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).
2021 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, CA: Retail $55. Heavy bottle. We went to another of our favorite restaurants here in Houston, where this is on the list for $43. All cards on the table, I am not a fan of the Wagner Family wines (Caymus, Meiomi, Conundrum, etc.), but Belle Glos is an exception. Sure, it is a big, fruity, big Pinot (yes, I realized I said “big” twice), but what else would one expect from the Wagners? Dark fruit, even on the verge of brooding, with considerable weight, but also enough acidity to try to make it work. Look, if you like “earthy” and terroir-driven Pinots, this ain’t it, but if you want a full-throttle wine that might challenge your conception of “Pinot Noir”, then here you go. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 Copain Chardonnay Les Voisins, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $35. Under DIAM5. I found this in the cellar, but I had not added it to my inventory. I guess that is a bonus of sorts? I was out of town and my wife picked this up somewhere (Costco?) and apparently put it in the cellar without noting it anywhere. Yeah, that tracks. Pale straw in the glass with lemon curd and vanilla. Yum. The palate is similar, with plenty of fruit and that vanilla aspect, but there is also a boatload of acidity, which serves to hold it all together. Yes, Copain is now part of a corporate conglomerate, but the wines continue to perform at a very high level. Very nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2012 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, CA: Retail $50. It’s been nearly three years since we’ve popped the last one of these and it is remarkably consistent. Maybe even better? I will skip the traditional lament about the demise of this winery (sad), and get right to the point–this is baller Pinot. Light in color but rich in aroma (Bing cherry, a bit of earth, some slight rhubarb), the palate is downright ridiculous: fruit, tartness, earth, intrigue. Say what you will about Wes Hagen, but he made some killer wines from this fruit and although that is no longer, well, Wes still rocks. Outstanding. 94 Points.
NV Montaudon Champagne Brut, France: Retail $40. 40% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay. Back in ancient times, when I was in grad school, Montaudon was my go-to champagne, it was under twenty bucks at Total Wine and it was tasty. As the price crept up over the years, I explored other brands as the price differential was no longer that great. So this is my first bottle of the Brut from one of the better-known cooperatives in Champagne in quite some time. And it is still as I remember it: yeasty, citrusy, and well-balanced. This is a solid choice, but of course, I wish I could still get it for those grad school days’ price. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passione e Sentimento Bianco, Veneto IGT, Italy: Retail $15. 100% Garganega. Agglomerated stopper. When I first had this wine a couple of years ago, I really liked it (although I can not find my notes on it). So much so, that I have used it in many a tasting and counseled several to buy it (while ignoring the ugly bottle). A brilliant straw in the glass with golden delicious apple, lemon rind, and a slight nutty note. The palate is full, fruity, and, well, fresh even though it is a full three years plus past harvest. Great balance and a lengthy finish. And for the price? This is off-the-charts fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Nicolas Maillart Champagne Premier Cru Platine, France: Retail $40. Disgorged July, 2018. “78% Pinot Noir, 16% Chardonnay, 8% Meunier.” Ugh. This is the last bottle of this wine that I purchased a while back from WTSO.com and while the wine is fantastic, I am happy to see it go. Why? It still bothers me that the varietal makeup doesn’t add up to 100%. I mean you learn that in third grade. But hey, the contents are fantastic, almost as if they put in a 102% effort with this wine. Straw colored with golden accents. Honeyed apple, dried apricot, vanilla wafer, yeasty on the nose while the palate is on the dry side of Brut, initially quite tart with some lemon zest, a biscuity goodness, and a lengthy finish as that tartness lingers for quite a while. As does the arithmetic mistake. Very nice. Excellent. 92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, the clear Wine of the Week was the 2012 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir, but the weekly wine award has been bestowed upon the now-defunct winery so many times already that it has become superfluous. So I decided to go in another direction. Even though I did not mention it in my note above, the 2019 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passione e Sentimento Bianco, this week’s Wine of the Week was on the floor of my cellar, left over from a tasting I did at some point. It was not in my inventory and therefore off the radar, to say the least. But what a treat. Sure, it is not the most acclaimed wine in the world, but for its modest suggested retail price of $15 (which means you can likely find it for around $12), it is really an incredible value. As a bonus, it always makes me think of the above photo which I took a few years ago in Verona. There is so much to unpack in that photo and I am not sure if I should laugh or cringe.
What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?