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 trove of bottles included one of the sexiest, most impressive wines from Livermore that I’ve ever had: the Lineage bottling from Steven Kent winery, whose wines have been impressing me for the last couple of years quite consistently.
There were also a couple of standout Chardonnays as well, from Thomas Fogarty Winery and Whitcraft Winery, both of which were fresh, bright, and totally mouthwatering.
On the more exotic side, I highly recommend the red blend of indigenous Turkish and international varieties from Diren, which is unique and delicious.
Finally there are a couple of nice Pinot Noirs to seek out from Saintsbury and Dutton-Goldfield.
All these and more below!
2010 Steven Kent Winery “Lineage” Red Blend, Livermore Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, espresso, and a hint of oak. In the mouth, this wine is one hell of a smooth operator. Cherry, cocoa powder, cola, and tobacco notes blend seamlessly with the faintest of powdery tannins and zingy, mouthwatering acidity. Polished and poised, with well integrated wood. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, and 1% Malbec. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150 click to buy.
2012 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and cranberry flavors have a bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Clear as a bell, crisp and clean, the cranberry lingers through the finish with a hint of cedar. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35 click to buy.
2013 Saintsbury “Sun Dawg Ridge Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry. In the mouth, bright cherry and raspberry fruit mixes with cedar under a gauzy blanket of tannins. Juicy with excellent acidity, the wine has a slight citrus kick towards the finish. This will reward some aging in the cellar. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2011 Thomas Fogarty Winery “Portola Springs Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and buttered popcorn. In the mouth, gorgeous lemon zest, bergamot, and pink grapefruit flavors have a smoky, herbal note to them that is quite compelling. Excellent acidity and length, with that smoky note lingering in the finish. 12.3% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $55 click to buy.
2011 Ousterhout “Nance’s Vineyard” Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of violets and licorice and blackberries. In the mouth, juicy blackberry flavors have a nice lean zip to them thanks to excellent acidity, while tacky tannins grip the edges of the mouth with a greenish herbal flavor to back them up. Very light bodied Zin, but perhaps the better for it.14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $29 click to buy.
2012 Bellangelo “Semi-Dry” Riesling, Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and poached pears. In the mouth, the wine offers lightly yeasty notes of pear, pear skin, and honey. Faintly sweet. 11% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $19 click to buy.
2012 Whitcraft Winery “Pence Ranch” Chardonnay, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of just the tiniest bit of buttered popcorn, lemon zest, and cold cream. In the mouth, electrically bright lemon zest and lemon curd flavors make the mouth water, as a mineral saline quality adds to the zip. Fantastically bright and delicious. 12.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $50 click to buy.
2011 Diren “Karmena” Red Blend, Anatolia, Turkey
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and wet earth. In the mouth, very pretty black cherry, blueberry, and wet earth flavors have a juicy zing to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of cassis linger in the finish, silhouetted against a stark wet stone minerality. Quite good. A blend of 35% Okuzgozu, 30% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Bogazkere. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $13 click to buy.
2011 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry cola. In the mouth, cherry, cola nut, and cocoa powder mix with a bright juicy acidity that is mouthwatering. Fleecy tannins rub the back edges of the mouth while notes of cherry cola linger in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $80 click to buy.
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Blanc – Beeswax Vineyard” White Blend, Arroyo Seco, Central Coast, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of unripe peaches, wet stones, and bee pollen. In the mouth, flavors of asian pear, white peaches, wet stones, and white flowers have a nice silky texture on the tongue. Good acidity and length makes for a very balanced package. A blend of 55% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 19% Picpoul Blanc. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20 click to buy.