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).
2011 Amelle Pinot Noir Pratt Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $45. Under cork. I am getting down to the last dozen or so bottles of Amelle having started with probably close to ten cases from this tiny producer. The Pratt Vineyard has reached close to legendary status in the Sonoma Coast appellation, with some of the top producers in California making wines from its fruit. Quite dark in the glass with dark cherry, considerable earth, eucalyptus, and even a bit of pine. The palate is juicy and fleshy, but incredibly balanced as the tartness keeps all that fruit in check. Going to be sad to see these go, but I fear that we are near (or even past) the peak for these wines. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2012 Ken Brown Chardonnay Nielson Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $45. Big ass bottle. Under cork. I bought three bottles of this wine in the summer of 2014 and popped the first one about two years ago, and it was fantastic. Well, this bottle might be even better. A full decade after vintage, it seems this wine might be improving: pineapple and lemon on the nose of this yellow/straw beauty. There is a nice dose of vanilla and a waft of oak, but both seem to be perfectly in place and in no way suggestive of a heavy-handed use of wood. The palate surpasses what I anticipated from the nose with a lovely balanced wine with great weight and a lengthy finish. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2021 Ferrari-Carano Sangiovese Rosé, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $15. Under screw cap. This was on sale for the insane price of $7.78 ($7 if you buy any six bottles) and I took a flyer. As it turns out, this was part of the Sixth Annual World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American True rosés (held at my lovely home in May). I really liked it then and nothing has changed. Medium color with a sweet, fruity nose, fruitier than most of the rosés in this lineup with rich, ripe strawberry on the nose. Rich, intense fruit on the palate, almost too intense, is that possible? But great acidity. I went back to buy the rest, but it was already all gone. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV M. Haslinger Champagne Brut, France: Retail $40. 46% Pinot Noir, 37% Pinot Meunier, 17% Chardonnay. I was doing something that I had promised my wife I would not do: I went wine shopping. I had not intended to *buy* anything, but I happened by the Kroger on Shepard here in Houston and it was the last day of their bi-annual (or is it semi-annual?) 20% off sale. Among other interesting wines, this was on sale for $25 and then was another 20% off. Twenty bucks for a champagne? Yeah, I will give that a whirl. Solid nose of fresh citrus and brioche with bits of minerality and salinity. Nice. The palate is equally fantastic: bright, zingy, but also loaded with that yeasty yumminess that defines champagne. Yum. Twenty bucks? I had to resist every bone in my body to go out and buy more before the sale ended. It helped that my wife took my keys. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Iris Vineyards Arete Brut Blanc de Noirs, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $34. 100% Pinot Noir. I first tasted this nearly two years ago for the Third Annual Blind Tasting of American Sparkling Wine and I liked it (88 pts.). I still do. Maybe more. Straw to yellow in the glass with golden delicious apple, buttered popcorn, and a bit of minerality in the glass. The palate is very dry, and tart, even quite tart, with Granny Smith apple, and a bit of yeastiness. Like I said, I liked this in 2020 and I think the extra time in the bottle has served it well. Very Good. 89 Points.
2014 Kaiken Cabernet Franc Obertura, Luyan de Cuyo, Argentina: Retail $35. I bought a couple of bottles of this wine when I was on a press trip to the winery in Mendoza back in 2017. This is the first bottle that I have cracked. Quite dark in the glass, even *really* dark, almost Petite Sirah kinda dark. As one would expect from the color, there is plenty of dark fruit here as well: plum and blackberry are predominant. Some spice, along with just the slightest hint of green pepper. The palate continues along with the theme: dark, even brooding, with plenty of fruit, spice, and earth. While I generally like my Cab Francs a bit less, well, *gloomy*, this is still a fantastic wine. Excellent. 91 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: In selecting this week’s Wine of the Week, I almost just went to my default; usually, when I open a bottle of Amelle, it is automatically the top wine I will try in that week. Why? It has long been one of my favorites, but the winemaker closed up the brand several years ago and retired from the business. But Amelle has garnered the top spot in this space numerous times, so I thought I would spread the wealth around a bit. Thus, I selected the 2012 Ken Brown Chardonnay Nielson Vineyard. Why? Well, I probably would not have purchased this wine if I didn’t think it was great, but now, a decade past the vintage, it is still going strong and I look forward to the other bottle in the cellar.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?