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Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 8, 2013

box_o_wine.jpgHello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.

A few interesting things came out of the pile this week, including a gorgeous Pinot Noir with a little age on it from Baxter Winery in the Anderson Valley. There are some bottles of this floating around on the market and it is well worth seeking out.

I'm working through a number of Ridge Vineyards samples, and their stalwart East Bench Zinfandel continues to perform as expected. Tasty wine.

Cinnabar winery was sold in the last few years, but they continue to make excellent wines for the money, with their Cinnabar red blend a crowd pleaser as always.

And finally, look for another single vineyard offering from Steven Kent winery in Livermore, whose Small Lot series of wines continues to be a winner to my taste.

All this and more below. Enjoy!

2010 Keller Estate "El Coro" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright raspberry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth silky textured flavors of raspberry and cranberry have a faint sweetness to them and are barely dusted with powdery tannins. The tiniest bit of alcoholic heat lingers in the finish, but otherwise this is a pretty wine. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $52. click to buy.

2010 Cinnabar "Mercury Rising" Red Wine, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, flavors of black cherry and cassis have a slightly smoky, peppery quality in addition to their lightly sweet fruit. Faint powdery tannins are balanced by bright acidity. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16. click to buy.

2011 Ridge Vineyards "East Bench" Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of licorice, blackberry, and black pepper. In the mouth, flavors of black pepper and blackberry are embedded in a thick blanket of tannins. Good acidity and a nice earthy backdrop complete the package. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9.Cost: $25. click to buy.

2011 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of green wood and green herbs mixed with raspberries and cherries. In the mouth bright raspberry and cherry fruit flavors have a wonderful aromatic sweetness to them and an electric brightness thanks to excellent acidity. The tannins are faint, and leave only a slightly powdered chalky quality on the edges of the mouth. Good finish, great balance. 12.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.

2010 Steven Kent Winery "Small Lot Offering - Ghielmetti Vineyard" Cabernet Franc, Livermore Valley, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cocoa powder, roasted hazelnuts and large-baxter_pinot_langley.jpgFrench oak. In the mouth juicy flavors of cherry are tinged with nutmeg, and cinnamon and a hint of oak. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright, and the suede-like tannins wait until the finish to press in gently on the palate. Pretty, nicely balanced, and delicious. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $43.

2012 Solminer "Rancho Sisquoc" Riesling, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of honey, wet stones, and white flowers. In the mouth flavors of linalool, lemon, and white flowers mix with an electric citrus brightness that is quite compelling. There's something odd about the wine aromatically, as if some sort of odd yeast was used to ferment it, but that shouldn't be seen to detract from the wines obvious pleasure. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $26. click to buy.

2010 Yangarra Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black pepper, blackberries, and cassis. In the mouth, rich blackberry and cassis flavors are bedded in velvety tannins and tinged with black pepper. Rich and ripe. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2009 Baxter Winery "Langley Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells beautifully of lavender and leather and cedar and raspberries. In the mouth, gorgeous raspberry and wet earth flavors are wrapped in a fine gauze of tannins while excellent acidity pushes the raspberry fruit towards kumquat citrus notes while cedar highlights linger in the finish. Quite compelling and aging beautifully. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2011 Cloudburst Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of rich and salty melted butter and lemon curd. In the mouth, buttered popcorn and lemon curd mix with a slightly yeasty saline character that is interesting. Powerful and rich, the wine doesn't quite have the acidic kick I would like to support the richness, but the oak is thankfully quite well integrated. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $150.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud 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 World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.