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’s samples included the inaugural releases from a new project out of the Thomas Fogarty Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Known primarily for their Pinot Noir, which has become exceptionally good under the careful hand of winemaker Nathan Kandler, Fogarty has now embarked on a new Bordeaux varietal program under a label called Lexington. Their initial wines look quite promising in their restraint. They’re so new, however, that there aren’t sources to purchase it online.
For whatever reason, California Chenin Blanc is quite a rare thing, but if there was one brand that would do this variety justice, it would be the Cabernet-Franc-centered Lang & Reed wine company. Their newly released Chenin Blanc is a wonderful mouthful of everything that makes Chenin enjoyable.
Look for these, as well as a couple nice Pinots from Dutton-Goldfield, and a couple of hefty Cabernets below!
2011 Lexington “Gist Ranch Estate” Cabernet Franc, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of plums and Nutella. In the mouth flavors of crushed nuts, chocolate, and plum skin mix with a faint earthiness. Excellent acidity makes for a juicy plum skin zap to the flavors, and a nice medium body makes the wine easy to drink. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45
2013 Alpha Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Florina, Amyndeon, Greece
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of gooseberries and green apples. In the mouth an interesting combination of green olive and gooseberry flavor has a distinctly saline cast (adding to the sensation of green olive). Excellent acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20 click to buy.
2013 Lang & Reed Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, California
Palest blonde in color, this wine smells of cooked quince, baked apples, and lemon juice. In the mouth quince and lemon juice flavors have a wonderful bright minerality and a great length. A challk-dust dryness lingers in the finish. One of the better Chenins from California I’ve had. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9 . Cost: $25 click to buy.
2012 Dutton-Goldfield “McDougall Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of fresh raspberries and black raspberries. In the mouth, rich raspberry, cherry, and cranberry fruit has a wonderful brisk mineral backbone to it and excellent acidity. Darker than in the last few vintages, the wine is nonetheless quite tasty. Long finish.14.1% alcohol Score: around 9. Cost: $45
2012 Dutton-Goldfield “Fox Den Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, subtle raspberry flavors are shot through with wet stone and green herbs. The wine has a wonderful balance between fruit and more savory herbal notes, and a stony tightness that may need some time in the bottle to blossom. Very pretty and restrained. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $50 click to buy.
2011 Lexington “Gist Ranch Estate” Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and black plum with hints of green herbs. In the mouth, black cherry, green herbs, and a nice stony quality mix under a gauze of barely perceptible tannins. A savory sour cherry note lingers in the finish. Very tasty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2011 Lexington “Gist Ranch Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black olive, black cherry, and cedar. In the mouth, savory cedar, black cherry and a hint of raspberry fruit has a wonderfully bright acidity and mixed herb quality that is very charming. Understated and beautifully balanced. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2011 Lexington “Apex” Red Blenf, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Inky, opaque garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, cherry, chocolate, and crushed herbs. In the mouth, wonderfully savory black cherry and woodsmoke. Fantastic savory notes linger in the finish with fine grained tannins. This wine is 99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??
2011 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of ripe cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, rich cherry and black cherry fruit mixes with a touch of graphite, green herbs, and wet stones. Restrained and mineral, as one might expect from a colder rainy year, but as far as I am concerned, much the better for it. Excellent. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70 click to buy.
2011 Quintessa Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and woodsmoke. In the mouth, rich black cherry, cocoa powder, and new oak flavors are nicely knit together under a blanket of fleecy tannins. Excellent acidity and the restrained ripeness of a cooler year makes for a very nice package. The vanilla of new oak lingers in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $155 click to buy.
2011 Flora Springs Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, rich, and faintly sweet black cherry, tobacco, and cola flavors have a nice smoothness to them. Faint, powdery tannins dust the palate, and the wine has a wonderful plush quality going down. Rich and ripe, especially for a cooler year. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $115