Hello 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.
The stars of this week’s tastings were clear. It’s tough to beat Gerard Bertrand’s blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from Corbieres in France for 16 bucks! I also swooned for the Dutton Goldfield Pinot Blanc, which is made in small quantities and can be tough to find, but should be snapped up, if you see it.
Bonny Doon Vineyards have crafted an exceptionally proper Albariño, that tastes like anything you’d find in northern Spain, and what’s more, it’s delicious.
J. Davies is the still wine side of the normally sparkling Schramsberg vineyards, and their Cabernets are always reliable and tasty, not to mention made with restraint.
The Pfendler Vineyards Chardonnay was also worthy of a mention, as it had a very nice personality, and the Clarksburg Wine Company Chenin-Viognier blend is yet another feather in the cap of this value-oriented winery in California’s Central Valley.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2011 Pfendler Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd, pink grapefruit and citrus pith. In the mouth the wine is silky and broad, with pink grapefruit and lemon curd flavors that are embedded in a creamy textured brightness. Good acidity and length. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.
2012 La Rochelle “Mcintyre Estate Vineyard” Rose of Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Central Coast, California
Palest baby pink in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, orange peel, and a hint of raspberry fruit. In the mouth, tart raspberry and watermelon flavors have a sour cherry brightness to them that is quite compelling. Notes of watermelon rind and seawater emerge on the finish. Delicious, savory, and juicy. Yum! 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2010 Gerard Bertrand Corbieres, Languedoc Roussillon, France
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and mulberries layered in woodsmoke. In the mouth the wine is exceedinly smoky, with lovely cassis and black cherry fruit underneath the scent of a campfire on a cold winters day. Earthy and leathery notes emerge from the rumbling underbelly of the wine as suede-like tannins grip the palate. Good acidity and excellent balance. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $14. click to buy.
2012 Dutton-Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Shop Block” Pinot Blanc, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale blonde in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle, quince paste, and Bosc pears. In the mouth the wine is beautifully poised between lemon zest and crisp pear flavors with a nice underlying minerality. Bright acidity makes the wine quite juicy and mouthwatering, with a wet chalkboard and pink grapefruit finish. Delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9 . Cost: $25. Hard to find. Call the winery.
2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Ca’ Del Solo Vineyard” Nebbiolo, Monterey, Central Coast, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberries and woodsmoke, with a hint of roses. In the mouth, bright cherry and berry flavors are wrapped in a gauzy blanket of powdery tannins. Excellent acidity and nice balance. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $34. click to buy.
2012 Voss Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells ofgooseberries, cut green grass, and that hint of cat pee that has made the grape infamous. In the mouth tart green apple and passionfruit flavors skew towards the grassy end of the spectrum as they finish bright and sour. Good acidity, but very tart and green. 12% alcohol Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2011 Clarksburg Wine Company “Chenin Blanc Viognier” Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of ripe apples and quince paste with just a hint of peachiness behind it. In the mouth, tart apple and apricot flavors have a nice balance and a zing thanks to very zippy acidity. The finish puckers the mouth and leaves a tart green apple flavor behind that is barely scented with apricot A blend of 85% Chenin Blanc, 15% Viognier. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. Try the winery web site.
2011 Dutton-Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Walker Hill Vineyard” Chardonnay, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pine sap, lemon curd, and a hint of buttered popcorn. In the mouth bright lemon curd and lemon zest flavors are noticeably tinged with toasty oak flavors, which hang just on the edge of offensiveness. Excellent acldity and overall balance, but ultimately too much oak for its own good. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2004 Iron Horse Vineyards “Brut Late Disgorged (LD)” Sparkling Wine, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of crisp Fuji apples and a hint of buttered sourdough toast. In the mouth a velvety, but slightly coarse mousse, brings flavors of chamomile, Asian pear, baked apples, and a hint of saltine biscuit and brewers yeast bursting across the palate. Excellent acidity and wonderful balance, with a savory kick at the end that is quite tasty. Notes of lemon and pomelo zest linger in the finish. A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir aged on the lees for eight years before release. 13.5% alcohol. 250 cases made. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2007 Iron Horse Vineyards “Brut Rosé” Sparkling Wine, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest ruby in color with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of bright forest berries, wet stones, and a hint of hibiscus. In the mouth a moderately coarse mousse lifts flavors of hibiscus, redcurrant, raspberries and raspberry leaf across the palate. Tart and bright, with excellent acidity and not a trace of sweetness, this wine has a nice wet chalkboard quality to the finish. A blend of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. 2100 cases produced. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2010 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and wet earth with a hint of crushed herbs. In the mouth, flavors of cocoa powder, wet earth, licorice, and dark black cherry swirl under a fleecy blanket of tannins. Broad shouldered and deep, this is a wine that is gruff in its youth and will smooth over time. Very nice. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $50. click to buy.
2012 Rusack Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and crisp golden apples. In the mouth, bright golden apple, honeysuckle, and wet stone flavors swirl in a bright and balanced melange that has a very easy-drinking quality to it. Delicous. 13.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16. click to buy.
2009 Dutton-Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream and buttered popcorn. In the mouth the wine is wonderfully silky with flavors of melted butter, cold cream, and lemon curd all tinged with a bit of toasted hazelnuts. The oak is wonderfully subdued and notes of lemon and grapefruit linger in the finish. Good, but not fantastic acidity. Aging beautifully. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2011 Stoller “Estate Grown” Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and forest floor. In the mouth wonderfully floral notes of raspberries and violets have a deeper forest floor note to them. There is not profundity here, but quite a bit of deliciousness. Excellent acidity and light tacky tannins. 12.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $47. click to buy.
2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Casa Grande Vineyard and Jesperson Ranch” Albariño, Central Coast, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and lime zest. In the mouth bright flavors of margarita lime and salt dance on the palate with mouthwatering acidity. Zingy, bright, and tangy with that SweetTart quality that makes a wine very easy to drink. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $17. click to buy.