Everyone who has made wine an important part of their life welcomes the annual new releases with a mixture of pleasant familiarity and exciting expectations. There are some wineries whose vintages we have tasted for decades and perhaps have even met one of the winemakers or visited the estate, while others are new to us, or relatively so, and thus somewhat blank slates.
To perhaps be profane, I thought about this when the NFL season started this past weekend. Yes, there are the familiars, Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, and Ben Roethlisberger, but what are we to make of rookies Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, and Trevor Lawrence?
With this edition of The Dozen, we welcome back Jordan, one of the best-priced and best-made restaurant wines that every steakhouse seems to have, the tried-and-true Bordeaux everyday-priced Mouton Cadet and the pride of southern France who loves making enjoyable, affordable wines in out-of-the-way places, Michel Chapoutier. On the other hand, Dutcher Creek is a relatively new – and welcome – entry into my tasting calendar. Ettore is the first tasting for me, and it is looking to make a big impression. And, after tasting a single Ferraton for two or more vintages, I want to know more about its line.
So, here we go:
2020 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Blanc ($11). Nice – lightly herbal green fruit with hints of cheese whey in the finish.
2019 Dutcher Crossing Dry Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($33). Lightish-green herbal flavors with some dusty tannins.
2019 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($33). It is a simply delicious vintage that shows why Chardonnay is probably the world’s best white grape when people get it right. It is the case here – pear/apple flavors blending into stony minerality with good structure and a hint of creaminess.
2020 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Rosé ($19). Pleasant gaminess on the nose and in the flavors, a bit tart to provide liveliness and with a creamy pop-up in the finish.
NV Mumm Napa Napa Valley Brut Rosé ($19). The California style exhibited here is more relaxed than Champagne – similar cherry flavors, but creamier and less structure and minerality than the classic.
NV Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvée des Moines” Champagne Brut Champagne ($60). Elegant yet rich and satisfying with great underlying metallic minerality and flavors of Asian pear, quince, and tart apple.
NV Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvée de Moines” Champagne Brut Rosé ($80). Crisp, refined, lightly fruity – strawberries – minerally and very, very long on the palate.
2019 Ferraton Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhone Villages Red Wine ($28). Plan de Dieu is one of the newer (2005) communes raised to “Villages” status, and this wine from the region has a lot more stuffing than most village wines with dark cherry/berry fruits well-blended with gamey and savor notes. Well worth trying.
2018 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut “Occultum Lapidem” Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France Red Wine ($28). As with food, sometimes there is a wine that you know isn’t great but is so satisfying – a comfort food – that you fall in love with it, as I did with this wine. Pour me more! Textured and “thick” on the tongue with an intense spiciness, it has rich purple fruit and great dusty tannins. (Latour de France is a well-regarded Roussillon sub-region).
2015 Dutcher Crossing Dry Creek Valley “Kupferschmid Red” ($40). Very satisfying, though a tad tart and hot, with rich dark and red fruits and good oak and tannins.
2018 Ettore Mendocino County Red Wine ($60). Lively, spicy berry fruits with good tannins – enjoyable, but it hangs rather than lingers on the palate.
2017 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($66). Lovely berry aromas – light and lean with very nice and plump blackberries and cassis flavors with lots of lingering dusty tannins.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo credit: Jordan vineyard