Hello, and welcome (back — I’ve been too busy to open boxes lately) 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 few really excellent white wines, in particular the Müller Thurgau from Abbazia di Novacella, a lesser known white grape that absolutely sings when grown by monks in the mountains of the Alto Adige. If you’ve never had it, this is the best place to start.
Also in the lighter department, there’s the elegant Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay and the excellent value Cantina de Castello Soave. Not to be missed is the Domaine de Salut Graves Blanc, which is a wonderfully balanced expression of both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
In the red department, Flowers has an entry as well, as does J. Davies Vineyards (known to most people as Schramsberg Vineyards) whose 2012 Estate Cabernet is juicy, delicious, and very approachable even in its extreme youth.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2014 Pazo San Mauro Albariño, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of unripe pears, lime zest and white flowers. In the mouth, lime zest and pink grapefruit pith have a zippy, steely brightness thanks to fantastic acidity. A light wet chalkboard feeling lingers in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $17. click to buy.
2014 Domaine du Salut White Blend, Graves, Bordeaux, France
Palest blonde in the glass, this wine smells beautifully of white flowers and a hint of gooseberries. In the mouth, flavors of gooseberry and kiwi lean towards the racy electricity of passionfruit as the wine heads to a long finish. Utterly mouthwatering and delicious. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $16. click to buy.
2013 Vista Hills “Orange” Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon
A light salmon orange in color, this skin-macerated white wine smells of dark honey, wet leaves, dried orange peel, and mulling spices. In the mouth, a light honeyed flavor washes over red berries and orange rind flavors mixed with spices that lean towards nutmeg. Good acidity, but a little alcoholic heat rises in the finish. 12.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2014 Star Lane Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon and lime and green apples. In the mouth, bright green apple and lime zest flavors have a nice snap to them thanks to bright juicy acidity. Smooth and silky on the palate. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2014 Dutton Goldfield “Shop Block” Pinot Blanc, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of unripe apples and lemon pith. In the mouth, silky flavors of lemon juice, sweet cream, and white flowers have a wonderfully beguiling complexion. Ever-so-faintly-sweet, but with fantastic acidity, this wine just begs to be gulped. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2013 Cantina de Castello Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of greengage plum and a hint of cucumber layered over rainwater. In the mouth, lemon-lime flavors mix with green apple and white flowers pleasingly. Decent acidity and length. Nothing wrong with this one. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $12. click to buy.
2012 Flowers “Camp Meeting Ridge” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and lemon zest. In the mouth, bright and delicious flavors of lemon curd and lemon juice mix with pink grapefruit and pomelo pith. Wonderfully bright and persistent with well integrated oak. Excellent acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2013 Abbazia de Novacella Müller Thurgau, Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy
Palest yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of dried apricots and ripe peaches. In the mouth, notes of lemongrass mix with peach and a wonderful zingy acidity that makes the whole package mouthwatering. Extremely delicious. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2012 Flowers “Sea View Ridge” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and crushed herbs. In the mouth, wonderfully mineral raspberry and green herb flavors have a light bitterness to them as they finish. Excellent acidity and quite silky texture. Pretty. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9 . Cost: $80. click to buy.
2013 Heintz “Valentina” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and raspberry compote. In the mouth, bright raspberry and green herb flavors have a nice snap to them thanks to excellent acidity, but not as much depth or complexity as I’d like. Some nice notes of dried herbs linger in the finish with a hint of forest floor. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2012 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis, chocolate, and dark tobacco. In the mouth, black cherry fruit and tobacco notes mix with mocha and cola. Good acidity and faint velvety tannins mix together nicely, but the wine doesn’t quite have the zip and verve I’d like it to. Quite tasty nonetheless. Contains 17% Malbec. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2012 Flora Springs “Windfall Vineyard” Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth, cherry, black cherry, and black plum flavors have a very nice smooth complexion dusted as they are by tannins. Excellent acidity and length, with just a touch of heat on the finish. 14.5% alcohol in an obnoxiously heavy bottle. 275 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.