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 there were more duds than delights, but I managed to pull a few good wines out of the pile. These included a couple of nice Chardonnays, one from Chile and the other a well-known name from Napa.
The hard to pronounce but easy to enjoy flavors of the Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer weren’t surprising, as that wine always has enough acidity to avoid the trap of unctuous syrupiness that so many Gewurtztraminers fall into.
To be honest, the wine I most wanted to drink (instead of just taste) was the Heitlinger Riesling, a producer and vineyard I knew nothing about.
In the red category, there were a couple of dashing Pinots from Kingston Family Vineyards, a producer who just keeps getting better and better with each vintage. These latest Pinots are among the best they’ve made.
And finally, an affordable Sangiovese from Tuscany doesn’t knock your socks off, but it goes down quite easy.
2016 Kingston Family Vineyards “Sabino” Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of golden apples and melted butter. In the mouth, lemon curd and pink grapefruit pith mix with a nice salty aftertaste and a hint of butter. Bright and juicy, with lots of verve thanks to excellent acidity. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2014 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of toasted sourdough and buttered popcorn. In the mouth, buttered popcorn, lemon curd and grapefruit juice mix with a zingy acidity and a creamy texture. Bright and juicy, and bound to please Chardonnay lovers of all stripes. 14.1% alcohl. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.
2016 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of orange peels and lychee. In the mouth, tangy, slightly bitter flavors of orange peel, pear, and lychee have a zippy quality thanks to excellent acidity. There’s some heat on the finish that I wish weren’t there. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2014 Weingut Heitlinger “Tiefenbacher Schellenbrunnen Grosse Lage” Riesling Trocken, Baden, Germany
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of paraffin and asian pears and greengage plums. In the mouth, wonderfully juicy flavors of asian pear, tangerine zest and a touch of lemon flower sizzle with excellent acidity. Dry as a whistle with no hint of sweetness, the wine is nonetheless honeyed as it finishes with mouthwatering crispness. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $??
2016 Kingston Family Vineyards “Alazan” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Bright medium garnet in color, this wine smells of green herbs, brown sugar, and cranberry compote. In the mouth, silky flavors of cranberry and cherry are shot through with dried herbs and dark earth. Very pretty and lithe on the tongue, with nary a trace of new wood to mar the beautifiul flavors of dirt that linger in the finish. Excellent. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2016 Kingston Family Vineyards “Tobiano” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of peeled willow bark, crushed herbs and raspberries. In the mouth, beautifully fresh flavors of raspberry and green herbs are bright with juicy acidity and silky in their texture. Finely grained tannins dance around the edges of the mouth, and a sweet perfume lingers in the finish. Almost certainly the finest Pinot Noir I’ve tasted from this producer in all the years I’ve been following them. Bravo. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2012 Ruffino “Tenuta Lodola Nuova” Sangiovese, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and oiled saddle leather. In the mouth, flavors of black cherry and cherry mix with a hint of sandalwood and leather. Very faint tannins hang back as the wine finishes with a nice sweetness. Tasty, but not particularly complex. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24. click to buy.