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’s wines included a few of the new releases from the little outfit known as Big Table Farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. A small biodynamically run farm, run by Brian Marcy and Clare Carver, produces some very honest wines that are usually a joy to drink.
In addition, I’ve got a few wines from Heitz Cellars, the storied Napa producer who, in addition to blockbuster Cabernets, also makes a couple of really fun wines, in particular their rosÉ of Grignolino, an uncommon grape with a really fun flavor.
Speaking of uncommon grapes, there’s a French Colombard from Trinafour Cellars in the mix, as well as a Carignan and a Barbera, too.
Finally, look for a few interesting Pinot Noirs, including one from Germany that might just surprise you.
2015 Big Table Farm “The Elusive Queen” Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of crushed shells, lemon pith, and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, silky flavors of choux pastry cream and lemon have a filigreed acidity and wonderful savory depth to them. There’s a nice saline note to the wine, as well as a faint note of yogurt on the very finish. 13.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.
2016 Heitz Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Pale blonde in the glass, this wine smells of passionfruit and green apple. In the mouth, bright green apple and pear flavors have a nice lemony citrus character with notes of pink grapefruit lingering in the finish along with the lightly chalky feel of green apple skin. Restrained and well done. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2015 Trinafour “Casa Verde Vineyard” French Colombard, Mendocino County, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of apples and greengage plums. In the mouth, electrically bright flavors of unripe apple, crabapple, and greengage plums vibrate across the palate thanks to fantastic acidity. Mouthwatering. There’s a greenish sourish finish that is very nice. 13% alcohol. 32 Cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2015 Carl Graff “Kabinett” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Palest blonde in color, this wine smells of pear and honeysuckle. In the mouth bright juicy flavors of mandarine orange and honeysuckle have a nice filigreed acidity to them and only barely perceptible sweetness on the palate. Nice wet chalkboard minerality, though I wish there were a bit more racy acidity here. 8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $13. click to buy.
2016 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Rosé, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Bright baby pink in the glass, this wine smells of sour cherry jam and candied redcurrants. In the mouth flavors of candied redcurrants, cherries, and strawberry soda are buoyantly playful and bright with juicy acidity. Incredibly fun and boisterous, this is the kind of wine you want to chill down and drink by the pint. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2016 Big Table Farm “Laughing Pig” Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon
A light, slightly cloudy ruby in the glass, this wine smells of watermelon candy and wet stones. In the mouth, faintly sweet raspberry and watermelon flavors have a zip to them thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a chalky texture to this wine, with the faintest of powdery tannins coating the mouth. Chill it and drink it soon. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2015 Big Table Farm “Earth” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet earth, crushed herbs and red berries. In the mouth, beautifully silky flavors of cherry and raspberry are wrapped in gauzy tannins and bright with good acidity. Notes of earth and cherry cordials linger in the finish. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $105. click to buy.
2013 Kendric Wine Co. “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Marin County, California
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of brown sugar, red apple skins, and raspberry jam. In the mouth, wonderfully bright flavors of raspberry and herbs and red apple skin are touched a bit too strongly with the flavors of oak. This is a shame, really, as the wine is quite fine and delicious otherwise. Beautiful acidity. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2014 Dutton Goldfield “Redwood Ridge” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, bright cranberry and raspberry fruit mix with notes of pomegranate as bright acidity lofts these flavors across the palate. Lovely sweet finish with a touch of earth and herbs. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.
2014 August Kesseler “N” Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and leather. In the mouth, bright cherry and herbs have a simple brightness that is appealing, in part thanks to the zingy acidity and orange peel brightness that lingers in the finish. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2014 Ernest Vineyards “Edaphos” Barbera, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of mulberry and cassis. In the mouth, intense flavors of cassis and mulberry are bright with acidity, but lack the citrus edge that makes this grape so racy. Nonetheless, the pure juice of these fruit flavors is quite pleasing, and theres an aromatic sweetness to them that surfaces with fine muscular tannins in the finish. Still quite young — it will be interesting to see how this wine develops. Aged in neutral wood. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.
2013 Trinafour “Niemi Vineyard” Carignan, Mendocino County, California
Medium purple in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cola. In the mouth, juicy and bright cherry cola flavors are dusted with fine grained tannins and a touch of citrus peel. Quite tasty. Nice long berry and citrus finish, and excellent acidity. 14.2% alcohol. 195 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.