Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.
This week included my introduction to the Laurel Glen Vineyard wines, which proved quite competent renditions of Cabernet Sauvignon in a couple of different incarnations.
Wine blogger turned winemaker William Allen also represented this month with a few of his Two Shepherds wines.
Dry Creek Vineyards can always be depended upon to deliver quality and value, and their recent Cabernet releases don’t disappoint in either department.
Finally, who would have guessed that a six-year-old Vinho Verde would hold such promise and depth, but the sample I got from Quintas das Touquinheiras shows that some of these wines can go the distance with excellent results.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2007 The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, Napa, California
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells of cedar, leather, dried cherries, and nutmeg. In the mouth, smooth and powdery tannins gently wrap around a core of cherry, cedar, and sweet vanilla. Good acidity and lift, with a long finish. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $48. click to buy.
2011 Dutton Goldfield “Devil’s Gulch Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Marin, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry jam, cranberry compote, cedar and forest floor. In the mouth, citrusy raspberry and orange peel flavors mix with redcurrant, green herbs, and a hint of cedary spice, all borne on a silky textured stream across the palate. Excellent acidity and brightness, with a long forest floor finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $54.
2011 Laurel Glen Vineyard “Counterpoint” Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and black cherry fruit. In the mouth bright cherry fruit, cedar, and a hint of forest floor stay bright thanks to excellent acidity. Doesn’t have the depth and complexity you might want, but the fruit is pleasant enough. Decent finish. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2010 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and wet earth. In the mouth the wine possesses a remarkably deep wet earth character that makes it feel like black cherry juice has been strained through loam. The acidity is softer than I would like but is enough to balance the rich fruit. Beautifully textured. Restrained oak. Very fine grained tannins are light and dainty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $60. click to buy.
2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, green bell pepper, and forest floor. In the mouth, bright cherry and black cherry flavors are coated in dusty, pervasive tannins. Excellent acidity and a nice herbal quality linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2010 Dry Creek Vineyard “The Mariner” Meritage, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich cherry and chocolate. In the mouth cherry and chocolate are dusted with faint tannins, but their bright sweetness shines through thanks to excellent acidity. Round, juicy and quite delicious with only the faintest hint of vanilla from the restrained oak. Excellent. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2012 Ma(i)sonry “Stagecoach Vineyard” Marsanne, Napa Valley, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of spicy baked apples. In the mouth, rich baked apples, pears, and a wonderful saline note have a high toned quality, that makes for an airy finish. Somewhat high octane at 14.7% alcohol, but flavorful. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $38.
2008 Quintas das Touquinheiras “Clemen Branco Reserva” White Blend, Vinho Verde, Portugal
Light amber gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd, candle wax, and baked apples. In the mouth the wine has a very delicate acidity, that hangs back until the candied apple, lemon rind, and candied orange peel flavors have faded to a cinnamon-like woodiness. Quite interesting. Who says Vinho Verde can’t age? 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.
2012 Storm “Presqu’ile Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Near colorless in the glass, this wine smells of gooseberries and wet stone. In the mouth, gorgeous gooseberry, rainwater, and green apple flavors mix with cut grass. Delicate filigreed acidity makes for a subtle, and sophisticated brightness. Margarita mix lingers in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2012 Two Shepherds “Pastoral Bland” White Blend, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of grapefruit, apple, and poached pears. In the mouth juicy flavors of pear and apple have a chalky note mixed with a tiny bit of yeastiness. Good acidity and brightness, nice texture. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2012 Two Shepherds “Saralee’s Vineyard” Grenache, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright strawberry fruit. In the mouth strawberry mixes with a light funky earthiness to yield an interesting savory quality. Lightly dusty tannins coat the top and front of the mouth. Decent acidity.13.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.