What We Have Been Drinking—1/16/2023

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).

2008 1789 Wines Pinot Noir Single Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $48. Under cork. I bought three bottles of this wine back when I attended my first International Pinot Noir Celebration in 2010. I was the guest of De Ponte Cellars in the Dundee Hills and I spent a bit of time with the winemaker Isabelle Duarté who also had me taste wines from her own brand, including this wine. Whoa. She is a talented winemaker and that is evident here. A bit on the dark side in color, but shows mostly red berry fruit on the nose: Bing cherry, red raspberry, and even a bit of red currant. Whoa. Through in some earth and spice, and there we are. The palate is remarkably harmonious with great fruit, balancing tartness, and integrated tannins. One bottle left and it is time to pop that puppy as I doubt this gets any better. Outstanding. 94 Points.

2007 Amelle Zinfandel Buck Hill Sonoma County, CA: Retail $25. The end of the line for this vintage of this wine for me. It is certainly on the downward slope and its demise might even be accelerating. It remains, however, a stellar wine that is a joy to drink. Plenty of fruit remains, but there is a decided stewed aspect to it that, while certainly not off-putting, it does detract from what I believe this wine once was. Dark, a bit brooding, with fantastic acidity and plenty of length. As I said in previous notes, there is plenty of “story” to this wine but sadly, at least for me, this is the last chapter. Excellent. 92 Points.

2021 BP Provence Select Côtes de Provence Les Sarrins Rosé, France: Retail $25. 60% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, 10% Rolle, 5% Mourvèdre. Agglomerated stopper. This winery is owned by Bruno Paillard and recently Terlato has started importing the wine, which is why, I assume, it is now available at my local H-E-B (I love my H-E-B). Classic Provençal rosé in blend, color, and nose with red berry fruit a-go-go with mineral and floral notes. Yowza. The palate is lovely–great fruit, fantastic acidity, impeccable balance. I had a previous vintage of this wine years ago and loved it. This one is better. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2009 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Hommage to Chablis, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $40. Under cork. I bought three bottles of this wine over a decade ago. Despite being a wine club member, I really have no idea how or why I bought this wine. But here we are. I also have no idea why it has taken THIS LONG for me to crack one. Really, I have no idea. Well, perhaps there is/was a good reason after all as the golden color of this wine (one could argue that it was close to brown, but that would not be me) immediately indicated that there might be a problem with having kept it for so long (wine understatement of the year?). And there was. As it was oxidized beyond much hope of enjoyment, I decided to open the second bottle. Holy mother of all things holy, I am glad I did. Still a bit of color in the glass, but more yellow straw than golden-on-the-verge-of-uh-oh, this wine is pretty magical from the jump. Luscious lemon curd, considerable minerality, and a dash of white pepper on the nose lead to a tart, creamy, voluptuous palate of zingy lemon creamsicle that is incredibly balanced. Whoa, plus. The finish of this incredible wine is perhaps the most (?) noteworthy, as it lastted well beyond the soft open of the latest SNL. Yowza. Outstanding. 96 Points.

NV Paul Clouet Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France: Retail $60 (+). 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. I bought three bottles of this wine several years ago while visiting the winery, and this is the last of the trio. The cork eased out without much more than a sigh and the wine was shockingly dark in the glass (more “golden” than “dark” but you get what I mean). Yeasty and, yes, oxidized, but oh so delicious with lemon curd fruit, baked bread, a nuttiness, and a yeasty component. Did I mention there was also quite a bit of yeast? Sure, the sparkle has faded (yet still there), but this is a rather amazing bottle of wine. Whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.

2009 Couly-Dutheil Chinon La Baronnie Madeleine, Loire Valley, France: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Franc. Under cork. This might be my favorite winery in the Loire Valley (OK, it definitely is) and it has an incredibly rich history (the vineyard was once owned by Rabelais). Dark in the glass, almost brooding, but the fruits are red (and black), the acidity is high (and tart), and the finish is lengthy (and layered). There is a reason that this is one of my favorite Loire Valley producers (and therefore one of my favorite Cab Franc producers). Fruity, earthy, complex, and Joan of Arc. Boom. Excellent. 92 Points.

2008 Skewis Pinot Noir Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $55. This was my last bottle of this wine, and it was the one signed by Hank and Maggie Skewis. I really like the idea of signed bottles in the abstract–it’s nice to know that the winemakers took the time to personalize the wine. But. The problem is that you then never want to drink the darned thing. Well, tonight I did, and it was fabulous. Sure, the fruit is not quite as vibrant, but the flavors are layered and complex, the balance is near perfect with a zingy acidity that is both mouth-watering and refreshing. And the finish? Whoa. Yeah, this has jumped to whoa status. Outstanding. 93 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Wow, what a week of pulling wine from the cellar! With the exception of one of the Clos Pepe Chardonnays being oxidized, all of the wines this week were phenpmenal and all well worthy of the coveted Wine of the Week honor. In the end, though, I opted for the aforementioned 2009 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Hommage to Chablis as this week’s top wine. I know, I know, Clos Pepe has walked away with a host of these “awards” but I chose it not for my affinity for the now-defunct brand. I opted for this incredible Chard as the top wine this week as it reminded me how fickle wine can be with one bottle badly oxidized and the other phenomenal, likely one of my top wines of the year. Both bottles purchased at the same time and stored side by side for over a decade. But the greatness of the second bottle more than compensated for the disappointment of the first. And then some.

 What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?



About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Champagne, Chardonnay, Cinsault/Cinsaut, France, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Rolle, Wine, Zinfandel. Bookmark the permalink.

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