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.
Let’s start this week with the beauty of age. I dug a 2005 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon out of the pile this week and it was a stunner — seamless, regal, restrained, and utterly delicious. It made the rest of the samples this week seem like amateurs. In addition to that wine in the red department, we’ve got a very pretty Pinot Noir from Sequana, from the Dutton Ranch in Sonoma’s Green Valley.
When it comes to whites, I was much intruiged to see how a 2010 Morgan Chardonnay was doing, as it is a vintage or so behind the current release. It is coming along nicely, and quite delicious at the moment.
Perhaps more exotic, the “Ineseño” white blend from Refugio Ranch offered a beautiful mix of flavors and aromas in the glass, while the Ballard Lane white blend did much the same in its own way.
And for $14, it’s tough to go wrong with the King Estate Pinot Gris if you’re a fan of that grape. This estate in Southern Oregon has made a name for itself with Pinot Gris in recent years.
All of these and more below. Enjoy!
2012 Davis Bynum “Virginia’s Block” Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
Near colorless in the glass, this wine smells of cucumber and green apples. In the mouth green apple, cucumber, and green bell pepper flavors swirl in a bright and chalky package. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 . Cost: $22. click to buy.
2009 Alta Maria Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden apples and wet stones. In the mouth apples, vanilla and a nice mineral note have a mellow subtlety. The wine lacks a snap to it, which may have something to do with its age. Getting a little long in the tooth, perhaps. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2009 Hahn Estates “SLH Estate” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and a hint of redwood bark. In the mouth, sweet cherry and raspberry flavors have a mellow, silky quality to them that is quite compelling. Decent acidity and a woody chocolate finish. Rich for a Pinot Noir, but quite drinkable. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $29. click to buy.
2008 King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon
Palest greenish in the glass to the point of being nearly colorless, this wine smells of poached pears, vanilla, and white flowers. In the mouth, flavors of ripe pear, crème anglais, and a nice mineral note mix pleasantly with just the faintest hint of sweetness. Nice acidity and finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $14. click to buy.
2010 Ballard Lane White Blend, Central Coast, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears, orange peel, and a hint of vanilla. In the mouth, flavors of pear and orange peel have an ever-so-faint sweetness to them with a hint of peach and wet stones. Quite pleasant and drinkable. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2012 Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
Palest gold, nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells of bright green apples, gooseberries and a hint of cucumber. In the mouth, strong flavors of gooseberry and passion fruit mix with a brisk acidity that makes the mouth water. 12.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2010 Morgan Winery “Double L Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, Central Coast, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of browned butter, lemon curd, and candied pink grapefruit. In the mouth bright lemon curd and candied grapefruit flavors mix with a more savory buttery note that is thankfully devoid of oak influence. Aging nicely and quite delicious. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2010 Sequana “Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma County, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cranberry and cherry compote. In the mouth, sweet cranberry and cherry flavors have a nice silkiness to them. Bright acidity keeps the sugar from being a bit overwhelming. While a bit ripe for my tastes this is a well made wine that will be a crowd-pleaser. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.
2011 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of toasty oak, butterscotch, and lemon zest. In the mouth, flavors of lemon zest, pink grapefruit, and wet stones have a nice brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Nice citrusy – wet chalkboard finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2009 Refugio Ranch “Ineseño” Roussanne Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of vanilla, pears, quince, and a hint of dark honey. In the mouth, flavors of membrillo and baked apples mix with bergamot and peach. Decent acidity, and a silky body, but decidedly high octane. Tasty nonetheless. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30 click to buy.
2005 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark cherry, tobacco, and wet earth. In the mouth beautifully restrained flavors of black cherry, cocoa powder, wet earth, and graphite mix with hints of dried herbs. Fantastic acidity and fine grained, gauzy tannins, round out a pitch perfect Cabernet. Utterly delicious. Contains 14% Merlot. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.