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).
2006 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. Under cork. After sipping this glorious bottle over the course of several hours and after reading many of the notes here on Cellar Tracker, I have come to the following elevation: Either those rating Clos Pepe wines need to wait a bit longer before popping a CP cork, or they are in serious need of altering their medication(s). Why? This wine is stellar. This is my last bottle of 2006 and the oldest bottle of Clos Pepe in my possession, which caused considerable angst. But. It did not disappoint, even slightly. Rich, unctuous, layered, and with considerable (and yet, at the same time, reserved) fruit. Holy cow. Sure, on the palate, said fruit is more reserved, but holy mother of Jesus is this good. The balance is impeccable between the fruit, the tartness, the spice, and the tannins. Yowza. Hold on to your Clos Pepe, I implore you. Outstanding. 96 Points.
2013 Cutruzzola Vineyards Pinot Noir Giacomino Reserve, San Luis Obispo County, CA: Retail $50. Really. Big Ass. Bottle. I picked this up a few years ago on a press trip to SLO and I am surprised. Surprised that I did not permanently damage my back lifting this behemoth. What the absolute fudge? Clearly not necessary, so why? Ugh. I should be able to sue for irreparable damage to the planet. Ugh. The wine, though? I hate to say it, but it’s fantastic. Quite dark in the glass with oodles of dark berry fruit, earth, baking spice, and rhubarb. The palate showcases that fruit, but also the tartness and subtle tannins. Really close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Fourrier-Delmotte Champagne Brut, France: Retail $49(?). 100% Pinot Noir from la Côte des Bar. I bought this wine from WTSO mistakenly (see previous note) and for what I paid for it ($25)? It has up until now, been “worth it” but not much more. With this bottle, however, the fifth of six, the wine seems somehow better, not by a ton, but incrementally so. There’s a bit more fruit? A bit more yeasty goodness? A lot more verve. Something a bit more than the last bottle. And I will take it. Excellent. 90 Points.
2014 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir Chorro Creek, Central Coast, CA: Retail $45. Clone 2A (Wädenswil). Under cork. I am not entirely sure how I came across this bottle but Whoa, I am glad I did. I consider Steve and Paula Dooley friends (and I hope the feeling is reciprocal) but that does not jade my impression of this wine. Whoa. Holy cow. Yowza. Rich, deep, layered fruit. Whoa. Spice. Eucalyptus. Earth. Yeah, whoa. Plenty of tartness and depth here as well, this is a Pinot for the ages. Sure, I popped it now and it is fantastic, but could it be even better in a handful of years? I would love to think so. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2016 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir Benoist Ranch, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $70. Under cork. I bought a case of this at a 60% off sale from the winery and while this is certainly not my style of Pinot Noir, this is pretty darned tasty. Dark and brooding in the glass, particularly for a Pinot, with intense blackberry fruit, and some black cherry (otherwise it would not be a Pinot, right?), this wine is rich and inviting. The palate reveals what the nose suggests, oodles of fruit, intense secondary flavors, and enough acidity to hold it all in check. Again, not my style, but still close to gangbusters. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Tongue Dancer Chardonnay Pratt Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $50. Under cork (and wax). Today, I did something I never do (Ok, rarely): I headed into the cellar to grab a bottle of “something” with no real direction. I had prepared cod with a Romesco sauce and a bed of sautéed leeks (along with garlic broccolini) and thought a “white” might be nice. I pulled this. Holy mother of Jesus. I have been a fan of Tongue Dancer for some time, but I honestly was not prepared for this. I thought I had several bottles of this vintage, but this was just one of two that I had in the cellar. Oops. Regardless,I thought I “knew” this wine, since, well, I tasted it in mid-October of 2020 and I loved it (94 pts.). Well. Now? Although I thought it was not possible, I love it more. Holy cow. Rich, unctuous, layered, deep. I have said countless times that James MacPhail fancies himself as a Pinot-whisperer, but to truly understand his talent, one needs to delve into his Chardonnays. There, one discovers what it truly means to be an “artist.” Velvety, succulent, and yes, even decadent, this Chard rises above (almost) all others (and yes, I am including Burgundy). Whoa. Outstanding. 97 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week was a bittersweet one for me. On one hand, I traveled back “home” to help out my dad as he is picking up the pieces after his wife (my step-mom, I guess) of 33 years passed away in November. On the other hand, I was fortunate to have pulled a few gems from the cellar. I was all set to name the 2017 Tongue Dancer Pratt Vineyard Chardonnay the Wine of the Week, as it was clearly, the best wine (by a whisker) this week. But. I went back and checked to make sure that the 2006 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir had already received the honors at some point. To my amazement, it hadn’t. As I have mentioned a number of times in this space, I have been a member of very few wine clubs over the years, but one of those was Clos Pepe, run by the indescribable Wes Hagen. I still have a ton of bottles left from the now-defunct winery (the last vintage was 2014) and this was my last bottle of 2006, and that, coupled with the fact that this was the best of the bottles of that vintage I have tried, caused me to change the vote (no need to investigate for possible election fraud, though, as I am the only voter).
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?