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 white blends, a category of wine that has yet to take the market by storm, but which often punch well above their weight in deliciousness. The first one comes from Martin Ray winery, which doesn’t disclose its blend, but I suspect contains some Viognier and perhaps some Sauvignon Blanc.
Then there’s the Savoire-Faire bottling from the producer Domaine Pouillon, whose wines are all distinctive and interesting. This white is a classic Southern Rhone blend that you might find labeled Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc.
Moving on to the red end of the spectrum Pouillon’s Katydid bottling is a knockout blend of Southern Rhone grapes that is just about as delicious as they come, as is its cousin, the “lost barrel” of Mourvedre that has a very nice peppery aspect to it.
Getting more serious in tone, the Tenuta Arceno second wine “Il Fauno” is quite delicious and will appeal to anyone who enjoys the so called Supertuscan blends.
Closer to home we’ve got some Sonoma and Napa Cabernet, from Jordan Winery, always a dependable producer, and then from Chappellet Vineyards up on Pritchard hill. Their flagship Cabernet Bottling labeled for the place it’s grown is a classic Napa Cabernet bound to please anyone who enjoys the form.
All these and more below.
2014 Knudsen Vineyards Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of lemon curd and candied lemon rind. In the mouth, lemon curd and lemon rind mix with pink grapefruit and a whisper of oak. Delicate acidity sneaks up on you as the wine finishes long and lemony, again, kissed with oak. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2015 Martin Ray “The Tower” White Blend, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of sweet apples and a hint of apricots. In the mouth, peaches and apricots mix with a touch of green apple and pear. Nice acidity and overall complexion. There’s a tiny bit of heat in the finish, but otherwise this is a tasty bottle. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2013 Domaine Pouillon “Savoir-Faire – Boushey Vineyard” White Blend, Yakima Valley, Washington
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of candle wax, melon and apple with a touch of oak. In the mouth, apples and pears mix with oak and a nice wet chalkboard minerality. Good acidity and length. A blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 25% Marsanne, and 20% Picpoul Blanc. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??
2015 Ponzi Vineyards Rosé’ of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
A light baby pink in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry pastilles and cranberry juice. In the mouth, flavors of cranberry and raspberry have a nice aromatic sweetness to them, but not much complexity. This is pleasant drinking but not profound. Decent acidity. 13.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2013 Alma Rosa “Barrel Select” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry jam. In the mouth, sweetish flavors of raspberry and cherry have a bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. There’s also a nice hint of spice to the wine. Ultimately perhaps a bit rich and ripe for my taste, there’s no denying this wine’s appeal. Excellent acidity. 14.5% alcohol Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
2012 Domaine Pouillon “Katydid” Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry jam and dried flowers. In the mouth, very pretty, lithe flavors of strawberry and leather, earth and cassis have a gorgeous faint tannic texture and great acidity. Totally delicious and in a perfect drinking window. A blend of 54% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre and 19% Syrah. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Pouillon “The Adventures of Pouillon – La Barrique Perdu” Mourvedre, Columbia Valley, Washington
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, crushed pink peppercorns, and cassis. In the mouth, silky flavors of dried flowers, cassis, and sweet red bean have a lovely faint tannic structure. Excellent acidity makes this wine supremely drinkable. A lovely lost barrel indeed. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??
2010 Tenuta di Arceno “Il Fauno di Arcanum” Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco and espresso. In the mouth, beautifully bright flavors of cherry and cedar mix with a touch of tobacco leaf and cola nut. Supple but muscular tannins wrap around the palate and gain strength in the finish. Excellent acldity and balance. Very delicious. A blend of 56% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $25 click to buy.
2013 Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cola. In the mouth, juicy cherry and cola flavors mix with the barest hint of herbs as the wine moves, lithe, across the palate. Medium-bodied, as usual, this wine has an elegant presence but perhaps not the depth and complexity it could. There’s a faint touch of coconut on the finish, along with the suede-like tannins. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55 click to buy.
2013 Chappellet Vineyard “Signature – Donn Chappellet” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and plum and a touch of green herbs. In the mouth, juicy flavors of cherry and plum and mint bounce brightly across the palate thanks to excellent acidity. Somewhat high-toned, but pretty in its way. Good long finish. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $80 click to buy.
2013 Chappellet Vineyard “Pritchard Hill” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco and espresso. In the mouth, beautifully refined cherry and chocolate and cola flavors are draped in a blanket of suede suppleness that stiffens with time as cherry and herbs linger through a long finish tinged with crushed nuts. Poised and refined. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $220 click to buy.
2014 Patel Winery Malbec, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blueberry and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, powdery tannins billow around a core of dark blueberry, cassis and black cherry fruit. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit fresh, and notes of nutty oak linger in the finish. The wood is perhaps more present than I would like, but I can still taste the fruit. 14.6% alcohol. 110 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $150