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 André Clouet Champagne Silver Brut Nature, France: Retail $50. 100% Bouzy Grand Cru Pinot Noir. Zero Dosage. I bought this bottle back in 2020 and the extra time in the bottle/cellar has done it well. As with all white wines that are given time to age, this has added a bit of color and the acidity seems to have mellowed a bit. Intense brioche, hazelnut, and lemon curd notes on the nose along with salinity and minerality. I dare to say that my absolute favorite Blanc de Noirs come from Bouzy (although Mailly is a close second)–the richness of the Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village is, at least in my mind, unrivaled. Whoa. The palate is, as expected, completely dry with both the acidity and sparkle well into the “intense” neighborhood. Citrus is the dominant fruit influence, which pairs well with all that yeasty goodness. Whoa. Yeah, I am going to need to buy a few more bottles of this wine and try my darnedest to hold on to the for a longer period, say 5-10 years? Outstanding. 93 Points.
2001 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $110. 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot. I have been holding onto this bottle for a couple of decades now and the right person came by to justify opening it. Dark, on the verge of brooding, with dark to black fruit (stewed blackberry, plum, cassis) with an abundance of spice an earth. The palate is amazingly balanced and tart with subtle fruit and depth, this really is gangbusters. Fantastic. Excellent. 92 Points.
2004 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret) Cornas Les Terrasses du Serre, France: Retail $65. Big. Ass. Bottle. 100% Syrah. It has been an amazing (at least for me) five years since I have tried this wine, and holy cow. While there is a touch of stewed fruit, this is really amazing (and I am not talking about the fact that my thumb disappears in the punt of the bottle as I pour. Dark, on the verge of brooding, with intense black fruit (blackberry, plum)., with intense spice notes (black pepper and cumin). The palate is quite tart, in an old school/old wine kinda way. Whoa. I do not drink a whole lot of Cornas, but I should. If only I could afford it. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2009 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Ramal Vineyard, Carneros, CA: Retail $40. I have been a fan of Gary Farrell for so many years that it is perhaps embarrassing to admit. Sadly, several years ago, the very kind folks at Gary Farrell decided to stop producing fruit from Carneros (thank you global warming) and that is a shame on so many levels. Great red and black fruit on the nose with a tangy richness and a spice note that is quite remarkable (clove, basil, whoa). The palate is equally impressive, if not more so, with fruit, yes, but also a ton of verve and near impeccable balance. Whoa. This was in the running for wine of the night, and fared well, but the lineup was impressive. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2006 Clos Mogador Priorat, Spain: Retail $125 (?). 40% Grenache, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carignan, 17% Syrah. I bought six bottles of this wine over a decade ago from an online purveyor and I had cracked only two bottles (one in 2015, and the other earlier this year) and they were both stellar. Well. While much has changed in the world since 2006 (and 2015 for that matter), this wine is still down-right fantastic. Slightly stewed and oxidized on the nose, there is still a surprisingly amount of fruit, plenty of spice, and considerable forest floor. The palate? Close to “Holy Mother of Christ” status. Fruit, yes, but oh so much more. Earth, tartness, balance, complexity. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2017 Tongue Dancer Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $50. Under DIAM10. I first tried this wine a few years ago and it was great, closed and terribly shy, but great. Then, I found this “older” bottle in a box of samples sent to me by Kerry MacPhail, the Knowledgeable One at Tongue Dancer, and I decided to give it another try. Whoa. Black cherry, clove, a bit of sweet strawberry on the back end of the nose, just delightful. The palate is even more impressive than it was upon release with great, but balanced fruit, an exciting tanginess, and a near endless finish. Whoa. I know I must sound like an absolute shill for Tongue Dancer Wines, but I am confident in stating that these wines are at or certainly near the top of the list of best Pinot Noirs produced in the U.S. Outstanding. 94 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: I would have to go back and check, but I am willing to bet that the wines this week have the highest average rating of any of the around 500 “Wine of the Week” posts I have made. Being a data guy, I guess I should be keeping track of such numbers, but I don’t. At an average of a little over 93 points, though, this was a really solid week. Thus, there are no “wrong answers” when choosing a top wine for the week from this lot, and all are certainly worthy. In the end, however, I opted for the 2017 Tongue Dancer Pinot Noir for a couple of reasons. First, it was fantastic, but that should not come as a surprise given the producer. Second, even though I have been reviewing Tongue Dancer Wines for some time now, for some odd reason, I have no tasting notes on this wine. Third, and certainly not last, James and Kerry MacPhail, the owners of Tongue Dancer, are two incredibly great people, and nice people can and should finish first.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?