Welcome to this week's installment of my new feature, Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week highlights a bunch of new Napa Cabernets that are being released to the market this fall. The Cabernets I chose to feature this week represent quite a stylistic range, from the leaner, stonier notes of the Smith Madrone to the ripeness and oak influence of Pine Ridge's Fortis. There's a nice Chardonnay from Dierberg, whose wines just keep getting better in my opinion, as well as an interesting Merlot or two (one of which is from Canada). Finally, I've got a random Riesling and Zinfandel in there, just to keep things interesting.
2009 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright candied mandarine oranges, clover honey, and lemon peel. In the mouth bright flavors of mandarine oranges, candied orange peel, and honey mix with a light to moderate sweetness. The acidity is soft, and delicate (I wish there were more), but the wine has a beautiful texture and overall poise. 8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2009 Dierberg Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and lemon curd. In the mouth he wine has wonderful, bright acidity and a fantastic silky texture. Flavors of lemon curd and a hint of burnt butter mix beautifully with a wet stone undertone that morphs to floral and tropical fruit scents, wafted on the breeze in the finish. Pretty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2009 Freeman Winery Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light ruby in the glass with a hint of purple, this wine smells of raspberry, cherry, and cedar. In the mouth, flavors of cherry and raspberry have a dusting of tannins and are quite juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of cedar and cherry linger in the finish, with a nice earthiness. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2010 Big Table Farm "Resonance Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, raspberry and wet wood. In the mouth, raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors mix with a nice minerality and notes of dirt. Juicy with excellent acidity, the wine nonetheless doesn't seem to reach its full potential. Nicely balanced though. 12.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $47. click to buy.
2008 Hunnicutt Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass this wine smells of rich cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth bright cherry and cocoa powder flavors have a nice anise and cedar note to them. Excellent acidity and powdery tannins. Notes of leather and earth linger in the finish with chocolate covered cherries. Lovely. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2007 Hidden Ridge "55% Slope" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth smoky dark black cherry fruit mixes with a deep earthiness, while a blanket of mouth-coating tannins wraps around the mouth. Deep and resonant, with nice cocoa powder and dark chocolate notes on the finish. Impressive. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $39. click to buy.
2007 Tudal Family Vineyard "Clift Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and chocolate with hints of espresso beans. In the mouth, dark espresso roast mixes with cherry and chocolate, as well as traces of new oak. Light, sandpapery tannins rub at the edges of the tongue. Good acidity and reasonable balance. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $42 . click to buy.
2008 Pine Ridge Vineyards "Fortis" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and oak. In the mouth sweet cherry and the vanilla of new oak mix with blacker cherry and cedar. Juicy, with good acidity, mouth drying tannins emerge on the finish, somewhat disrupting what has been a good experience for the mouth so far. The oak hangs right on the edge of being overwhelming, which means with a couple of years in the bottle, this will be drinking quite prettily I think. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $125. click to buy.
2009 Shafer Vineyards "One Point Five" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of rich cherry and chocolate. Those two dance the tango on the palate, draped in a thick woolen blanket of tannins. Cocoa powder lingers in the finish. Rich, broad, muscular, the wine betrays little of its 15.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.
2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cigar box aromas. In the mouth cherry and tobacco, with a nice cola quality mix amidst velvety tannins. Good acidity and balance. Quite pleasurable. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $21. click to buy.
2006 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry, woodsmoke, and tobacco. In the mouth, bright acidity brings flavors of black cherry, cassis, and cocoa powder to life on the palate, even as a fleece blanket of tannins drapes over the tongue. Needs some time, but will likely emerge an elegant, restrained wine. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2009 Fields Family Wines Merlot, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit. In the mouth plummy cherry fruit mixes with cedar and cocoa powder, while leathery tannins tug at the edges of the tongue. Nice acidity, and very restrained oak make this wine pleasurable to drink. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2007 Summerhill Pyramid Winery Merlot, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of prunes and black cherries in syrup. In the mouth bright black plum and black cherry flavors mix with bright acidity. Leathery tannins emerge with earthier woody notes on the finish. While the nose suggested this wine to be overripe, it most certainly is not, and on balance is quite pleasing. 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Sadly this wine isn't for sale online.
2010 Dutton Goldfield "Morelli Lane Vineyard" Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of ripe blackberry fruit. In the mouth the wine bursts with juicy blackberry and boysenberry fruit flavors thanks to bright acidity. Nice notes of blueberry emerge on the finish. Exuberant and tasty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Warm Up: The North Fork of Long Island I'll Drink to That: Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards 2015 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 16, San Francisco I'll Drink to That: Ryan Looper of T. Edward Wines Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills: The Wines of Renaissance Vineyards Warm Up: The Wachau I'll Drink to That: Leo Alzinger of Weingut Alzinger Petaluma Gap Wine Tasting: August 8th, Petaluma, CA I'll Drink to That: Monica Samuels of Vine Connections Vinography Images: Cool Climate Chardonnay
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune