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 lovely Pinots, from two very reliable producers, Hirsch Vineyards and Foursight wines, both brimming with zippy, mouthwatering acidity and delivering a juicy mix of fruit and herbs.
It’s not easy to find, but if you’re looking for a similar sensation but with some darker earthier tones and richer fruit, I’d seek out the Sylva Plana Faugéres from the south of France and you can laugh all the way to the bank with this wine that tastes like something twice or three times its price.
The Flora Springs Trilogy is one of Napa’s better known wines, and as such, is slightly surprising in its savory, even vegetal quality — it has not been shy about its fruit in the past, so it’s interesting to see it seemingly picked much earlier in this, relatively plush vintage.
Finally, don’t miss a nice affordable red Rhone blend from Anaba, a Sonoma producer whose wines I like a lot.
All this and more below. Enjoy!
2013 Grgich Hills Estate “Fume Blanc” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Palest green-gold in color, this wine smells of green and golden apples with a hint of kiwi. In the mouth, green apples and kiwi fruit mix with the bright zest of lime and grapefruit, zingy with excellent acidity. Decent finish. 14.1% alcohol. 13,844 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2012 Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of bright raspberry and redcurrants. In the mouth, sweet raspberry and cranberry flavors have a nice zing to them thanks to excellent acidity, and very faint, plush tannins that wrap around the edges of the mouth. Decent finish. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2013 Foursight Wines “Charles Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cranberry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, ever-so-juicy raspberry and candied redcurrant flavors are zingy on the tongue thanks to very bright acidity. Notes of crushed herbs linger in the moderately long finish. 13.8% alcohol Score: around 9. Cost: $49. click to buy.
2013 Hirsch Vineyards “The Bohan-Dillon” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of intense raspberry and floral aromas mixed with a hint of marijuana resin. In the mouth, gorgeously silky raspberry, cranberry, and redcurrant flavors mix with green herbs and dried flowers. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit ripe and the faintest of tannins caress the back of the mouth. Delicious. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2011 Austin Hope “Hope Family Vineyard” Grenache, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of strawberry jam and leather. In the mouth, sweet strawberry jam, bacon fat, and a hint of leather have a silky presence on the tongue. Good acidity keeps the fruit bright, and there’s a touch of bitterness in the finish and the slight heat of the wine’s 15% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.
2013 Abbaye Sylva Plana “Les Novices” Red Blend,, Faugéres, Languedoc, France
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of stony strawberry and cherry aromas mixed with a hint of dried flowers. In the mouth, fabulously mineral flavors of strawberry, cherry, and mulberry are at once both aromatically sweet and deeply earthy, while remaining crystal-bright thanks to fabulous acidity. Dried flowers linger on the finish. This wine is erroneously labeled as being a bland of 55% Cinsault, 50% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. That makes for 145% goodness. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2013 Dry Creek Vineyard “Old Vine” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry pie and licorice, In the mouth, juicy blackberry and blueberry flavors mix with a hint of dried flowers and nutmeg. Notes of licorice linger in the finish. Excellent acidity and freshness. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $29. click to buy.
2013 Anaba “Turbine Red” Red Blend, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of strawberry and black cherry. In the mouth, smooth and slightly sweet flavors of black cherry, strawberry, and mulberry are bright with juicy acidity and a faint hint of mixed herbs. Very quaffable and delicious with a light minerality to the backbone of the wine. Faint tannins linger in the nice finish. A blend of 42% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 28% Syrah. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2012 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black olive and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, distinctly savory black olive and black cherry fruit mix with notes of dried herbs under a fleecy blanket of tannins. Good acidity. I like the savory notes, but some looking for more plush fruit may be disappointed. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $46. click to buy.
2012 Flora Springs “Trilogy” Red Wine, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet, bright cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, the wine is exceedingly juicy, its bright cherry and cola flavors bursting with excellent acidity. Notes of tobacco and green herbs creep into the finish, with faint powdery tannins lingering through the finish. Excellent. 14.2% alcohol Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2013 Shafer Vineyards Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet plum and cherry. In the mouth, sweet black plum and cherry mix with bitter tobacco and wood flavors. The tannins dry out the mouth leaving a woody residue. 15.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $54. click to buy.