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 bevy of bottles brought some wonderful nostalgia to my dining room table in the form of some wines from Turkey. I visited Turkey in 2011 and fell in love with some of the wines there. In particular I swooned repeatedly for wines made from the indigenous grape Kalecik Karasi, which I describe as the Trousseau or Poulsard of Turkey. I was thrilled, therefore to taste this very nice rendition from Turasan this week (and at $15 it’s a phenomenal value), along with a bottle of Öküzgözü from another winery, Diren. Who doesn’t love umlauts?
Along side these perhaps more exotic wines, I was giddy as a schoolboy to receive a bottle from Eva Fricke, whose wines I absolutely adore (and reviewed in depth after my trip to Germany a couple of years ago).
This week also included one of California’s best sparkling wines from Schramsberg Vineyards, as well as another nice California Rosé.
All these and more below!
2006 Schramsberg Vineyards “J. Schram” Champagne Blend, North Coast, California
Light gold in color with fine bubbles, this wine smells of baked apples and honey mixed with a sea breeze. In the mouth, a soft mousse delivers what the nose promises: appley dark honey, buttery saltines and wet stones. A bit tight and lean, this wine will blossom with a few more years in the bottle. 87% Chardonnay, 13% Pinot Noir. 12.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $95. click to buy.
2009 Tenuta Sette Cieli “Indaco” Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Medium to dark ruby in the glass with a hint of garnet, this wine smells of licorice, raisins, and dark chocolate. In the mouth, juicy flavors of dried fruit (cherries, raisins, figs) mix with licorice and cocoa powder. Excellent acidity keeps the wine lively, and a cinnamon and earthy chocolate flavor lingers in the finish. Tannins are fine grained and subtle, letting the fruit do most of the talking. Poised and refined. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2012 Eva Fricke “Schlossberg” Riesling, Rheingau, Germany
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle, asian pears, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, faintly sweet notes of honeysuckle, candied grapefruit rind, and lemon pith have a gorgeous crystalline quality to them with a deep mineral backbone. Faint chalky sensations linger on the palate as the wine soars away into a floral finish. Wow. This has improved significantly in the bottle since I tasted it shortly after it was first released. 12% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $63. click to buy.
2013 Stark Rosé of Grenache, Sonoma County, California
Palest salmon pink in color, this wine smells of hibiscus and melon rind. In the mouth, very lean flavors of raspberry and melon rind mix with a stony wet chalkboard quality as citrusy pink grapefruit notes linger in the finish. Just this side of austere. 12.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2012 Turasan Kalecik Karasi, Turkey
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of alpine strawberries and redcurrants. In the mouth, a combination of alpine strawberry, redcurrant, and forest floor has a wonderful lift thanks to excellent acidity that leaves a bright kumquat bitterness in the finish. Light leathery tannins add texture, along with a stony mineral underbelly. Excellent. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2011 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match, cherry, and green bell peppers. In the mouth, cherry and bell pepper flavors have a bright juicy acidity and the kind of leanness you’d expect from a fairly cold year. Smoky notes linger in the finish.14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2012 Diren Collection Öküzgözü, Turkey
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and blackberries. In the mouth, bouncy blackberry and black cherry flavors have an excellent tangy brightness thanks to juicy acidity. Quite tasty, if a bit simple. A blend of 85% Öküzgözü and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2011 Justin Vineyards “Isosceles” Red Blend, Central Coast, Paso Robles, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, cassis, and dried flowers. In the mouth the wine is quite juicy, with fantastic acidity, and somewhat grapey flavors of cassis, black cherry, and cola. Notes of blueberry linger in the finish. Fairly light bodied compared to my memory of other vintages, with only barely perceptible tannins, and definitely quite young. I’d keep it a few years before popping the cork. A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Score:between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2009 Grgich Hills Merlot, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and plum and wet earth. In the mouth, notes of dried flowers mix with juicy black plum and black cherry dusted with powdery tannins. Excellent acidity. 14.8% alcohol. 4723 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42 click to buy.
2012 South Coast Winery “Musque Clone” Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of peaches and grapefruit. In the mouth, melony flavors of apple and peach have a nice citrus bounce to them thanks to excellent acidity. Silky and weighty on the palate, this wine is not quite the brisk snap you might expect from a Sauvignon Blanc, but nonetheless has some charming qualities. 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??