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 bunch of good Cabernets, but before I get there, I opened up the latest estate Chardonnay from Ridge Vineyards, which was toasty, nutty goodness all the way down, if you like that sort of thing. Perhaps more to my taste were the other couple of wines that Ridge sent along — their Benito Dusi Ranch Zinfandel, which was juicy and friendly and very happy, and the stately, amazing Geyserville, which knocked it out of the park in 2014.
There were a few wines from Davies Vineyards waiting to be opened as well. Their two Pinots were good, but neither held a candle to the 2013 J. Davies Cabernet, which is one of the better wines I’ve put in my mouth in recent months. Seriously great stuff if you like medium-bodied Cabernet.
Finally, there’s also an interesting wine this week from one of the world’s most ecologically friendly wineries, Chateau Maris in southern France. They made biodynamic Grenache in an egg and aged it for 999 days. The result, aside from a little overripeness, is quite enjoyable.
All these and more below!
2014 Ridge Vineyards “Estate” Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of toasted oak, buttered popcorn, and lemon curd. In the mouth, lemon curd and buttered popcorn flavors have a bright nutty tang to them thanks to excellent acidity and a well integrated dose of oak. Notes of lemon pith linger in the finish. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2014 Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of chocolate covered cherries. In the mouth, bright cherry fruit mixes with cedar and cocoa powder, lifted by juicy acidity. Faint powdery tannins hang at the edges of the mouth, while the wine finishes with floral notes. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35.
2013 Broadley Vineyards “Estate” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of redcurrant, rosehips and cedar. In the mouth, the wine is electrically bright, with very sharp acidity, so much so that it somewhat overbalances the redcurrant and raspberry notes of the wine, leaving it slightly angular. But nice herb flavors and a hint of muddier underbrush make this an interesting wine. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2014 Davies Vineyards “Nobles Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast, California
A perfect medium garnet in hue, this wine smells of raspberry and cherry cordials. In the mouth, the wine is rich and juicy with bright fresh cherry and raspberry fruit that is buoyed by excellent acidity. Super juicy and tasty, this is a crowd pleaser of a wine. Slightly more candied than I would like, but hard not to enjoy. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60.
2010 Chateau Maris “Oeuf Neuf” Grenache, Minervois La Liviniere, Languedoc, France
Dark ruby in color, this wine smells of strawberry jam and raisins. In the mouth, juicy flavors of strawberry and a bit of forest floor mix with lovely river mud notes. Good acidity, but some of the 15% alcohol shows through with heat in the finish, and I find myself wishing this fruit had been picked a bit less ripe. Aged for 999 days in Concrete Egg #9 from 75 year old vines. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2014 Ridge Vineyards “Benito Dusi Ranch” Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry, black pepper, and licorice. In the mouth, juicy blackberry and black pepper flavors have a nice bounce thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of licorice and spicy Mexican chocolate linger in the finish. Faintest of tannins. Yum! 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2014 Ridge Vineyards “Geyserville” Red Blend, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry, blackberry and herbs. In the mouth, blackberry, cocoa powder, cassis, and black cherries swirl in an earthy, slightly meaty richness shot through with fantastic acidity. Wonderfully balanced by earthiness, the fruit is pure and untrammeled by oak, and the tannins, smooth as silk. One of the better vintages of this wine I’ve had in recent memory. Killer juice. A blend of 60% Zinfandel, 24% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, and 4% Mataro. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $38. click to buy.
2013 Trivento “Amado Sur” Red blend, Mendoza, Argentina
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blueberries and black cherry. In the mouth, black cherry and cassis mix with blueberry and dark chocolate flavors. Good acidity keeps the fruit bouncy on the palate, but some heat sneaks into the finish. A blend of 70% Malbec, 20% Bonarda and 10% Syrah. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $12. click to buy.
2013 Patel Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco and a hint of dried flowers. In the mouth, gorgeously juicy cherry and black cherry flavors mix with tobacco and green herbs. Fantastic acidity and wonderfully powdery, silky tannins. There’s a touch of heat in the finish, but hardly enough to mar what is a beautiful wine. 14.9% alcohol. 150 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100.
2013 Patel Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, juicy, high toned notes of black cherry and cassis mix with cola and notes of tobacco leaf. There’s a touch of heat in the finish. 14.9% alcohol. 155 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100.
2013 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco leaf. In the mouth, incredibly bright and juicy notes of cherry and cocoa powder and cola have a fantastic powdery tannic structure to them and gorgeous floral aromatics that waft through a spectacular finish. Phenomenally integrated and seamless, with incredible acidity. A stunner. 14.5% alcohol. 2425 cases produced. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $100.