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 couple of lovely whites, from the very consistent and quality producer Anaba, who recently brought on a new winemaking team.
There were a few tasty Italian reds this week as well, including the very pretty Arcanum from Tenuta di Arceno.
Finally, I was quite pleased to taste the latest effort from heavy metal rocker-turned winemaker Maynard James Keenan, whose Caduceus Tempranillo was a very pretty and fresh rendition of the grape, and much better than the last vintage I tasted.
All these and more below.
2014 Anaba Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and grapefruit. In the mouth, bright juicy lemon curd and cold cream flavors have a wonderful snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. Silky texture and great balance round out the equation. Delicious. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2015 Anaba “Turbine White” White Blend, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of baked apples and poached pears and peaches. In the mouth slightly spicy lemongrass, peach, and pear flavors have a rich brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of apple and pear linger in the finish. 13.9% alcohol. A blend of 31% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 26% Roussanne, 12% Marsanne, and 1% Picpoul Blanc. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2014 Cascina Ca’Rossa “Merica” Roero Arneis, Roero, Piedmont, Italy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of pear and rainwater. In the mouth, pear and wet chalkboard flavors have a nice floral note to them and a crisp snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $11. click to buy.
2012 Tenuta Degli Dei “Cavalli” IGT Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, cherry, green herbs and tobacco leaf mix with the vanilla sweetness of new oak. Hints of green bell pepper linger a bit in the finish. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit fresh. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2012 Shafer Vineyards “Hillside Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa, California
Inky, opaque garnet in the glass, this wine smells of hazelnuts, cherries and cassis. In the mouth, cassis, cherry, and mint flavors are decidedly high octane in quality, but backed with great acidity and freshness. Hints of hazelnuts and mint linger in the finish. Faint powdery tannins. For those who like their wines broad shouldered and brash, this will satisfy. 15.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $300. click to buy.
2013 La Pitchoune Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry and pomegranate. In the mouth, cranberry and pomegranate flavors are bright and juicy with a faint tannic backbone and nice freshness thanks to excellent acidity. Hints of herbs linger in the finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2013 La Pitchoune “Van Der Kamp Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and redcurrant. In the mouth, bright raspberry and redcurrant flavors are tinged with mixed herbs. Nice acidity and lightly muscular tannins round out a pretty package. 14.2% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $58. click to buy.
2011 Tenuta di Arceno “Arcanum” IGT Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raisins and chocolate and cherries. In the mouth, rich chocolate and cherry flavors mix with raisins and a bit of new oak, as powdery, mouth-coating tannins wrap around the palate. A blend of 77% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100.
2014 Williams Selyem “Lewis MacGregor Estate Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of woodsmoke, cherries, and oak. In the mouth, slightly saline flavors of sweet cherry and cranberry fruit have a nice leathery tannic feel to them as well as great acidity that keeps the fruit fresh and bright. The wood is pretty well integrated here. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $129. click to buy.
2013 Caduceus “Sancha” Tempranillo, Cochise County, Arizona
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of oak and dark cherry fruit tinged with graphite. In the mouth, dark and pure black cherry fruit mixes with pencil lead and notes of cedar. The fruit is lithe and fresh, with good acidity and balance, dusted with faint tannins. Notes of oak linger in the finish, but the wood is generally well integrated. Having tasted some early efforts from this winery that were somewhat overripe, I’m pleasantly surprised at the freshness I find here. Mr. Keenan is clearly making great strides and I’ve clearly not been tasting Arizona wines as often I should. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $56. click to buy.