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 those bottles that prompts a whistle when you pull it out of the samples pile. I don’t often get bottles of wine I wish I could afford to drink as samples, but this week Taittinger sent through the most recent vintage of one of my favorite Champagnes in the world, their Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, a regal and ageworthy bottling that never fails to push all the pleasure buttons for me. Needless to say it was great, but frankly, needs more cellaring to become what it truly can be.
In the meantime you could easily drink the Dutton Goldfield Pinot Blanc, even though it was just harvested 8 or 9 months ago. Also easy to drink in the white department was the Troon Vineyard white blend from Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, an interesting small project making sustainable wines in an out of the way place.
Transitioning to red, Williams Selyem sent through a number of their county-level wines, my favorite of which was the Sonoma Coast.
Finally, don’t miss the latest vintage from Aperture Cellars, whose Cabernet from 2014 is a delicious mouthful for anyone who loves big Cabs that still have a backbone of acidity and brightness.
All these and more below.
2006 Taittinger “Comte de Champagne” Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France
Light gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of yeasty bread, sea air, and lemon soda. In the mouth, saline flavors of lemon peel, white flowers, wet stones, and toasted sourdough are borne on a silky mousse of bubbles. A lovely juicy tartness makes for mouthwatering deliciousness. A nice savory buttery edge with a hint of oak lingers in the finish. Tasty now, but would be best to hold 5-10 years. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.
2014 Troon Vineyard “Longue Carabine” White Blend, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon, Oregon
Light to medium gold in color, this wine smells of peaches and apricots and a hint of yellow watermelon. In the mouth, golden apples, lemon, chamomile, and bee pollen flavors mix with dried apricot and tinned peach flavors for a rich melange of flavor. A slightly waxy note lingers in the finish along with notes of chamomile and lemon. A blend of 38% Vermentino, 33% Viognier, 27% Marsanne, and 2% Muscat. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $29. click to buy.
2016 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Shop Block” Pinot Blanc, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden delicious apples, wet chalkboard, and beeswax. In the mouth, juicy bright flavors of beeswax, lemon, pear, and pink grapefruit have a wonderful juiciness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Zippy and refreshing. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2015 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, San Benito County, Central Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of oak and raspberry pastilles. In the mouth, sweet raspberry fruit mixes with a hint of vanilla and cranberry. Juicy and bright, thanks to excellent acidity. Faint tannins linger in the finish with sweet raspberry aromas. 13.2% alcohol Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60 click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and pomegranate. In the mouth cherry and cranberry flavors are bright and juicy with a light leathery tannic backbone and deeper notes of earth. Aromas of herbs linger in the finish with a slight woody bitterness. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $75 click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of ripe candied cherries. In the mouth, candied cherry flavors mix with notes of vanilla and a touch of dried herbs. Faint tannins hang in the background as the wine finishes sweet and a bit confectionary-like. Good acidity. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.
2014 Foursight Wines “Charles Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of citrus and red berries and earth. In the mouth, tart sour cherry and raspberry flavors mix with strong herbal and earth notes amidst a silky textured stream across the palate. Good acidity, but a hint of bitterness on the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48 click to buy.
2014 Foursight Wines “Charles Vineyard – Clone 05” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Pale ruby to the point of looking like a rosé, this wine smells of sweet cherries and exotic flowers. In the mouth, hibiscus and raspberry flavors have a nice floral and herbal quality to them with a nice silkiness and virtually no tannin to speak of. Quite pretty and delicate. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $52 click to buy.
2012 Alpha Estate “Vieilles Vignes” Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of leather and blackberry, with a hint of wood smoke. In the mouth, leather and blackberry and black cherry flavors have a wonderful earthiness as they are wrapped in a fleecy blanket of fine grained tannins. Flavors of wet wood and earth and leather linger in the finish along with dried flowers and berries. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30 click to buy.
2014 Aperture Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, sweet black cherry and cassis flavors have a rich darkness to them, even as they remain juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Fine grained tannins gently enclose the fruit which remains pure, even when kissed by a touch of vanilla-scented oak. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $62 click to buy.