What We Have Been Drinking—2/27/2023

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).

2010 Bellini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Italy: Retail $60. Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. I do not drink much Amarone, but when I do, two thoughts occur. First, I should drink more Amarone as I love the aromas, flavors, depth, and complexity. Second? I should never drink another Amarone as it seems to lead to really bad hangovers. I listen more to point number 2, and therefore I do not drink a ton of one of Italy’s more famous wines,. Thus, my frame of reference is a bit limited, but this wine seems to be pretty darned good. Dark in the glass and a bit stewed on the nose, there is nonetheless pretty good fruit here, almost all of it dark and ripe. The palate is again, rather dark, but the considerable tanginess holds it together. Again, my experience with Amarone is limited, but this seems to be quite nice, just pass me the Advil. Excellent. 90 Points. 

2011 Byron Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $35. Byron Kent Brown (who goes by Ken Brown) is one of the pioneers of the Santa Maria Valley pioneer winemakers, one who was making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a region where many originally thought it was impossible. I came by this bottle a decade ago on a now-defunct internet trading site that was a bit of the Wild, Wild, West. I purchased a bunch of fantastic bottles through the site, but also a few stinkers. This is clearly more the former than the latter. Rich, even unctuous fruit on the nose and the palate, ripe, even over-ripe dark cherry, earth, and, well, let’s face it, even ten years out, this is still all about the fruit. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Cellier d’Eguilles Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Mas de la Baronne, France: Retail $16. 70% Grenache Noir, 28% Syrah, 2% Vermentino. OK, I have to admit that this winery, which is in Provence, on its website, lists one of the varieties as “Vermentino”. I am sorry, but if you are from Provence, you call it “Rolle”. Period. OK. Rant over. Quite pale in the glass with subtle fruit aromas along with some mineral notes. The palate is classic Provence, with subtle fruit, balancing tartness, and a nice finish. And the price (I got it for $12 from WTSO) is indeed right. Very Good. 88 Points.

2011 Cornerstone Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. Heavy bottle. I bought seven bottles of this wine from Last Bottle Wines back in 2016 (who buys seven bottles of anything?), this is the fifth bottle consumed, but only the second note written (who only writes one note for four bottles?). Well, while this seems to be on a downward trajectory, it still is alive and kicking (for now). Decent fruit, fantastic tartness, and a lengthy finish. While I have fond memories of this winery, those have faded a bit. Still, this is Very Good. 88 Points.

2008 Stonestreet Chardonnay Broken Road, Alexander Valley, CA: Retail $55. I last opened a bottle of this two years ago and I have to admit that those tasting notes are still pretty spot on. Like I said in the previous note (“golden in the glass, but no signs of oxidation on the nose, just tons of honeyed, even candied lemon curd, laden with heavy doses of vanilla and oak. Yeah, this is a big’un, certainly in the style of those late 90s California Chards“), on the continuum of fruity and fresh to oaky and buttery, this definitely trends toward the latter, way towards the latter. That does not scare me in the slightest (although I prefer my Chardonnay with a defter hand), but this is not a Chard for the Anything But Chardonnay crowd. At. All. Excellent. 92 Points.

2021 Vignobles Paradis Feu Follet, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France: Retail $28. Synthetic stopper. 60% Grenache Noir, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carignan, 10% Syrah. I picked this up from WTSO as part of a Provence four-pack, with each bottle averaging $12. A wonderful Provençal rosé with good fruit (melon, grapefruit, strawberry), a vivacious acidity, and a lengthy finish. For $28? Maybe not, but for $12? I’d drink this rosé all day, every day. Very Good. 89 Points.

On top of everything else, my wife plays cello in the Texas Medical Center Orchestra. That’s her, third chair.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Normally in this space, I wax poetically (or humble-brag, depending on your viewpoint) about the myriad wines we pulled from our cellar, many of which were stellar, amazing, or even life changing. This week? Meh. Sure, the wines were OK, even Very Good, but mere “Very Good” does not cut it in this household. You see, I am married to a true rockstar and mediocre just is not acceptable. But if I have to choose? I guess I would go with the 2008 Stonestreet Chardonnay Broken Road as this week’s Wine of the Week, but the truth is, even if this wine were available at a really good price right now, I would not buy more of it. Sure, I rated it “Excellent” but that does not mean I necessarily like it–it is a throwback to the big California Chardonnays of yore. It is a well-made throwback, but boy, is it big. Kind of like the expectations in this house.

 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 Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Cinsault/Cinsaut, Corvina, Corvinone, France, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Rolle, Rondinella, Syrah, Vermentino, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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