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 a couple of nice wines from Alta Maria Vineyards down in Santa Barbara. It appears to me that this producer is getting ever more adventurous in their winemaking, with mixed results, but that should be expected when taking risks.
I discovered a nice bottle of Mayacamas Merlot in the pile, which was a real pleasure to drink, but certainly left me wondering what it would be like in 10 years, such are the staying power of those wines.
My favorite wine this week, however, was a pitch-perfect, or should I say Pitchoune-perfect
rosé of Pinot Noir from this small producer I had never heard of. Their Pinot Noir was not quite as impressive, but I’d drink that rosé by the dozen if I were you.
Finally, a couple of German Rieslings for you because, after all, it is the Summer of Riesling.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2013 Flora Springs “Soliloquy” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Near colorless in the glass, this wine smells of ripe apples and a hint of warm hay. In the mouth, ripe green and golden delicious apples have a crisp bite to them thanks to excellent acidity. A slightly spicy, habanero note lingers in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2011 Gundlach Bundschu “Estate Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and cold cream. In the mouth, flavors of pineapple, cold cream, and lemon curd mix with a bright zingy pink grapefruit acidity that makes for a mouthwatering package. There’s a touch of vanilla and oak on the wine, but quite subtle. The main flavors are pineapple and lemon. Decent finish. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2012 La Pitchoune Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Pale coppery pink in color, this wine smells of watermelon Jolly Rancher® candy. In the mouth bright hibiscus, rosehip, and cherry blossom flavors take on a citrus edge to them as they head towards a very pretty finish. Silky and bright, with good minerality and acidity, this is a fabulous California rosé. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ 30. click to buy.
2013 Alta Maria Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light copper pink in color, this wine smells of strawberries, orange peel, and dried mango. In the mouth bright berry flavors have a burnt citrus rind quality to them. Silky textured with moderate acidity, this wine will taste best when on the cold side. Juicy. 13.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2012 Wittman “Westhofener Trocken” Riesling, Rheinhessen, Germany
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and golden delicious apples with just the faintest note of paraffin. In the mouth, bright green apple and clover honey flavors have an almost stinging bite thanks to razor sharp acidity that lingers with a wet chalkboard minerality in the finish. Just barely off-dry. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2012 Prinz zu Salm-Dalberg “Berg Roxheim Spätlese” Riesling, Nahe, Germany
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of clover honey and wet stones. In the mouth, that clover honey quality has a crystalline purity to it and a nice mineral backbone. Moderately sweet with excellent acidity and just the barest hint of diesel in the finish. 7.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2012 La Pitchoune Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cherry, and a bit of new wood. In the mouth, bright cranberry and raspberry fruit is somewhat overmatched by oak flavor which lends a caramelized cedary quality to the whole package. Decent acidity, moderate finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 . Cost: $ 60 . click to buy.
2011 Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, bright raspberries, and raspberry leaf. In the mouth bright and lean flavors of raspberry, cinnamon, earth, and mixed herbs have a wonderful minty finish. Gorgeously herbal and lean with a mere 12.7% alcohol. Excellent acidity and minerality linger through the long finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2012 Alta Maria Vineyards “Bien Nacido Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers, raspberries and the slightly green woody quality that suggests whole cluster maceration. In the mouth, green herbs and earthy notes wrap around a lean core of raspberry fruit, with faint tannins that add texture more than they do structure. The green quality of the stems is quite pronounced in this wine, and to my taste, somewhat overpowering, at least at this stage in the wine’s evolution. Good acidity and length. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.
2006 Mayacamas Merlot, Mount Veeder, Napa, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, green herbs, graphite and cassis. In the mouth, bright flavors of violets, black cherry, and citrus rind burst with an electric acidity that makes the mouth water. The faintest of tannins give structure to the wine even as a slight forest floor earthiness emerges on the finish. Juicy and long. 14.25% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.