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 nicely aged and stunning Chardonnay from a producer who has become legendary for their ability to produce wines that can easily fool tasters into thinking they’re drinking white Burgundy, and this bottling from Kumeu River is no exception.
I also really enjoyed this bottled of white wine from Rhos Winery in Crete, but sadly can’t find anywhere online for you to buy it.
Moving on to reds, I got a bunch of the latest releases from Hirsch Winery this week, and they’re, frankly, epic. Gorgeous, ethereal, and very finely etched.
And finally, for those in the mood for something more substantial, Francis Ford Coppola’s Eleanor will satisfy the urge for something big and bold and red.
All this and more below. Enjoy!
2009 Kumeu River “Hunting Hill” Chardonnay, New Zealand
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of gunflint and pine resin and apples. In the mouth wonderfully bright lemon juice and pine resin flavors are joined by a smoky notes of charred Honeynut cheerios. Gorgeous acidity and balance. Very, very tasty stuff that could easily be mistaken as Burgundy. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2014 Rhous Winery “Dry White Wine” White Blend, Crete, Greece
Palest greenish gold in the glass, but essentially near colorless, this wine smells of candied green apples and white flowers. In the mouth, a combination of green melon and green apple flavors are zingy and bright thanks to excellent acidity. Clean, fresh, and vibrant. A blend of 80% Muscat of Spina and 20% Vidiano. 13.4% alcohol. 1000 cases made. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2014 Hirsch Vineyards “The Bohan Dillon” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet raspberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth, juicy raspberry and cranberry flavors have a bouncy kick to them thanks to excellent acidity. Fine tannins hang near the edges of perception. Despite being slightly more ripe than some of this producer’s single vineyard bottlings, this wine has a striking stony quality in the finish that is quite delicious. 13.4% alcohol. 668 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $34. click to buy.
2013 Hirsch Vineyards “East Ridge” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine has a somewhat shy nose, smelling of wet stones and redcurrants and raspberry bramble. In the mouth, filigreed flavors of raspberry, raspberry leaf, redcurrant, and forest floor are swept along on a silky bed of texture. Powdery but faintly muscular tannins add some bone structure to an otherwise ethereal wine. Great acidity and length. 12.8% alcohol. 456 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2013 Hirsch Vineyards “Block 8” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed herbs and dried flowers. In the mouth, juicy flavors of redcurrant and dried flowers have a faintly saline quality, and gorgeous mouthwatering acidity. Notes of dried flowers and crushed herbs linger in the very long finish. Outstanding. 12.8% alcohol. 336 cases produced. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2013 Hirsch Vineyards “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries, redcurrants and a hint of sinsimilla. In the mouth, fine, muscular tannins wrap around a core of raspberry, raspberry leaf, redcurrant, and forest floor flavors that are beautifully balanced and nuanced. Notes of wet earth linger in the finish. 12.8% alcohol. 625 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2011 Brintziki Avgoustiatis, Ilia, Peloponnese, Greece
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and boysenberries. In the mouth, mellow flavors of cherry and boysenberry mix with a wonderful wet chalkboard minerality. There’s a tiny hint of wood in the fine tannic structure of the wine, but mostly what you’re tasting is the exotic fruit that lingers with a bit of spice through the finish. Very interesting and tasty. Made from 100% Avgoustiatis, an ancient indigenous Greek grape variety, barrel fermented and aged in new French oak for 12 months. 12.8% alcohol. 2500 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22.
2011 Parparoussis “Oenofilos” Red Blend, Achia, Peloponnese, Greece
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of oiled leather, dried cherries, and a bit of barnyard manure. In the mouth, the wine continues to be a little barnyardy with a distinct brett signature, but bright cherry fruit balances that earthy funk nicely, and excellent acidity makes for a very tasty experience. A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Mavrodaphne. 13.5% alcohol. 1000 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery “Elanor” Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, rich black cherry fruit is nestled into a thick fleece blanket of tannins. There’s enough acidity to keep this wine from being syrupy, but it’s definitely not outside the jammy category. The wood, however, is well integrated, and for those who like their Cabs, big, plush, and meaty, this is a decent wine. 14.5% alcohol. 2253 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.