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 a couple of excellent wines from Greece, including what I believe to be one of the best Xinomavro’s available in the US, the old vine reserve bottling from Alpha Estate in Amyndeon, Greece. If you haven’t had a Xinomavro before, this is a great place to start.
I was also thrilled to get a bottle of Assyrtiko from my absolute favorite producer on Santorini, Hatzidakis, whose organically farmed wines are truly exceptional. This bottling is on the riper side of Santorini wines, but still quite delicious.
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are usually quite reliable, and the latest vintage of both these wines upholds that reputation.
Finally, I continue to be delighted by the wines from the tiny label of Solminer down in Santa Barbara County. Their latest Syrah is quite delicate and light on its feet, to the point that many people might not think it was Syrah. I highly recommend it.
All these and more below!
2013 Hatzidakis Winery “Assyrtiko de Mylos Vielles Vignes” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Light to medium gold in color, this wine smells of lemon zest, white flowers, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, the wine is on the richer side of Assyrtiko, with wonderfully saline flavors of lemon zest, and something like a tropical tinged lemon curd, pink grapefruit and exotic citrus rind mix with a dose of seawater. Excellent acidity makes the wine quite zingy. Other than being fairly rich and ripe, this wine betrays none of its 15% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $21. click to buy.
2013 Jordan Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden delicious apples and mixed citrus zest. In the mouth, bright lemon and grapefruit flavors mix with apple and pear in a zingy, well balanced mouthful. Mouthwatering acidity keeps things juicy and delicious through the long finish. 13.7% alcohol Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2010 Inman Family Vineyard “OGV Estate Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium ruby in color with just a hint of garnet remaining, this wine smells of cranberries and dried herbs. In the mouth, bright cranberry and raspberry flavors have a faint aromatic sweetness to them that is quite charming. Dried herbs and licorice root flavors linger in the finish.Very pretty. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68.
2010 Clos du Val Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cranberry and raspberry fruit with a hint of marijuana smoke. In the mouth, that sweetness of fruit continues with bright cherry and raspberry flavors that have a hint of cola. This is a crowd-pleaser of a wine that makes up for in charm what it lacks in complexity. Excellent balance and acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $31. click to buy.
2012 Solminer “Full Moon Reserve – Delanda Vineyard” Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and dried herbs. In the mouth, the wine has a remarkably light body, with deliciously tangy sour cherry, blackberry, and dried flowers swirling across the palate against a slightly tacky bed of tannins. Fantastically bright acidity makes the whole thing a juicy, mouthwatering mensch of a wine.13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $34. click to buy.
2011 Jordan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of tobacco, green herbs and dark berries. In the mouth, juicy black cherry and tobacco mix with wet earth and suede-like tannins. Smooth and round and nicely balanced for a very cool year. Excellent acidity.13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2010 Alpha Estate “Reserve Vielles Vignes” Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Greece
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mulberry, leather, crushed nuts, and cassis. In the mouth, gorgeously smooth cassis, leather, black plum, and mulberry flavors have a beautiful brown sugar and dried flower edge to them. Excellent acidity and the faintest of supple tannins make for a beautifully composed package. Certainly one of the best Xinomavros around. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $38. click to buy.