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 wine that is not particularly profound, but that is just so pretty and pleasurable, that I defy anyone to take just one sip when it’s ice cold on a warm day. Most people aren’t familiar with the grape Moschofilero, but this little Greek number is wonderfully light and aromatic with crisp acidity.
Look for a nice Chenin Blanc this week from South Africa, as well as a range of different Chardonnays, each catering to a different flavor preference, from rich to crisp.
When it comes to the reds, the Malbec dominated blend called, romantically, “The Dragon’s Tooth” from Trinchero is definitely worth seeking out, as is the structured and big-boned Lineage, from Livermore Valley.
Finally I’d suggest paying close attention to the Post Scriptum red from Portugal, which delivers incredible value for the money.
All these and more below. Enjoy!
2013 Martinsrancho Verdejo, Rueda, Spain
Light blonde in color, this wine smells of lemon pith and a hint of white flowers. In the mouth, lemon pith flavors have a nice mineral backbone and decent acidity. A hint of candied pink grapefruit emerges in the finish. A very pleasant wine. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??
2011 Robert Oatley “The Pennant” Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of rich melted butter and lemon curd. In the mouth, butterscotch, melted butter and lemon curd also incorporate tropical notes of pineapple as the wine finishes with a hint of toasted brioche. Rich and full, with reasonable but not fantastic acidity, this wine will appeal to those who like their Chardonnays with a bit more flesh. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55
2013 Flowers Vineyard and Winery Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream, white flowers, and lemon pith. In the mouth, the floral quality of the wine continues, with white flowers and lemon and grapefruit pith mixing in a brilliant and smooth concoction across the palate. Excellent acidity makes the mouth water. Long citrusy finish.13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $37. click to buy.
2013 Charles Heintz “Searby” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California
Pale greenish-gold in the glass, this wine smells of ripe apples, lemonade and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, the wine is restrained and mineral, with stony flavors of lemon curd and pomelo pith mixing with a richer hint of pineapple and dried mango. 14.2% alcohol. 50 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2013 Boschendal “Appellation Series” Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of rich roasted nuts, buttered popcorn and lemon curd. In the mouth, rich and slightly salty flavors of lemon curd and pineapple have a nice snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. Lemon curd and lemon zest linger for a long time in the finish with a nice saline component. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55
2013 Tselepos “Classic” Moschofilero, Mantinia, Peleponnese, Greece
Palest peach in color, this wine smells of fresh melon and exotic white flowers. In the mouth, guava, rose petals, and white peach flavors have a wonderful floral lightness to them with excellent acidity. A very pretty wine. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $16. click to buy.
2014 Bellingham “The Bernard Series – Old Vine” Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, South Africa
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pan roasted pears in butter. In the mouth, pear and quince flavors mix with a hint of nutmeg and other spices that linger in the finish. Good acidity and length. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.
2012 Quinta de Roriz “Post Scriptum de Chryseia” Red Blend, Douro, Portugal
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry, mulberry, and chocolate. In the mouth, very pretty blackberry and cassis flavors mix with more briary herbal notes as the wine heads towards a long finish. Tacky, fine grained tannins firmly grip the mouth, and good acidity keeps the fruit lifted. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2011 Lineage (Stephen Kent Winery) Red Wine, Livermore Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of wonderfully bright cherry and cedar aromas touched with a bit of raisin. In the mouth, cherry and cedar and cocoa powder take on a dried or raisined fruit aspect that isn’t necessarily characteristic of this wine in my experience. Notes of licorice and dried flowers linger in the finish. A blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot, and 2% Malbec. 14.1% alcohol. 3348 bottles produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $140. click to buy.
2012 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and oak and a hint of green bell pepper. In the mouth, juicy flavors of cherry and green bell pepper make for a surprisingly crisp and refreshing mouthful thanks to excellent acidity. The oak that peeked through on the nose is not present on the palate. Good finish. 13.5% alcohol Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2012 Trefethen Family Vineyards “Dragon’s Tooth” Red Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and blueberry jam. In the mouth, flavors of cassis and black cherry have a nice juiciness to them thanks to great acidity. Faint tannins dust the front and edges of the mouth as the wine lingers through a long finish with a hint of sour cherry. An unusual (for Napa) blend of 66% Malbec, 20% Petite Verdot, and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2013 Ridge Vineyards “Lytton Springs” Red Blend, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and licorice. In the mouth, rich flavors of black cherry, licorice, mulberry, and blackberries are kissed with a hint of American oak. Nicely integrated, the wood adds a spiciness to the wine that is very pretty, though I’d wait a couple years for it to be a bit more subsumed into the wine. Powdery, dusty tannins coat the mouth through the long finish. A blend of 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, and 2% Mataro. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.