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 Domaine Pascal Aufranc Chénas En Rémont Vignes de 1939, Beaujolais, France: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. 100% Gamay. I bought four bottles of this wine from the PLCB way back in 2013 for fifteen bucks per. At the time I was willing to take a bit of a flier on this wine as it was from one of the ten Cru Villages in Beaujolais and, well, I was bored. The first bottle was pretty close to undrinkable as it was loaded with Bret (a bacteria that causes the wine to stink to high heaven but is otherwise harmless).The second bottle was pretty close to nirvana with great fruit, depth, and balance. This third bottle is decidedly right in between. Good (not great) fruit and acidity with a pinch of verve and an ounce of spice–precisely what I would hope for in the $15 range. Excellent. 90 Points.
2017 DAMA Wines Sauvignon Blanc Cowgirl Blanc Two Mountains, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $18. Under Screw-Top. I was in Walla Walla this past Spring and visited Mary Derby for a fantastic tasting. As I was leaving the tasting room, I noticed that this wine was on sale for $9/bottle when buying a case. While I knew that the wine had a short life ahead of itself, it was worth the investment. Well, I forgot about these last two bottles and, well, I shouldn’t have. It’s wet, it’s cold, it’s tart, but it has also faded a bit, and is a bit of a shell of what it was. But that’s OK. I love me some DAMA wine. Very Good. 89 Points.
2014 Gilles Bouton Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly Blanc, France: Retail $70(?). 100% Chardonnay. My former boss and good friend introduced me to Saint Aubin over two decades ago, at a time when Burgundy (and particularly white Burgundy) prices were soaring (they still are for those curious). He rightly characterized it as “just over the hill from Chassagne with nearly all the quality, but for less than half the price.” He was right, of course (at least until recently–the quality has remained, the value, not so much). This comes from “En Remilly” the 1er Cru vineyard in Saint Aubin with which I have the greatest familiarity (particularly in white) and it is fabulous. It would have been great, of course, to crack this with him to discuss the subtle nuances of the citric, oaky, and nutty nose. Or the intense tartness that does yeoman’s work to balance out the fruit and wood. Or even the label that seems to try to bridge the gap between modern and classic. But, I had to settle on sharing it with my wife. Not a bad consolation at all. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV Bernard Ledru Champagne Premier Cru Tradition Brut, France: Retail $50. 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. I bought six of these from Last Bottle Wines nearly seven years ago now and here we are at the Last bottle (see what I did there?). Well, this has many of the same characteristics as the previous note (I was about to say “Last Bottle” again, but that would have been a bit much), but I am liking this iteration a bit more. Perhaps t is bottle variation, or due to it being International Champagne Day, or maybe, just maybe, it is due to the fact that my two favorite teams are playing in the World Series and I really can’t lose? Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Jean-Noël Haton Champagne Brut Rosé, France: Retail $45. 35% Pinot Meunier, 35% Pinot Noir (10% of which is vinified as red wine), 30% Chardonnay. I thought I had two bottles of this wine left, but, alas, there was only one. Nonetheless, this is easily the best bottle of the lot as there are oodles of fruit (red berry a go-go), a delicate yeasty aspect, eucalyptus, and also curiously, an herbal note on the nose (mint??). The palate is fruity, refreshing, and fantastic. I need to bump this up a notch. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV A. R. Lenoble Champagne Cuvée Intense Brut, France: Retail $50. 30% Chardonnay from Chouilly (Grand Cru), 25% Pinot Noir from Bisseuil (1er Cru), and 45% Pinot Meunier from Damery (Marne Valley). I purchased a handful of bottles of this wine from Last Bottle Wines a few years ago for $30, and this was the actual last bottle in my cellar. We last opened one a little over a year ago, with similar notes. Excellent. 90 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: As I have mentioned here at least a few times, my former boss, my wine mentor, and a dear friend passed away shockingly last November. I have been to Paris (where he and his family lived) four times since, including once to speak at his funeral, and most recently, earlier this month. He was the owner of a cycling tour company that I worked for off and on for nearly thirty years now and I went back to ride one of the more popular routes. It was not really an homage to him so much as it is a chance for me to contemplate our, at times, contentious relationship and the rather complicated legacy he left for his wife and two daughters. Yeah. Heavy. Well, the Wine of the Week, the Gilles Bouton Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly Blanc, was one of the bottles from his cellar that I brought back, at the urging of his widow. And given that today, Halloween, is his birthday, I thought it would be a fitting WotW. As I mentioned in the note, this would have been the type of wine we opened together, but, alas, I will never have that opportunity again; I will never get to challenge his unique political takes or his bizarre allegiance to the New York Yankees. He will never again make fun of my height or my utter lack of a sense of direction. No, our witty (hopefully?) banter will never again annoy the others who unluckily found themselves in the same room. But every time I ride my bike in France, scoop out some Epoisses cheese, open a Saint Aubin (or Sancerre, Savagnin, or Chenin Blanc, or…), I know he is there, waiting to cajole, correct, or challenge me at every sip. Santé, Nico, santé. And happy birthday.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?
I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Cheers to him.