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).
2020 Château de L’Escarelle Rumeurs, Var, France: Retail $18. Under Nomacorc (ugh). True Rosé? Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah. Having visited the winery several years ago, I was rather excited when I saw this on the shelves of my local H-E-B (I love my H-E-B) for around twelve bucks. Worth a flyer, for sure. Even though this is an IGP Méditerranée, it is all Provence, with a light color and subtle fruit aromas of peach, cherry, and strawberry. The palate is quite light but refreshing with that subtle fruit, a zingy tartness, and a bit of minerality. For just over ten bucks? Sure. For full retail? There are better options. Very Good. 87 Points.
2012 Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibenberg, Wachau, Austria: Retail $55(?). This past week I was sent a few wines from the Willamette Valley to sample during an online tasting. During that event, another wine writer here in Houston described the Grüner Veltliner from the northern part of the Valley as “considerably richer than those from Europe” (or something to that effect). This caused me to rush to the cellar and pull out this stunning wine. Whole. Lee. Crap. I bought this at the winery close to a decade to go and this wine defies all expectations of what a Grüner “should” be. Golden in the glass, fantastic fruit, incredible acidity, weight, depth, and loads of verve. Holy cow, and a Whoa (or two). Yowza. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2008 Domaine Laleure-Piot Chorey-les-Beaune, Burgundy, France: Retail $35. 100% Pinot Noir. I do not drink much Burgundy these days since the price of both the reds and the whites have really gone through the roof. I purchased four bottles of this wine from Wines Til Sold Out back in 2013 for a mere $15. I tasted the first bottle in 2017 and it was, well, fabulous. This one might be even better, however. The nose of rich cherry, vanilla, and violet is quite enchanting. The palate, while light on fruit, is also delicious (although slightly less so than the nose): good fruit, fantastic acidity, and a lengthy finish. Yum. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Château Minuty Côtes de Provence M Rosé, France: Retail $25. True Rosé. While I did not look all that long, I could not find the blend, which I assume has some Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache. Rich (at least for a Provençal rosé) with tart strawberry, cherry, and dried apricot. Yowza. Also melon and hibiscus, again, Yowza. While there are a few rosés out there that I would reach for first, this is among the better French rosés I have tried. Is that possible? Probably not. But. Right now? Great fruit, acidity, and verve. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Taittinger Champagne Cuvée Prestige, France: Retail $45. 60% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay. This was on sale at my local H-E-B for about 36 bucks and I had to dive in. Sure, it is a bit outside of my comfort zone, but it is pretty darned tasty. Plenty of fruitiness, and even more yeastiness, this, I would have to say, is a classic Champagne. Tart, toasty, fruity. Yes, this is not my go-to champagne (that would be Mailly Grand Cru), but at this price ($33) it could certainly try to break into that upper tier. Very Nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Westmount Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $20. Under screwcap. True Rosé. Fairly dark in color, at least for a rosé, with aromas of wild strawberry, rhubarb, and bright cherry. The palate is quite fruity, with an ample tartness, a bit of minerality, and a somewhat odd funkiness, albeit slight. Overall, a really solid quaff that checks most of the boxes. It is not my favorite rosé that I have come across (that weird funky note is tough to get past), but this wine, particularly at the price point (I got it for $14), is a solid wine. Very Good. 89 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week there was not much of a battle for Wine of the Week. Sure, the Laleure-Piot Chorey-les-Beaune was a pleasant surprise and the Taittinger Champagne caused me to go back and buy more, but not only was the 2012 Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibenberg the “best” wine of the week, it also has the most compelling story. My wife and I had a day to kill in Austria and I convinced her to spend it with me wine tasting in the Wachau instead of sightseeing in Vienna (where she has still never been). Well. That day, just about every winery I wanted to visit was closed as they were preparing for a big festival that would be occurring the coming weekend. My wife was not pleased. At. All. I decided to take one more stop, in hopes that Knoll, as legendary a producer as there is in a region chock-full of legends. They, too, were closed. But just as we were ready to leave (and I was about to get an earful from my wife), a tiny, older woman opened the enormous door of the winery and motioned for us to follow her (she spoke no English and what German I had once learned was long gone). She turned out to be Monika Knoll, mother of winemaker Emmerich Knoll, and she led us back to the family home, behind the winery, where we had one of the more memorable tastings of my life with Anja Knoll, Emmerich’s wife, while seated at the family’s dinner table. Although my wife will likely never admit it–sh still wishes that we had gone to Vienna, that tasting likely saved my marriage.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?