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 Chemin Champagne Premier Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $45. 74% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 8% Coteaux Champenois (still) Pinot Noir. When I saw this on Wines Til Sold Out for $28 with free shipping on six bottles, I decided to take a flier and it is a decent buy in my book. No, it will never convince you that it is a Bruno Paillard, a Billecart-Salmon, even one of my own personal favorites, Mailly Grand Cru, but these are solid pink bubbles with aromas of strawberry and watermelon, a decent sparkle (the bubbles seem a little bigger than most), good tartness (I would classify this on the dry side of Brut at 6gr/l), and an overall quality effort. It just lacks a bit of the “wow” factor that many rosés (even at this price point) seem to have. At this price? I might buy it again… Very Good. 88 Points.
2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $18. Under cork. I am pretty sure that I have been a fan of this wine since its introduction around the turn of the millennium (OK, maybe not that long) when Dr. Loosen approached the fine people at Château Ste. Michelle about a possible partnership. I am not sure, but this might be the sixth or seventh vintage of this wine I have tried and it has been remarkably consistent. I guess it would be considered off-dry, but the sweetness (which is certainly perceptible), is by no means cloying, and works quite well, in fact. Oodles of fruit, even eight years out, with notes of petrol and honeysuckle. Wonderfully balanced and a delight to drink, this is always a hit with my mother-in-law, which makes it a no-brainer. Very Good. 89 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut, France: Retail $42. 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. This wine has been a bit variable since the first bottle I popped a little over a year ago. Certainly more than a pale straw here, close to golden with a consistent and fine sparkle and the nose is replete with a nutty, biscuity, yumminess that all but overwhelms the subtle citrus fruit and floral notes. The palate is quite tart, but that yeastiness is there in spades again, masking the otherwise bright citrus. This is not at the apex of non-vintage champagne, but for under thirty bucks at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B), this could easily become our daily bubbles (but it would be nice if there were a tad bit more consistency).Excellent. 90 Points.
2008 Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $45. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I do not drink a ton of Frog’s Leap and I have no idea how this bottle came into my possession (my hunch is that one of my wife’s colleagues brought this to our house in Philadelphia). Well, it made the trek to Houston and survived until tonight when we had a couple of friends at our table (it was my son’s 13th birthday and he was having a sleepover). I would have to check, but Frog’s Leap might be the original “critter wine” but even the first sniff legitimizes this wine. Instantly. Dark berry fruit (blackberry, cassis), black pepper, spice, and just a touch of heat (13.7% ABV), this wine is fantastic on the palate. Sure, it is 13 years out from harvest, but this really is gangbusters with great fruit, balance, and verve. Really close to a Whoa. Really close. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Guillaume Gonnet Tavel Rosé La Nymphe, France: Retail $20. 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. Under agglomerated stopped with cork discs. I was at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B) and decided to buy a half a case of rosés from France. While I am a bit familiar with Tavel, this is certainly a new producer for me. Classic Tavel in both the varietal makeup and the intense cherry color (closer to a Pinot in color than to its Provençal rosé neighbors just a few kilometers to the south). Rich strawberry and cherry aromas with flint and crushed rock on the nose, the palate is a delight with plenty of red berry fruit, ample tartness (particularly on the finish) and a bit of heft that indicates that this would pair particularly well with food. New Resolution (no need to wait for January): I need to drink more Tavel. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Larsen Projekt Grenache, North Coast, CA: Retail $30. Under screwcap. I bought six bottles of this wine over two years ago from the proprietor, whom I would consider a buddy of mine, and this is the fourth bottle we have cracked, nearly a year after the previous, but much of the same. In. A. Very. Good. Way. Big dark fruit. Many berries. Whoa. Yes, this seems to be better since the last opening, and while it was great then…now? Yowza. Great fruit, spice, a bit of earth, this wine is really fantastic. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Rarely is there a week when the choice for Wine of the Week is so cut and dry. Sure the 2008 Frog’s Leap Cab was a nice surprise, as were both the Gonnet Tavel Rosé and the 2013 Eroica—one of my mother-in-law’s favorites and holding up quite well, thank you very much. This week, though, the choice was clear cut. The 2016 Larsen Projekt Grenache was both incredible and surprising. I say surprising but I expected it to be fantastic, I just did not anticipate that there would be a noticeable improvement from the last bottle of this wine that we tried. It also was a nice precursor to next week: Grenache Day is on September 15th. On that day, I will moderate a discussion about American Grenache (although I might slip in some comments about French Grenache—I know crazy).
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?
Did you get a lot of hits on your website yesterday? Included your post about the glass you couldn’t drink in my weekly email 🙂
Janie Brooks Heuck Managing Director, Brooks Winery