Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 13, 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 lovely Syrah from the peripatetic Randall Grahm, another in a series of excellent wines he continues to make from Bien Nacido X Block; a pretty damn good Pinot Noir for under $25, which is a rarity these days; a couple of nice Napa Merlots; and a Super Tuscan.

The couple of bottles from Whitcraft Winery in Santa Barbara particularly impressed as some of the first 2013 Pinot Noir’s I’ve tasted.

Finally, the Memento Mori is an impressive bottle from a new Napa project that will doubtless find praise among most major wine critics. Serious, rich, and deep, the wine has a classic, and classy profile.

All these and more below!

2011 Foursight “Charles Vineyard – Zero” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of stripped willow bark, raspberries, and brown sugar. In the mouth raspberries, brown sugar, and cedar flavors have a lovely silky texture. Citrus notes emerge in the long finish. Good acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $46 click to buy.

2013 Ousterhout “Redwood Ranch” Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden apples and honey. In the mouth, flavors of lemon juice and golden delicious apples mix with a faint yeastiness and a touch of dried herbs. Good acidity and length. 13.5% alcohol. 226 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22 click to buy.

2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Bien Nacido X Block” Syrah, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis, blackberry, and white pepper. In the mouth, spicy and smoky blackberry fruit has a juicy, even zingy brightness to it thanks to monteverro_2010.jpg fantastic acidity. Excellent length and very faint fine grained tannins. Delicious. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $48

2010 Monteverro Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Dark ruby in color, this wine smells of chocolate covered cherries and tobacco. In the mouth, rich cherry and chocolate flavors mix with the espresso and vanilla of new oak. Powdery tannins dust the palate. Excellent acidity and brightness, with a mocha finish that oak eventually dominates. A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. 70% new oak. 15% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $140 click to buy.

2011 Silverado Vineyards “Mount George Vineyard” Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and chocolate. In the mouth bright cherry and plum flavors have a juicy, if simple, brightness to them. Faint, tacky tannins grip the edges of the mouth but are easily overshadowed by the exuberant fruit. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35 click to buy.

2010 McCay “Trulux” Zinfandel, Lodi, Central Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry pie and blackberry jam. In the mouth, beautiful blackberry flavors wash over the palate with a faint sweetness matched by a chocolate covered raisin finish. Quite charming. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $32.

2012 Shafer Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and black plum and new oak. In the mouth, bright, juicy, and faintly sweet plum, cherry, and cola flavors have a tannin backbone to them that adds a little black-tea earthiness to the bright, luscious fruit. Delicious, with well integrated new oak. The tannins are a little drying in the finish. 15.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2012 Landmark Vineyards “Overlook” Pinot Noir, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry compote. In the mouth sweet cherry and raspberry flavors have a slightly confectionary quality to them, despite being backed by faint, coarse grained tannins. Good acidity and a faint herbal note make this wine slightly more complex, but not much more. A fairly decent value for under $25. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2013 Whitcraft Winery “Homage a Papa – Pence Ranch Mount Eden Clone” Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of exotic dried flowers, raspberries, and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, wonderfully lush raspberry and dried flowers mix with wet stones and forest floor, with faint powdery tannins providing structure and backbone. Ethereal, exotic, and gorgeous. 12.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2013 Whitcraft Winery “Homage a Papa – Sierra Madre Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of sweet white flowers and lemon curd. In the mouth, bright lemon curd and lemon pith transition to pink grapefruit, as excellent acidity makes the wine vibrate in the mouth. A faint chalky grip lingers in the finish along with white flowers and candied pink grapefruit. Excellent. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60.

2012 Whitcraft Winery “My Friend Matt’s Vineyard AKA Clover Creek” Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and white pepper. In the mouth faintly sweet blackberry, cassis, and a hint of strawberry mix with white pepper and a bit of dried herbs. Faint dusty tannins and gorgeous acidity. Juicy and delicious. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.

2012 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich chocolate and tobacco and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, powerful black cherry and tobacco flavors morph to chocolate and espresso as they head to a long finish. Powdery fine grained tannins dust the mouth and wonderfully bright acidity keeps the fruit bright. Rich, powerful and dark, with incredibly well-integrated oak. 14.8% alcohol. Score: 9.5. Cost: $135. Not yet released.

Box of wine courtesy of Bigstock.