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).
1988 Marc Brédif Vouvray Grande Année, Loire Valley, France: Retail $30(?). 100% Chenin Blanc. Under cork. I have opened a number of bottles of this wine, and with each successive bottle, I amazed at how incredibly well it is holding up. This wine is climbing up the list of the best Chenins I have had in my life; it was fantastic and doing quite well 34 years in. Golden color revealing its age, plenty of tartness, and just a hint of sweetness. I admit that I might be a bit biased here, as these bottles came from the cellar of a dear friend who passed away just over a year ago, but it is objectively incredible that a white wine this old can still taste this fresh. Outstanding. 95 Points.
NV Guy de Chassey Champagne Grand Cru Brut Cuvée de Buretel, France: Retail $55. Paid $36 at Vivino. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Well. A complete departure from the first bottle of this wine I tried several weeks ago. Pale straw in the glass with Granny Smith and Golden apple bursting through the nose along with a touch of caramel and fresh baked croissant. Yowza. The palate is bright, tart, ebullient, and, well, fantastic. Great fruit, appropriate tartness, tons of the autolytic, yeasty goodness, and a lengthy finish. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2016 Larsen Projekt Grenache, North Coast, CA: Retail $30. Under screwcap. I bought six bottles of this wine from the proprietor, a buddy of mine, and while this is the fourth bottle I’ve cracked, it is surprisingly my first note. Plenty of fruit (blackberry, plum) on the nose with hints of spice (clove, pepper). The palate is certainly loaded with fruit and it is front and center, but there is also great acidity and a bit of depth behind all of that fruit. Yowza. Excellent. 92 Points.
2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $50 (375ml). Whoa. Dark amber in the glass, really dark. Aromas of caramelized pear, hazelnut, honey, walnut, and a bit of beeswax in the glass. Holy cow. The palate is sweet, tart, honeyed, nutty, and off the charts. Whoa. Yes, it is sweet, almost to the point of cloying, with vibrant (still[!]) acidity and a host of secondary/tertiary flavors. Yowza. I do not drink a ton of dessert wines these days, but when some friends showed up? It was time to pop some good stuff. And this definitely classifies as “good stuff.” Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2011 Soléna Pinot Noir Domaine Danielle Laurent, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. Heavy Bottle. Quite dark in the glass, even “really dark” when compared to other Pinots. Dark berry fruit, mostly black cherry and raspberry, but it also seems like there might be some cassis in there as well. A bit brooding on the palate, too, but the fruit is fantastic and balanced by the tartness. Eleven plus years out, this wine is still doing remarkably well. Excellent. 90 Points.
2012 Westerly Vineyards Syrah Côte Blonde, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, CA: Retail $45, Heavy bottle. “Syrah enhanced with a bit of Viognier.” I really have no idea how I acquired this bottle; I only know that I entered it into my cellar in early 2016. Having said all of that, this is pretty fantastic, even a decade after harvest. Dark, even quite dark, in the glass with blackberry, cassis, elderberry, and dark plum the predominate fruit notes along with spice and a hint of tar. The palate is still surprisingly fruity, but there is also a whole spice rack, hints of earth, and a tartness to beat the band. Yeah, this is Excellent and close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: There were a lot of solid choices for Wine of the Week this week, including a 20-year-old late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and a fantastic Grenache made by a friend of mine. In the end, though, I opted for the obvious choice. Not only was the 1988 Marc Brédif Vouvray Grande Année 35 years old (how many more times am I going to open a bottle from a previous millenium?), it also had a pretty heavy sentimental attachment to it. While I have written about that relationship quite a bit, what strikes me more today is the incredible ability that wine possesses to cause us to reflect, remember, and reminisce, it truly is amazing.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?