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 what I think is now one of the best wine values in California, the latest vintage of Randall Grahm’s Clos de Gilroy Grenache, a juicy bright wine that absolutely kills it for $15.
Then there are the bright, juicy Pinots from Foursight Vineyards in Anderson Valley, which continue to impress me with their lithe elegance.
The Apex 39 white blend from Alder Springs Vineyard also deserves a special mention, and not just because of the name (remind me to have my lawyers talk to theirs… ;-). It’s a lovely white blend done in the style of the southern Rhone.
Finally, while I can’t seem to find anywhere to buy it online (sorry, readers) the Carignane from Stark Wine Company represents an excellent rendition of that grape, and would be a great introduction to anyone who’s not sure what Carignane tastes like or why it is such an interesting grape. Keep an eye out for it.
All these and more below!
2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Pousseur” Syrah, Central Coast, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of white pepper and cassis with a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, blackberry, cassis, and white pepper flavors are shot through with green herbs and wet stone minerality. Great acidity. A pretty serious wine for the price. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Clos de Gilroy” Grenache, Monterey County, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of candied strawberries and crushed herbs. In the mouth, juicy flavors of strawberry, green herbs and a hint of spice mix beautifully with the faintest of tannins. Quite pretty and delicious. A phenomenal value for the money. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2012 Foursight “Charles Vineyard – Zero” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Very light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of peeled willow bark, green herbs, and raspberries. In the mouth, raspberry and redcurrant flavors mix with flavors of wet felt and wet chalkboard. Faint powdery tannins coat the tongue and a nice dried flower note lingers in the finish. Made in the natural style with no added sulfur or yeasts. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $46 click to buy.
2011 Foursight “Charles Vineyard – Clone 5” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, beautifully delicate flavors of tart raspberry and cranberry mix with exotic herbs including a touch of marijuana resin.Very faint tannins, excellent acidity and a moderate finish. Quite tasty. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $49 click to buy.
2012 Alder Springs Vineyard “Apex 39” White Blend, Mendocino County, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of apples, lemon zest, and fresh apricots. In the mouth, a spicy baked apple and fresh apple flavors have a crisp zesty kick to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of apricot and tangerine zest linger in the finish. A blend of 54% Roussanne, 29% Marsanne, and 17% Viognier. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $39 click to buy.
2013 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Shop Block” Pinot Blanc, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of green and golden apples. In the mouth fresh green and fuji apple flavors mix with wet stones and a faint hint of lemon zest. The wine is juicy and bright but seems to lack the kick of acidity that would take it from good to exciting. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2011 Dutton Goldfield “Fox Den Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry compote and bright, leafy raspberry fruit. In the mouth, silky textured flavors of raspberry, cranberry, and cedar mix beautifully as they flow across the palate. Bright acidity makes the wine quite juicy, and a faint woody bitterness lingers in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $50 click to buy.
2012 Stark Wine Company “Trimble Vineyard” Carignane, Mendocino County, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of blueberries and cola. In the mouth, beautifully smooth, even stony flavors of boysenberry and dark cherry are wrapped in a fine chalky dust of tannins, as stonier notes rumble a low bass to the brightness of the fruit. Hints of herb and green wood linger in the finish. Very nice.13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2013 Dry Creek Vineyard “Heritage Vines” Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of fresh blackberry pie. In the mouth, blackberry and black cherry flavors have a nice tannic grip to them as well as a bright juicy stoniness thanks to excellent acidity. A blend of 76% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, and 2% Primitivo. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16 click to buy.
2004 KG Brien Wines “Vincenzo Old Vines – Silver Wings” Red Blend, Central Victoria, Australia
Medium to dark ruby in color, this wine smells of bacon fat and tobacco tinged with oak. In the mouth, juicy dried cherries, bacon fat and cocoa powder are shot through with the spicy vanilla of oak. Faint powdery tannins rim the edge of the mouth but the wine still has bright acidity. Time has let the wood in this wine integrate to the point of being pleasant rather than pushy. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2012 Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah, Mendocino, California
Very dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of smoky gunpowder and dark cassis fruit. In the mouth, rich cassis and blackberry flavors have a dense almost impenetrable firmness on the palate, an impression aided by light, fine-grained tannins. The fruit is very ripe, but stays just this side of jammy, thanks in part to the acidity of the wine, but also a dark earthiness that is compelling in its own right. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $38 click to buy.