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).
NV Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, France: Retail $24. 100% Pinot Noir. I really should drink more of this wine; I find it for about $16 at my local grocery store and it is certainly a bargain at that price. Bright red fruit, fantastic tartness, and a lengthy finish. It might be a tad sweet, but only a tad, but it works well with all the fruit and acidity. Excellent. 91 Points.
2008 Ayres Vineyard Pinot Noir Pioneer Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. Under cork. Over a dozen years ago, I visited the Willamette Valley for the first time. Tucked neatly under my arm was a book by John Winthrop Haeger that chronicled the important wineries of the region and those that were a “must-visit.” Among those listed in Mr. Haeger’s “required reading” was none other than Ayres–a tiny outpost in the Ribbon Ridge appellation, which, at least at the time, was selling their wares out of the garage just below the winery. Whoa. Now? Several years beyond the vintage? What a performance: great fruit, zingy tartness, and an off-the-charts verve factor. Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV André Chemin Champagne Premier Cru Brut Rosé, France: Retail $45. 74% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 8% Coteaux Champenois (still) Pinot Noir. This is now the fourth bottle of this wine that we have opened and the trend continues as this is even better than bottle #3. Richer fruit, brighter tartness, lengthier finish. Does it help that my Eagles are winning tonight? Perhaps, but I know I can compartmentalize. Oh crap. Turnover. Ugh. Excellent. 92 Points.
2015 Tenute Rubino Punta Aquila Salento IGT, Italy: Retail $25 (750ml). From 375ml, but Big. Ass. Bottle. 100% Primitivo. (Really?? This bottle is absolutely ridiculous and it’s a 375? This verges on genocide.) I really have no idea how I came across this bottle, but it has been sitting on my desk *forever* and I guess tonight was the night for a bit of “desk cleaning.” I could open up the whole Primitivo/Zinfandel conundrum, but I won’t; if you don’t know, practice your Google. The wine is pretty fantastic with dark fruit aromas and flavors, mocha, anise, and a fair amount of verve. Really a wonderful wine. But that bottle? Holy mother of Christ, it’s ridiculous and potentially a deadly weapon. #DoBetter Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Camille Savès Champagne Grand Cru Carte d’Or Brut, France: Retail $75. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. This is the second bottle of this wine we have popped and while I really liked the first (91 pts.), this bottle is clearly a step above. Baked golden apple, apricot, fresh croissant. Yowza. The palate is rich, layered, and full. Another yowza. Listen, this is a champagne from my favorite region (Bouzy) and it delivers on every level from start to finish, this is really gangbusters, falling just short of a whoa (but really, really close). Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Domaine de Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Pétillant Vigneau Selection, France: Purchased for $20 at the PLCB in Philadelphia. 100% Chenin Blanc. I had just arrived in what I consider my hometown, Philadelphia, with no plans but starving. I decided to walk to a popular BYOB, stopping by the PLCB (the state-run liquor store) along the way. I realized a couple of things: I really miss much about my time in Philly. Except. The PLCB continues to be an unmitigated disaster. I did find this wine for twenty bucks (which means it’s likely around $12 in Houston) and it was fine. Good sparkle, subtle fruit, and a bit of minerality. Nothing spectacular, but solid. Very Good. Very Good. 87 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: There was a point in my life, not too long ago even, that I never thought I would utter these words: It is great to be back home in Houston. But after close to four weeks on the road (one in Philly, two in France, and a long weekend in Mexico), it really is great to be back in Texas’ largest (and best) city with no travel on the horizon (I was supposed to go to Sicily in November, but…). As a result of all that travel, the notes above come not from this week, but from the last few weeks as I try to get caught up a bit. While the 2008 Ayres Pinot Noir was certainly the best wine on this list, I opted for the NV Domaine de Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Pétillant Vigneau Selection as this week’s Wine of the “Week.” Why? Well, while my first visit to Philly since we moved over six years ago certainly confirmed how much I miss the town I call “home”, my visit to the state-run liquor store, the PLCB, made me realize there was a part of living in Pennsylvania that I did not miss. Not even a scintilla.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?