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 nice Chiantis from Tenuta di Arceno, who are keeping up the faith in a world that has turned away from Chianti in favor of glitzier Tuscan wines.
There’s a nice crisp Roero Arneis from Piedmont, a welcome reminder that the region is not all Nebbiolo.
For those looking to branch out of the mainstream in California, I recommend the Dry Creek Vineyards Chenin Blanc, which is just want you want in a crisp white for $11.
Williams-Selyem had a Pinot and Chardonnay to offer this week, both of which would benefit from a little time in the bottle.
And finally the irrepressible Randall Grahm is back with the 2012 rendition of his famous Cigare Volant red blend.
2015 Marco Prello “Camestri” Roero Arneis, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of buddhas hand citrus and apples. In the mouth, bright citrus and apple flavors are stretched across the snappy stony flavors of wet chalkboard and grapefruit pith. Wonderful juicy grapefruit notes linger in the finish thanks to excellent acidity. Lovely. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $16. click to buy.
2014 Dry Creek Vineyard “Wilson Ranch” Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, Central Valley, California
Pale to light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pear and citrus pith. In the mouth, bright pear and cream flavors mix with a hint of citrus and lemongrass. Decent acidity. Crisp finish. Tasty, but not as dynamic as I would like. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $11. click to buy.
2014 Williams Selyem “Lewi MacGregor Estate Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pineapple and lemon curd. In the mouth, intensely bright pineapple and lemon and grapefruit flavors are electric with incredible acidity. Notes of citrus pith and zest linger in the finish, along with the faint bit of heat from the wine’s 14.6% alcohol. Despite being slightly high-octane, this is a tasty Chardonnay. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $110. click to buy.
2010 Tenuta di Arceno “Strada al Sasso – Riserva” Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of raisins and black cherries. In the mouth, rich black cherry and cocoa powder flavors have a nice brisk snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. Peanut-butter-thick tannins wrap around the core of fruit and earth. Notes of wet wood and spices linger in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2013 Tenuta di Arceno “Riserva” Red Blend, Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and blackberries. In the mouth, black cherry and blackberry fruit has a cool stony quality to it and very fine powdery tannins. Excellent acidity keeps the wine fresh and bright. Tasty. 14.5% alcohol. 2286 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2014 Williams Selyem “Eastside Road Neighbors” Pinot Noir, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of oak, raspberries and cranberries. In the mouth, bright raspberry fruit and cranberry fruit is unfortunately saturated with the flavors of oak, far too much for my taste, obscuring what is clearly excellent fruit. Good acidity and length. Despite the surfeit of oak, the wine is quite well made. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.
2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Volant” Red Blend, Central Coast, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherries and blackberries. In the mouth, lively black cherry and blackberry flavors mix with a hint of green herbs. Faint tannins powder the mouth while notes of incense, cola nut, and candied citrus peel linger in the finish. A blend of 39% Mourvedre, 33% Grenache, 26% Syrah, and 2% Cinsault. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39. click to buy.