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Vinography Unboxed: Week of February 24, 2013

Thumbnail image for bigstock-Overhead-view-of-a-twelve-bott-31810241.jpgI'm not on the road at the moment, which gives me some time to dive back into the samples pile. So welcome to the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week's offerings span the globe, from France, to Australia, to Uruguay, to Italy. I got a pair of white Burgundies from small producer Henri Darnat, whose village Puligny-Montrachet was quite tasty, and made a nice counterpoint to the Grgich Hills Chardonnay, which is always a reliable bottle of wine.

I really enjoyed the Clos du Fief Beaujolais, though its obviously carbonically macerated smell initially turned me off. But who doesn't love a little hint of pot smoke on the finish? The Chateau Fonplegade Bordeaux seems to be trying to imitate California in its scale of ripeness, but was definitely a pleasant enough example of its form, as was the Pinot Grigio from Australia.

All these and more below.


2010 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Napa
Light gold in color, this wine smells of cold cream, lemon curd, and melted butter. In the mouth, stony and bright flavors of lemon curd and cold cream are married to a lightly spicy ginger quality that is quite nice. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35 click to buy.

2009 Henri Darnat Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and white flowers with a hint of lemon curd.In the mouth silky flavors of white flowers, lemon curd, and wet stones mix with a hint of pink grapefruit. The acidity starts lacy and delicate, and then becomes more insistent as the wine finishes with a wonderful lemon zest and white flower note. julienas.jpg 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $55 click to buy.

2009 Henri Darnat "Les Champs Gains" Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Burgundy, France
Pale gold with a hint of green, this wine smells of white flowers, unripe apples, and lemon curd. In the mouth the wine has a slightly resinous flavor that turns to barley and yeast in the finish. Around this more savory core, lemon curd and pastry cream swirl in a silky textured stream across the palate. Slightly odd. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85

2010 Domaine du Clos du Fief Julienas, Beaujolais, France
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of candied forest berries and concord grapes. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful velvety texture, thanks to mouth-coating tannins and a clear lack of filtration. Excellent acidity brings alive flavors of mulberry and a hint of marijuana smoke in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30 click to buy.

2010 Robert Oatley Winery "James Oatley Tic Tok" Pinot Grigio, Adelaide Hills, Victoria, Australia
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and raw quince. In the mouth, flavors of baked apple, honey, and a hint of straw have a nice racy acidity and a chalky tannic structure to them that is quite charming. Simple, but pleasant. 12.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $12 click to buy.

2011 Trione Vineyards & Winery "River Road Ranch" Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of ripe passion fruit and candied green apple. In the mouth ever-so-slightly-sweet flavors of passion fruit and ripe apple have a nice brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity, but there's a hot wash of alcoholic heat in the finish that mars the overall experience of the wine. 14% alcohol in a ridiculously heavy bottle. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23 click to buy.

2010 Familia Deicas "Don Pascual Reserve" Tannat, Uruguay
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and blueberry. In the mouth blueberry and blackberry flavors have a smoky tinge to them, as they are wrapped firmly in a suede glove of thick tannins. Good acidity and a long finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: 8.5 . Cost: $??

2010 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat, Juanico, Uruguay
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and blackberries. In the mouth blackberry and cassis flavors have a nice cool juiciness to them, while a billowing cloud of supple tannins envelop them and the mouth in what is quite a pleasant sensation. Notes of blueberry linger on the finish. 12.5% alcohol Score: around 8.5. Cost: $10. click to buy.

2008 Cacciata Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of deep earth, cherry, and oak. In the mouth grippy, leathery tannins wrap around an earthy core of cherry, leather, and boysenberry. The oak is nicely subsumed in the wine, and good acidity keeps the wine bright. The tannins are pretty muscular, but fine grained. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22

2009 Chateau Fonplégade St.-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
Opaque, inky ruby in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry, sandalwood, and wet dirt. In the mouth, the wine is incredibly ripe and broad, with inky deep black cherry and cassis fruit, mouth-coating tannins, and a faint sweetness that probably comes from the prodigious 15% alcohol rather than any sugar in the wine. Muscular, peanut-buttery tannins coat the palate and linger with earthy notes in the finish. Overdone a bit. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48 click to buy.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud