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Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 15, 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.

This week's selections included one of my favorite new Syrah bottlings in California, from Petrichor. Which, incidentally, is definitely the aroma to beat all aromas, and probably what I would have wanted to call any wine I ever made (in all my hypothetical free time). This wine happens to be made by Duncan Myers of Arnot-Roberts, and, well, you can taste it.

There's also a pedigreed Cabernet from Napa (Heritance is a project by Bernard Portet, who founded Clos du Val), and a solid Grüner Veltliner from newcomer Solminer.

On the value end of the spectrum, it's hard to go wrong with the Hedges family "CMS" for fourteen bucks, and for those of you just looking for a nice bottle that you can buy lots of to go with your pasta, the Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico is also priced right.

All this and more below. Enjoy!

2010 Petrichor "Les Trois" Red Blend, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black pepper, cassis, blackberry, and wet earth. In the mouth, a beautiful and deep wet stone character pervades blackberry and cassis flavors that are also tinged with the delicate flavors of lavender, violets, and herbs. Supple tannins float gauzily in the background as steely acidity makes the wines fruit take on a crystalline quality. Pretty, elegant, and one hell of a smooth operator. A blend of 84% Syrah and 16% Grenache. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2010 Thomas Fogarty "Langley Hill Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, cucumber, and a hint of lemon oil. In the mouth bright wet chalkboard and pink grapefruit flavors have a lean petrichor_2010.jpgausterity to them that will continue to mellow with time in the bottle. Excellent acidity, lacy but powerful, carries the wine through a long finish. 12.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45.

2010 Stoller "Reserve" Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cedar, and raspberries. In the mouth very faint powdery tannins wrap around a core of exuberant cranberry and cherry fruit tinged with the greenness of raspberry leaf. Nice balance and excellent acidity. The wine has a long earthy finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45.

2011 Hedges Family Estate "CMS" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of smoky cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth that note of wood smoke continues over bright cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with hints of black pepper. Good acidity and light, sandpapery tannins. A blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 4% Syrah. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $14. click to buy.

2012 Solminer "Sebastiano Vineyard" Grüner Veltliner, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of apples, lemongrass, and quince paste. In the mouth, flavors of membrillo mix seamlessly with bright lemony citrus. Excellent acidity and a nice spiciness underneath it all that matches the wet stone minerality. An excellent expression of the variety in the New World. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2010 Heritance Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, crushed green herbs, and freshly sharpened pencils. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful balance between the minty and green bell pepper flavor combination and bright cherry tobacco medley. Lean, supple tannins wrap around the core of fruit and contribute to the earthy quality of the wine. Excellent acidity. Made with an old world sensibility. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.

2011 Stony Hill "White" Riesling, Napa Valley, California
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apple, ocean water, and white flowers. In the mouth the wine has a faint, off-dry sweetness that makes for a rather sunny disposition for the apple and lightly lemony flavors that dance on the palate. Nice finish. Dry. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2011 Shafer "Red Shoulder Ranch" Chardonnay, Carneros, California
Light gold in the glass with a distinct greenish cast, this wine smells of lemon pith, pink grapefruit pith, and mixed tropical fruit. In the mouth, mixed tropical fruit flavors have a nice combination of richness and brightness thanks to excellent acidity. A hint of brewers yeast lingers in the long finish. Will satisfy those who like the rich ripe style of California Chardonnay, but it is over the top for me. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $49. click to buy.

2012 Alpha Estate "Axia" Malagouzia, Florina, Greece
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of cucumber, lime, and white flowers. In the mouth, flavors of lime, cucumber, and a nice green herbal note have a pleasant complexion backed by good acidity. A stony mineral quality lingers underneath the wine and adds a wet chalkboard quality to the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. click to buy.

2010 Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of struck match and cherry cordial. In the mouth cherry fruit is backed with somewhat stiff tannins. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright and juicy, even as the tannins seem to have a darker earthier quality. Nothing wrong with this wine, if you're looking for a basic Chianti. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $14. 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