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).
2009 Argyle Pinot Noir Spirithouse, Dundee Hills, OR: Retail $65. Under screw cap. It has been a hot minute, but this is the first bottle of this wine we have cracked in almost two years. Yowza. (That applies to bth the lapse as well as the wine). While 2008 was lauded by the critics and 2007 was heralded by the locals as a “classic” vintage in the valley, 2009 is a bit of a red-headed stepchild. Neither hedonistic (2008) nor austere (2007), this wine is right in my wheel house. Light in color but rich in aromas, this wine exudes dark, brooding cherry in the glass. The palate is, well, decadent, with rich cherry fruit, a viscous unctuousness, and a balancing acidity that identifies the best Pinots. And this is one of those. Yowza. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV L. Aubry Fils Champagne Premier Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. Disgorged October, 2016. Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau (Pinot Gris). About half of the wine comes from a “perpetual reserve” (essentially a solera system without the oxidation) that dates from 1998. I bought this a handful of years ago from Cosco and since I recently bought another three bottles from Central Market, I decided to pop this puppy. While I was not able to find the varietal breakdown for this disgorgement, the fact that it includes six of the seven permissible varieties (poor Pinot Blanc is on the outside peering in) makes it delightful (as so does the taste, naturally). Fruity but also loaded with brioche, tart, but multi-layered and introspective, fun and inviting but also serious and composed. This is some fantastic Champers. If you don’t like this? You and I are pretty much done. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2020 Cave d’Esclans The Pale by Sacha Lichine, Vin de Pays du Var, France: Retail $18. Grenache, Cinsault. A bit of a B.A.B. Under screw cap. Made by the Rosé whisperer, Sacha Lichine at the Chateau d’Esclans (of Whispering Angel fame). While this is actually a Vin de Pays du Var, this has “Provence” written all over it. From its pale pink hue (hence the name), to its floral, fruity, and mineral bouquet, and lastly the fruity, rich, yet also reserved palate, this is a rosé lover’s delight. Were it not for the slightly ridiculous bottle, I would be all in on this wine. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Cave d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côte de Provence, France: Retail $25. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Rolle. There are two items that I find hard to believe and another that I do not. First, I find it hard to believe that I have only written one tasting note for this wine since I have bought at least a case and I have just a couple bottles left. Second, it is rather astounding (at least to me) that the last (and only) tasting note I wrote was nearly a year ago. I am certainly some kind of slacker. What does not surprise me? That this wine, nearly two years out from vintage, is still stellar. Sure, the fruit (strawberry and cherry) might not be quite as bright as it was 12 months ago, but that (slightly) diminished fruit reveals an intense acidity, minerality, and several layers of complexity. How can that be? As with most Provençal rosé, this is a True Rosé, meaning it is an intentional rosé–not a saignée. As this warms slightly, it might be getting even better. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Comtes de Dampierre Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. 65% Chardonnay (Avize), 35% Pinot Noir (Bouzy). This was a difficult wine to research (as there is another with a very similar name) and as such, I am not really sure about the composition. I am fairly certain that the winery is located in Bouzy, one of my favorite villages in Champagne. The wine itself is perhaps more inviting on the nose than the resulting palate, with plenty of crème brulée, fresh croissant, and baked apple. The palate starts out quite well with a wave of baked apple pie and more than sufficient tartness, but there is a metallic aspect that comes in on the midpalate and endures through the finish. Still, Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino, Italy: Retail $12. Under screw cap. Purchased at H-E-B for under $8. Cards on the table: I went on a press trip to Mezzacorona a few years ago and I have been an unabashed fan ever since and this wine is largely the reason. I am no fan of the Italian style of Pinot Gris, in fact, other than a few notable exceptions in Alto Adige, I avoid this like an unmasked sneezing traveller in an airport. But. This wine is always fabulous. Sure, they make a ton of it, but the fruit comes from an army of small, family-owned farms (Mezzacorona is a co-operative) and it always delivers way above its weight (I have told the folks at Mezzacorona that they need to charge more, but they have yet to listen). While this is usually a tad fresher upon release, I have had 2, 3, even 4 year-old bottles of this wine and it maintains its balance, full of fruit and tartness. This bottle is fantastic—bright peach, pear, and even some tropical notes on the nose, the palate is wonderfully balanced with oodles of fruit and a mouth-watering acidity, but it’s the finish, which is both long and flavorful, that is the most remarkable aspect of this wine. Just a delight every time. What more do you want for under eight freaking dollars? Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Easily the best wine I had this week was the 2009 Argyle Spirithouse which I cracked open, at least in part, because I had returned from Oregon where I had spent some time with Rollin Soles, one of the founders of Argyle. Close behind the Argyle was the Aubry Premier Cru, which I always enjoy and has the added benefit of being one of the few readily available champagnes that utilizes the traditional varieties. Both great wines, both great candidates for Wine of the Week. Instead, I opted for the 2020 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino as this week’s top wine since I am consistently amazed at how good and inexpensive this wine consistently is. It also reminds me of one of my first international press trips, which I wonder when (if?) I will ever be able to take again.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?