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Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 11, 2015

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 couple of very lively white wines. One is a Greek Assyrtiko, but instead of hailing from Santorini, the homeland of Assyrtiko, it is from Crete, and has a very distinctive charm. The other is a Chenin Blanc from Lang & Reed Wine Company, inveterate producers of Cabernet Franc for many years. Their Chenin is a wonderfully credible effort, and a welcome addition to their portfolio of Loire Love.

There were a few Pinots in the pile this week as well, the most exciting of which were the Elizabeth’s Reserve from Adelsheim in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the Flowers Sonoma Coast bottling, which had a wonderful vibrancy in the 2013 vintage.

Finally, there are two Ridge Zinfandels in there, so different in character that I was left scratching my head a little, wondering how consumers are supposed to figure out which one appeals more to their preferences.

All that and more below. Enjoy!

2013 Mediterra Assyrtiko, Crete, Greece
Light greenish-gold in color, this wine smells of lemon cucumbers, juniper, and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has a crisp wet-chalkboard minerality and flavors of lemon cucumber and lime zest with a hint of Thai lime lingering in the finish. Unique and refreshing thanks to excellent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20.

2014 Lang & Reed Chenin Blanc, Mendocino, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of pineapple and candied citrus peel. In the mouth flavors of lemon rind, lemon curd, and pineapple mix with a hint of membrillo layered over wet chalkboard minerality and the barest scent of sweetness. Very pretty. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2015 Boschendal “The Rose Garden” Red Blend Rosé, Coastal Region, South Africa
Pale baby pink in color, this wine smells of candied strawberries and watermelon Jolly Rancher candies. In the mouth, watermelon and watermelon rind flavors are scented with strawberries and a hint of white flowers. The wine has a nice dryness and good acidity, a welcome relief after the candied quality of the nose. Pretty. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $13

2013 Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and raspberries. In the mouth, wonderfully bright flavors of candied raspberries and cherry cordial mix with a darker cedar and earthy quality. Notes of brown sugar, slightly sweet, linger in the finish. Good acidity. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2013 Davies Vineyards “Nobles Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, flavors of candied raspberry and cherry pie mix with a note of brown sugar and forest floor. The finish is long, sweet, and a touch hot with a signature of alcohol. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.

2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards “Estate” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine has a hint of manure to its aromas of raspberry and wet earth. In the mouth, tart, sour cherry and raspberry mix with unripe blackberry flavors and a hint of green herbs. A nice stony core is accentuated by excellent acidity. The faintest of tannins show up in the finish. 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30.

2012 Adelsheim “Elizabeth’s Reserve” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry briar, raspberry leaf, and wet earth. In the mouth wonderfully plush tannins gently clasp flavors of raspberry, forest floor, and green herbs that have a lovely bounce to them thanks to excellent acidity. Nice earthy finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $57. click to buy.

2013 Flowers Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cherry and cedar. In the mouth, very pretty flavors of raspberry, cherry and cedar mix with a bright zingy acidity that lingers with a stony quality through the finish. Very faint tannins hang at the edges of perception. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2013 Ridge Vineyards “Pagani Ranch” Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blueberries, blackberries and licorice. In the mouth, sweet flavors of blueberry and blackberry have a nice velvety texture to them, and a good juiciness thanks to reasonable acidity. They’re just a bit too sweet for my taste. Contains 16% Alicante Bouschet and 1% Petite Sirah. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2013 Ridge Vineyards “Ponzo” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry and rich black cherry. In the mouth, black cherry and cedar notes mix with blackberry and a hint of darker woodier tones. Fine grained tannins brush the edges of the mouth as the wine finishes long and licorice-like. Includes 7% Petite Sirah. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2012 Trefethen Family Vineyards Merlot, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherry fruit. In the mouth, rather pure dark cherry and plum flavors have a nice hint of cola underneath them and excellent acidity that makes the fruit quite juicy. Thankfully there’s little to no trace of wood flavor in the wine, as it finishes with a slight (and delicious) sour cherry note. The faintest of dusty tannins linger in the finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.