This past week I have been in Paris, visiting the family of my dear friend that passed away at Thanksgiving. While the family seems to be doing than expected, it is still a bit of a struggle (and the French government is not making it any easier). We did have time, however, to pop a few corks. Here is what I have tasted this week:
2019 Château de L’Escarelle Côteaux Varois, France: Retail $25. Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault. Nomacorc closure. I visited the winery a few years ago now and I was impressed, so when I came across this in my friend’s cellar in Paris, it was an easy call. There are a ton of wines from Provence and most of it is rosé and, well, just OK. In recent years, a few producers have really concentrated on producing higher quality wines and that includes Château de l’Escarelle (I contend that this turn to quality started with the emergence of Château d’Esclans, i.e., Whispering Angel, but I imagine I’d get some pushback from that). This wine? Fantastic, even close to two years out from vintage (I always contend that well-made, True Rosés can age much longer than most people think). Great fruit, lip-smacking tartness, and a lengthy finish. Fabulous. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Vincent Gerlier Champagne Tradition, France: From 375ml. Retail $20? 34% Pinot Meunier, 33% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay. I do not drink a lot of half bottles since, well, it is rare that we don’t finish a 750ml. When we don’t, we simply put a cork in it and come back to it the following day. Half bottles seem like a better idea with champagne since there is the potential for a loss of sparkle overnight (although using a quality stopper for sparkling wines reduces this possibility to practically zero). Fresh and fruity with a good sparkle, decent acidity, and an above-average finish. I just wish there were, you guessed it, more of it. Very Good. 89 Points.
NV Mailly Champagne Grand Cru Extra Brut, France: Retail $50. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. I am in Paris visiting a friend and she pulled this out before dinner. I am not sure how long she has had the bottle, but it was fairly old–there was barely a sigh upon opening and the cork never did expand after extraction. Add in the golden color in the glass and there was no doubt. But that extra age in the bottle really highlighted and focused the yeasty characteristics of the wine. The fruit was mostly baked Golden Delicious apple and there was a touch of white flower. But next to the yeasty, oxidative nature (which I adore), the real story was the tartness which was close to off the charts. Really fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2014 Domaine de la Commanderie Philippe Pain Chinon Tradition, France: Retail 15€. 100% Cabernet Franc. While Cab Franc is grown in many regions in France and around the world, I consider the Loire Valley and specifically Chinon to be the “motherland” of the variety. Subtle dark fruit (along with some black cherry), a bit of greenness, and a healthy dose of earth, this really is in my wheelhouse. There is no doubt in my mind that many producers in the U.S. would either consider this “too green” or “too earthy” but this is what I think of when it comes to Cab Franc. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Carlin Pinson Sancerre Tradition Domaine Carlin-Pinson, France: Retail 15€. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. I know it is not fair, but I compare just about every Sauvignon Blanc I drink to the incredible wines I have tried from Sancerre. Yeah, not fair, but there is a reason: I think Sancerre produces the best Sauvignon on the planet. And this is a fantastic example. It is far from the most expensive wine in the region, but it is close to seamless. Great fruit, fantastic creaminess (but also a decided acidity), and one of the longest finishes I have experienced in a while. Outstanding. 93 Points.
1999 Pommery Champagne Cuvée Louise Brut, France: Retail $200. There are times in your life when you have to pause. Take a breath. And. Realize that you are truly blessed. This was one. It was a completely gorgeous day in Paris, I had just come from watching a fine young lady (whom, had I had a daughter, I’d hope it had been her) perform at L’Opéra Comique, and was preparing dinner for three of my favorite women on the planet. And we opened this. Whoa. The cork eased out with barely a sigh, leading to a luscious golden elixir in the glass but I struggle to find any fruit on the nose other than a faint baked golden apple. Yet. The real story, as with many a fine, aged champagne, are the oodles of nutty, yeasty loveliness that surpasses expectations (which were exceedingly high already). The palate is dry, even exceedingly so with loads of that yeasty nuttiness, perhaps the most I’ve experienced. Look, aged champagne is not for everyone but if my young vedette ages as well as this champagne, the world will be in awe. Outstanding. 96 Points.
2009 Domaine Rolet Savagnin Côtes du Jura, France: Retail $30. 100% Savagnin. When I come across a relatively rare wine like this, I always wonder why I don’t drink more of said variety. Case in point. Sure, Savagnin is not at all common outside of its native Jura. Dark in the glass with a completely oxidized nose, essentially a more mineral and tangy sherry. On the palate, this is really an acquired taste. Tart, tangy, mineral, and nutty, this is a variety that really has to grow on you. And it should. And when it does? You will love it. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I was ready to opt for the Mailly Grand Cru Extra Brut to be this week’s Wine of the Week, but my friend pulled out the 1999 Pommery Champagne Cuvée Louise as we were making dinner, and well, come on. She had received this wine as a gift for one of those “significant birthdays” and I was honored that she wanted to share it with me. After several days of reminiscing about both good and bad, it seemed like a fitting way to end the week. The wine was, of course, fantastic, but the company was even that much better, which is the way it should be.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?