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 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Premier Cru Brut, France: Retail $50. Disgorged?? 35% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Fromenteau. Again, no disgorgement date. This bottle is a decided drop-off from previous iterations we have popped with a very tart nose of under-ripe lemon, a bit of yeast, and quite mineral. The palate is fine, but not much more than that as it is disjointed, the fruit is overly tart, and just a bit of a mess. Quite a departure from previous bottles, indeed. Very Good. 87 Points.
NV Pierre Cellier Champagne Brut Prestige, France: Retail $48. 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. This brand was started by the late Philippe Gonet and named after his son (Pierre and the current cellar master) and Philippe’s wife’s maiden name (Cellier). We were in Columbus for an interview and when we got off the plane it was 23 degrees. Twenty frigging degrees. So we went to what has become my favorite restaurant in Columbus: The Wine Bistro in Upper Arlington. When the bartender opened this wine, the cork soared right in front of my face, glanced off a chandelier, and landed in the water glass of another patron. Yikes. Thus, I was not able to look at the cork (the corks from older champagnes take a particularly long time [if ever] to expand), but I have the feeling that this wine had some age on it. Golden in the glass with a Whoa-worthy nose of tarte tatin, freshly-baked brioche. Dry. Really dry. Much drier than I anticipated since this labeled a brut, but it has to be on the bottom of that scale. But yowza. Baked apple, fantastic acidity, an incredible Whoa factor on the palate. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV Marc Chauvet Champagne Brut Sélection, France: Retail $45. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir from Rilly la Montagne (1er Cru). I received this as part of the annual “Secret Wino” exchange that I run every winter and, to be honest, I had completely forgotten about it until today. Quite citrusy and yeasty on the nose with a healthy dose of minerality. The palate is quite bright and tart with loads (on the verge of too much?) fresh lemon juice and zest. Holy cow is this tart! It mellowed out a bit with some food, but alone? You really need to find some food and quick. Very Good. 89 Points.
2003 Marcel Deiss Grasberg, Alsace, France: Retail $75. Most likely a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer. This is the last of the three bottles of this wine that I bought almost a decade ago to the day. This is the last tasting note I wrote on this wine, last fall: “Given the age of the wine and the relatively high degree of mystery that Marcel Deiss likes to maintain, information about this wine is scant. It has been an amazing six years since I have tried this wine, and it has fared exceedingly well. Golden in the glass with peach, pear, honey, hints of petrol, and a splash of citrus on the nose. I would classify the palate as more off-dry than sweet, with levels of flavor and complexity.” While all of that rings true, I am going to have to bump this up a notch or two as this is pretty close to gangbusters. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Antoine Derigny Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $65. 100% Chardonnay. A Grand Cru from the Mesnil-sur-Oger region, I picked this up from Last Bottle for under thirty bucks. Whoa. It has been a solid six months since I have popped a cork and, well, whoa. Normally, I gravitate toward Pinot dominated Champers, but this BdB from the Côte des Blancs clearly has some age on it, which, at least for me, is key for the genre. Baked pear tart, yellow apple, even some tangerine, and some fresh-out-of-the-oven croissant. While this might be a (slight) step below previous iterations of this wine, it is still stellar. Excellent. 92 Points.
2001 Domaine Georges Vernay Côte-Rôtie Maison Rouge, France: Retail $74. B.A.B. 100% Syrah. We were watching a silly telenovela and my wife urged “uno mas” (at least when it called for wine). So I obliged and grabbed this. From the first pour from this close-to-ridiculously-heavy-bottle, I was worried as it seemed to be both heavily doused with Brett and, well, corked. I hoped that one, the other, or even both would blow off with some time. Well, it took a considerable amount of time, but it seemed like this (at best) bare bag of bones had a little bit of life left her. Emphasis on little. Yes, the Brett and the (slightly) corked aspects either blew off or seemed much more manageable. Sure, there was fruit, but not much in this 20-year-old wine, but there was tartness, a bit of depth, and certainly some intrigue, but that nose…. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Grand Cordon Brut Rosé, France: Retail $60. 60% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier, 14% red wine. I was making Wienerschnitzel and sous-vide garlic mashed potatoes for the first time, so naturally I wanted a rosé champagne (makes sense to me). I purchased this about six months ago for roughly half the retail from my local H-E-B and could not be happier. Great red fruit, vibrant sparkle, zingy acidity, and a bit of that yeasty yumminess in champagne that I’ve been addicted to for some time now. Yeah. Happy spot. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 de Négoce Chardonnay OG N.77, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $12. Cameron Hughes claims that this is a $40-50 wine and who am I to argue? Quite light in the glass with barely a “pale straw” evident, but there is quite a bit of citrus and just a touch of oak on the nose. The palate is tart, but not overly so, with a slightly weighty mouth-feel, and subtle citrus and oak. If I had to choose? This is more aligned with a Chablis than a Côte d’Or Burgundy, which is just fine by me. This wine will not hit you over the head with power or flavor, but if you are patient and proceed meticulously, the rewards will be significant. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $50. Under cork. Sadly, this is the last bottle of this wine we have, and it happened to be signed by Maggie and Hank Skewis, who retired from the wine business a few years ago. This might be the best of all the Pinots produced by Skewis (although, to be honest, I do not know what their criteria were for the “Reserve”). Medium color in the glass with an absolutely gorgeous nose of black cherry pie, clove, dried rose petal, and Christmas spice. Whoa. The palate is easily the equal of the nose, with rich fruit, plenty of weight, depth, and an acidity that really runs the show. Nearly fifteen years out? Yeah, the wine world lost a master when Hank retired. Outstanding. 95 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another champagne-heavy week (not really a surprise) but we managed to pull a few other gems out of the cellar as well. while the Georges Vernay Côte-Rotie was a disappointment, the Marcel Deiss Grasberg was a pleasant surprise, and the de Négoce continues to really impress. The Wine of the Week honors, however, came down to the Pierre Cellier Champagne and the Skewis Pinot Noir. The champagne was a lovely surprise on a frigid night in Columbus, Ohio and the Pinot was pretty much what I have come to expect from Hank and Maggie Skewis. In the end I opted for the 2007 Skewis Pinot Noir Reserve as this week’s top wine. Why? Well, we were in Columbus for my wife’s interview and she ended up not getting the job. Oh, and the Pinot was great.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?