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Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 26, 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’s dive into the boxes piling up downstairs resulted in a beautfully aged California Chardonnay whose exact age most people would have been hard pressed to guess tasting it blind. All Mayacamas wines are known for their ageworthiness, and their Chardonnay is no exception. This bottle was drinking extremely well.

Many people haven’t heard of the tiny producer Blue Rock Vineyards from Alexander Valley, named after the blue-green serpentine stone found in its vineyards. This 2009 release of their Cabernet Sauvignon is aging beautifully.

Finally, in the big heavy bottle department comes Memento Mori, a seriously deep and dark Cabernet from Napa that I first tasted out of barrel last year and was quite impressed. This, their 2011 bottling, continued to impress me, and will please anyone looking for a brawny Napa Cabernet.

All these and more below!

2000 Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of dried lemon peel, pink grapefruit, and a hint of english toffee. In the mouth, gorgeously bright lemon and grapefruit pith leans towards more exotic citrus such as bergamot as it sails off into the long finish. Phenomenal acidity and balance. A slight clove-spice character lingers for a while. Ageless. 14.25% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.

2012 Rusack “Solomon Hills Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of green herbs, cherry, and cranberry compote. In the mouth, rich cherry and cranberry flavors have a somewhat cooked quality but are still quite tasty. As the wine finishes a bitter woody note emerges that is undesired. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Dutton Goldfield “Devil’s Gulch Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Marin, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of green herbs, including dill, raspberry leaf and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, lean raspberry flavors mix with nettles and notes of cherry. A hint of brown sugar lingers in the finish along with a forest-floor earthiness. Very pretty. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2007 The Donum Estate “Estate Grown” Pinot Noir, Carneros, Sonoma, California
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of leather, red apple skin, and cherry jam. In the mouth, faintly leather-like tannins wrap around a core of dried cherries, red apple skin, and forest floor earthiness. Good acidity and length. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $68. click to buy.

2008 Zantho Blaufränkisch, Burgenland, Austria
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry, cedar, and forest floor. In the mouth, sour cherry and mixed berry fruit has a wonderful sour tartness to it that is delicious. Faint tannins dust the tongue, and excellent acidity carries the fruit through a long cedary finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2009 Blue Rock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry and cassis. In the mouth beautifully smooth flavors of black cherry and cassis are dusted with powdery but muscular tannins. Nice acidity and length. Aging beautifully. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of green herbs and forest floor, with a nice undertone of cherry and tobacco. In the mouth lean forest floor flavors are accompanied by leathery tannins that wrap around a core of cherry and green herbs. A very savory wine from a very cold year. 13.5% alcohol. Score: 8.5. Cost: $19. click to buy.

2011 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth, black cherry and tobacco flavors have an excellent bright acidity. Powdery, mouth-coating tannins wrap around the dark core of the wine. Notes of fennel seeds and cocoa powder linger in the finish. Deep, dark, and powerful. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $135. click to buy.