Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 11, 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 a set of the Raptor Ridge single vineyard Pinot Noirs, which in addition to being very delicious offered a tremendous perspective on the varied terroir of the Willamette Valley. The wines were so distinctive and different, despite being made with very similar protocols, they are a great reminder of why we love excellent Pinot.

I also opened the final two bottles of red from the Patel winery in Napa, their Rutherford Cabernet and their Malbec, which was one of the better Malbecs I’ve ever had from Napa Valley.

Add to these a couple of decent Chardonnays from Martin Ray in the Santa Cruz Mountains (though my favorite of the two is made from fruit out of Green Valley), and you’ve got a nice set of wines this week.

Enjoy!

2014 Martin Ray “Bald Mountain Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light yellow gold in color, this wine smells of lemon curd and ripe apples. In the mouth, ripe apples and lemon curd mix with pink grapefruit. Juicy and slightly sour acidity makes the mouth water as pink grapefruit pith flavors linger in the finish. 13.8% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ click to buy.

2014 Martin Ray “Mill Station Vineyard” Chardonnay, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold with a greenish hue, this wine smells of lemon curd and cold cream. In the mouth, wonderfully bright cold cream, floral, and lemon curd flavors have a nice quartz-like minerality to them. Very good acidity and nice texture. Lemon pith lingers in the finish. 13.8% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2014 Martin Ray “Coast Grade Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and cranberry flavors have a nice zip, thanks to excellent acidity. Faint black tea and green herb notes add some complexity in the finish. 13.9% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Olenik Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of perfumed bright cherry and raspberry pastilles. In the mouth, wonderfully aromatic raspberry, redcurrant and floral aromas have a bright juiciness to them thanks to excellent acidity and a gorgeous crystalline purity that is awfully compelling. The faintest of tannins brush the edges of the mouth. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Atticus Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of red apple skin, raspberry and cherry. In the mouth, raspberry and cherry flavors lean towards the earthy and meaty, with notes of cedar and leather lingering in the finish. Excellent acidity and faint tannins. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Crawford Beck Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry, cherry, and marijuana resin. In the mouth, bright cherry and sour cherry flavors have that distinctly marijuana flavor as well, with lightly grippy tannins, tangy acidity, and a wonderful savory saline note on the finish. Delicious. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Raptor Ridge “Meredith Mitchell Vineyard” Pinot Noir, McMinnville, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of wet earth and forest floor with just a hint of manure. In the mouth, wonderfully earthy flavors of raspberry bramble and wet dirt mix with faint tannins and redcurrant in the finish. Excellent acidity and wonderfully mushroomy notes. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Patel Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry cola. In the mouth, cherry cola flavors are bright and juicy, if a bit high toned. Excellent acidity, with faint, supple tannins, but a tiny bit of alcoholic heat creeps into the finish. 14.9% alcohol. 110 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Patel Malbec, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Opaque purple in the glass, this wine smells of smoky blueberry and black cherry. In the mouth, blueberry and black cherry flavors have a lovely juicy brightness to them even as muscular tannins start to grip the palate and the oak offers a hint of bitterness. Nicely rendered, if a bit rich. 14.6% alcohol. 125 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.