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 white wines, including the unusual and compelling blend of Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc from Fable Mountain Vineyards in South Africa, a wine that I’d love to spend the entire afternoon sipping in my back yard.
In addition, we have the latest reserve bottling of Randall Grahm’s Le Cigare Blanc, a white Rhone blend with a nice combination of flavors and texture, and the snappy sharp Riesling from Marin County made by Dutton Goldfield. It’s ready to drink now but will reward a few years of aging as well.
In the red department, we should start with the epic Cabernet Sauvignon from Aperture Cellars, their first vineyard designate wine and a real stunner from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. In addition to that, I also tasted through few of William Selyem’s recent bottlings, the best of which was their Westside Road Neighbors Pinot, made from fruit grown nearby the winery on Westside Road.
All these and more below.
2012 Fable Mountain Vineyards “Jackal Bird” White Blend, Western Cape, South Africa
Light gold in color, this wine smells of fresh peaches and pears. In the mouth, peach, pear, and pink grapefruit flavors have a faint sweetness to them as well as a bright lemony kick thanks to excellent acidity. Silky and smooth and very tasty. A blend of 45% Chenin Blanc, 20% Grenache Blanc, 17% Roussanne, 9% Chardonnay and 9% Viognier. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Le Cigare Blanc Reserve – Beeswax Vineyard” White Blend, Central Coast California
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of citrus pith and lemon curd. In the mouth, lemon curd and poached pear flavors mix with a hint of chamomile and quince paste. Decent acidity and nice silky texture. A blend of 55% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 19% Picpoul Blanc. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $39. click to buy.
2015 Dutton Goldfield “Chileno Valley Vineyard” Riesling, Marin County, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of mandarin oranges and pear. In the mouth, pear and mandarin orange zest is welded to a wet chalkboard minerality that leaves a faintly chalky sensation in the mouth along with lingering flavors of citrus peel. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem “Unoaked” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of lemonade and pineapple juice. In the mouth, pineapple and lemon curd flavors have a decent snap to them thanks to bright acidity. Notes of lemonade linger in the finish. 13.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2015 La Pitchoune “Vin Gris” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light salmon colored in the glass, this wine smells of berries and a touch of candied citrus. In the mouth, watermelon rind, citrus peel, and a faintly sweet berry flavor mix with a chalky undertone. I wish the wine had slightly more acidity, but it’s a pleasant pink drop. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and crushed herbs. In the mouth, lush cranberry and raspberry fruit has a zingy brightness to it thanks to excellent acidity. A faint bitter note of wood and herbs lingers in the finish. Faint tannins. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2013 Charles Heintz “Swan Selection” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cherry and red apple skin. In the mouth, flavors of red apple skin and dried cherries have a faint sweetness to them as well as a hint of citrus and dried herbs in the background. Faint tannins and decent acidity. 13.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??
2015 Williams Selyem “Westside Road Neighbors” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth, brambly raspberry and cherry flavors are shot through with the bitterness of fresh herbs. A skein of tannins flexes across the front of the mouth as the wine lingers with cherry and citrus peel brightness on the palate. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2014 Aperture Cellars “Oliver’s Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and tobacco and a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, rich juicy cherry and tobacco notes mix with espresso and a touch of mint. Fantastic acidity and length, with an underlying skeleton of supple, fine-grained tannins. Long cherry and cocoa powder finish. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $85.