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 major accomplishment for me: I have officially unboxed and sorted every wine sample in my basement. That’s only happened about twice in the last 5 years. There are usually piles of unopened boxes lying around. I’m sure there will be again soon. But on to the wine.
I’m thrilled to have tasted through a group of wines from a blogger-turned-winemaker this week. Ed Thralls ran a blog for some time before giving up his tech job and moving to California to learn to make wine. His Thralls Family Cellars wines are fantastic and I highly recommend them.
I also got a couple of heavy hitters from Priorat this week, including the famous Vall Lach, which didn’t disappoint.
Finally look for a very interesting and competent Spatburgunder (read: Pinot Noir) from Germany, and a pretty decent Australian Cabernet for under $20 as well.
All these and more below!
2012 Thralls Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberries, raspberries and crushed green herbs. In the mouth, wonderfully silky flavors of raspberry and cranberry have a juicy brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. A nice peeled willow bark bitterness dances in the finish, along with raspberry leaf and a touch of forest floor. Fine, nearly imperceptible tannins and a nice finish.13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost $ . click to buy.
2012 Thralls Family Cellars “Roma’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, beautifully bright and juicy flavors of raspberry and crushed herbs have a faint dusting of tannins and a nice darker earth note underneath them. Lithe and beautiful. Not to mention, delicious. 13.5% alchol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.
2012 Thralls Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cranberry and pomogranate fruit. In the mouth, wonderfully floral cherry and pomogranate fruit has an incredible juiciness thanks to fantastic acidity. An aromatic sweetness suffuses the wine. Quite delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.
2012 Thralls Family Cellars “Bucher Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and candied raspberries. In the mouth gorgeous bright raspberry and dried floral notes are dusted with very faint tannins and bursting with juicy acidity. A faint herbal note creeps into the moderate finish. An excellent and distinctive wine. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.
2012 Celler Vall Llach “Porrera Vi de Vila” Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and cola. In the mouth, sweet cherry cola flavors mix with chocolate and a hint of rasberries. Fantastic acidity makes the w ine quite juicy and faint powdery tannins add structure and muscle to the bright fruit. A touch sweet, but hard not to love. A blend of 70% Carignan and 30% Grenache. 15.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $60. click to buy.
2008 Celler Vall Llach Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bloomy rind soft cheese, sour cherries, and cedar. In the mouth, rich cherry, cedar, and cola flavors mix with tobacco and hints of oak. Rich, leathery tannins take on a slightly earthy quality in the finish. 15% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $85. click to buy.
2010 Taken Wine Company “Taken” Red Blend, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, cherry and tobacco, and vanilla flavors are wrapped in a powdery sheaf of tannins that are slightly drying on the tongue. Good purity of fruit and bright juicy acidity. Nice finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost $30. click to buy.
2010 Bernhard Huber “Bienenberg Grosses Gewachs” Spatburgunder, Baden, Germany
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of smoked meats, raspberries, and woodsmoke. In the mouth, juicy raspberry and smoked meat flavors mix with herbs and the sweet caramel toastiness of new oak. Good acidity and length. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $80. click to buy.
2011 Macchia Wines “Mischevious” Zinfandel, Lodi, Central Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry jam and cherry fruit. In the mouth mellow and juicy blackberry and raspberry fruit mixes with a light cocoa flavor. Not particularly complicated, but pleasureable. 15.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $22. click to buy.
2012 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, green bell pepper, and tobacco. In the mouth cherry, mint, chocolate, and a bit of dark earth flavors mix nicely under a blanket of fleecy tannins. Good acidity and moderate finish. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $15. click to buy.