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 couple of excellent wines from Vietti in Italy’s Piedmont region, including their really lovely Tre Vigne Barbera, which is one of the best examples of its kind and a phenomenal value at under $20. Their Perbacco Nebbiolo is also worth seeking out.
Look for an unusual Willamette Valley Syrah from Franchere, a nice old-vine Zinfandel, and more as well, this week.
2015 Kingston Family Vineyards “Tobiano” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of slightly meaty woodsmoke, green herbs, and red berries. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cherry fruit is alive with brisk acidity and nicely dark flavors of forest floor and green herbs. Lithe and beautiful, with excellent length and balance. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2014 Vietti “Tre Vigne” Barbera di Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, cedar, and dried orange peels. In the mouth, beautifully bright orange peel and cherry flavors mix with a gorgeous dried herb and an alfalfa note that zings with the same brightness of the fruit thanks to excellent acidity. Gorgeously smooth tannins pull taut across the palate, offering a very refined expression of this sometimes youthfully gruff grape. Outstanding. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $19. click to buy.
2013 Vietti “Perbacco” Nebbiolo, Lange, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of rose petals and red berries. In the mouth, very pretty rose and strawberry flavors mix with a hint of road tar and woodsmoke. Gorgeously bright acidity makes the wine quite refreshing as notes of sour cherry emerge on the finish along with tacky tannins. Lovely. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2013 Franchere “Havlin Vineyard” Syrah, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of marijuana smoke, white pepper, and cassis. In the mouth, gorgeously bright black cherry flavors are shot through with white pepper and herbal resinous goodness. Sour cherry notes and woodsmoke linger on the finish. Great acidity brings a brisk freshness to this wine. Nice. 11.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $22.
2013 Tenuta Degli Dei Red Blend, Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth, nicely stony flavors of black cherry and leather have a wonderful freshness thanks to excellent acidity. Cool blue fruits linger in the finish with a hint of mint. Faint suede-like tannins accompany them. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2013 La Jota Vineyard Co. Merlot, Howell Mountain, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet black cherry fruit. In the mouth, sweetish black cherry fruit is very high-toned and laced with the vanilla and espresso notes of expensive French oak. Excellent acidity keeps the wine fresh, but a whisper of heat in the finish betrays the wine’s 15% alcohol. 956 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2014 Dry Creek Vineyard “Old Vine” Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet blackberry pie. In the mouth, blackberry pie and licorice flavors mix with a hint of cola and cherry. Leathery tannins grip the palate and fresh acidity keeps the sweet fruit bright. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2013 Ladd Cellars “Cuvee Abigail” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of perfumed cherry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, gorgeous bright cherry and cranberry fruit has a silky smoothness and a juicy aspect thanks to excellent acidity. Faint tannins powder the edges of the mouth as the pure fruit sings through a long finish. Nicely balanced and very pretty. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.