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, some new releases from a winery I’d never heard of, named Aridus in Arizona. Now Arizona has been producing wine for some time, and several competent ones have crossed my dinner table in recent years, but the wines this week were on a different level than those I’ve had before — more restrained, more refined, and deliciously not over-ripe, which has long been my main complaint about Arizona wines, even the really good ones.
Aridus, as it turns out, is a big custom crush facility that has decided to make their own wines, and they seem off to a particularly auspicious start. While they all seem to have just a touch more oak than I’d like, they’re all quite delicious and worth seeking out, especially the Tempranillo and Malbec. Currently they’re only available to purchase through the winery’s web site, so get Googling if you want them.
Moving on, the two latest releases from Lang & Reed winery were predictably delightful, and the Chenin is, I dare say, the best they’ve ever made.
Schramsberg made an appearance this week with their Brut Rosé that remains deliciously true to form.
And I opened one of the newest releases from Troon Vineyard which happened to be their orange wine, made from Riesling no less and wonderfully tasty. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy orange wines as ones made from Riesling are exceedingly rare.
All these and more below. Enjoy.
2016 Aridus Malvasia Bianca, Arizona
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, green melon and candied green apple. In the mouth, floral flavors of green apple and green melon have a wonderfully crisp snap to them thanks to excellent acidity and very little trace of sweetness. Quite fruity. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $37.
2016 Lang & Reed Chenin Blanc, Napa Valley, California
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of unripe apple and pears. In the mouth, pear and green apple flavors are touched with lime zest and a hint of membrillo. Clean crisp and brilliantly delicious. This is now the fourth vintage of production and definitely the best yet. A touch of vanilla lingers in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. 248 cases made. Score: around 9. Cost: $27 click to buy.
2014 Schramsberg Brut Rosé Sparkling Pinot Noir, North Coast, California
Pale baby pink in color with fine bubbles, this wine smells of rosehips and orange peels and strawberry. In the mouth, a moderately soft mousse delivers flavors of berries, citrus peel and a hint of saline. Crisp and bright and just what you want. 12.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.
2016 Troon Vineyard “Whole Grape Ferment” Riesling, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon
Very dark gold in color with a touch of amber thanks to fermentation on the skins for an extended length of time, this wine smells of wet leaves, cooked quince, and dried orange peel. In the mouth, faint tannins drape a core of poached pear, potpourri, candied orange peel and wet stone flavors. Excellent acidity and a nice savory herbal note lingers in the finish. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2014 Alois Lageder Lagrein, Sudtirol – Alto Adige, Italy
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match and wet campfire. In the mouth, blackberry, blueberry, and mulberry flavors have a cool stony minerality to them, with fine grained powdery tannins that coat the mouth. Excellent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22 click to buy.
2014 Lang & Reed “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of rich ripe plums with a hint of Nutella. In the mouth, bright berry flavors are plummy and rich with notes of cocoa powder and sour cherry. Wonderfully juicy thanks to excellent acidity. 14.5% alcohol. 849 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $52 click to buy.
2015 Aridus Tempranillo, Arizona
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of brown sugar, candied berries, and a touch of oak. In the mouth, aromatically sweet flavors of red berries, brown sugar, and toasted oak have a cola note that lingers on the finish. Made with a very deft hand, and finishing at a remarkably lean 12.9% alcohol. One of the most interesting wines I’ve had from Arizona. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $40.
2015 Aridus Malbec, Arizona
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blueberry and mulberry with a touch of floral aroma on top. In the mouth, very elegant and light bodied flavors of blueberry, black cherry and wet chalkboard are touched with the kiss of oak, leaving a sweet aroma in the finish. Excellent acidity, and surprisingly lithe in its restrained 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $37
2014 Aridus Petite Sirah, Arizona
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet campfire and carob dust. In the mouth, remarkably aromatic flavors of camphor wood, cassis, blackberry and nutmeg have a wonderfully mineral backbone and hints of powdery tannins dusting the edges of the mouth. Quite distinct and unusual, recalling somewhat tangentially the “coffee” style of Pinotage from South Africa. This means perhaps too much wood influence, but the effect is charming. 14.2% alcohol Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40.