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 new bottling from the tiny producer Aperture Cellars, one of whose partners is Andy Katz, the photographer whose images I feature here on the site. His son, Jesse Katz is one of California’s young superstar winemakers, and his Malbecs, which he and his father release under the Devil Proof label. This one, from the Rockpile AVA, happens to be a new source of vineyard fruit for them.
I also received some interesting samples from Chateau Picoron, a tiny 12 acre estate in the Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon Appellation. The estate has been producing wine since 1551, but the estate was recently purchased by a husband and wife from Australia.
The recent streak of Italian wine continues with a Chianti from Principe Corsini and two wines from Podere Forte in Orcia.
Finally, there’s the ever-elegant Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, one of California’s most reliable sparkling wines.
All these and more below. Enjoy.
2013 Schramsberg “Blanc de Noirs” Pinot Noir, North Coast, California
Light gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of orange peel and apples and a touch of bread crust. In the mouth, golden apples and pears mix with a touch of pomegranate and cherry berry flavor. Nice acidity and balance. Contains 15% Chardonnay. 12.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2015 Chateau Picoron “Petit Picoron” Merlot, Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon, Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sawdust and cherries. In the mouth, juicy flavors of cherry and black cherry positively burst with excellent acidity. Powdery tannins drape gauzily over the fruit and linger with the floral cherry flavors in the finish. Excellent. No alcohol shown on the label. Score: around 9. Cost: $20.
2014 Principe Corsini “Le Corti” Red Blend, Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry, sour cherry, and sawdust. In the mouth, muscular, pushy tannins elbow their way around the mouth to make room for flavors of cherry, dried cherry, and dried herbs. This is a wine that will need some time before most people think it highly drinkable. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2014 Podere Forte “Petruccino” Sangiovese, Orcia, Tuscany, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and sandalwood. In the mouth, sweet cherry and oak and hints of brown sugar have a nice brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Tightly wound, fine grained tannins linger in the finish with a hint of orange peel. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35.
2013 Podere Forte “Guardiavigna” Red Blend, Tuscany, Italy
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match and dark cherry fruit. In the mouth, a touch of barnyard flavor suggests a bit of brettanomyces along with flavors of dark cherry, leather, and a touch of camphor. Fine grained tannins and decent acidity. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $81.
2014 Mt. Brave Merlot, Mount Veeder, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and plum and a hint of oak. In the mouth, sweet cherry and plum flavors are wrapped in a tight fist of fine grained tannins. Excellent acidity and length. After a year or three, this wine will likely open up beautifully. 14.5% alcohol. 532 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.
2014 Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and mocha. In the mouth, flavors of cherry, cola, and mocha are oak inflected but not, thankfully, to the point of offensiveness. Excellent acidity and length. While I would appreciate tasting less wood than I do, this wine is quite fine. Barrel fermented. 14.8% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $155. click to buy.
2015 Devil Proof “Rockpile Ridge” Malbec, Rockpile, Sonoma, California
Opaque, inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of cassis, cherry and blueberry. In the mouth, intense flavors of blueberry, black cherry and boysenberry have a slightly high-toned aspect, but a rich depth of fruit that lingers through a long finish. Excellent acidity. Give this wine a couple of years to calm down and it will sing beautifully. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150.