Monday, February 24, 2014

1998 Roederer Estate "L'Ermitage" - Delicious Aged Cali Bubbles

Two years ago, I wrote that Roederer Estate’s Anderson Valley Brut is the single best bottle of bubbles you can buy for $20. Since then, I’ve been looking high and low, trying to prove myself wrong. I haven’t yet found a suitable challenger for this title.

And while this entry-level sparkler is delicious, their high-end bottling, L’Ermitage Brut, can be amazing. This “Tête de Cuvée” shows depth, intensity and purity that rivals some Grand Cru Champagnes. The wine is roughly half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from estate vineyards, which is blended with a small portion (about 5%) of oak-aged reserve wine. The L’Ermitage made its debut in the 1989 vintage, and Roederer has produced the wine almost every vintage since, spare a few in which the fruit didn’t reach Roederer’s quality standards.

Many Champagne houses have kicked off sparkling wine projects in the New World, but for my palate, few can compete with Roederer Estate. This is the result of a combination of the estate’s high standards and winemaking practices and the wonderful terroir of Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, which produces some of my favorite Pinots and Chardonnays in California.

I’ve been holding onto a bottle of 1998 L’Ermitage for a while now, hoping it would prove to be a worthwhile endeavor, that time would coax something awesome from the wine. I popped my sole bottle with a Champagne-loving friend earlier this month, and we were both very impressed. The wine has aged beautifully and has room for even more evolution over the next three to five years. My notes…

1998 Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Brut - California, Mendocino, Anderson Valley
Wow, I was expecting to like this, but it delivered and then some. Picked up a while ago for $30, such a steal. Lemon curd, tons of limestone and biscuits on the nose. Complex aromas, opening up to show orange blossom and apricot. Such great acid on the palate, and a never-ending stream of minerals. Flavors of yellow apple, green apple peel, cinnamon-spice, and biscuits with honey and butter. Tart finish with limestone. A very impressive bottle. If I had another, I’d cellar it for five more years. If in good condition, this is far from finished. (91 points)

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