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).
2002 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Marston Vineyard, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $125? It was late (ish) and friends were over, but we were not quite ready to give up drinking for the night, so we popped this Beringer (following the 1994 Private Reserve). Still plenty of life here, with somewhat stewed blackberry, plum, and dried rose petals on the nose. Lovely. The palate still has a surprising amount of fruit, twenty years out, but it is paired with an acidity that is certainly on point as well as notes of leather, mocha, and clove. I would not wait much longer, though, as the tannins are completely integrated at this point. Outstanding. 94 Points.
1994 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $250? It is hard for me to place a “retail” price on this wine for a couple of reasons. First, “age” is difficult to buy when it comes to wine. Sure, one can find some older bottles if one takes the time to look, but who knows if they are any good? Second, this wine came to me from a friend who is no longer with us–how can I place a price on that? I can’t. But I know he would have wanted me to pop this cork well before now, so here we go. Dark, opaque, crimson in the glass with stewed plum (I hesitate to call it “prune”), clove, black pepper, earth, leather, and a decided savory, meaty characteristic. Yowza. The palate is off the charts for this nearly 30-year-old wine with fruit that is still kicking, thank you very much, plenty of spice, subtle tannins that are not quite fully integrated, and the memories of what I was doing in 1994 (I choose not to share that right now). It also brings to mind Jim Caudill, one of the nicest people I will ever meet, who handed me this wine and said “Try this when you have a clear mind, it will be worth it.” He was right. Rest in Peace, Big Jim. Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV Gaston Chiquet Champagne Premier Cru Tradition Brut, France: Retail $50. 40% Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. I found this around the corner from my hotel in Chelsea for $60 since, well, NYC. I took it back to the room to have with pizza with my son. Nice choice. While this will never be mistaken for a Krug, it does have subtle citrus, plenty of hazelnut, and oodles of yeasty goodness. The palate is equally inviting–just a solid effort all around from this third generation grower champagne house in Dizy. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Henriot Champagne Brut Souverain, France: Retail $45. 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier. I have not had a ton of Henriot, but what I have tried has been fantastic. This is their entry level champagne, if there is such a thing, and it is quite lovely, particularly since I think this bottle has some age on it (the cork did not expand after extraction). Not much fruit other than some citrus, but plenty of yeast and wet rock on the palate with a nice level of acidity and a lengthy finish. Nice. Very Good. 88 Points.
2006 Weingut Knoll Riesling Beerenauslese Pfaffenberg, Wachau, Austria: Retail $75. I dove deep into the recesses of my cellar, looking for a dessert wine (which we rarely drink any more) and, naturally, the wine I was searching was not there. So I grabbed this, thinking that an almost 16-year-old wine was likely ready to drink. After I popped the cork, I saw that the normally fairly conservative users here on Cellar Tracker said this could use another 15 years or so. Oops. Beyond golden and well on its way to amber, this wine has one of the more remarkable noses I have experienced in quite some time: petrol, sure, but in the background, behind luscious dried apricot, ripe citrus, marzipan, a host of spices (cinnamon, clove), and honey, whoa the honey. On the palate, however? This exceeds all the expectations that the nose so carelessly exuded. Holy cow. This is the best Late Harvest Riesling I remember having and without a doubt one of the best dessert wines that has ever crossed these lips. Yowza. Extraordinary. 98 Points.
2016 B Kosuge Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Under DIAM 10. We bought a case of this wine about nine months ago and this is now the fourth bottle we have cracked. And it was fabulous, much like the first. Light in the glass with intense lemon curd, white peach, oak, and just a touch of white pepper. The palate is, in a word, fantastic: bright, zesty, tart, balanced, weighty (but not heavy). Like I said, fantastic. I am thrilled that I have another eight bottles left. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2014 Château La Nerthe Côtes du Rhône Villages Les Cassagnes de la Nerthe, France: Retail $28. B.A.B. 55% Grenache Noir, 35% Syrah, 7% Cinsault, 3% Mourvèdre. A couple of years ago, the export manager for Château la Nerthe was at my house and we conducted a tasting of the wines. There were a few bottles left over, which he graciously left for me. I have loved every bottle of Cassagnes I have tried and this one is no exception. Fairly dark in the glass, with black raspberry and garrigue dominant on the nose, Yowza. The palate is fantastic with just the right amounts of fruit, acidity, and earth. It finishes with some tannins, suggesting I need not be in a big hurry to get to my last bottle of this wine. Fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Marie de Moy Champagne Premier Cru Brut, France: Retail $48. My wife went to Total Wine and saw this on sale for under thirty bucks. Since it was a Premier Cru, she went for it (I trained her well). Despite being sold at one of the larger retail chains in the country, there is very little information about it on line, so I have no idea about the varietal breakdown. Oh well. Medium straw in the glass with a sweet, yeasty nose of golden delicious apple, peach, and hazelnut. The palate is initially tart, and then rounds out quite a bit on the mid-palate, stopping well short of “sweet” with a nuttiness coming in on the finish. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Taittinger Champagne Cuvée Prestige, France: Retail $45. 60% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay. I can’t believe that this is my first note for one of Champagne’s leading producers and while I am far from an expert on the brand, I am a fan of the wines. There is plenty of citrus (lemon zest) and yeast (baking brioche) on the nose of this straw colored wine, along with a bit of hazelnut. The palate is fresh and focused, exactly what one would expect and hope for from a Champagne staple. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Over the last couple of decades, I guess, I have written somewhere close to ten thousand tasting notes (one would never guess that I hate writing them) and I can count on one hand the number of wines that I have rated at 98 points or higher. That makes it all the more astonishing that the 2006 Weingut Knoll Riesling Beerenauslese Pfaffenberg is not this week’s Wine of the Week. Add in that I first tasted the wine not in the tasting room of the legendary producer in the Wachau, but with Emmirich Knoll’s fabulous wife, Anja, at her family’s dining room table. Yeah, pretty fantastic. So how did the 1994 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve beat it out as Wine of the Week? Well, as I mentioned in the note, the wine was hand delivered to me by one of the nicest people I have ever met, a man that died far too soon, and is sorely missed.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?