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Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving if you celebrated. 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, most notably, the first wines from a new wine project started by Steve Clifton (of Palmina and Brewer-Clifton fame) and his wife Chrystal. The wines are very solid, not to mention stylish, and worth checking out, especially the 2012 Reflektor Pinot Noir.

I was also happy to dig out a couple of the most recent bottlings from Kitá, a native-american, female-led winery project on the Central coast whose wines seem to be getting better and better. The white Rhone-style blend I opened this week is one of the better white blends I’ve had from California in some time. I highly recommend tracking these wines down.

Let’s see, what else? A few Assyrtikos from Greece are always refreshing, especially when they’re made with care as in the Gavalas Wild Ferment.

And finally, a couple of wines from Tuscany. Avignonesi’s basic bottlings from the little town of Montepulciano. Give them some air and after an hour or two they will happily sing along in your glass.

All that and more below. Enjoy!

2014 Volcan Wines Koutsoyannopoulos “Santorini” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon cucumber, citrus pith, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, wet chalkboard and lemon juice flavors mix with a hint of waxy flavor. Bright acidity keeps the wine juicy and fresh, while flavors of citrus pith linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2014 Gavalas “Santorini Natural Ferment” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of intense citrus oils, white flowers and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, flavors of wet chalkboard, lemon cucumber, and citrus have a silky feel to them, and less intense acidity than I expect from Assyrtiko. But then the acidity seems to creep up in the finish, gradually puckering the cheeks as lime and pomelo flavors linger. Tasty. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $24.

2008 Canava Roussos “Nykyteri” Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of candle wax and exotic citrus marmalade. In the mouth the wine has a wonderfully salty character, with silky and rich flavors bottle-reflektor.jpgof lemon preserves and a hint of buttercream. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2014 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, California
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of passionfruit and gooseberries and white flowers. In the mouth, juicy and bright kiwi and passionfruit flavors mix with green apple and a wonderful bright acidity that makes the mouth water. Tasty and delicious, and nicely balanced. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2014 La Voix “She’s Crafty” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Pale ruby in color, this wine smells of berries, wet chalkboard, and a hint of citrus. In the mouth tart redcurrant and unripe strawberry flavors mix with a nice underlying minerality and a hint of dried herbs. Definitely leaning towards the more savory end of the spectrum, there’s a slight bitterness in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ .

2014 La Voix “Rebel Rebel – Quinta Del Mar Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and black raspberry fruit. In the mouth, the wine is quite sexy and silky, with a nice black cherry and raspberry fruit core that has just a tinge of sweetness to it. Excellent acidity makes the wine quite drinkable and balances the rich fruit. A wine for those who like their Pinots a little bigger, but still elegant and lithe. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2013 La Voix “Satisfaction – Kessler-Haak Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry fruit. In the mouth, silky raspberry and cherry fruit swirl against a backdrop of very faint, velvety tannins. Good acidity, but missing the kick I’d like to see in order to bring the fruit fully to life. Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue with these flavors which demand another sip. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2012 La Voix “Reflektor – Machado Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry compote with a hint of herbs . In the mouth, deep cherry flavors have a faint aromatic sweetness to them along with a nice earthy and treebark character that counterpoints the velvety tannins quite well. Good acidity and length. Tasty14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $90. click to buy.

2013 Rudolph Fürst “Tradition” Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), Franconia, Germany
Light ruby in color with a hint of purple at its center, this wine smells of cherry, leather, and a hint of herbs. In the mouth, bright raspberry and redcurrant flavors have a nice snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. A hint of sour cherry merges with an herbal and woody note towards the finish. Faint, supple tannins linger in the finish. 13,5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $34. click to buy.

2014 Kitá “T’aya” White Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Palest blond in color, this wine smells of spiced pears and white flowers. In the mouth a delicious, nay, mouthwatering, blend of pear, citrus, and wet chalkboard flavors swirl and bounce with joyous acidity across the palate. A gorgeous floral note floats over the woody pear flavors as the citrus rounds out the finish. Utterly delicious. A blend of 60% Marsanne, 38% Roussanne, and 2% Grenache Blanc. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2014 Kitá “Spe’y – Camp 4 Vineyard” Red Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of strawberries and wet stones and a hint of earth. In the mouth, surprisingly savory flavors of strawberry, cherry, and a touch of cola mix with earth and dried flowers. Lightly muscular tannins flex in the finish. Excellent acidity. Quite delicious. A blend of 58% Grenache, 21% Syrah, and 21% Carignane. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of cherry and a hint of earth. In the mouth, bright, juicy cherry fruit is backed by a muscular skein of tannins. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright, and a hint of cedar emerges in the finish, but this wine is lacking some complexity that would push it beyond very good. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2012 Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color with a hint of purple at its center, this wine smells of cherry and a hint of dried herbs. In the mouth cherry, cedar, and dried herbs flavors are wrapped in a sheath of leathery tannins. Excellent acidity makes this wine quite bright and drinkable. Very fresh and juicy. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.