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 among other things, one of California’s most iconic Chardonnays, which, true-to-form, was racy and angular and bright and ready for the long haul, which will probably make it even better in 5 to 10.
Also in the white category, Viticcio offered a pleasant Vermentino that has a picture-perfect blend of pear and white peach flavors.
Moving into reds, there are two more Pinots this week from the little biodynamic producer that could, Big Table Farm in Oregon.
Continuing with my Italian connection this week, I’ve got two more Barolos to review, one from Vietti — the Castiglione — which continues to be one of the better values in Barolo, and then the reserve bottling from Oddero, which is only just starting to be drinkable in its advanced age.
Finally, Vitticio also offered a very competent Chianti Classico this week, which I very much recommend.
All these and more below. Enjoy.
2015 Stony Hill Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pomelo zest and lemon juice. In the mouth, wonderfully lean lemon juice and pink grapefruit pith flavors linger for a long while in the finish. Razor fine and zippy. Excellent acidity and length. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2015 Sanford Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of toasted nuts, cold cream and melted butter. In the mouth, nutty flavors of lemon curd and pink grapefruit have a slight bitterness, with the tang of citrus zest. Excellent acidity and length. Subtle wood influence makes this refreshing and tasty. 14% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2016 Viticcio “Greppico” Vermentino, Tuscany, Italy
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears, white flowers, and peaches. In the mouth, peachy and pear flavors have a nice citrus snap thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of white flowers linger in the finish. Tasty. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30.
2015 Big Table Farm “Cattrall Brothers Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry leaf, black tea, and dried flowers. In the mouth a muscular skein of tannins wraps around a juicy core of raspberry, raspberry leaf, and wet earth flavors that linger for a long time with citrus brightness through the finish. A serious wine that is currently wound up tightly and will likely blossom with time. Excellent acidity and balance. 13.3% alcohol Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2015 Big Table Farm “Wirtz Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of black cherry and earth. In the mouth, dark cherry flavors mix with wet earth and a touch of citrus beneath a cloud of fine grained tannins. Wonderful earthiness and great acidity make this a distinctive and delicious package. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2013 Vietti “Castiglione” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells of strawberries, cherries and dried flowers. In the mouth, muscular tannins grip the palate as flavors of strawberry, citrus and dried cherry mix with notes of earth and dried flowers. Excellent acidity and great balance. Very young at this point, this wine would benefit from 5 to 10 years cellaring. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.
2007 Oddero “Vigna Rionda – Riserva” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Medium brick red in color, this wine smells of oak and rose petals and dried cherries. In the mouth, brown sugar and dried cherries mix with leather and earth, as scents of dried flowers linger in the finish. Thick, putty-like tannins coat the mouth, making me wonder how severe this wine would have been 10 years ago. 15% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and
2016 Olianas Cannonau, Sardinia, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of strawberry and herbs. In the mouth, strawberry, wet earth and herbs mix with a minerally brightness. Faint but muscular tannins hang around the edges of the palate. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $17. click to buy.
2013 Viticcio “Prunaio – Gran Selezione” Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dark cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth, cherry, tobacco leaf and wet earth flavors are shot through with a wonderful citrus brightness and a touch of dried flowers. Faint, powdery tannins grip the edges of the palate as the wine finishes clean and juicy. Excellent acidity and length. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.