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Vinography Unboxed: Week of August 2, 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 a couple of excellent Rhone inspired white wines, one from a newer project in Napa, Cairdean vineyards, the other from Native American run Kitá in Santa Barbara.

The expectedly excellent Assyrtiko from Domaine Sigalas in Santorini is worth your attention as well, not to mention a good bet to help prop up the Greek economy.

Elsewhere I dug up a bunch of single vineyard (as well as some single block) Pinots from Thomas Fogarty winery that are distinctive and excellent, though a bit hard to find I would expect given their tiny production.

Finally, Cab lovers might want to check out the Acquaintance Vineyard bottling from Cairdean which hails from the cooler region of Coombsville, in a fairly cool year, making for a sleek and tasty mouthful.

All these and more below. Enjoy!

2014 Domaine Sigalas “Santorini” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of cucumber, lime, and cut green grass. In the mouth lime and lime zest mix with wet chalkboard and a hint of green apple skin. Fantastically bright acidity rises like an ocean swell as the wine finishes with a hint of salinity. Crisp and oh-so-mineral. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18 click to buy.

2012 Cairdean “Haley Margaret” White Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of white peaches and green apples and pears. In the mouth, lean flavors of green apple, pear, and a bit of white peach all have a bright acidic edge to them and some lingering spiciness in the finish. A blend of Pinot Gris, Roussanne, and Viogner. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2014 Dutton Goldfield “Chileno Valley Vineyard” Riesling, Marin County, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of pear and pear skin and a hint of dry, woody cardboard. In the mouth, pear and quince flavors would have made me guess this was Chenin Blanc, not Riesling. Bright acidity and wonderful minerality make this unusual package of flavors quite refreshing. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: 30. click to buy.

2013 Kitá “Camp 4 Vineyard” Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light blonde in the glass, this wine smells of pears and ranier cherries. In the mouth, pear and quince flavors have a wonderful grapefruit citrus and quince paste kick that builds in the long finish. Excellent acidity and length. Delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2014 Dutton Goldfield Gewürztraminer, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lychee and rose petals. In the mouth, lychee, rose petals, and candied orange peel mix with a pleasing hint of herbs and spice. Wonderfully bright acidity and minerality make for a very pleasing package. Dry. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Winery “Razorback Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, exceedingly silky flavors of raspberry, cherry, and redcurrant have a wonderful brightness to them thanks to fantastic acidity Savory pine duff and a crushed herb quality linger in the finish with barely perceptible tannins. 12.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Winery “Rapley Trail Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of fantastically pure raspberry fruit. In the mouth, wonderfully bright raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors are dusted with barely perceptible tannins. Juicy acidity makes this a mouthwatering wine, and a nice minerality underlies the pure, even crystalline fruit. A stunner of a wine. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Winery “Rapley Trail Vineyard – M Block” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of crushed green herbs, and bright raspberry pastilles. In the mouth, gorgeously bright raspberry and crushed herb flavors also have a faintly manure-like earthiness that adds a bit of complexity to the wine. This barnyard hint might be brettanomyces, but at the moment it’s kept well in check and reads as pleasant earthiness more than anything. Excellent acidity and supple tannins. 13.2% alcohol. 600 bottles produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Winery “Rapley Trail Vineyard – Henry Eyrton’s Block” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers and pure crystalline cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, faint, suede-like tannins wrap around a core of pure forest berries tinged with exotic dried flowers. A wonderful aromatic sweetness floats above the deeply mineral quality of this wine. Fantastic acidity and brightness. A really phenomenal, crystalline expression of place. 13.2% alcohol. 600 bottles produced. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $??

2012 Schermeister Cellars “Paladini Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cranberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth sweetish flavors of cherry and cranberry are tinged with cola and cocoa powder, as a fine gauze of tannin settles on the palate. Rich and ripe, but fairly tasty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards “Bernau Block” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and compost layered over red fruit. In the mouth, bright raspberry flavors peek through deep forest floor earthiness, laden with flavors of wet leaves and loam. Bright acidity keeps the wine tasting pretty fresh despite its dark, soil-like quality. Very interesting. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $47. click to buy.

2011 Cairdean “Acquaintance Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright black cherries and violets. In the mouth, the wine has a very floral aspect, with violets, black cherry and cassis sitting fairly high-toned on the palate. Thick, muscular tannins wrap around this core of floral fruit and linger with a light woody bitterness in the finish. A very young wine still and one that should be given some time in the bottle. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.

2012 Inman Family Vineyard “OGV Estate Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cranberry and cherry aromas mixed with a hint of cedar. In the mouth, bright cranberry and cherry flavors mix with cedar and dried herbs. Excellent acidity and a nice wet stone minerality float along underneath the fruit. Faint tannins dust the edges of the mouth. Long finish. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.

2012 Inman Family Vineyard “Thorn Ridge Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of sappy raspberry and dried flowers. In the mouth, raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors are tinged with greenish herb notes and dried flowers, all of which suggests some amount of whole cluster inclusion in the wine. Quite peppy, with excellent acidity. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68 click to buy.