Sometimes Size Matters

When we are talking about wine, that is. Large format bottles are fun to open when you have a big group over for tasting and they impact the way that wine ages in a bottle. I particularly enjoy large format bottles for sparkling wines, though I buy them with all sorts of wine inside. I think I currently have about a dozen Magnum format bottles in the basement, mostly of Petite Sirah (which often has great aging potential) and of sparkling wine. We busted one open when an old friend came to town recently.  After perusing the options, we settled on the 2000 Roederer Estates L’Ermitage Brut.  I purchased this wine directly from the winery a few years ago and it’s been resting alongside its siblings in our basement every since. I think it retails for around $100 for the bottle, but I can’t recall what I paid for it.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Having a Magnum of sparkling wine makes you feel like you actually got enough glasses as you can never have too much sparkling wine.

2.) I’ve had this wine in a regular sized bottle before. You can read my notes from that and compare here.

3.) Nearly 3 years later and the large format bottle (not sure which or if both of those factors contributed) gave this bottle a heft on the palate that I didn’t find before along with a creaminess.

4.) I need to drink more bubbles.

On the nose I got toast, bread, lemon, pear, and apple. In the mouth I found apple, toast, pear, yeast, and bread. Overall the wine had a heft and creaminess on the palate I really enjoyed, especially on the finish.




A Love Affair

I’ve been utterly in love with the Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut. If you’re a long time reader of the blog, you’ve probably heard me gush over the vintage years of this bubbly in the past. We first visited Roederer Estate back in 2006, on a tip from the owner of the Vintage Towers, our favorite place to stay when we visit the Sonoma area. (We missed our annual journey this year, but are hopeful we will make it out next April!) On our last yearly trip, we meandered up the Anderson Valley on our way to Mendocino and of course could not pass by Roederer without a stop in. Well worth it, we picked up (among other bottles) the 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut. I can’t recall what I paid, but it clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and had a traditional Champagne closure.

On the nose I got lemon, crayon, wax, caramel, brioche, and apple. In the mouth I found apple, lemon, and lemon pith. Oddly, and perhaps it’s all the beer I’ve been drinking, but I thought I tasted hops.  The sparkling had great bubbles, a lovely finish, and certainly lived up to my prior experiences with the L’Ermitage Brut.

L’Ermitage My Old Friend

Although I’d not previously had this vintage, drinking the L’Ermitage from Roederer Estate is like visiting with an old friend. My absolute favorite has been the 1999 L’Ermitage Brut, as you could probably tell given that I’ve reviewed it many times here. Sadly, I am having more and more trouble finding it! Never fear though, I walked into Unwined in Alexandria the other day in search of some bubbly to tide me over until my shipment from DomaineLA arrived and what should greet me right there on the shelf? None other then the 2000 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut. Of course, I had to have it. I told myself it was to support my mission of drinking more bubbly this year, but lets be real, I would have bought it anyway. Though I am doing pretty well with the bubbly goal, this will be the 4th I’ve written about this year, though I’ve had way more than that, just need to get the notes up! The 2000 L’Ermitage cost me $39.99, had a traditional Champagne closure, and clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found lemon zest, honey, toast, and apple. In the mouth I got apple pie, meyer lemon, green apple, and fresh baked bread. Both on the nose and in the mouth I found the wine to be very bready. It had lots of tiny little bubbles and the green apple notes really popped in the mouth.

Getting on with the Bubbly

As I told you earlier this month, I’m setting “Drink more bubbly” as one of my 2010 wine goals. Why not make a random Tuesday night special by uncorking some bubbles?  In an effort to meet that goal, and to drink up some of the bubbly that’s been collecting dust in my basement, I’ve already had 4-5 bottles this month! Starting with an old friend, the NV Roederer Estate Extra Dry. I purchased this bottle at the winery almost 2 years ago, it cost me $23, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and had a traditional Champagne closure.

On the nose I found candle wax, apple, pear, and almost a hint of pepper. I know the Extra Dry is supposed to be on the sweeter side, but I didn’t find it overwhelmingly sweet at all in the mouth. I got pear, honey, and peach in the mouth. The wine had a long finish which ended just a little bit sweeter than I may have preferred, but nothing to turn me off. I need to make another trip to Roederer sometime very soon as this was my very last bottle of bubbly from them. (I think. Unless tomorrow I turn up something else that got hidden in a corner…)

Just Keeps Getting Better

This wine feels like an old friend. Whenever it comes around I’m delighted to see it and I’m sad when it’s gone. I wonder when I’ll see it again.  The 1999 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut is way out of our normal price range,we paid $60 at the winery for this bottle, so we don’t drink it as often as I would like. Though I see you can now find it at various online shops for as low as $40. At that price, I would drink it more often! I have no idea for how much longer this wine will continue to improve, but I’d be happy to keep drinking it for some time!

On the nose I found lemon! Lots and lots of lemon…some had a more herbal quality like lemon verbana and some a sweeter note like meyer lemon.  I also found minerals, yeast, spicy herbs, and peach.  In the mouth I got tart lemon, tart melon, yeast, meyer lemon, green apple, and prickly pear.  I also got an overall sense that the wine seemed a bit doughy.  I love how sprightly this wine is, even after 10 years, it’s crisp with great bubbles and a lovely mouthfeel.

Birthday Bubbly

Okay, so it was a day early…but every girl deserves some bubbly on or around her birthday! I knew we were pulling out a bunch of Zins for my birthday bbq dinner and I didn’t want to miss out on the bubbly, thus we opened it a day early. I pluck one of my favorites out of the basement, the NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé. It had a traditional Champagne closure, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, and I paid $28 for it at the winery last year.  I see it online for as low as $25. In terms of bang for your buck, Roederer Estate always delivers in my opinion. I’m dying to open the ’99 L’Ermitage Brut I have in the basement….

Right. The wine at hand. It’s yeasty! Smells like baking bread with strawberries on the side.  I would so far as to say the nose had a sourdough characteristic with red fruit and citrus zest rounding it out.  In the mouth I got more red fruit–cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, just all around tart red fruit with zesty citrus edges.  The wine has nice small bubbles and a great mouthfeel.  I just love this wine!

Oh ’99 L’ermitage I Love Thee

I truly do.  We first bought this wine while on our honeymoon nearly three years ago.  Tasting the Roederer Estate ’99 L’ermitage Brut was the first time I stood up and took notice of a sparkling wine.  Sure, I’d had other sparkling wines and Champagnes before, but none really struck me as worth going back to until this one.  At the time, we bought 2 bottles and a Magnum…the Magnum disappeared quickly at our West Coast wedding reception and the other two bottles went the same way in short order as we celebrated events at the WannabeWino house.  On our trip to CA last spring, I was determined to return to Roederer and get some more.  I did, though this time it was much pricier…we bought to bottles and drank the first with our fresh steamed crab legs on Valentine’s Day.  The wine cost us $60 at the winery, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, and had a traditional cork closure.  You can read my two previous reviews of this wine on the blog here and here.

So at times, my notes devolve into a series of “yum yum yum.” That’s how you can tell I really love a wine 🙂  On the nose of the Roederer I found pear, green apple, lemon, yeast, sourdough, and lemon cream.  I think in the 2+ years since I’ve had a bottle of this wine I’m definitely better at picking out flavors and aromas.  In the mouth I found the wine to be tingly and crisp with nice fine bubbles.  The flavors showed as very lemony, a different kind of apple than the nose, pears, meyer lemon, and a sweet tropical note on the back palate.  The wine went amazingly well with the sweet crab and butter, it really refreshed the palate and complemented the food.

Main Reason We Went to the Anderson Valley

Don’t get me wrong-we tasted a lot of great wine while there for the day, but the impetus behind driving up there to spend the day was to return to Roederer Estates for some fantastic sparkling wine. We first visited Roederer on our honeymoon almost two years ago and fell in love with the 99 L’Ermitage Brut. We only bought two bottles that time, so I had to have more! Thus, our first day in the area found us making the trek up a very windy road to discover more of what the Anderson Valley had to offer.

We tasted through the menu they were pouring that day, which sadly did not include the ’99. However, they still had some for sale, and while they warned us that it had aged and was perhaps toastier now than what we had purchased in ’06, we went for 2 bottles anyway. I would have liked to have gotten more, but the price had soared to around $60 a bottle. But for nostalgia purposes, it was worth it this time.

Brut MV: $21. Crisp, apple, citrus, lively.

Brut Magnum: $43. Creamy, toasty, green apple, very different from the regular bottle size.

Brut Rose MV: $28. Not very pink, in fact almost clear unless you put it up against the white wall, very dry, crisp, slight fruit.

2000 L’Ermitage Brut: $45. Toasted almonds, apples.

Extra Dry: $23. Sweeter than the Brut, but still dry. Showed mostly apples and a little honey. Originally created for the White House.

Pinot Noir: $23. Cherry, currants, spice, peppery, red fruit, earth, leather.

Chardonnay: $19. Mineral, crisp, tropical, citrus, creamier in the mouth, vanilla.

We took home 2 ’99 L’Ermitage Bruts, 2 Extra Drys, and 1 Brut Rose. I’ve been told it’s time to drink the ’99, so we will likely haul one out in a few months for our second anniversary. As usual, Roederer’s sparkling offerings were excellent, and I wish we could have taken home more. I also love the setting and tasting room at Roederer, the tasting bar looks out across the small front lawn where a family of Quail live. On our first visit the Quail had a very small family, but this time it looked like they were nesting and getting ready for a new family. The tasting room staff was very friendly and pointed us in the direction of a few of their favorite, not to miss vineyards. More on those later.

Happy New Year (again)!

Alternative title: I love Roederer. I really do. We first were introduced to Roederer in August of 2006 while out in Sonoma. The inn keeper suggested we stop at Roederer on our way up to Bodega Bay, and I am very glad we did. While there we picked up several lovely sparklers, including my perennial favorite, the 1999 L’Ermitage Brut. Sadly, I have trouble finding that one any more, but I still pick up a bottle of Roederer when we are in a fancier sparkling wine mood.

With that in mind, I scooped up this bottle of Roederer 25th Anniversary Brut the second I saw it on the shelf at The Winery in Old Town Alexandria, thinking it would be perfect for New Year’s Eve. It cost me $23.99 minus a 10% case discount and had a traditional sparkling wine closure. We drank it out of the stemless Champagne flutes my Dad received for Christmas!

On the nose the wine was toasty and nutty. I also found aromas of apples and lemons. In the mouth, the apples and toasty notes dominated the flavor. The wine was tangy and dry, and very crisp in the mouth. The bubbles were tiny in the glass and there were tons of them.

Absolutely a great wine to ring in the New Year with and one I would get again, easily.

Dinner with Wine Challenge Results

Well, I did buy salmon and ingredients to make Leah of DC Gastronome‘s baked salmon and roasted potatoes, but I was too exhausted last night to actually make it. I’ll do it tomorrow. But I still wanted to drink the 2004 Roederer Estates Pinot Noir. I paired it with the soup from last night, my thought process being that everyone suggested such diverse dinners so I thought that perhaps the pinot would also pair well with it. And it did.

The wine needs to decant, it is still too young to drink straight from the bottle. We didn’t decant it, so I let it sit in the glasses for a while. The alcohol scent dissipated and I was left with a great bottle of wine that has a ton of aging potential, but what is in there now is perfect if you let it decant for an hour or so.

This wine hasa gorgeous deep purple color, that’s what struck me first when I poured it. Cherries and earthy tones on the nose. Cherry and raspberry and just a slight tobacco and earth note in the mouth. Incredibly smooth and drinkable. Yum. I’m really glad we bought several of these as I am eager to see what it will taste like over the next few years.