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).
2007 1789 Wines Pinot Noir Single Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $60. Under cork. My wife wanted Pinot. I knew what she meant–she wanted an American wine, on the young side (read: no older than 2019), and something with a bit of gravitas. Well, with this wine I got at least two out of three. Sure, it is a bit “older” but by most accounts from those in the know, 2007 was a “classic” Willamette Valley Pinot, a bit light in color, slightly reserved, but still fantastic fruit–more dark than red–and my wife nailed it: clove. Spicy, fruity, complex, this is winemaker Isabelle Dutartre at her best as this wine, 14 years out, is absolutely amazing. Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV Gallimard Père et Fils Champagne Grande Réserve Chardonnay, France: Retail $50. 100% Chardonnay. A bit golden in the glass, suggesting a bit of age on this non-vintage Blanc de Blancs with loads of baked Granny Smith apple pie with a lovely yeasty, flaky crust. The palate is quite nice as well with a lip-smacking tartness to go along with all that freshly-baked apple pie goodness. I have said dozens of times that I am not a fan of the Blanc de Blancs style, but when it has a bit of age on it (like it seems this bottle does), the body intensifies while the elegance remains. A winning combo in my book. (I have not actually written a book, yet. Unless you count my dissertation, but you shouldn’t count that since I don’t.) Excellent. 92 Points.
2012 Maria & Manfred Hick Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Glauberkreuz, Wachau, Austria: Retail 12€. Under screwcap. It has been a little over a year since I popped our previous bottle of this wine, and this represents the last of the three that I brought back from Austria in 2014. I first tasted Maria & Manfred’s wines at a tiny little restaurant in the historic red light district of Salzburg, the Steingasse. The restaurant, Köchelverzeichnis, is owned by Maria’s cousin, Andrea, and she is a force of nature, commanding the tiny restaurant on her own with a hot plate and an ebullient personality that fills the room more quickly and fully than the enchanting aromas from her surprisingly elaborate and delectable meals. The wine was featured at the restaurant and as I taste it know, it takes me back to the Steingasse, and this now golden yellow elixir oozes lemon curd and salinity–in an ocean sea breeze sense (even though the Wachau is no where near a sea). The palate is rich, even unctuous, nowhere near what I normally think of when I hear “Grüner Veltliner.” And I love it. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial Rosé, France: Retail $60. 40-50% Pinot Noir, 30-40% Pinot Meunier, 10-20% Chardonnay. Similar to Veuve Clicquot, Moët et Chandon gets a really raw deal when it comes to the wine critics. Sure, it is ubiquitous and no, it is not a trendy grower-champagne. But. It is good, excellent, even. Lovely salmon color with lively strawberry and hints of baked bread–a lovely combination. Quite tart, buoyed by lovely fruit and just the right amount of dosage (7 g/l I believe). Listen, this will not change your life but it is a damned good bottle of wine. Sure, it was not made by an octogenarian with her bare hands, but neither was just about everything else you consume in your daily life. Excellent. 92 Points.
2008 Olin Wines Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $40(?). Under cork. 100%(?) Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. OK, brace yourself as this might be one of the worst notes you have read in a while. Info on the inter webs about this wine is scant. I could not find any information about the producer (their Facebook page’s last entry was in 2010), the winemaker, or the varietal composition. I am fairly certain that Wes Hagen had something to do with the wine, however, since I am at least 90% sure that I bought the wine through the Clos Pepe website (although I am far from certain). What I do know? A baker’s dozen years past harvest, this wine is fairing quite well, thank you very much. Average color with dark and red fruit, a bit of pencil shavings, clove, and just a whisper of black earth. The fruit is ever-so-slightly stewed on the palate, but that is really the only item that comes close to a “gripe” here. Good fruit, nicely balanced, no real sign of tannins, but still doing quite well. But drink up. That is what Wes would want. I think. I really have no idea. Very Good. 89 Points.
2005 Point Concepción Syrah Cuvée Jalama, Central Coast, CA: Retail $25. Under cork. Wow. I bought a case of this wine way back in 2012, shortly after I started my blog, coincidentally. Until tonight, I had blown through 10 of the 12 bottles that I purchased way back when from the PLCB. This is the first bottle, however, that I have popped for almost seven (?) years. Holy crap. I figured, tonight, after another lackluster performance by my football team, it was time to pop one of the last two corks of this wine in my cellar. Not disappointed. At. All. Wild blackberries, clove, sage, black pepper, I could go on but time to drink. Whoa. Fruity, but not over the top, tart, but in balance, plenty of tertiary flavors and aromas, but far from overwhelming. In short? Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week came down to a tossup. Sure, I could have (for the umpteenth time) jumped up on my soapbox to defend Möet (particularly the rosé) or gone a bit to the geek side and used this space to extoll Grüner Veltliner But no, the Wine of the Week came down to two wines, both of which I have exactly one bottle remaining; one I bought from the evil PLCB at a fairly big discount, the other I bought directly from the winemaker at full price. In the end, I opted for the 2005 Point Concepción Syrah Cuvée Jalama over the 2007 1789 Wines Pinot Noir Single Vineyard as this week’s top wine. Why? I really have no idea, just rolling with it, I guess.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?