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 $35. 100% Pinot Noir. Another stellar bottle, I am feeling confident that the rather average bottle was an outlier and which is why I bought another batch from Last Bottle. Yeasty and citrus on the nose, and a golden color in the glass, this has great tartness and a baked good-goodness along with a fairly vibrant sparkle. This Premier Cru from Dizy is turning out to be our house champagne (after Mailly Grand Cru, naturally). Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut, France: Retail $42. 50% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. This was on sale at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B) but I had never been particularly enthralled with this wine, so I passed. At $33? I think I am glad I did. Instead, I came home and opened a bottle that I had purchased earlier when it was on sale for $28. Sure, there is some fruit and some yeastiness, but not nearly enough of either to make me want to buy more. Yes, it is champagne, and yes, it is “good” but is it worth twice the domestic sparkler that I currently fancy? Hardly. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. I popped this right after I had opened the non-rosé brut and, well, it was okaaay (but far from stellar). Dejected (not really), I decided to pop one of the bottles of rosé as a comparison. Really, no comparison. At. All. Rich, fruity, tart, engaging. Yeah. While this wine was the same price as the Brut, this is head-and-shoulders (or at least shoulders) above it. Bravo. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $25. “Consisting primarily of Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle.” Sure, this is ubiquitous and distributed by one of the evil empires, but it is really good if not more. Fruity, but balanced by acidity, minerality, verve. I understand the sentiment that any wine that is sold to a Kroger, Safeway, Piggly Wiggly should be chastised by the snobby sommelier crowd, but this really is good folks. Consider it the Veuve Cliquot of Provençal rosé. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Philippe Gonet Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $50. 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Meunier. Purchased six bottles from LastBottleWines.com a couple of years ago and this is already the fifth bottle that we have gone through. We tend to have very little restraint in this house when it comes to bubbles. Very happy with this purchase. Slightly golden in the glass with plenty of toasty, yeasty notes as well as a bit of citrus and marzipan. Tart, fruity, yeasty, and tons of loveliness on the palate. Close to a Whoa. Yet another Pinot Noir-dominate wine that just lights up my Christmas tree (so to speak). Lovely. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve, France: Retail $42. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. 100% Grand Cru. Dear friends, who had moved away a few years ago, were back in town. This seemed like a fitting starter since we got them hooked on Mailly while they were living two doors down. Apparently, it is very hard to get in Malaysia. Great aromas and flavors (peach and pear) with more than a modicum of yeastiness. Delightful. This bottle comes off as just slightly sweet, which is odd since the dosage on Mailly is usually spot-on. Regardless, this bottle represents a return to the norm, to the Mailly of memory, and the reason we named our puppy after the winery/town. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. We had some dear friends over whom we hooked years ago on Mailly, so after the Brut Réserve, this seemed like the natural progression. For whatever reason, this bottle seemed even better than previous iterations. Okay. I am going to try to be objective here but we named our dog “Mailly Grand Cru Rosé,” “Mailly” for short. So I have some bias. But objectively, this is fantastic. Deep pink color, one of the darker rosé champagnes on the market. Lovely, rich nose of strawberry, cherry, croissant, and a slight mineral aspect. The palate is laden with fruit, plenty of tartness, and considerable verve. Yowza. Yes, I am a fan of this brand and this wine, but there is a reason: it’s damned good. Whoa.
Outstanding. 94 Points.
2019 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé, France: Retail $25. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle. I was at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B) where the 2020 vintage of this wine was on sale. I bought a bunch and decided that it might be time to go through the last few bottles of the 2019. I really liked it nine months ago, and nothing has really changed; great fruit, fantastic acidity, and a really lovely mouthfeel. The price has inched up over the last six months but this is still a good bargain at the $17 I pay at my local store (I love my H-E-B). Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Famille Perrin / Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône “Nature” Rosé, France: Retail $20. 30% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre. When I saw this at my local H-E-B (I love my H-E-B), I quickly grabbed a bottle. Why? This is from the famed Rhône producer, the Perrin Family. While the list of their exploits is lengthy, it also includes Miraval, the joint venture with Bradgelina. This wine has a relatively dark hue (but still pink) with a fruity (tree fruit, red berry), mineral nose. The palate is delicious (with a slight hint of sweetness), dominated by the fruit and a balancing acidity. Quite nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Last week, I stated that it was a bit of a strange week since we did not pop any champagne. Well, we made up for it this week, in spades. While we did not open any vintage bottles of bubbly, we did manage to go through six bottles of the more common non-vintage wines. Why so much champagne? Why not? While I firmly believe that it is not a wine to be reserved for celebrations, I also believe that every day should be celebrated, particularly as I approach the tenth anniversary of a pretty big health scare that I had. Of all the champagne we drink, Mailly Grand Cru Brut Réserve is always our favorite. Dear friends introduced us to it so many years ago, and we, in turn, have continued the “tradition” by introducing it to several other good friends, a Mailly family tree of sorts.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?