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 nice bright example of why we should all be drinking more Soave from one of its stalwart producers.
After that white, however, the rest of the show is red. Let’s begin with a pair of red blends from Carlos Pulenta’s Vistalba Estate in Argentina, which are rich and ripe and just what your average Malbec lover seems to be looking for.
Pretty much on the other side of the globe, I’ve got two other red wines, one of which I believe to be one of the great wine values of the world. The Prazo de Roriz punches well above its $16 price tag, and the Vale do Bomfim from a neighbor up the river is also a strong value.
All these and some Pinot and Cabernet Franc below.
2014 Inama “Vigneti di Foscarino” Garganega, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy
A cloudy light gold in the glass, this wine smells of melon and wet stones and white flowers. In the mouth, melon and pear and apple have a nice mineral backbone and a sweet floral finish. Quite tasty. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23.click to buy.
2014 Vistalba “Corte B” Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and boysenberries. In the mouth, juicy boysenberry and cherry flavors mix with a hint of hazelnut and vanilla. Bright acidity keeps the fruit juicy through the long finish that has just a slightly high-octane quality. 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2012 Vistalba “Corte A” Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of chocolate, dark cherry and crushed nuts. In the mouth crushed nuts and cherry flavors are juicy and bright but lean towards cedar, oak, and licorice in the finish. Comes across as fairly high octane, with warmth in the finish. 15.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $58. click to buy.
2014 Pfendler Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf with a hint of forest floor. In the mouth, flavors of raspberry and cherry mix with a faint bit of earthiness and green herbs. Good acidity keeps the wine peppy, but I would enjoy a little more kick to it. Cedar lingers in the finish. Has a polished quality. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $44. click to buy.
2012 Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberries and black pepper. In the mouth, blackberry, licorice, and cassis flavors mix with a hint of spiciness. Excellent acidity makes for bright fruit, but some heat in the finish betrays the 15.5% alcohol. 8304 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.
2012 Quinta de Roriz “Prazo de Roriz” Red Blend, Douro, Portugal
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cola and earl gray tea. In the mouth, super juicy flavors of boysenberry, cherry, cocoa powder and cola (Dr. Pepper?) burst with bright acidity on the palate. The faintest of tannins back up this fruit and dried herb concoction on the palate. A fantastic wine for the money, this is 100% delicious. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2013 Symington Family Estates “Vale do Bomfim” Red Blend, Douro, Portugal
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, black cherry, raisins, and candied cassis flavors mix with notes of bergamot and dried flowers. Excellent acidity keeps the wine bright despite somewhat dried fruit flavors. A blend of 40% Tinta Barroca, 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, and 10% Tinta Roriz. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $13. click to buy.
2013 Lang & Reed “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of crushed hazelnuts and black plums. In the mouth, aromatically sweet plum and dark chocolate mix with green herbs that turn a bit minty and menthol in the finish with a hint of alcoholic heat. Quite delicious despite this heat, however. 14.5% alcohol. 849 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.