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 weeks samples included a rather austere Hunter Valley Semillon from Australia. The Hunter Valley is known for its Shiraz and Semillon, and this little number from Brokenwood tasted completely ageless, and was quite a palate shocker. On the other end of the spectrum, a 6 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu from Grof Degenfeld, a well known Hungarian producer was liquid sunshine on the tongue. Don’t miss the Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir (now releasing their 2010 wines), a small production wine made with a lighter hand in Santa Barbara County.
Finally there are a few big reds in there for those who like their wines big and bold. Fuse and Bouyanci are newer labels coming out of Napa, and the Ty Caton wines are a serious mouthful.
2005 Brokenwood “ILR Reserve” Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia
Pale greenish gold, nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells slightly reductive, with a nose of tart sour apple and lemon zest. In the mouth searing acidity accompanies flavors of lime zest and sour crabapple as the wine liners mineral and bright. 11% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2010 Luke Lambert Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and leather, with a hint of green pepper. In the mouth the wine is lean and stony, with flavors of cassis, smoke, and earth, and a long leathery finish. Good acidity. Very interesting. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2006 Grof Degenfeld “Azsu 6 Puttonyos” White Blend, Tokaj, Hungary
Medium yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of apricots, honey, and white flowers. In the mouth bright honey and apricot flavors mix with a joyous acidity that keeps the wine fresh and bright in the mouth, even as its silky as sex texture coates the palate in seduction. Nice floral and mineral notes on the finish. Clean and pure. 11% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.
2009 Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries, wet earth, and cedar. In the mouth, the wine offers juicy raspberry and cherry flavors with an undercurrent of damp redwood bark or cedar and a hint of green herbs. Nice acidity and very faint tannins. Decent finish. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2006 Bouyanci Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry and sweet oak. In the mouth powdery, mouth coating tannins wrap around a velvety core of black cherry, cassis, and cedar flavors. Tobacco and espresso notes emerge with the scent of sweet oak in the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.
2007 Decero “Remolinos Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of tobacco, cherry and cassis flavors. In the mouth the wine has tobacco, cherry and cassis flavors with a nice undercurrent of cinnamon and graphite. Restrained, with light muscular tannins. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2008 Easton “Duarte-Georgetown Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sierra Foothills, California
Pale ruby in color with a distinctly orange hue, this wine smells of green willow bark and red apple skin, and dried orange peel. In the mouth it tastes like a much older Pinot Noir than it is, perhaps suggesting lots of oxygen available during the winemaking process. Flavors of red apple skin, leather, dried orange peel, and redcurrant dominate the palate. A cedar quality lingers in the finish along with the first hint of sweet raspberry. A compelling, if a bit unusual wine. Score: around 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2008 Easton “Monarch Mine Vineyard” Cabernet Franc, Sierra Foothills, California
Medium ruby in the glass with a hint of purple, this wine smells of cherry, cocoa powder, and candied violets with a hint of piney greenness. In the mouth the wine has a tart green herbal quality mixed with cherry and unsweetened chocolate flavors that lean towards wet wood as they finish with a strong incense component. Unusual and unique. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $21. click to buy.
2005 Ferrer Bobet Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich sweet plum jam mixed with mulberries and cassis. In the mouth, blueberry and cassis flavors vie for attention with woodier chocolate notes. Juicy acidity and faint chalky tannins embrace this core of very fruity flavor. A light woody quality emerges in the finish. Mostly Carignan, but with some other varieties like Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon thrown in. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2007 Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this blend of Cabernet and Syrah smells of cassis and blackberry. In the mouth the wine is heavily cassis driven with nice juicy acidity and muscular tannins. Cocoa powder and tobacco emerge in the finish. Nicely done. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2008 King Estate Pinot Noir, Oregon
Light, bright purple in color, this wine smells of wet dirt, wet pine boughs, and cranberry fruit. In the mouth cranberry, cherry, and plum flavors delicately float across the palate. The wine has a floral quality in the mouth, and a softness both of texture and of personality that is charming, if a little watered down. Definitely a wine to drink with your full attention. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2009 Paul Jaboulet Aine “Parallele 45” Rosé, Cotes du Rhone, France
Light baby pink in color, this wine smells of strawberry jam and watermelon rind. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful smoothness that marries with a crisp minerality. Juicy flavors of strawberry and watermelon dance on the palate with no trace of sweetness, yet they are sweetly fragrant even as a wet sidewalk quality pushes through the fruit. Joyous and delicious, this is what rosé is meant to be. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $10. click to buy.
2008 Covenant “Lavan” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in color, with a hint of green, this wine smells of candied lemon peel, cold cream, and buttered sourdough toast. In the mouth the wine has a fantastic, silky texture and a beautiful, clean seamlessness to it. Nice minerality melds with flavors of lemon zest, wet stones, pink grapefruit and melted butter. Moderate finish, with no trace of oak on it. Very, very nice. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2008 Ty Caton “Tytanium” Red blend, Sonoma Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis with a hint of cocoa powder. In the mouth the wine is powerful and muscular, with burly tannins and rich mouth-filling black cherry, chocolate, and cassis flavors. This is a wine for those who like their reds to be able to wear a name badge that reads “massive” with pride. Score: around 9. Cost: $110. click to buy.