Hello from the bottom (or more truthfully, from floundering near the top) 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. I’m just getting back to the pile after some travel and craziness that has made it hard to find time to open boxes and taste things lately.
This week we’ve got a pretty Riesling from Germany, with a lemon complexion and a hint of something deeper.
The couple of biodynamic and mostly unsulfured wines from Ambyth Estate in Paso Robles were quite interesting, the Syrah being more successful than the table wine, but despite the slightly lower score on the table wine, I think it’s quite unique and worth trying for those who appreciate the so called “natural” wine movement.
The Acorn winery Syrah is an old favorite, from a parcel of older vines south of Healdsburg that are tended by a wonderful husband and wife team.
Finally, a relative newcomer on the scene that started with Rhone varieties, Anaba Cellars, has branched out into Pinot Noir. This is the first of several bottles I’ve got in the pile, and its flavors, suggest good things to come.
2008 Acorn Winery “Alegria Vineyards – Axiom” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark ruby in color, this wine smells of dark chocolate and blackberry pie. In the mouth, flavors of brown sugar, blackberry pie, and hints of cocoa powder swirl underneath a gauze of faint tannins. Notes of cedar and earth linger in the finish with a raisiny quality and a hint of oak. Decent acidity. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2011 Ridge Vineyards “Geyserville” Red Blend, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of chocolate, blackberry, leather and earth. In the mouth, cocoa powder, blackberry, and prunes mix with an earthier note and black sugar flavors that linger in the finish. Decent acidity, supple tannins, and a nice stoniness under everything. A blend of 78% Zinfandel, 16% Carignane, 4% Petite Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet, and 1% Mourvedre. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2010 Anaba Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and cherry fruit with a hint of cedar. In the mouth the wine is high-toned, with an alcoholic quality that delivers somewhat sharp flavors of cherry and raspberry. A bit of astringency lingers in the finish. Good acidity makes the fruit bright, but the heat of higher octane doesn’t help. Nonetheless, a solid wine. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2010 Ambyth Estate Syrah, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Medium purple in the glass, this wine smells of cocoa powder, mulberries, and wet earth. In the mouth it offers tangy huckleberry and black cherry flavors that burst with bright, even searing acidity. Very little tannic structure exists in the wine, leaving it fresh and juicy on the palate, but perhaps lacking some complexity. Not short in the dynamism department, and tasty. 13.13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.
2011 Ambyth Estate “Red Table Wine” Red Blend, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed nuts, dried fruit, and dusty earth. In the mouth, tangy sour cherry and redcurrrant flavors mix with caramel and a hint of wet sawdust. Searing acidity makes the tang of the wine quite sharp and mouth puckering. Moderate finish. An unusual blend of 20% Grenache Noir, 19% Mourvedre, 19% Sangiovese, 18% Tempranillo, 10% Grenache Blanc, 7% Cunoise, 5% Syrah, and 2% Marsanne. 13.14% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2010 Schloss Schönborn “Erbach Marcobrunn Kabinett” Riesling, Rheingau, Germany
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of mandarine oranges, lime zest and wet chalkboard. In the mouth flavors of mandarine oranges, lemonade, and a hint of yeastiness mix with a nice stony underbelly. The wine is lightly sweet, and bright with juicy acidity. 10% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.