Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 17, 2016

Hello, and welcome 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 included a couple of killer Pinots from pioneer Hirsch Vineyards out on the Sonoma Coast, their 2012 San Andreas bottling and their reserve bottling which is pretty hard to come by.

There was also a very nice white Rhone blend by Anaba, a Rhone-focused winery in Sonoma that I’ve really enjoyed over the years.

One of my favorite little wineries in Napa, Lang & Reed offered up their latest release of their entry level Cabernet Franc, which as usual, is a winner.

And finally, a newer project in Napa, Rarecat, offered a nicely bottle aged version of their Cabernet Sauvignon.

All this and more below. Enjoy!

2013 Anaba “Turbine White” White Blend, Sonoma Valley, California
Light brilliant gold in the glass, this wine smells of apples, peaches, and lemon. In the mouth, a silky blend of lemon curd, apricots, and golden delicious apples has a nice bounce to it, thanks to excellent acidity, even as it heads for a heady and slightly high octane finish. Tasty flavors, and better a little cold. A blend of 42% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, 20% Picpoul Blanc, and 18% Marsanne. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2012 Hirsch Vineyards “San Andreas Fault” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of woodsmoke, raspberry and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, lean and herbal-inflected flavors of raspberry and redcurrant are tinged with a darker, dustier note. Hints of sage linger in the finish along with faint, leathery tannins. Excellent. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.

2012 Hirsch Vineyards “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells seductively of crushed green herbs and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, wonderfully bright flavors of raspberry and redcurrant are nestled into a bed of suede-like tannins and are vibrant thanks to excellent acidity. Great length and balance with delicious notes of smoked meat in the finish. Fabulous. 13.1% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2013 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, North Coast, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of plum, green herbs, and a hint of crushed nuts. In the mouth, powdery but muscular tannins hold the black cherry and plum flavors firmly in their grip while bright acidity makes for a juicy, long finish with hints of hazelnut and cocoa powder. 14.1% alcohol. 4082 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2013 Abbaye Sylva Plana “La Closerale” Red Blend, Faugéres, Languedoc, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of woodsmoke, a hint of garrigue, and dark black cherry. In the mouth, black cherry, leather, and cocoa powder mix with a hint of spicy black pepper. Dark earthy flavors seem welded to the leathery tannins that grip the fruit. Good acidity. A blend of 35% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 20% Carignan. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25.

2012 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco, and espresso. In the mouth, cherry and tobacco flavors mix with cocoa powder and a bit of leather and bitter coffee in the finish. Decent acidity and length.14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2010 Rarecat “Old Toll Hillside Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of ripe, sweet cherries. In the mouth, juicy cherry and cocoa powder flavors mix with cola and a bitter, woody anise quality. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit quite lively, but the bitter finish keeps this wine from being truly excellent. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2011 Velenosi “Ludi” Red Blend, Offida, Marche, Italy
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, rick black cherry and blackberries. In the mouth, flavors of raisins, figs, dried black cherries, and cocoa powder swirl under a gauzy haze of tannins. Despite the dried fruit character, the wine doesn’t leave a heavy impression on the palate, and the wood is very well integrated. Good acidity keeps things juicy, as well. A blend of Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2012 Shafer “Relentless” Syrah, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of candied blackberry and black cherry. In the mouth, silky-textured flavors of black cherry, blackberry and espresso are tinged with sweet oak and vanilla. Powdery, muscular tannins build slowly in the mouth. Given the prodigious alcohol, the wine has only a small bit of heat in the finish. Decent acidity. Contains 11% Petite Sirah 15.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.