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 installment is all red, and includes some very tasty bottles. Let’s start with the star of this week, the latest release of Viader’s proprietary red blend from the hills above Napa Valley. Just up the hill from Calistoga, Viader has got one of the best views in Napa, and somehow the majesty comes through in the wine, which is regal and quite elegant.
Speaking of stars, you’d do well to pay attention to the latest releases from Star Lane Vineyard, a very consistent producer from the Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara.
This week also included the top wine made by Concha y Toro, their Don Melchor Cabernet, which showed quite well, and surprisingly light on its feet.
Finally, don’t miss a couple of Nebbiolos (Nebbioli !) from the region of Piemonte known more for its whites than reds — Roero. This little corner of Piemonte can make some very classy Nebbiolo, however, as the Matteo Correggia bottling proves.
All this and more this week.
2014 Gundlach Bundschu “Mountain Cuvee” Red Blend, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry cola. In the mouth, slightly sweet cherry cola flavors are pleasant and bright thanks to juicy acidity. Faint earthy tannins wrap around the core of tasty fruit. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2014 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco and a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, rich cherry and chocolate and cola flavors are wrapped in a light blanket of fleecy tannins. Notes of sweet cherry and chocolate linger in the finish. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2013 Star Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis and a touch of wet earth. In the mouth, cherry, tobacco, and earth are surrounded by a fine mist of powdery tannins and shot through with wonderfully bright acidity. Juicy and delicious in its poise. Very elegant. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $58. click to buy.
2014 Viader Red Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco leaf, and exotic flowers. In the mouth, beautiful cherry and cocoa powder flavors mix with cola nut and a hint of tobacco. Fine grained tannins wrap around the core of fruit even as excellent acidity keeps the fruit gushing across the palate with fairly little trace of oak. Wonderfully balanced and elegant. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc. 14.8% alcohol. 1811 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150. click to buy.
2012 Concha y Toro “Don Melchor – Puente Alto Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Maipo, Chile
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit. In the mouth, sweet cherry fruit has a bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Faint suede-like tannins hover around the edge of the mouth as cherry and oak flavors linger in a long finish with a touch of heat. Quite lithe and juicy. A blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $90. click to buy.
2013 Silverado Vineyards “SOLO” Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry cola and oak. In the mouth, juicy cherry fruit is delightfully fresh in the mouth, but marred a bit by the presence of oak, both in terms of flavor and in the chewy tannins that slightly dry the mouth through the finish. Excellent acidity and beautifully pure fruit. I just wish there were less wood. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $125. click to buy.
2014 Dry Creek Vineyard “Heritage Vines” Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry pie. In the mouth, blackberry, mulberry and black licorice flavors have a hint of black peppercorn to them, along with faint tannins. Notes of blackberry and licorice linger in the finish. Decent acidity. A blend of 78% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 1% Primitivo and 1% Carignane. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2013 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit. In the mouth, cherry and tobacco mix with the espresso and graphite of new oak. Bright and juicy, but with more oak than I would like at this point in its evolution. Despite this blanket of wood, the re’s no denying the seductive velvet of the tannins and the length of the gorgeous finish. Give it 10 years and watch it sing. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $250. click to buy.
2013 Matteo Correggia “La Val dei Preti” Nebbiolo, Roero, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers and strawberries. In the mouth, strawberry and earth and dried herbs have a beautifully sweet complexion and a fine tannic backbone that makes them a bit more serious. Excellent acidity and balance. Floral finish. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.
2013 Cascina Val Del Prete “Vigna di Lino” Nebbiolo, Roero, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry jam and a hint of wet campfire. In the mouth, strawberry jam and wet wood flavors are gripped tightly in a muscular fist of tannins. Excellent acidity keeps flavors of strawberry and dried flowers quite mouthwatering, but theres a thickness to this wine that comes across as a bit blocky at this point in its evolution. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??
2014 Dutton Goldfield “Dutton Ranch – Cherry Ridge Vineyard” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of blackberries and white pepper. In the mouth, blackberry and blueberry fruit are wrapped in a fleecy blanket of tannins as notes of wet chalkboard and white pepper emerge towards an otherwise floral finish. In a couple of years this wine will likely be quite nice. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.