For the past several years, every Monday I have posted tasting notes from the wines that we have tasted (OK, drunk) that we have actually paid for (as opposed to samples that I have received). It has honestly been a way to ensure that I am keeping up with my cellar and not allowing too many of the wines to go past their prime.
This week, I decided to take a bit of a different approach and let you in on a bit of a secret. I recently purchased all of the wines listed below, all current vintages of wines that tI have received as samples in the past, for an article I am working on for a couple of publications here in Texas.
There is a theme here, which I won’t reveal now, but I will when the article(s) is (are?) published, hopefully, next month. Any guesses as to what that theme might be?
2021 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $25. Big ass bottle. Under agglomerated stopper. 9 months sur lie in 100% French oak (25% new). This is part of the growing Foley Empire and comes from a place that was one of the first to see Chardonnay in Sonoma (planted in 1964 by Rodney Strong). I have long admired this wine not only for its consistent quality but also for its continued dedication to quality wine. Yellow, almost golden, in the glass, with lemon curd, oak, and white pepper. The palate has fruit (mostly lemon), but the story is more about the weight, the heft, and yes, the oak. Far from an oak monster, but this is closer to the old “Cali Chard” style than the newer “unoaked” trend. A lot closer? Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Gruet Winery Brut, New Mexico: Retail $15. 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. Gruet, New Mexico has long been a house favorite of ours and since one can usually find it for under twelve bucks, it is a wine that we always have a few bottles on hand, just in case. Fresh green apple, peach, pear, on the nose with bits of minerality and yeastiness. Yum. The palate is a tad sweet initially, but that is quickly washed away by the rather intense acidity. The palate also exhibits fantastic fruit, a vibrant bubble, and a lengthy finish. All the elements are here, Yum (again). Very Good. 89 Points.
2021 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino, TrentoDOC, Italy: Retail $15. Under screw cap. Since visiting Mezzacorona several years ago, this Pinot Grigio has been near or at the top of my list of top wines of the year. And at under eight bucks at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B)? This is easily the best wine every year when it comes to a quality to price ratio. And this might just be the best I have tried in a few years: great tree and citrus fruit with intense tartness and near-impeccable balance. Not too long ago, I intimated to a few folks at Mezzacorona, one of the larger cooperatives in Italy, that they needed to raise the price on this wine–they have not listened to me. Yet. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Pasqua Passimento Rosso, Romeo & Juliet, Veneto, Italy: Retail $18. 40% Merlot, 30% Corvina, 30% Croatina. It has been a couple of years (and three vintages) since I have tried this wine, but it is just as enchanting as I remember it. Great raspberry and blackberry on the nose with a rich, peppery, spicy component. The palate is incredibly rich and layered (particularly given the price I paid: ~$12), with luscious fruit, a balancing tartness, and a lengthy finish. I take back what I said, this 2019 is better than the 2016 I tried two years ago. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyards Alexander Valley, CA: Retail $30. Big ass bottle. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. While the retail is at $30, I found this for a bit lower than $20 at my H.E.B. (I love my H.E.B.). I picked this up for a tasting that I was hosting for my wife’s co-workers on Zoom. Why this wine? Well, it is pretty widely available and it is almost always stellar (I say “almost” even though it has *always* been stellar for me). Dark red fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum), cedar, mocha, and the slightest hint of green pepper (which I love), The palate is fruity upfront, followed on the mid-palate by some earth, dried fig, and depth. Yowza. My boy Rodney (he actually sold the winery in 1989 and died in 2006, long before I would have had the chance to meet him) never disappoints–the wines dance across the tongue like few others. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Stoller Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under screw cap. An estate wine that sees mostly stainless (only 8% neutral oak) that is fairly light in the glass with tree fruit and citrus (lemon). Throw in a bit of celery seed and persimmon, and we are just about there. The palate is quite tart, even on the verge of austere, with intense lemon, plenty of mineral notes, and a certain amount of heft. I picked this up for about fifteen bucks at my local grocery store (I love my H-E-B), and it is a perfect fit for the anti-Chardonnay crowd. Very Good. 89 Points.