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 one of the best Gewürztraminers made in California, thanks to producer Dutton Goldfield, which manages to make this wine so light and fresh, without some of the oily bitterness that can characterize the grape when not made well.
Bonny Doon showed up this week with a nice white Rhone blend and his high-performing Vin Gris de Cigare, which is a pretty good value at fifteen bucks.
A couple of pretty Pinots were on the table this week as well, from well-known producer Williams-Selyem. Their Ferrington Vineyard bottling from the Anderson Valley was particularly juicy and pure, and sure to please anyone who manages to get their hands on a bottle — which isn’t so easy.
Finally, to round off the week, look for two fantastic renditions of Tempranillo, both of which prove that some people really are getting their hands around this notoriously difficult to make (well) grape.
All these and more below.
2014 Dry Creek Vineyard “Fumé Blanc” Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of fresh and baked apples. In the mouth, juicy apple and baked apple flavors mix with citrus notes and a hint of lemongrass. Decent acidity. Nice crisp finish. 13.5% alcohol. Aged in stainless steel. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2014 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of gooseberries, green apples, and that characteristic aroma of cat pee one comes to expect with many Kiwi Sav Blancs. In the mouth, crisp green apple and gooseberry flavors have a snappy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Made in massive quantities, but still reliably tasty. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2015 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Green Valley Vineyard” Gewurztraminer, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lychee and pears and flowers. In the mouth, strong flavors of lychee and rose petals mix with bright citrusy notes and the crisp wet chalkboard minerality that makes this wine so appealing and gulpable. Tasty, dry, and mouthwatering. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Blanc – Beeswax Vineyard” White Blend, Arroyo Seco, Central Coast, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of apples and poached pears. In the mouth, pears and apple flavors have a slightly honeyed complexion and a nice silky texture. There’s slightly less acidity than I’d like here, but the appley and pear flavors laced with citrus zest are appealing and notes of melon emerge as they linger in the finish. A blend of 55% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 19% Picpoul Blanc. 14.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2014 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Vin Gris de Cigare” RosÉ, Central Coast, California
Palest peach in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and citrus pith. In the mouth, bright and snappy flavors of citrus pith, dried flowers, and rosehips are lean and tart and laced with racy acidity. Slightly sour cherry and redcurrant flavors linger with citrus notes in the finish. A blend of 35% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre, 16% Grenache Blanc, 12.5% Roussanne, 8% Carignane, 8% Cinsault, 1.5% Marsanne, and 1% Cunoise. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2014 Williams Selyem “Ferrington Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of pure, candied raspberries. In the mouth, the raspberry pastille quality persists with juicy bright fruit and excellent acidity. While slightly sweetish in complexion, this is quite a pretty wine that will mature nicely thanks to its lovely balance and verve. 13.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $110. click to buy.
2014 Williams Selyem “Calegari Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry and cherry compote. In the mouth, cherry and cranberry fruit have a zippy snap thanks to excellent acidity. Lovely herbal notes layer under the fruit, and faint tannins caress the mouth. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2013 Abacela “Barrel Select” Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, Oregon
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherries and dried flowers. In the mouth, deep and powerful flavors of cherry, licorice, and dark berries are held in a suede-covered fist of muscular tannins that seemingly expand to coat the mouth. Gorgeous acidity streams through the core of fruit giving it freshness and brightness despite its depth and power. While tasty now, this wine will likely reward a few years in the cellar. As is often the case from this producer, a fantastic interpretation of Tempranillo. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2013 Bokisch Tempranillo, Lodi, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cedar and licorice. In the mouth, leathery tannins wrap around a core of cherry and cocoa powder tinged with nutmeg and cedar. Nice acidity and no trace of new oak, make this a refreshing and tasty mouthful of Tempranillo. I must say, I’m also impressed at the wines lushness of fruit and reserved, 13.5% alcohol. 865 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $20 click to buy.
2013 Franchere Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth and forest floor scented with red berries. In the mouth deeply earthy flavors of red berries and incense have a dark, mellow intensity and deeply savory quality. Faint tannins and lovely acidity. 12.4% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.