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 many places on the globe, from Burgundy, Greece, Chile, New Zealand, Germany, and of course a bunch of wines from California. Look for the Gallica Cabernet, a personal project of winemaker Rosemary Cakebread, as well as the perpetually reliable Cabernets from Grgich Hills, and Dry Creek Vineyard. Did you know that Cloudy Bay made Pinot Noir in addition to their famous Sauvignon Blanc? Have you ever tried a wine made from Xinomavro? And finally, it's hard to say whether to hang on to the beautifully aging '08 Franz Kunstler Riesling, or to drink it all now as it is showing so well.
2009 Freeman Winery "Ryo-Fu" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in the glass with a distinctive greenish cast, this wine smells of lemon curd, pineapple, and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, flavors of lemon curd, pink grapefruit, and tropical fruits are bright with juicy acidity, while more resinous flavors linger in the finish of citrus zest. A hint of alcoholic heat features in the finish as well. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $44. click to buy.
2009 Domaine Antonin Guyon "La Justice" Gevrey-Chambertin, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright forest berries -- raspberries, black raspberries and strawberries -- mixed with forest floor. In the mouth, faint dusty tannins enclose deep, ripe berry flavors. The fruit is quite intense, but somewhat to the detriment of more subtle notes that would add complexity to the wine. Having said that, with good acidity and a nice earthy undertone, this is quite a pleasurable wine to drink. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.
2010 Big Table Farm "Pelos Sandberg Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Eola Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of flowers and red currants. In the mouth tart flavors of raspberry and redcurrant mix with floral notes and a dusty earthiness that is common in wines from the region. The finish is long, and lightly tacky tannins emerge over time. A lean, tart wine, this may open over time. 12.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $43. click to buy.
2009 Yorkville Cellars "Richard the Lionheart" Red Blend, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and carob. In the mouth, bright cherry and cedar flavors dance beautifully across the palate, with earthy backup and flexing, muscular tannins. Nice acidity, and well balanced. Likely to age quite well. 350 cases produced, 100% organic, from one of the state's longest running organic producers. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.
2009 Andrew Murray Vineyards "Watch Hill Vineyard" Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet blackberry and blueberry fruit. In the mouth blueberry and blackberry fruit have a nice cool quality to them, with earthy undertones. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit fresh, while powdery, chalky tannins drape the edges of the mouth. Quite pretty, with a long finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2010 Trione Vineyards and Winery "River Road Ranch" Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apple, lime zest and lemon juice. In the mouth the wine is equally zesty with pink grapefruit, lime zest and lemon juice flavors. Bright juicy acidity and a nice mineral undertone. 14.1% alcohol. 1054 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2010 Morgan Winery "Cotes du Crow's" Rhone Blend, Monterey, California
Medium purple in the glass, this wine smells of violets and cassis with a hint of spice. In the mouth spicy cassis and black cherry flavors swirl with hints of sandalwood and very faint tannins. Fruity, and lacking some sophistication, the wine is nonetheless quite tasty. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2008 Dry Creek Vineyard "The Mariner" Meritage, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco with hints of dark chocolate. In the mouth dark cherry and chocolate mix with tobacco and cassis flavors. Faint powdery tannins and good acidity linger in the finish. Nicely balanced, with the bright ripe fruit complemented by earthier tones. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2006 Hestan Vineyard "Meyer Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and vanilla and bright berries. In the mouth, bright juicy cherry and plum fruit mix with a bounciness that comes from excellent acidity. Lightly leathery tannins creep around the edges of the mouth, and hints of oak merge with a light sweetness in the wine. This wine, while slightly sweet to my taste, is no doubt a crowd-pleaser. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $43. click to buy.
2006 Derenoncourt Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of ripe black cherry and plum fruit. In the mouth the wine is rich and slightly sweet, with dark cherry, plum, and cassis flavors. Good acidity makes the fruit juicy, and burly muscular tannins flex like a bodybuilder beneath the blanket of fruit. Massive is the word that comes to mind. 15.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.
2008 Twomey Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth, bright cherry and raspberry fruit have a nice earthy undertone. Great acidity makes the wine juicy, and very faint tannins add complexity as notes of cedar emerge on the finish. Very pretty. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2009 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, chocolate, and cedar. In the mouth the wine has a rich creaminess to it, with powdery, mouth-coating tannins and bright cherry, cola, and cedar flavors. The oak, while quite present, is well integrated into the wine. Decent acidity, though it could be better. Moderate finish. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $140. click to buy.
2009 Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and black cherry with a hint of green bell pepper. In the mouth black cherry and wet dirt mix with a hint of green herbs and vegetal quality. The oak, while present is fairly reserved, as are the tannins. Good acidity and nice overall balance. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??. Wine has not yet been released.
2009 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth dark cherry fruit and a nice stony earthiness are juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Only the faintest trace of oak can be tasted in this wine, which has a cool dark quality to it and a remarkable smoothness. Faint powdery tannins are almost an afterthought. Delicious and quite drinkable, though will likely age beautifully. Classic. 14.6% alcohol. 15,500 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2010 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of wet dirt and peeled willow bark. In the mouth juicy pomegranate and raspberry flavors have a wonderful wet stone minerality to them, and a deeper earthy rumbling underneath. Good acidity. Pretty. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2007 Vaeni Xinomavro, Naoussa, Macedonia, Greece
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of flowers and mulberries. In the mouth, mulberry, earth and sour black cherry flavors mix in pleasing proportion with nice acidity and a thick fleece blanket of tannins. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $11. click to buy.
2010 Casas del Bosque "Reserva" Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca, Chile
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of gooseberries, green apple, and passionfruit. In the mouth, gooseberry and passionfruit flavors mix with candied green apple and a hint of sweetness. Decent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $10. click to buy.
2009 Weingut Hans Lang "Wisselbrunnen Erstes Gewachs" Riesling, Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of wet stones and a hint of citrus zest. In the mouth the wine is all liquified stone with citrus zest grated over the top. Hints of white flowers add a faint aromatic sweetness to the finish of the wine, but the wine is all mineral all the time. A note of green olive seems to sneak in as well. Very pretty, great acid, and austere without being severe. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.
2011 Reichsrat Von Buhl "Armand" Riesling Kabinett Pfalz, Germany
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of pears, mandarine oranges, and lychees. In the mouth, flavors of mandarine orange and wet slate mix with a tincture of honey. Somewhat short on the finish, the wine nonetheless has very nice acidity and pretty flavors. 8.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2008 Weingut Franz Kunstler "Hochheim Hölle Erstes Gewachs" Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of paraffin, grapefruit zest, and wet slate. In the mouth the wine has a mineral austerity that is quite remarkable, with the faintest pomelo character and citrus juice fruit notes fairly well drowning in a pool of liquified stone. More delicate acidity and a nice texture. As the wine finishes, and increasingly with exposure to air it gets a remarkable saline and green olive savoriness that makes it quite delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
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