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 Clos Mogador Priorat, Spain: Retail $125 (?). 40% Grenache, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carignan, 17% Syrah. I bought six bottles of this wine a decade ago from an online purveyor and I had cracked only one bottle (in 2015) and it was stellar. Well. While much has changed in the world since 2006 (and 2015 for that matter), this wine is in-friggin-credible. Slightly stewed and oxidized on the nose, there is still a surprising amount of fruit, plenty of spice, and considerable forest floor. The palate? Close to “Holy Mother of Christ” status. Fruit, yes, but oh so much more. Earth, tartness, balance, complexity. OK. I’ll give this the “Mary” treatment. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2013 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. I have been an unabashed fan of Clos Pepe for who knows how long and I had six bottles of this wine tucked away in the cellar. I decided to crack the first bottle when some Pinot-phobic friends were over for some pizza. While the nose on this wine was a bit “dirty” (overly mineral and perhaps a whole cluster influence?) there was still that characteristic bright cherry fruit and spice. The palate was much more in line with what I expect from the few Clos Pepe wines remaining in my cellar: great fruit, incredible depth, and a unifying acidity. Really close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2005 Cosentino Winery The Poet, Napa Valley, CA: Retail: $75. Cosentino was at the forefront of creating the “Meritage” category in California, which is used for classic Bordeaux blends. The winery did not release the actual blend, but apparently incorporates all five of the Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec. While I have tasted countless iterations of The Poet, the “Ultimate Meritage” blend, this wine still stands on its head and delivers. Whoa. Dark in both color and aromas, this is, essentially knocks one’s socks off (yes, even if you are one to eschew socks). Rich, fruity, layered, complex, there are not enough adjectives to put this wine into perspective. The aspect I love the most? The green pepper aspect that is so often eschewed in winemaking (particularly in the U.S.). Holy cow, and a whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2019 de Négoce Syrah OG N.221, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $14. I have tried a few wines from négociant Cameron Hughes and just about all have been stellar. That is why I did not feel like I was taking a chance when buying a mixed case of Central Coast Syrah. Based on this first bottle, I stand by this essentially “mystery” purchase. Good fruit both in the glass and on the palate of red and black berries, plum, along with some cardamom, black pepper, and clove. Lovely. The acidity is also on point and the finish lasts well over a minute. Also, this was decidedly better on day two, so a bit more bottle age or an extended decant is advised. Excellent. 91 Points.
2005 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de l’Echo, Loire Valley, France: Retail $45. 100% Cabernet Franc. There are few wines in my ~1800 bottle cellar that I have anticipated opening more than this 2005 Clos de l’Echo from Couly-Dutheil. I bought these three bottles over a decade ago in Paris, at the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants. I have long been a fan of the winery, once owned by Rabelais, and this is their top red from arguably, the best vintage in at least a decade. My first reaction? Meh. The nose is dirty and Bret-laden (although I have tasted worse)–not very inviting at all. The palate? Better, if only slightly so, with some fruit, considerable earth, the aforementioned funk, and ample acidity. Meh. Very good, but a disappointment, for sure. Very Good. 89 Points.
2009 Panther Creek Pinot Noir. Freedom Hill Vineyard, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $40. It has been a hot minute since I have cracked a bottle of this wine and it seems as though the extra time has paid off. I bought eight bottles of this wine way back in 2104 from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for a scant $18 and the first few bottles were, well, less than stellar. A bit funky on the palate, but there is some fruit, spice, and just a bit of heat. The palate has a decided mocha note with ample fruit and a really nice balance. I think I have pulled a 180. Very nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
2008 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $55. I bought a few bottles of this wine on an online auction site way back in 2014. I cracked the first bottle about 18 months ago and was enthralled: great fruit, acidity, a bit of funk. Check, check, check, all the boxes. This go around? It comes off a bit as over-the-top with that intense fruitiness, robust acidity, and subtle earth. I really wanted to love this wine as much as the previous bottle, but it is just not there. Very Good. 89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: We cracked a few stellar bottles this week, but when choosing the Wine of the Week, it is hard to go against what many consider as one of the standard-bearers for an entire region. After having typed that, I guess the same could be said for the 2005 Cosentino The Poet (if you consider “Meritage” as a region or at least a genre), but nonetheless, the 2006 Clos Mogador, Priorat is this week’s top wine. I do not have a ton of experience with Spanish wines in general or Priorat specifically, I do like to think that I know an Outstanding wine when it crosses my lips, and this was certainly that.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?