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 bottle of green melony happiness that is delightful enough to drink straight from the bottle with friends on a sunny porch. But don’t wait for summer to get your hands on Vietti’s Moscato. You can drink it all year long.
The same thing could be said for the Stony Hill Chardonnay, which held up to the high bar that this wine always sets for elegance and ageability in California Chard.
In the red wine department, you might consider checking out the reserve bottling of Randall Grahm’s Le Cigare Volant, which has a lot to offer in the complexity and spice department.
Or, if you’re looking for something in the Pinot Department, you’d do well to consider an offering from Kingston Family Vineyards in Chile, whose wines just keep getting better. Or if you’re feeling spendy, you can splash out for the Williams Selyem single vineyard Foss bottling.
All these and more below.
2014 Ladd Cellars “Cuvee Voile” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied lemon rinds and white flowers. In the mouth, notes of pineapple and lemon curd mix with bright juicy acidity to make them pop and sizzle across the palate. Notes of toasty oak creep into the fruit along with some vanilla notes as the wine finishes strong and citrusy. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2014 Ladd Cellars Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon pith, vanilla, and wood. In the mouth juicy lemon curd and lemon juice flavors are infused with the vanilla of new oak, which hangs a bit heavy for my taste through the fruit. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit fresh and pure, making me wish I could taste this without the wood interfering. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5 . Cost: $??
2014 Stony Hill Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and lemon pith. In the mouth, wonderfully silky flavors of lemon and grapefruit pith mix with wet stone and crackling acidity. Lean and delicious, and living up to the name Stony Hill with aplomb. There’s a reason this is one of California’s most ageworthy Chardonnay. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2015 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Shop Block” Pinot Blanc, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and yellow melon and ripe golden apples. In the mouth, silky flavors of honey, lemon and poached pear have an alluring brightness, thanks to good acidity and that aromatic sweetness suffusing the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2009 Freeman “Ryo-fu” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Bright yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and pineapple. In the mouth, rich vanilla-inflected flavors of pineapple and candied lemon rind have a rich creaminess. Bright acidity keeps the fruit dancing on the palate, as a nice counterpoint to the richness that underlies this wine. Flirting on the edge of being too much, this is a powerful and ripe Chardonnay for those who like that style, and thankfully the oak remains nicely integrated and barely noticeable. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2014 Sidebar Kerner, Mokelumne River, Lodi, California
Palest gold to the point of being nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells of lemongrass and star fruit. In the mouth, lean flavors of star fruit, pear and wet stones have a snappy zip to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of white flowers linger in the finish. Lovely and delicious. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2015 Vietti “Cascinetta Vietti” Moscato, Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Light gold in the glass, with a fine fizz of bubbles, this wine smells of green melon and green apple. In the mouth, moderately sweet flavors of honeydew melon and green apple have a silky smooth brightness and a hint of stoniness. Simple and uncomplicated, this wine suggests a couple of ice cubes and a sunny afternoon on the porch. Pure pleasure. 5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Volant Reserve” Red Blend, Central Coast, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherry fruit, dried flowers and a touch of wet earth. In the mouth, earthy notes of black cherry, mulberry, and cola have a wonderful earthy savoriness and a taut smoothness to them that is compelling. Somewhat more restrained than the standard bottling of the same name, this wine exudes more soil and herbal notes, and slightly less ripe fruit. A blend of 39% Mourvedre, 33% Grenache, 26% Syrah, and 2% Cinsault. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2014 Williams Selyem “Foss Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry pastilles and crushed herbs. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cherry flavors are inflected with new oak that somewhat obscures the bright fruit. Still, there’s an appealing glassy brightness to this wine thanks to excellent acidity. Tasty. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.
2015 Kingston Family Vineyards “CJ’s Barrel” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of woodsmoke, green herbs and forest berries. In the mouth, bright, tangy raspberry and sour cherry flavors are shot through with herbs and cedar notes. Faint tannins buff the edges of the mouth and tongue as citrusy notes linger in the finish. Excellent acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??