Welcome to the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently.
This week’s samples included a very nice Syrah from the coolest part of the Russian River Valley, Green Valley, from a producer who keeps getting better and better. Don’t miss the earthy, herbal red blend from Weingut Christ in the city limits of Vienna, whose whites are also excellent, should you ever come across them. Russian Hill Estate Vineyards in the Russian River Valley is a reliable source of excellent California Pinot Noir, and their Lera’s single vineyard bottling is always worth trying.
For those looking for wines that pack a weightier punch, check out Philippe Melka’s “CJ” Cabernet or (also made by Melka) the Vineyard 29 “Cru” Cabernet.
On the lighter side, it’s hard to find a better value rosé sparkling wine than the Jansz from Tasmania (though it may be a little difficult to find itself). And who says rosé can’t age? Try the Tabarrini rosé of the local Sagrantino grape no matter what vintage you find it in.
All that and more below for this week’s installment.
2008 Donelan Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of smoky blueberry and blackberry fruit with a hint of meatiness. In the mouth cassis and blackberry flavors borne on a silky body mix with smoky and meaty notes. Everything is wrapped in a muscular coat of tannins and floral aromas linger in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ 38. click to buy.
2007 Maison Arnoux et Fils “Jean Marie Arnoux” Vacqueyras, Rhone Valley, France
Medium to dark garnet in color this wine initially has a funky earthy aroma, but after a few minutes this dissapates to reveal a gorgeous mix between cured meats and rich ripe red berries tinged with cedar. In the mouth, the wine is quite velvety with rich raspberry, cherry and smoked meat flavors shot through with a dark forest floor earthiness. The finish is substantial with floral qualities. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2006 Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine has a wonderfully sweet nose of dark chocolate covered cherries and tobacco. In the mouth the wine offers lightly sweet flavors of cherry and tobacco and the sweet vanilla of French oak. Sweet oak dominates the finish, somewhat overwhelming what is obviously a well made wine. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2006 Weingut Christ “Mephisto” Red Blend, Vienna, Austria
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of freshly hulled walnuts, green bell peppers, and exotic flowers. In the mouth leathery tannins enclose flavors of cherry, plum, and dark floral qualities that mix with wet earth and pine boughs. Exotic and interesting. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2008 Melka “CJ” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cola. In the mouth cherry cola and licorice flavors mix with darker leather and cocoa powder. Good acidity and fine grained tannins with a suede-like texture. Long finish. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2007 Russian Hill Estate Winery “Lera’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of plum. In the mouth cherry and plum flavors bounce on a lively backbone of acidity while deeper mineral and earth tones linger beneath. Sophisticated and balanced, this wine has faint, fine grained tannins and a long finish with just a touch of heat to it. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2007 Star Lane Vineyard Merlot, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plum and black cherry. In the mouth, juicy black cherry and plum flavors mix with expresso and sweet oak. Mouthcoating tannins linger along with cocoa powder in the finish. 15% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $34. click to buy.
2008 Vineyard 29 “Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and sweet oak. In the mouth rich cherry and chocolate flavors mix with cola and the vanilla of sweet oak as velvety tannins sweep the mouth. The finish has a hint of sweet oak, but the wood is quite well integrated. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $57. click to buy.
NV Jansz Rosé Sparkling Wine, Tasmania, Australia
Pale peach colored in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of canteloupe and strawberries. In the mouth a delicate mousse of bubbles carries flavors of strawberry, melon, and cranberry across the palate. Delicate and refined, this is a wonderful wine. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2009 Tabarrini Giampaolo “Bocca di Rosa” Sagrantino Rosé, Umbria, Italy
Pale pink in color, this wine smells of sea air and watermelon. In the mouth flavors of watermelon and stony minerals have a slight sweetness and warmth to them. A hint of heat creeps into the finish, but barely enough to notice. Quite tasty. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $27.
NV J Vineyards Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine, Russian River Valley, Sonoma
Palest of peach colors in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine has a nose of wet stones, orange oil, and strawberries. In the mouth the wine is zingy and bright with tart raspberry, orange peel, and bitter lemon flavors. Crisp and juicy on the finish this is a wine that is quite easy to gulp. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.