we live in Houston (roughly 1,500 miles for the geographically inclined). And my wife decided to fly. And it was my birthday. So yeah, I think I deserved this bottle of “farmer fizz” when my wife and I went out to dinner (we left the boys in the hotel with a pizza–the definition of win-win). Golden in color with a fine sparkle and lovely aromas of baked apple and pear with a healthy dose of fresh croissant. The palate is quite dry but not as tart as I had expected given the disgorgement date. Lovely, bright, vivacious, and full of fruit. Whoa. Extra Brut is a tough sell for some but smack dab in my wheelhouse. Outstanding. 94 Points.

The Agrapart paired wonderfully with L’Albatros’ escargot.

2008 Champagne Collet Collection Privee Brut Champagne, France: Retail $65. $132 at L’Albatros in Cleveland. 75% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, almost entirely from 1er and Grand Cru vineyards. Vinified in oak barrels. We have been enjoying the Collet Brut and (to a greater extent) the Brut Rosé since we moved to Houston and found it in our local grocery store. Surprisingly, I had never heard of this producer (I think) despite it being one of the more popular brands in France. When I saw that it was also a 2008, this was a no-brainer as 2008 was a fabulous year in Champagne, perhaps the best since 1996. And this wine bears that out. Golden in the glass, exuding that “aged champagne” vibe. Tarte tatin à go-go on the nose with that rich caramelized green apple and ever-so-slightly over-baked brioche. Whoa. The palate is absolutely phenomenal. Rich, even unctuous, with oodles of baked brioche goodness and the Tarte Tatin is completely off the charts here. But there is also a surprising tartness, a vivacity, a je ne sais quoi that suggests that this wine is just a baby, and can continue to improve for another decade. At least. Whoa. Outstanding Plus. 96 Points.

2018 Grgich Hills Chardonnay Napa Valley, CA: Retail $43. Humble Wine Bar, Cleveland, OH $60. DIAM10 closure. I wanted the 2006 Charles de Casanova “Stradivarius” ($53!?). Out. Then the 2008 Dom Pérignon ($215!). It was a 2010. Meh. Then the 2015 Domaine Drouhin Arthur ($50). Nope. So I “settled” on this. Whoa. A bit of golden deliciousness to this straw hued wine. The nose is nothing short of fabulous with a bushel of citrus, green apple, a touch of hazelnut, and the slightest hint of oak. The palate is close to, well, gangbusters (I was going to say perfection, but let’s just press the middle pedal a bit). This really highlights the fruit, which surprises me given this winery’s (and Napa Valley’s) history. This is clearly an attempt (and a solid one at that) to embrace “new Chardonnay” while keeping a foot (semi) firmly planted in California. Great balance, acidity, and the ever-elusive verve, this bottle wants me to get on the next plane to San Francisco and make the trek north to route 29 (then 128) and pull into the Grgich parking lot, ready to spend a couple of hours getting reacquainted with this Napa stalwart. Outstanding. 94 Points.

I liked the effect of the pizza oven at the Humble Wine Bar behind the bottle of Grgich Chard.

2020 Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $28. 100% Pinot Noir. Under screw cap. I am in, of all places, Cleveland, Ohio, dropping my son off for his first year of college and I ventured out in search of wine. Being a child of the midwest (and born in Ohio), it did not really surprise me that it was difficult to find a decent wine shop in what many people refer to as “the Mistake by the Lake” (it is no longer worthy of that moniker, but I was still surprised that my son chose to go to school here instead of, say, San Luis Obispo or L.A.). I first examined the sparkling wines, but there were few and all overpriced. Then the domestic wines (much the same) and the French selection (don’t get me started on Burgundy, yikes). Finally, I gravitated to the rosés which, in my opinion, still don’t get the respect they deserve and where a value can be found. Such was the case here. This Stoller retails at close to thirty bucks, but it was a paltry $20 on the shelf. Giddy-up. I loved this during the Fifth Annual World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosé and I still feel the same way: gorgeous nose of ripe strawberry and rose petal, followed by a tart yet fruity palate that approaches impeccable balance, and a lengthy, luscious finish that made me yearn for more. Lovely. Outstanding. 93 Points.

The 2008 Collet really blew me away.

WINE OF THE WEEK: As I mentioned above, I start the arduous trek back to Houston this morning with only my younger son in tow. It will certainly be bittersweet leaving our older son behind and I just might lose it if Cat’s in the Cradle comes on the radio at any point. Add that my younger son, Sebastian, tends to fall asleep the moment his butt checks hit the seat of a car and I will be looking for ways to stay awake. I am fairly certain that if I knew that another bottle of this week’s Wine of the Week, the 2008 Champagne Collet Collection Privee Brut were awaiting me at the end of the road, it certainly would help.

What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sparkling Wine, Willamette Valley, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking, Taking Our Son to College—8/16/2021

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Hopefully hitting reply to your blog notification emails sends an email back to you! I don’t know if you remember me at all – I used to write a blog called Next Stop TBD and was friends with Oliver and John when we lived in Ann Arbor and had blogs (circa 2013/2014). I think you had moved away by that point, but Oliver always spoke very highly of you, and I’ve very much enjoyed reading your blog throughout the years. I’ve stopped writing a blog but I’ve kept up writing here and there.

    In any case, I too now live in Houston and have two sons – Ean who is 4 and Austin who is 2. Long story short, it turns out that Austin has been diagnosed with a randomly occurring, rare, and fatal form of muscular dystrophy called L-CMD. He’s a bright and happy typical 2 year old, who just happens to not be able to sit up on his own, eat by mouth, or do the walking, running and jumping of a typical 2 year old.

    My husband, Mark, and I launched a 501c3 nonprofit last year to fund research into creating a treatment and eventually a cure for Austin and the other children suffering from this disease (L-CMD Research Foundation: lcmdreseasrch.org). Our kickoff campaign was called 2 Before 2! to raise $2,000,000 by Austin’s second birthday. We’ve raised over a million dollars since Feb, and although his birthday is next week, we’re going to wrap up this particular fundraising effort with a virtual wine tasting as a final event on Sept 9th. I think it’ll be a fun evening to have a laugh at the end of a long road and in the midst of a tough ongoing journey.

    When I saw your email this morning, it reminded me that I ought to reach out on the off chance you and your wife would be interested in attending and/or inviting anyone else. It’s going to be a 75 minute zoom tasting led by In Good Taste (ingoodtaste.com) of 6 Washington State wines from 7-8:15pm Central. To help us “86” L-CMD, for $86 you get 6 mini-bottles of wine which add up to about a bottle and a half total. I can’t say I’ve done a tasting with this company, nor that I’m familiar with Washington wines, but I have a friend who has and she’s said good things. And a portion of the ticket price is of course a tax-deductible donation. If you have any interest in joining us, the website to sign up (by Aug 25th to allow for wine shipping time) is GiveButter.com/LCMDwinetasting

    And here is an article the Chronicle wrote about us back in May: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/lifestyle/renew-houston/health/article/Houston-family-launches-foundation-for-16168862.php

    I hope the trip up to college drop-off was great and that the ride back will be smooth. All my best and thank you for the consideration, Hannah


    Hannah Lowe Corman President, L-CMD Research Foundation Support Austin’s “2 Before 2!” campaign! Raising money to research a treatment for rare childhood disease L-CMD . DONATE here.

    On Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 8:01 AM the drunken cyclist wrote:

    > the drunken cyclist posted: “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” >


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