Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 1, 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 an unusual still white wine made from Pinot Noir, hailing from Germany of all places, as well as an easygoing Riesling, also from Germany’s Nahe river valley. It was interesting to compare the Trefethen Riesling side by side, which was a very different style but an equally valid interpretation of the grape.

On the red side, don’t miss a couple of nice Pinot Noirs from Raptor Ridge, a producer I haven’t tasted in a while, but whose more delicate winemaking I’ve always appreciated along with their very pretty labels.

Finally, I stumbled across a sample bottle in the cellar I should have opened long ago, but that showed nicely despite some bottle age — the Cinnabar Syrah.

All these and more below. Enjoy!

2004 Kathryn Kennedy “Cuvee Twenty Seven Blanc de Blanc” Sparkling Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of baked apples and bread dough. In the mouth tangy baked apples and citrus peel have a slightly cooked quality to them. But nicely bright citrus notes linger in the finish with a hint of biscuit. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48. click to buy.

2014 Gutzler “Blanc de Noir – Dry” Pinot Noir, Rheinhessen, Germany
Pale blond in color, this wine smells of fresh cut apples and citrus peel. In the mouth, juicy apple and citrus notes have a bright zing to them thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a slight sour green plum note on the finish. 11.5% alcohol. Closed with screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2013 BEX Riesling, Nahe, Germany
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of apple and honeysuckle. In the mouth, flavors of honeysuckle, fuji apple, and wet stones have a nice wet chalkboard minerality to them, if perhaps less acidity than I would like. Lightly sweet and damn good for ten bucks. 10% alcohol. Closed with screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $10. click to buy.

2015 Trefethen Family Vineyards Dry Riesling, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California
Near colorless in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and green apples. In the mouth, crisp and dry flavors of white flowers and pink lady apples have a nice crystalline minerality to them. Good acidity and clean finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2015 Stoller Family Estate Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of green apple and wet stones with a hint of citrus. In the mouth, bright grapefruit and green apple flavors have a nice crisp brightness to them that show no trace of butteriness or wood. Lean and juicy, thanks to excellent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 . Cost: $20. click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Estate” Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry leaf and dried flowers. In the mouth, stony, subtle flavors of raspberry, green herbs, and wet earth feel like they’ve been filtered through cold mountain stream water. Wonderfully delicate, with excellent acidity and surprisingly muscular tannins for being so faint in their presence. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Black Hole Vineyards” Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, red apple skin, and berries. In the mouth, raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors have an interesting carob and cedar quality to them that is quite intriguing. Excellent acidity and length with tacky tannins. 12.5% alcohol. Less than 50 cases produced. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2008 Cinnabar “Sextant Vineyard” Syrah, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Inky ruby in color, this wine smells of chocolate, smoked meat, and raisins. In the mouth, raisins, chocolate, and a slightly savory meaty quality make for a pretty tasty drop. Good acidity keeps the wine lively on the palate, and powdery tannins hang in the background. There’s a nice saline note on the finish. Nicely balanced with little trace of its 15.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.

2014 Stoller Family “Estate” Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and green herbs. In the mouth, smooth flavors of cranberry, wet earth, green herbs and a hint of smokiness have a faint, powdery tannic grip to them. Decent acidity and length. 13.8% alcohol. Closed with screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24. click to buy.

2014 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and raspberry compote. In the mouth bright cranberry and raspberry fruit has a silky texture and barely perceptible tannins. Good but not fantastic acidity. There’s a nice green herbal and citrus note that lingers in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.