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 Breton Fils Champagne Brut Tradition, France: Retail $35. 33% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Meunier, 33% Pinot Noir. I picked a case of this wine up from Vivino.com for a mere $20/bottle. No brainer. The winery is in Cogny, a tiny town due east of Paris and south of Epernay, so I am not entirely sure if it is in La Vallée de la Marne or in the Aube. Regardless, at the 20 bucks I paid? This is fairly fantastic: bright fruit, rich flavors, plenty of yeastiness. On the palate, all of the aforementioned exists, but there is also a touch of sweetness, which detracts from the wine, if ever so slightly (in my opinion). Still, Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. “Consisting primarily of Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle.” I do not know how many bottles of this wine/vintage I have opened, but it is significant. Since its inception, it has been one of my favorite rosés and that holds true: great red fruit (strawberry, cherry) along with stone fruit (peach, pear), minerality, and a touch of earth. On the palate this is tart, on the verge of luscious, and certainly fruity (in a reserved way). One of my favorites, for sure. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 B Kosuge Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Under DIAM 10. If I am not mistaken, this is the first Chardonnay that Byron has put under DIAM, which I consider a fantastic idea (although I might prefer Stelvin?) since that 2009 I tasted in 2017 was badly oxidized. Byron’s wines deserve to be cellared, deserve to be aged. Case in point. Five years out, this wine is perhaps still too young as it is singing on both the nose and the palate. Pale straw, barely any color at all, there is plenty of fresh lemon curd, and a hint of white pepper. Whoa. And a holy cow, even. The palate is relatively subtle at first, with a bit of fruit but plenty of acid, and touches of vanilla and oak. By the mid-palate, though, this wine reveals its mettle as the subtle power wafts in, bathed in that acidity, but also striving to reach the stage. I would say this is much more Grand Cru Chablis in style as it needs to warm just a bit to reveal its depth–and there is plenty. With a bit of time in the glass, this really shines. Holy cow again. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé, California: Retail $24. 73% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 1% Pinot Meunier. This is close to becoming our house sparkler, but Mumm Napa still holds a slight edge (honestly, I opt for whichever wine is less expensive). Great fruit, plenty of sparkle, one of the better values in sparkling wine. A bit on the sweet side, though, at least for me, Still? A very pleasant quaff. For twelve bucks at the H-E-B? It’s also a no-brainer. Very Good. 89 Points.
NV André Chemin Champagne Premier Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $45. 74% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 8% Coteaux Champenois (still) Pinot Noir. Here are my notes for the first bottle we tried: “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 my own personal favorite, Mailly, 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…”
While many of the attributes remain constant, this wine came off as, well, much tastier than the first. Richer fruit, deeper flavors, and just overall better balance than the first bottle. Strange, but welcomed! Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I believe it was back in 2010 when I first met Byron Kosuge as I was visiting some of the producers portrayed in John Winthrop Haeger’s seminal book, Pacific Pinot Noir. He was making his wine in a custom crush facility at the time and I distinctly remember a quite agile Byron, climbing racks stacked three high with barrels , pulling barrel samples for us to try. Since then, I have been an unabashed fan of his wines and have been particularly drawn to his Chardonnays, which is one of the few wines (not from Champagne) that I buy by the case. We have gone through a few bottles of the case of the 2016 B Kosuge Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, this week’s Wine of the Week, and it continues to shine.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?