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 nice Pinots, one from Anderson Valley, which showed off the cherry sweetness of Clone 5, a specific clone of Pinot Noir, and the other which showed the spectacular potential of one of California’s Grand Cru vineyards in one of the best vintages in recent memory. If you can get your hands on either of these wines you won’t be disappointed.
Jordan Vineyards sent their recent releases along, and both are quite true to form, with the Chardonnay striking a balance between richness and lean brightness, and their Cabernet showing the usual restraint it does.
Kathryn Kennedy also sent some wines along this week — a mini vertical showing off the 2006, 2011, and 2012 vintages. I’ve had the 2011 before, but this bottle seemed a bit more restrained than the previous wine I had. The 2006 was showing beautifully, and their 2012 Cabernet is a stunner of a wine. Run, don’t walk to grab that one if it’s in your spending limit. If it’s not, then perhaps you’d better check out their Merlot, which they call serious, and I just call plain delicious.
All this and more below. Enjoy!
2014 Jordan Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of buttered baked apples, candied pineapple, and cold cream. In the mouth, bright flavors of lemon curd, pink grapefruit, and toasty buttered bread are pretty juicy thanks to very good acidity. Nicely integrated oak pokes its head out just a touch on the finish. 13.7% alcohol Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2008 Kracher “Beerenauslese Cuvee” White Blend, Burgenland, Austria
Medium to dark gold in color, this wine smells of peach pie and apricots. In the mouth, juicy apricot, honey, and marmalade flavors have some kick thanks to decent acidity. Bitter orange lingers in the finish. Not Kracher’s finest cuvee, but pretty damn good for 25 bucks. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.
2013 Foursight Wines “Charles Vineyard – Clone 5” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Pale garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and cranberry. In the mouth, candied cherry and raspberry flavors have a bright, bouncy acidity and nice length to them thanks to excellent acidity. Barely perceptible tannins linger with the sweet fruit in the finish. There’s a bit of a candied aspect to this single clone that was moderated in the multi-clone blend, which I prefer. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2013 Hirsch Vineyards “San Andreas Fault” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Very light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest floor and wet stones and dried flowers. In the mouth delicate flavors of raspberries and redcurrant mix with crushed herbs and wet stones and a deeper earthier note that rumbles even as gorgeous floral notes flutter away through the long finish. Faint tannins buff the edges of the mouth, and excellent acidity keeps the fruit quite lively all the way down. Ethereal and gorgeous. 13.1% alcohol Score: between 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2012 Jordan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherries, crushed herbs, and oak. In the mouth, bright cherry and black cherry fruit has a nice cola note to it, with well integrated wood and hints of nutty espresso on the finish. Good acidity keeps the wine fresh. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2006 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Dark ruby in the glass with just a hint of purple still at its core, this wine smells of cedar, licorice, and dried cherries. In the mouth, the wine is starting to enter its maturity, with gorgeous flavors of red apple skin, cedar, and cola nut mixed with the still-bright red cherry and berries. Powdery tannins coat the mouth but hang very much in the background. Notes of tobacco linger in the finish. Elegant. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.
2011 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry, cola, and tobacco. In the mouth, black cherry and cassis mix with a juicy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Well-integrated oak appears mostly as leathery tannins that rub the edges of the mouth. There’s just a slight heat on the finish, which is not what you’d expect from a cool vintage. Rich and bright. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $120. click to buy.
2012 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit, tobacco, and a bit of oak. In the mouth, extremely juicy and bright cherry fruit bursts on the palate and makes the mouth water. Tight muscular tannins back up the luminous fruit that sings with wonderful acidity. Fantastically balanced and no doubt very age worthy, even at its generous 14.9% alcohol. Excellent. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2013 Kathryn Kennedy “Serious” Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells beautifully of black cherry and black plum. In the mouth, juicy black cherry and cola flavors burst with fantastic acidity on the palate. Mouthwatering and delicious with a lightly muscular tannic backbone that could lend a smidge of credence to this wine’s claim to be serious, however I find it more boisterous than serious. Quite tasty. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2012 Lateral Red Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, and plums, and a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, flavors of cherry, plum, and boysenberry are juicy with excellent acidity and shot through with a green herbal note that is quite pleasing. Suede-like tannins grip the edges of the palate as a nutty bit of oak surfaces (not unpleasantly) in the finish. Quite tasty. A blend of 66% Merlot and 34% Cabernet Franc. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2012 Francis Ford Coppola Winery “I Mille” Cabernet Franc, Knights Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, dark chocolate, and oak. In the mouth, rich flavors of mocha and espresso mix with black cherry and tobacco and the sweet vanilla of oak. The wood is well integrated and bright acidity keeps the fruit from being too jammy, but this is on the riper side of life. Thick, velvety tannins linger through the finish. If you like ’em big, this one’s for you. Pretty well made despite its plush self. 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.