What We Have Been Drinking—1/30/2023

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).

2011 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. Agglomerated stopper. Over my notes that cross a dozen vintages and at least as many years, I have repeated my adoration for both the Clos Pepe Estate Winery and the vineyard itself. I have also expressed my dismay over the demise of the former which occurred almost a decade ago. I realize with every bottle I open, I am a step closer to never having the opportunity to savor the wine again, but allowing the wine to expire without being admired is certainly the bigger crime. Based on my notes, I loved the last bottle I popped of this 2011, but this iteration might even be better. Lovely, albeit delicately subtle, cherry with just a hint of earth and a touch of red rose petal on the nose. The palate is pure Clos Pepe: rich yet sublime, tart yet sweet, complex yet joyous. To me, Clos Pepe will always be at or near the apex of Central Coast Pinot and this bottle only confirms that stance. Outstanding Plus. 96 Points.

2018 de Négoce Pinot Noir OG N.48, Russian River Valley, CA: Cost $13. Retail $40? I bought a case of this on a bit of a whim–I had sampled several De Négoce wines and they were fabulous–and I have been more than enthralled with the now six (?) bottles I have consumed of this Pinot Noir. A brilliant translucent ruby in the glass with dark cherry fruit, considerable spice (including clove), and a minty/eucalyptus aspect on the nose. The palate is fruity, rich, fairly big, but also nuanced–this is much more of a sipping Pinot than it is a food wine but damn, is it tasty. Excellent. 92 Points. 

NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Essentiel Cuvée Reservée, France: Retail $50. 47% Pinot Noir, 31% Pinot Meunier, 22% Chardonnay. 18% Reserve wines. Extra Brut (5% dosage). Another six months have passed since my last note, but truth be told, this is probably the sixth bottle (or more) that we have popped since then, Why? Well, my local H-E-B has this for sale for less than $35 so I bought a sheet-ton. Quite dry with baked apple, fresh out of the oven brioche, and oodles of verve, this is really fantastic. I am pretty sure that this cuvée came about after Émilien Boutillat took over for my guy Régis Camus as Chef de Cave at the venerable house, but that changes little of my opinion of both the wine and the direction of P-H. It is clearly in good hands. Excellent. 92 Points.

NV Piper Sonoma Brut Rosé, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $22. 53% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Blanc. I got two bottles of this wine a couple of years ago for my Third Annual Blind Tasting of American Sparkling Wines and I had forgotten about this bottle in my cellar until I was trying to make some room for my latest ill-advised purchase. On the light side of rosé, I guess, with a decided orange hue. Fruity nose of wild strawberry and cherry, with a mineral note and just a hint of yeast. The palate is fruity with a hint of yeast and funk (I love the funk) and is quite tart, on the verge of bracingly so. The finish is above average and highlights the tart fruit. Excellent. 90 Points.

2012 Westrey Chardonnay Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $30. I was looking for a wine to give to a friend, a bit of a neophyte when it comes to wine in general and Chardonnay in particular. It seems he is a bit of a “Anything But Chardonnay” kind of bloke, but I was determined to change his mind. In my searching, I came across a number of bottles that were labeled as “sample doubles” in my inventory (meaning two bottles were sent of the same wine–the second bottle to be used in case there happened to be an issue with the first). This wine, along with a few others, however, had no initial tasting note either on this blog or on Cellar Tracker. Odd. While I contemplated handing this wine off to my friend, I stopped, realizing that it is not often that I come across a decade-old Willamette Valley Chard, so I popped the sucker. Yowza. Certainly on the verge of golden in the glass (if not already there) with a bit of citrus, loads of nuttiness, and just a hint of oak. OK, whoa. The palate is surprisingly (and welcomingly) subtle, but simultaneously robust: fruit, tartness, layers of complexity, subtle wood. Yowza, again. While I am not sure if my neophyte friend would have appreciated this wine, I sure as heck did. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Over the last several weeks, I have been tearing through my samples pile, trying desperately to catch-up. When I started that process, I was perilously close to falling a year behind. A year. Now, I am just a few bottles from being only four months behind; still way too much, but at least I can walk around my office without tripping over wine bottles. As a result, though, I have not been dipping into my own wine collection (which is, of course, a bit ironic since one of the main reasons I wanted to catch up with my samples was that so I could pop bottles from my own collection with less guilt). Nonetheless, I found my way into the cellar a few times this week and pulled out several nice bottles. While I really wanted the 2012 Westrey Reserve Chardonnay to be the Wine of the Week as it was a lovely wine, but there is no getting around the greatness of the 2011 Clos Pepe, just a phenomenal wine.


 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 Champagne, Chardonnay, France, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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