Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 1, 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 one of the most interesting bottles of Napa wine I’ve had in some time, a Charbono from J. McClelland, that I highly recommend for anyone who thinks they know Napa well.

Of course we’ve also got a couple of more typical wines from Napa, the Keith Webster and Revivial Vineyards bottlings that are quite enjoyable.

In the value department, don’t miss the Aia Vecchia IGT blend from Italy, which at $15 is a pretty outstanding deal.

All that and more below. Enjoy!

2013 Koutsoyannopoulos “Santorini” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied lemon rind and a hint of butterscotch. In the mouth, lemon and butterscotch flavors mix with a light bitter and sweet note that lingers in the finish. A deep wet chalkboard minerality lingers underneath. Not everything gels, however, leaving the impression of a slightly clumsy wine. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39. click to buy.

2012 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of apples and a hint of buttered popcorn. In the mouth, flavors of lemon curd, pine resin, melted butter and a hint of pineapple have a gorgeous crisp brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Perched right on the edge of tropical, this wine has enough restraint to be called elegant. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer, Monterey County, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lychee and lemon blossoms. In the mouth, gorgeously smooth and cool flavors of lychee and orange peel have a hint of rose petal to them in the finish. Wonderfully balanced and delicious. Thirst quenching. 13.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2012 J. McClelland Charbono, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, woodsmoke, and concord grapes. In the mouth, wonderfully earthy pure black cherry flavors mix with a hint of iron rust and licorice. Excellent acidity and minerality. A very distinctive and compelling wine that I am very happy to have tasted. Excellent. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40

2012 Medlock Ames “Bell Mountain Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark cherry and cassis. In the mouth, rich black cherry and cassis flavors mix with leather and a bit of cola as they head towards a long finish that has a very nice earthiness to it, along with powdery tannins. Nicely restrained. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2011 Keith M. Webster Cellars “Right Bank” Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry cola. In the mouth, cherry and cola flavors have a nice brightness thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a faint woody bitterness in the finish, accompanied by faint, powdery tannins. A blend of 57% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $73. click to buy.

2012 Aia Vecchia “Lagone” Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and espresso and green tobacco. In the mouth, flavors of leather, cocoa powder, espresso and earth are layered over a deep cherry fruit core. Faint, powdery tannins linger in the finish with a bitter green wood quality. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2012 Revival Vineyards “Revival” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, rich cherry and cola flavors mix with the sweet vanilla of new oak. Faint tannins wrap around the edges of the fruit, but bright acidity keeps it vibrant and juicy. The wood is present but well integrated. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??

2011 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberries and licorice. In the mouth, blackberries pie and licorice flavors mix with cassis and a hint of herbal bramble. Faint tannins surface in the finish, while excellent acidity keeps the juicy blackberry core lingering for a long time. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $29. click to buy.