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Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 25, 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 an unusual sweet white from near the famed Sauternes region of Bordeaux, made by a tiny producer that is unfortunately tough to get ahold of here in the US.

More easy to find will be the lovely Chardonnays from famed Hanzell Vineyards, which are, as usual models of poise in the category.

Also worthy of note are the 2011 Pinots from DuMOL, which perfectly capture the best of the vintage’s cooler qualities.

All that and more below. Enjoy!

2011 Chateau Huradin White Blend, Cérons, Bordeaux, France
Light yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of honey and candied apricots, with the distinct scent of botrytis, the noble rot responsible for Sauturnes. In the mouth, lightly to moderately sweet flavors of apricots, white peaches and white flowers mix in a honeyed and delicious character. Good acidity keeps the wine very lively in the glass, the overall impression being of a very light bodied Sauturnes, which, in essence this is, coming from the much lesser known neighboring appellation of Cérons. Quite tasty. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??

2012 Hanzell Vineyards “Sebella” Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of grapefruit juice and grapefruit pith. In the mouth, lean flavors of lemon curd and grapefruit pith have a somewhat bitter sourness to them and razor sharp acidity that makes the mouth water. This wine is currently quite narrow in a way that I think will improve with a bit of time in the bottle. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2011 Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden apples, honeysuckle, and lemon rind. In the mouth, flavors of chamomile, lemon rind and pink grapefruit have an electric acidity to them. A slightly herbal dumol_Estate.jpgnote of chamomile lingers in the long finish. Bright, juicy and quite long, with a gorgeous silky texture. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2011 Hanzell Vineyards “DeBrye Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of lemon curd, cold cream, and a hint of tropical fruit. In the mouth, juicy notes of pineapple, lemon curd, and crisp golden apple are balanced with a crisp minerality and a touch of toasted oak. Excellent acidity makes the wine bright, even as the wine has a satiny density on the tongue. Rich and expansive, with a very long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.

2011 DuMOL “Connor” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry, cranberry, and cedar. In the mouth, beautifully silky flavors of raspberry, cherry, and cranberry all take on a leaner mineral tone as the wine heads for a long finish with hints of dried flowers. Faint powdery tannins linger around the edges of the mouth. Very pretty. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $75. . click to buy.

2011 DuMOL “Finn” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, crushed herbs and raspberries mix with a wonderfully mineral undertone while faint tannins tug at the edges of the mouth. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $110. click to buy.

2011 DuMOL Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright raspberry and cherry aromas. In the mouth beautifully bright cherry and raspberry flavors mix with a forest floor darkness that is an excellent counterpoint to the juicy fruit. Excellent acidity and dusty tannins, with a long finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2011 DuMOL “Aidan” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and exotic flowers. In the mouth, the wine is beautifully silky, with flavors of cherry and raspberry that mix with deeper earthy notes and hints of redwood bark. Aromatically sweet cedar lingers in the finish. Quite pretty, with excellent acidity. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.

2011 DuMOL “Ryan” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells bright cherry, cranberry, and cedar. In the mouth, silky flavors of raspberry and cranberry mix with forest floor and wet stone flavors dusted with supple, mouth-coating tannins. Juicy and bright. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.

2011 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of brown sugar and cola. In the mouth cherry and cola nut flavors mix with an odd spiced wood character that leans towards licorice root. Faint dusty tannins and good acidity. Maybe an odd bottle, as past vintages have been better. 13.5% alcohol. 2467 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $42. click to buy.

2013 Long Meadow Ranch Merlot, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, dried flowers, and green herbs. In the mouth, the wine is surprisingly savory, with green herbs mixed with cherry and plum flavors all knit together by a leathery blanket of tannins. Excellent acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.