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 dive into the boxes piling up downstairs yielded an interesting range of wines, beginning with an excellent Riesling from the Finger Lakes that offers everything you’d want in a dry Riesling, brightness, juiciness, and a very reasonable tariff.
Stoller is a well known name in the Willamette Valley, but it’s been a while since I had a wine from them that impressed me as much as their 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir. it’s wonderfully exotic and delicious.
Lastly, I got what I expected and more from a bottle of Glen Carlou Grand Classique, a Bordeaux blend that always punches above its weight. With a little age on it, this wine is even better. And all for about $15. Wow.
All these and more below!
2013 Bellangelo Dry Riesling, Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears, ripe apples, and candied orange peels. In the mouth, bright grapefruit and lemon peel citrus notes have a sour deliciousness to them as well as an excellent zingy acidity. Mineral notes rumble underneath the bright airy citrus notes that linger in the finish. The wine posseses the merest hint of sweetness, but is essentially dry on the palate. Excellent. 11.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2010 Craggy Range “Kidnappers Vineyard” Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Light gold in color, this wine smells of lemon curd, exotic citrus rind, and popcorn. In the mouth, juicy lemon curd and citrus rind has a wonderful savory dryness that has a parchment quality. Excellent, even slightly searing acidity lingers through the finish along with a chalky lemon rind flavor. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2011 Stoller Family Estate “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar and raspberries and dried flowers. In the mouth, dried flowers, raspberries and redcurrant flavors have an exotic incense spice quality to them that is quite compelling. Lean and earthy underneath that exoticism. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2012 Truchard Vineyards Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and strawberry jam. In the mouth, raspbery jam and raspberry leaf flavors mix with a green wood and green herb bitterness that detracts a bit from the experience. Good acidity. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2012 Dutton Goldfield “Angel Camp Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cranberry fruit flavors are tinged with pure cherry and a bit of earthy forest floor. Excellent acidity and brightness over a deeper earthy core. Excellent. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2012 Lang & Reed “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of ripe plum and black cherry aromas. In the mouth, flavors of nut skin mix with dark plum and black cherry flavors along with a tiny hint of herbal greenness. The acidity does not seem to leap out of this wine, and the fruit therefore hangs a little heavy and ripe on the palate. Leathery tannins grip the palate through the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40.
2010 Robert Keenan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, plum and green herbs. In the mouth tight, fine grained tannins wrap around a core of cherry fruit and green herbs. Notes of green bell pepper linger in the finish along with a hint of graphite and wet earth. Good acidity. Given the green quality of the wine you’d never guess it was 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2008 Glen Carlou “Grand Classique” Red Blend, Paarl, South Africa
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of mocha, black cherry, and sweet cedar. In the mouth, bright cherry, woodsmoke, cocoa powder, and graphite mix with a deep earthy backbone that is quite compelling. Smooth and nicely balanced, this $20 wine puts some wines four times as expensive to shame. A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, 14 merlot, 13% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2009 Trione Vineyards “River Road Ranch” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cassis and black plums with a whiff of oak and vanilla. In the mouth, leathery tannins wrap around a core of sweetish cherry and blackberry fruit. Notes of woodsmoke and oak linger in the finish with a faint bitterness. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.