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).
Even though we drink rosé year-round in Houston (and also when we lived in Philadelphia), it is now full-fledged rosé “season” (although I still bristle at that notion) here in Texas and will hopefully be so everywhere soon. Thus, this week (which ended with two glorious days in the low 80s) we popped open several bottles of the pink stuff in order to celebrate. (Not really, it was largely just a coincidence as can be seen by the inclusion of two reds as well.)
2020 Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste: Retail $25. 36% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 12% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Zinfandel. Saignée. A real kitchen-sink kind of rosé with a gorgeous bubblegum color and notes of wild strawberry, rhubarb, and a touch of watermelon. The palate is fruity, but certainly on the subtle side with a near-perfect level of tartness and a mouth-coating aspect that helps maintain the finish for longer than most wines (and not just rosés). For a winery that produces $100+ wines, this beauty, which you likely will find on the shelves for under $20, is a steal and one of the better non-True Rosés I have had in a while. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rosé René Couly, France: Retail $25. 100% Cabernet Franc. Under Nomacorc (ugh). I have very fond memories of this producer in the medieval town of Chinon, along the Vienne River in the heart of the Loire Valley. The town itself, where Joan of Arc met with the future Charles VII in the Spring of 1429 to request an army to defeat the British, is a gem and one of my favorites in the region. If that is not enough, some of the vineyards were once owned by Rabelais (of Gargantua fame), purchased by the Couly-Dutheil family in the mid-20th Century. Yeah. A lot to ponder even before the crappy synthetic stopper (don’t get me started) is pulled. Fairly dark in color as one would expect from a rosé of Cab Franc, with intense aromas of tart cherry, rhubarb, and flint. The palate is fruity and fresh with great tartness (but also a little VA?) and balance. I am trying to not let my fondness for the story cloud my judgment, but this is pretty fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
2001 Domaine Georges Vernay Côte-Rôtie Maison Rouge, Northern Rhône, CA: 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 Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé Brut, France: Retail: $75. 58% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 7% Red Pinot Noir. Well, it has been a long while since we popped open a bottle of this, a rosé from one of my favorite producers. The color has shifted from a pinkish hue to a decidedly orange one, indicating that we have had this for a while (red and pink wines lose color with age). More yeasty than fruity on the nose, with just hints of strawberry jam and baked peach cobbler. The palate is fantastic with a fine sparkle, an intense tartness, tons of that yeasty goodness, a bit of fruit on the mid-palate, and an extremely long finish. This clearly has some age on it, which is perfectly fine with me. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2019 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé, France: Retail $25. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle. I have had a few bottles of this now, and while all of the previous bottles have been stellar, this one is less so. Not much fruit, a bit overly tart, and even a tad astringent, particularly on the finish. Methinks it must be an aberration. Maybe? Or maybe it was just upset about the latest fighting between Brad Pitt and now former-co-owner Angelina Jolie. Very Good. 88 Points.
2018 Nino Franco Faìve Rosé Brut, Veneto, Italy: Retail $24. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc. Nino Franco started making this wine over a decade ago outside of the Prosecco DOC, using non-traditional grapes. Quite fruity on both the nose and the palate with plenty of red and black fruit initially followed by some good acidity and a vibrant sparkle. It finishes with a very slight hint of sweetness. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Remy Massin & Fils Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $50. 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay. Purchased from www.invino.com I have been around the block a bit when it comes to Champagne and while this is not the most earth-shattering rosé that has crossed my delicate lips, it is stellar. While one might say the strawberry is prominent on the nose, I would argue it is the peach and even an apricot that dominates. The palate? Fruity, tart, effervescent, luscious. Yeah. Giddy-up. Excellent. 91 Points.
2009 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Old Vine Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. B.A.B. It is hard to believe that it has already been more than four years since Patty Green suddenly died; it seems just a little while ago that I was raising a glass of her wine in her honor. The last bottle of this wine, opened well over a year ago, was fantastic, and this bottle might be in an even better place. Fairly light in the glass with a classic Willamette Bing cherry characteristic, considerable spice, and some dark earth. Yowza. The palate is still quite fruity with loads of cherry, but also some of that earth. The tartness is on point and there is just a kiss of spice on the finish. Very nice. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2013 Rotari Trento Brut Rosé, Italy: Retail $22. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Oh so many years ago I was on a press trip to Mezzacorona, the parent company to Rotari, for a mere three days and completely fell in love with the cooperative: the region, the people, the wines. Sure, it is a mega-producer and the wines are close to ubiquitous, but they are also well-made and fantastically good bargains. Case in point. I saw this on the shelf of my local Spec’s and had to jump in but I wondered almost immediately how long it had been there, I mean 2013? The pale orange in the glass indicates its age (the bottle seems to indicate a disgorgement in 2017). The nose is lacking a bit in fruit, but there is minerality and a bit of salinity. The palate is certainly fruitier, with a dominant red berry, a chalky aspect, good tartness, and an above-average finish. Look, this is not a champagne substitute, but it is pretty darned good and for half the price of its French brethren? Pretty darned solid. Very Good. 89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Another somewhat mixed bag when it comes to the wines we opened this week. There were a few “excellent” wines, a couple that fell into just “very good” and a couple that were truly “outstanding.” While I typically select wines from that third category for the much-coveted “Wine of the Week” status, this week I opted for a wine that brought back fond memories. It is also a testament to the fact that wine, unlike really any other consumable, can conjure up memories and emotions rendering it much more than just a beverage. That is what the 2020 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rosé René Couly did for me this week (as did many others on the list, honestly, but I had to make a choice, didn’t I?).
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?