Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 5, 2015

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 tasting included some really excellent Cava sparkling wines from one of the most prestigious producers in Spain, Raventos i Blanc. This winery, which has a good claim on being one of the longest running wine properties on the planet (dating back to 1497), makes Cava that rivals Champagne in sophistication and depth.

In addition, it was fun to have the chance to taste an older bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, which is doing just fine in its tropical old age.

Don’t miss the Lorenza rosé, which is perennially tasty and worth seeking out, as are the usual set of new releases from Dutton Goldfield.

All these and more below!

2012 Raventos i Blanc “de Nit” Rosado, Cava, Spain
Palest baby pink in color with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of watermelon rind and fresh berries. In the mouth, wonderfully mineral flavors of wet stones, raspberries and unripe strawberries are delivered on a coarse mousse with a kick of saline citrus zest in the finish. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.

2012 Raventos i Blanc “1497 L’hereu Reserve” Brut, Cava, Spain
Pale gold in the glass with aggressive, medium sized bubbles, this wine smells of unripe apples, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, a moderately soft mousse delivers saline flavors of green apple, kelp, and wet stones tinged with a hint of white flowers and lemon zest in the finish. Deeply mineral. Excellent acidity. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2011 Raventos i Blanc “Gran Reserve De La Finca” White Blend, Cava, Spain
Pale gold in color with fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted sourdough bread and Fuji apples washed in rainwater, plus the faint hint of melted butter as the wine warms. In the mouth, wonderfully mineral flavors of seawater, warm brioche, and pink grapefruit pith have a gorgeous precision and length. Extraordinary, bright acidity, and a nice chalky depth. Excellent. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2008 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Light to medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of butterscotch and pineapple. In the mouth, juicy lemon and pineapple flavors have a more savory buttered toast quality tinged with dried mango and dried pineapple. Good acidity keeps the wine fresh, but the brightness of youth is being replaced by the more oxygen rich flavors of age. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2012 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch Walker Hill Vineyard” Chardonnay, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd, candied green apples, and melted butter. In the mouth, a wonderful mix of saline melted butter, green apple and lemon curd pop with a bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Quite delicious. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9-9.5 . Cost: $50. click to buy.

2006 Cinnabar Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherry, tobacco, and oak. In the mouth, smooth tannins grasp flavors of cherry, tobacco and pencil shavings in what is still a firm grip after 8 years. But you can sense a loosening of that grip, and the fruit is still bright and juicy, making this a wonderful mouthful of cherry, leather, and cedar that lingers for a long time. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $50.

2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Clos de Gilroy” Grenache, Central Coast, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry and cherry jam. In the mouth, rich flavors of cherry and strawberry jam have a nice juiciness to them thanks to good acidity. A hint of woody tannin sneaks into the wine and there’s a bitterness in the finish. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2013 Lorenza Rosé, California
Pale peachy pink in the glass, this wine smells fresh and bright with juicy watermelon rind and hibiscus. In the mouth, watermelon, raspberry, and strawberry fruit has a nice zingy quality thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a faint citrus sweetness that lingers through the finish. Clean and refreshing, and very gulpable. A blend of 40% Grenache, 37% Carignan, and 23% Cinsault. 11.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2013 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch Green Valley Vineyard” Gewürztraminer, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of orange peel and a hint of lychee. In the mouth, orange peel and orange blossom water have a nice bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Good minerality crackles under the floral fruit. Tasty and crisp, and completely dry. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Dutton Goldfield “Azaya Ranch Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Marin County, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and black raspberries. In the mouth, bright black raspberry and cherry flavors have a lean herbal note to them along with a stony, mineral underbelly. Juicy acidity keeps the fruit flavors fresh, while an earthy note adds a bass rumble beneath the high notes of the melody. Faint, powdery tannins skirt the edges of the mouth. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ 50.

2009 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch Cherry Ridge Vineyard” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberries, black cherry, and a hint of black olive. In the mouth, savory flavors of black cherry, wet earth, and a hint of black olive also carry a whiff of crushed peppercorns through a nice earthy finish. Good acidity and length, with fine, faint tannins. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45.

2012 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch Morelli Lane Vineyard” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberries and blueberries and cedar. In the mouth, juicy blueberry and blackberry fruit has a hint of black pepper and licorice on the finish. Nice acidity and mineral depth. Fine, faint, powdery tannins barely caress the palate. Excellent. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9 . Cost: $47. click to buy.