What We Have Been Drinking—2/28/2022

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 Paul Berthelot Champagne Premier Cru Eminence, France: Retail $45. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. Another bottle and another shift in paradigm. This is the 20th (!) bottle of this wine we’ve had and there have been some inconsistencies. This bottle was fantasmagorical. Rich fruit, quite yeasty, multiple layers, and a finish that lasts well into the next commercial break. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2005 Château La Grave à Pomerol Trigant de Boisset, Bordeaux, France: Retail $75. 96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc. I bought half a case of this wine over a decade ago, now, and this is the first bottle I have cracked (although I did gift one to a fairly famous Tour de France racer who once finished first on a stage to the top of l’Alpe d’Huez). I had worried it had been too long, but no need to worry. What. So. Ever. A bit dark in the glass with some slightly stewed black fruit on the nose. The palate is close to gangbusters; sure, the wine is subdued, as one would expect from a Right Bank beauty, but there is fantastic fruit, just the right amount of tartness, earth, a hint of spice, and a whole lot of magnificence. If that were not enough, the finish lasts for days. Whoa. Outstanding. Outstanding. 94 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. Excellent. 92 Points.

NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée, France: Retail $50. Disgorged September 2020. 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier, 20% fermented in oak. I have gone through a fair number of bottles of Bruno Paillard and with each cork popped, I become more enamored with the wines and the brands. That is certainly the case here, once again. Nutty, yeasty, and loaded with citrus on the nose, brilliant acidity, creaminess, and a walnut aspect on the palate. Gangbusters. Outstanding. 93 Points.

NV Camille Savès Champagne Grand Cru Carte d’Or Brut, France: Retail $75. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. This was at Cosco for $40, and while I have limited experience with this producer, I did not hesitate once I saw “Bouzy” on the label. The town is my favorite Grand Cru in Champagne (with Mailly a close second), and I rarely am disappointed by a wine from the hamlet. A bit golden in color with quite a bit of yeastiness on the nose. The palate has great Golden Delicious apple, honey, that freshly-baked goodness, and a near-bracing acidity. Fantastic. I might have to go back and get more. Excellent. 91 Points.

NV Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $13. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Faint pink with an orange tint, fruity aromas of strawberry, a touch of rhubarb, and a hint of sweetness. Tart, fresh, fruity, noticeable sweetness, but good depth, flavors, and length. A little sweeter than I remember it being. Still,  Very Good. 87 Points.

2013 Soléna Chardonnay Domaine Danielle Laurent, Willamette Valey, OR: Retail $50. I did not think it would take close to seven years to get to this second bottle of this wine that I received as a sample, but I am glad I did. Looking over the notes from the first bottle, they are pretty spot on, including the estimation that this wine would improve some with age. Here is what I wrote in 2015: “Subtle nose of white flowers with a bit of melon and a hint of clove. Over the lips, this is much more Chablis than Chassagne (i.e., it emphasizes brightness over creaminess). Clean and lean with lemon and verve. This likely would benefit from a bit of cellar time. Right now? Excellent. 90-92 Points, but that could increase in a couple of years.” Excellent. 92 Points.

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 44 to 48 % Pinot Noir, 25 to 29 % Chardonnay, 13 to 18 % Meunier. One of the more consistent champagnes on the market, in my opinion, with great fruit, balance, and depth. Also, one of the more maligned wines by “experts” since it is made by an absolute behemoth. While that helps make it ubiquitous, it does not, inherently, make it “bad.” Excellent. 92 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: In a week that we popped several bottles of champagne (which is the norm, quite honestly), it is shocking (at least to me) that I opted for a still wine for this week’s Wine of the Week. Even more shocking, again, at least to me, is the fact that it is a Bordeaux (the most over-rated wine region in the world in my opinion), and it is a Right Bank wine (meaning, in general, that the wine is a Merlot-based wine). Yes, the 2005 Château La Grave à Pomerol Trigant de Boisset is this week’s top wine, and yes, it is a Merlot. From Bordeaux. What does that say about my evolution as a wine writer/wine lover? I am going to go with “nothing” as I am looking at it as an outlier. 

 What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?




About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Champagne, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking—2/28/2022

  1. Denman Moody says:

    Jeff: you said that you think Bordeaux is the most over-rated wine region. Well, Burgundy is the most over-priced wine region. Your La Grave Bordeaux and many others that score 94 and 95 can be found at $75 to $150 a bottle, while numerous red Burgundies that score 94 to 95 can be found at $250 to $500! But I love them both—just can’t afford the Burgundies!


    • Denman, you might be right (if I am reading between the lines correctly) that for the “best” wines, Burgundy has supplanted Bordeaux atop the “most over-rated wine region” mantle (at least if you use price as a guide). My point was more that the number of really outstanding wines in Bordeaux is dwarfed by the sea of mediocrity that comes out of the region. I am not sure that the same can be said in Burgundy.


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