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 offers the usual grab bag of wines, with some unusual bottles that somehow made their way to me to taste, among them an older vintage Bordeaux and a wine from Cahors, both of which were a nice change from a lot of California wines. The first 2010 Pinot Noirs are starting to to be released and I can say I’m very excited about them. There are a couple from Dutton Goldfield that would be good enough to warrant a stand-alone review but for the fact that I recently wrote about DG, so I’m listing these two wines here. They’re not yet available for purchase, but now you know they’re good, so you can keep an eye out for them.
I rarely get anything from the Finger Lakes, but this week some wines popped in from a producer I had never heard of named Villa Bellangelo. Their Gewürztraminer was pretty good, and even better for being 15 bucks. Finally, I also got a couple of big boxes of wines from Greece, many of which weren’t particularly good (one was literally the most over-oaked wine I’ve ever had in my life), but a couple were fine indeed, including a very light-on-its-feet aged Xinomavro blend that I really enjoyed (though I suspect it needs to be drunk soon).
2011 Villa Bellangelo Gewürztraminer, Finger Lakes, New York
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied orange peel and rosewater. In the mouth the wine has a silky-waxy feel on the tongue, and flavors of candied orange rind, rose petals, and lychees linger through the finish. Only the faintest hint of sweetness to the wine. Off-dry. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2011 Peju Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California
Near colorless in the glass with just a hint of gold, this wine smells of cut green grass, green apples, and gooseberries. In the mouth the wine is tart and sour (in a good way) with unripe green apple and gooseberry flavors and an excellent acidity that lingers with the bite of lime zest in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2010 Chatzivariti “Staphylus” Red Blend, Slopes of Paiko, Greece
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and chocolate, with hints of leather and wet dirt. In the mouth, flavors of wet earth, cherry and cocoa powder have a nice complexion, while powdery tannins coat the mouth. Good acidity and a nice light balance. A blend of 70% Xinomavro and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.
2009 Peju Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherry and a hint of mint chocolate. In the mouth flavors of sweet oak, mint chocolate, and cherry swirl amidst mouth-coating tannins that have a brawny, muscular tone to them. Good acidity. Long finish. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2009 Tendril Wine Cellars “Tightrope” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cedar, and redcurrant. In the mouth smoky notes of oak meld beautifully with cranberry and raspberry fruit flavors and hints of forest floor. A tiny bit of alcoholic heat washes through the finish, but the flavors of cedar and raspberry easily distract from this warmth with their brightness. Notes of herbs float along above the fruit. Good acidity. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.
2010 Paul Dolan Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, wet rocks, and mulberries. In the mouth a distinct mulberry character mixes with cherry and cedar while earthy, leathery tannins grip the edges of the mouth. Good acidity, and a nice character, though not your typical Cabernet. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2008 Oenogenesis “Oenosophist” Red Blend, Macedonia, Greece
Light to medium ruby in color with a hint of orange at the rim, this wine smells of brown sugar, cooked fruit, and wood. In the mouth, flavors of red apple skin, brown sugar, and cooked red berries blend with deeper notes of leather and earth. Leathery tannins wrap around the tongue, as a hint of orange peel touches the finish. Definitely aging, but quite pleasant where it is at the moment. A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Xinomavro. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.
2009 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherries and river mud. In the mouth powdery, mouth-coating tannins add to the wine’s creamy texture while deep earthy flavors of cherry and cocoa powder rumble in a deep bass vibration across the palate. Good acidity, nice finish. Thankfully no trace of oak in this rich darkness. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2010 Dutton Goldfield “McDougal Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and forest berries. In the mouth the wine has a phenomenally sexy texture, with flavors of raspberry, redcurrant, and hints of cherry peeking through an underbrush of forest floor. Ever-so-faint tannins. The flavors have a coiled, muted quality, as if they are dormant waiting to blossom. I think this wine is going to do wonderful things over time. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Just about to be released.
2010 Dutton Goldfield “Fox Den Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and cranberries. In the mouth, spicy raspberry and cedar flavors are shot through with muddy earthy notes that play a delicious counterbalance to the bright, zingy fruit. Great acidity and length, with a lovely texture and lightly grippy tannins. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Just about to be released.
1999 Chateau Simard Rouge, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Light to medium ruby in color with bricking at the rim, this wine smells of roasted nuts and smoked meats mixed with roasted figs. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful silky texture and faint black tea tannins. The core of the wine is a dried cherry and graphite mix, with hints of cedar and smoked meat in the background. Wonderful balance between acidity and fruit and tannin. A great pleasure to drink. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2008 Domaines Barons de Rothschild “Blason d’Aussieres” Rouge, Corbieres, Languedoc-Rousillon, France
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of smoky cassis and blackberries. In the mouth that smoky cassis quality persists, along with a grapey note that lingers above a rumbling bass of tar and dirt and cedar. Good acidity and hints of herbs keep the wine lighter on its feet, despite the brooding quality that dominates. Tasty 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.