Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 1, 2014

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 red wines from Napa and Sonoma. Anakota is a brand owned by Jackson Family Estates, and represents one of their terroir-driven, single-vineyard projects, notably made by winemaker Pierre Seillan, who also oversees the remarkable Verite wines, which are some of the best reds made in California each year. These two wines don’t rise to those heights, but that’s also true of their price tags as well. But they are both tasty and restrained examples of excellent Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.

I’ve been a fan of the Blackbird wines for some time, as well as the work of winemaker Aaron Pott in general, and the 2011 Arise doesn’t disappoint. While on the subject of Blackbird, their rosé also showed nicely this week.

Finding a great Chardonnay for $20 can seem like hitting the jackpot, especially when talking about domestic wines here in the U.S. That’s just what the Adelsheim Willamette Valley bottling came across as this week. I’d be quite happy to drink it by the glass in any restaurant.

Finally, who doesn’t like a nicely aged Mosel Riesling? For some reason the Germans keep sending me an older bottle every once in a while, and you won’t hear me complaining. Cheers to you Dr. Bergweiler!

All these and more below. Enjoy!

2012 Recuerdo Torrontes, La Rioja, Argentina
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of ripe peaches and honeydew melon. In the mouth, bright green apple, honeydew, and white peach flavors have a nice brightness to them and a slightly salty snap. Good acidity, crisp finish, but then the faintest lingering heat, despite the modest 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $13 click to buy.

2012 Adelsheim Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, lemon pith and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, lean pink grapefruit flavors have a juicy brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Mouthwatering and fresh, if a bit straightforward, but who cares at $20? Tasty, with hints of nuttiness linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2013 Ma(i)sonry “Hudson Vineyard – Sans Chene” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apples and gooseberries. In the mouth, the wine has a sweet cut-grass and green apple complexion, with a silky texture that is quite appealing. The acidity is perhaps a little softer than it could be, but has enough bite to make the wine refreshing. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28 click to buy.

2013 Blackbird Vineyards “Arriviste” Rosé, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and strawberries. In the mouth, faintly sweet strawberry and cherry flavors have a nice silky texture and a bit of lift thanks to excellent acidity. The fruit has a density that makes this a more serious wine, along with some nice mineral undertones. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20 click to buy.

2011 Medlock Ames “Kate’s & B’s” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, rich black cherry and tobacco flavors mix with a hint of earthiness. Good acidity and length. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75

2009 Anakota “Helena Dakota Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and tobacco, with cassis and cola overtones. In the mouth powdery, chalky tannins wrap around a core of black cherry and tobacco tinged with earthy savoriness. Good acidity and length. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2009 Anakota “Helena Montana” Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherries, cassis, and blueberries. In the mouth black cherry, cassis, and blueberry flavors have a slight herbal note as they are wrapped in powdery, fine grained tannins. Good acidity and length. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2011 Blackbird Vineyards “Arise” Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black plum and black cherry with a hint of herbal brightness. In the mouth a mix of black cherry, chocolate, and green herbs settles nicely on the palate beneath a suede blanket of tannins. Excellent acidity. Good length. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45 click to buy.

2009 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler “Wehlener Sonnenuhr” Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of mandarine zest and honey. In the mouth candied mandarine segments honey and white flowers have a light sweetness and the faintest hint of diesel fuel as they linger with bright mineral sharpness through the finish. 8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30 click to buy.