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).
2006 Gallo Family Vineyards / Gallo of Sonoma Merlot: Retail $18(?). Big. Ass. Bottle. Composition? I was visiting my mother’s house in Ypsilanti, Michigan for the first time in a while (I grew up in the state, but left as soon as I got the chance) and she told me that there was a bunch of wine in the basement, most of which she thought I had bought her. Well, I am 93.7% sure that I did not spend any of my hard-earned money on this wine (at least I hope not). Not because it is a “bad” wine by any means, but well, as a self-proclaimed wine geek, I really am not allowed to buy any wine from the super-huge producers (like Gallo). But. Truth be told, this is not terrible. In fact, I would classify it as “quaffable” particularly with the Cottage Inn pizza that we ordered. Decent red berry fruit, even 15 years out, with ample acidity, and surprising balance. Yeah, this is not a world beater, but on a Saturday night, with pizza, after a funeral? You bet. Very Good. 88 Points.
2008 Grgich Hills Merlot, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $50(?). As I normally do when I crack a bottle, I do a little research. While the information on the inter webs on this wine was relatively scant, I did notice on Cellar Tracker that this was the last bottle of Grgich that I currently own, which caused more than a bit of pause. While I am far from a cult-follower of the brand, I like to think that I am a historian and know the importance of Mike Grgich, the wine he made at Château Montelena, and his connection to André Tchelistcheff. A lot going on there behind this label. No doubt I will search out some older bottles (or maybe even newer vintages) of Grgich Hills to replace this last of its kind in my collection. As for the wine? it is holding up quite well, thank you very much, with a dark presence in the glass—both in color and aromas—the black and blue fruits are predominant (blackberry, blueberry, plum, cassis). The palate is reminiscent of the pies I enjoyed during my childhood at family reunions: blueberry, blackberry, even mincemeat, all of which were accompanied by a healthy dollop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Whoa. While those days are long gone, this wine helped me to go back there and I imagine the next bottle of Grgich Hills will lead to another journey, only I am not sure where. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Henriot Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $65. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. The last bottle that I had of this wine was less than stellar. Well, not this time. In fact, it is on the verge of a whoa. Pale salmon in the glass with an active sparkle, the nose is a tad funky, but there is some great strawberry and cherry fruit, with a touch of minerality and considerable yeastiness. The palate is fruity, but more defined by the tartness, which is considerable. Yum. While there are other wines at lower price points that I might prefer, this is nonetheless a solid effort. Excellent. 92 Points.
2010 Maranet Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail: $30. This is the second label of noted Russian River Pinot producer DuMOL, typically made from younger vines with fruit that is not up to a level worthy of being incorporated into the flagship wines. I last tasted this over two years ago, it was good then and is holding up very nicely. Good fruit, more than ample acidity, and a touch of depth. Very nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Pommery Champagne Brut Silver, France: Retail $50. After purchasing this at Costco for around $40, I Googled the heck out of this for the varietal composition and the level of dosage (sugar added) to no avail. On the verge of golden in the glass with a classic champagne nose of lemon merengue and toasty goodness. A fine bubble delivers a tart, vibrant, and delicious elixir, perfect as a Friday evening starter. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Cave de Ribeauvillé Pinot Noir Crémant d’Alsace Les Comtes de Ribeauvillé Brut Rosé, France: Retail $20. 100% Pinot Noir. When I saw this bottle at Costco for $13, I jumped at it for two reasons: I consider the Crémants from Alsace to be right up there with those from the Jura as the best in France and my family and I once spent a joyful week in Riquewihr, which is just a stone’s throw from Ribeauvillé. Well, I really hope this was an off bottle, because it was not good. Fine sparkle, medium salmon color, strawberry and cherry on the nose (so far…), but the palate is laden, even defined by an off-putting metallic element that really sucks all the joy out of this wine. There is some fruit in there, along with some sweetness, but it’s like sucking on a box wrench. Meh. 84 Points.
2007 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $55. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Honestly? I had forgotten about this wine and bottle. It was in a wine refridgerator on the third floor of the house. While I rarely fraternize with my sons’ central part of the indictment, I do know thee, but based on your nose, is a much darker (both in color and aromas) than I normally commandeer. Working as a dark red operative, tho, I sneak behind enemy lines to discover this dark, almost brooding wine with loads of dark berry (blackberry, black cherry, raspberry) fruit, along with plum, cassis (wait, that’s a berry), and earth. I guess this is close to a Whoa with incredible power and finesse. Yeah, OK, Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: A few wines to choose from this week for the ultimate prize, coveted by all, the Wine of the Week, including a fine champagne from Henriot and, believe it or not, two wines from Napa Valley (I can’t remember the last time I had multiple wines from Napa in the same month). In the end it came down to those two Napa wines for the Wine of the Week, and I ended up opting for to 2008 Grgich Hills Merlot for a couple of reasons. I mentioned how important Mike Grgich and his eponymous winery have been to the history and growth of Napa Valley. The other reason? I actually remembered to take a photo.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?