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Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 3, 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 sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included one of the better orange wines I've tasted from California. For those unfamiliar with this designation, an orange wine is a white wine made like a red wine -- namely with an extended contact between the juice and the skins of the grape, resulting in a wine the hue of slightly diluted orange soda. This lovely rendition from the Santa Cruz mountains was quite a pleasant surprise.

The folks at Glen Carlou, continue to send me samples, and despite trying to make sure other producers continue to get equal time and attention their quality for the money continues to impress me. Their 2010 Chardonnay is no exception. There's no $15 California Chardonnay that comes anywhere close.

I was unfamiliar with Vineyard {511}, but their Cabernet impressed with lush, bright fruit. It's a crowd pleaser of a wine, with its share of new wood, but it will push all the right Napa Cabernet buttons for most.

Dolcetto from the Willamette Valley? Whoda thunk. But this is a textbook rendition of this Italian easy-drinking grape, in a nice highland plaid.

All these and more below. Enjoy!

2012 Beauregard "Regan Vineyard Orange Wine" Pinot Gris, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light coppery orange in the glass, this wine smells of cantaloupe, orange rind, and hibiscus with a distinct note of wet leaves. In the mouth the wine has a slightly sweet aspect to it, with flavors of cantaloupe, peach, sandalwood, red berries, and a hint of bee pollen. Good acidity keeps the fruit bright, and there's a waxy note in the finish. Tasty. 21 days of skin contact. 13.7% alcohol. Even better after a day or two of being open, and certainly one of the best skin macerated whites being made in California. Score: around 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.

2010 Glen Carlou Chardonnay, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of buttered popcorn, cold cream, and wet stones. In the mouth notes of toasty oak accompany bright citrusy lemon and grapefruit flavors mixed with cold cream and a nice silky texture. Bright acidity keeps this wine lively. Nicely balanced. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. click to buy.

2012 Hedges Family Estate "CMS" Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of passion fruit and green apples. In the mouth, strong passion fruit and green apple flavors have a light bounce to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of cut green grass linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $14. click to buy.

2009 Vineyard {511} Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark roast espresso, dark chocolate covered cherries, and new oak. In the mouth, the wine offers intense cherry cola flavors mixed with cocoa powder and rich tobacco and cedary notes. Bright acidity makes for a juicy, rich 2009.cab.sauv.750.pngpackage. The new oak shows itself most in the finish. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $90. click to buy.

2008 Trione Vineyards and Winery "River Road Ranch" Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of roasted meats, cassis and black cherry. In the mouth cool and smooth black cherry flavors are polished with the vanilla and espresso notes of toasted French oak. Silky and refined, this is a crowd-pleaser of a wine. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.

2008 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco, and new oak. In the mouth smooth and polished flavors of black cherry, graphite, and new oak mix with tobacco and wet earth. Tacky, muscular tannins grip the edges of the palate and linger in the finish along with the flavor of new oak. Good acidity and long finish. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2009 Alpha Estate "Vieilles Vignes Unfiltered Reserve" Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth, wet leaves, crushed nuts, and a hint of oak. In the mouth, bright and tangy mulberry and black cherry flavors have a deep stony core to them that is quite compelling, while leathery tannins lap around the edges of the mouth. Great acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.

2011 Rusack "Solomon Hills Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright raspberry and cranberry fruit with a hint of forest floor. In the mouth raspberry, cranberry, and raspberry leaf flavors have a nice citrusy brightness to them thanks to zippy acidity, which lingers in a long finish along with herbal notes. Faint tannins scuffle about the edges of the mouth. Tasty. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2006 Tartan "Sunnyside Vineyard" Dolcetto, Willamette Valley, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of mulberry, leather, and wet earth. In the mouth bright mulberry and blackberry flavors mix with leather and wet earth amidst bracingly bright, citrusy acidity. Quite pretty. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2009 Wente Vineyards "Charles Wetmore" Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and cola. In the mouth, flavors of cherry cola, tobacco and dark chocolate have a distinct tinge of new oak's espresso and vanilla character. The wood is fairly well integrated, and will be subsumed into the wine in a few years. Lightly tacky tannins add to the texture. Good acidity. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16. 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