What We Have Been Drinking—3/20/2023

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).

2006 32 Winds Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $100. Big. Ass. Bottle. Dark and brooding in both color and aromas with intense balm fruit: blackberry, dark plum, and black raspberry. rich, even unctuous, and layered, I could probably wax on this wine for some time but I need to run off to the hospital since the weight of this bottle just ripped my arm out of the socket. It also, single-handedly raised the average temperature of the planet by at least half a degree. this might be the most stupidly, irresponsibly heavy bottle I have ever experienced. Stupid. #DoBetter Outstanding. 93 Points.

2015 Chanson Père & Fils Viré-Clessé, Burgundy, France: Retail $25. 100% Chardonnay. The first (and last) time I had this wine, I was actually at a dude ranch with my family. We were relatively new to Texas and we thought that was what we should do. We also thought we should bring wine since a) it was allowed and b) well, a) is plenty. I imagined at the time that drinking this around the bonfire did not cause anyone to think I was an actual cowboy. In fact, if they thought anything it was that the guy drinking the French Chardonnay is probably here because he felt like he had to take his family to a dude ranch since he was new to Texas. I do like the wine more this go around, however, probably because I am in my suburban home wearing a Ralph Lauren button-down and matching shorts. Almost golden in the glass with tons of tropical notes, citrus, a touch of nuttiness, and even some verve. The palate is tart and balanced with the right amount of fruit. Sure, this is not a Côte d’Or Chard, but the cowboys at the Dude Ranch don’t know about those, either. Very Good. 89 Points.

2005 Domaine Clerc Côte-Rôtie, Rhône Valley, France: Retail 30€. 100% Syrah. I have been to a ton of trade tastings and, frankly, I don’t like them. There are droves of people usually in various stages of drunkenness, countless producers, and really no opportunity to talk to anyone about whichever wine for more than eight seconds. Meh. There are a couple of exceptions: VinItaly for the sheer magnitude and grandiosity of it all, and Le Salon des Vignerons Indépendents in Paris. I purchased three bottles of this wine in 2008 at the latter, and this is the first we’ve cracked. A bit stewed on the nose, but that can be expected from a 15-year-old wine, but the palate is simply marvelous: still great fruit (yes, a slight stewed nature), intense acidity, and integrated tannins. My wife said we waited too long and perhaps she is right. But. This wine took me back to my experience for those two days in Paris (and I love Paris), wandering the hall, tasting, chatting, spitting, and eating. I would gladly go back in a heartbeat. Fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points. 

2014 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay Barrel Fermented, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $35. Under screwcap. I bought half a case of this final vintage from the winery when they were closing up shop, and this is now the second bottle we have cracked and even though we opened that first bottle nearly two and a half years ago, the notes are eerily similar (thank you screw cap?). I’d go with light yellow in the glass with lemon curd, a bit of green apple, and slight hints of vanilla and oak. The palate is quite tart, but also full-bodied (13.9%) and rich with multiple layers of flavor. Opening a bottle of Clos Pepe these days is always bittersweet–I love the wines, but my supply is finite as there will not be any more. Sure, the vineyard still exists, but those making a Clos Pepe today are a far cry from the passionate, ebullient, and, at times, mercurial Wes Hagen. Excellent. 92 Points.

2010 DeLille Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 1, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $75. I bought this at the winery over a decade ago and tonight, for whatever reason, seemed like the right time to open it. OK, it was fantastic, excellent, even, but I honestly was hoping for more. But I might just be nitpicking. Quite dark in the glass with ripe black raspberry in the glass along with a rather intense mocha and just a hint of mint. That mint plays heavily on the palate as well, as does the fruit. A bit round with subtle tannins and an above-average finish. Excellent. 91 Points.

2020 Château de Trinquevedel Tavel, France: Retail $21. 60% Grenache, 13% Clairette, 13% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 3% Mourvèdre, 1% Bourboulenc. Ah Tavel, if there were ever a singular town in France that I would love to visit (but have not yet been), it might be you (although Cassis and Condrieu are also on that list). As with all Tavel, this is dark in the glass, closer to a red than certainly a Provençal rosé. And along with all that color comes fruit, body, and depth. Yowza. Perhaps the best known (or at least most widely distributed Tavel in the U.S., thanks to its importer, Kermit Lynch), this wine is quite robust, but also tart and lively on both the nose and the palate. Why more rosé wines are not made this way (with more ripeness on the vine and just a bit more skin contact), I might never know, but thank goodness for Tavel. Outstanding. 93 Points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: When I sat down to write this post this morning, I had no idea which wine would be Wine of the Week, which is rare since the choice is often obvious. So in deciding the “winner” I asked myself the question: “Which of these wines would you like to drink again?” Once I got over the fact that I was asking myself that question well before noon on a Monday, I was stuck between two wines, both of which, coincidentally, come from the Rhône Valley in France. After some deliberation, I settled on the 2005 Domaine Clerc Côte-Rôtie over the Château de Trinquevedel Tavel for a couple of reasons. First, I do not get the chance to drink much Côte-Rôtie since it is fairly rare (at least in the U.S.) and therefore rather expensive. And second, it is more than a bit nippy here in Houston after a couple of weeks of above-average temperatures, and a lovely Syrah seems more appealing.

 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 Bourboulenc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cinsault/Cinsaut, Clairette, France, Grenache, Syrah, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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