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 wonderfully pretty and fresh white from one of my favorite Italian producers, Feudi di San Gregorio. This Falanghina, a grape indigenous to the region, is everything you want in a food friendly white wine.
Closer to home I’ve got two (unmistakably) California Chardonnays that both lean towards the rich oaky side of the style, but manage to avoid falling off the edge of the cliff.
Moving on to reds, the Williams Selyem Hirsch Vineyard bottling of Pinot Noir stays quite true to form for that vineyard, with its dried flower scents and fantastic acidity.
CVNE is always a reliable producer of Rioja wines, and if you can’t get the older stuff, their cheaper bottlings can also be quite good, including the Reserva noted below, which offers great flavor for the money.
If you were looking for some expensive Napa reds to splurge on, the “basic” estate Cabernet from Signorello is worth buying, and they could use the support, as they lost their winery in the fires this year. Their Padrone bottling in all its super-heavy-bottle glory is, in my opinion, a bit overdone compared to the plain-old Cab.
Finally there’s the Silverado Cabernet, and a couple of the single vineyard Cabernets from Nickel & Nickel, which are reliably polished and tasty.
All these and more below. Enjoy.
2016 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio, Campania, Italy
Pale blonde in the glass, this wine smells of ripe pears, peach and a touch of wet stone. In the mouth, wonderfully crisp flavors of Asian pear, peach, and tropical fruits have a zingy acidity and a nice wet chalkboard backbone. Delicious and refreshing with nice citrus pith notes on the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem “Lewis MacGregor Estate Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and pineapple. In the mouth, flavors of pineapple, buttered popcorn, and lemon curd have a bright richness that will appeal to California Chardonnay lovers who don’t mind a heavy dose of oak flavor in their wine. Good acidity. Easy to drink. 14.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2015 Pfendler Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in color, this wine smells of pineapple, dried mango and buttered popcorn. In the mouth, aggressive acidity and the salinity that comes from oak barrels gets the salivary glands in overdrive while flavors of lemon curd, dried mango and pineapple are shot through with flavors of oak. A little more heavy-handed than I’d like. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $38. click to buy.
2015 Williams Selyem “Hirsch Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, raspberry pastilles, and fresh green herbs. In the mouth, fine grained skein of tannins wraps around a core of black raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors scented with dried flowers. Excellent acidity, with a lovely wet stone backbone and touch of oak. 13.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $130. click to buy.
2013 CVNE “Reserva” Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain
Medium to dark ruby in color, this wine smells of sweet cherries and a touch of chocolate. In the mouth, cherry and sour cherry fruit has a wonderful bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Faint powdery tannins linger in the finish with notes of leather. Aged for 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.
2014 Silverado Vineyards “Mt. George Vineyard” Merlot, Coombsville, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plum and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, plum and cherry fruit is wrapped in a gauzy haze of tannins. Notes of toasty oak linger in the finish. Good acidity and length. 14.9% alcohol. 4,900 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40 . click to buy.
2014 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cocoa powder. In the mouth, black cherry and cola flavors have a nice bright juiciness thanks to excellent acidity, and the oak, while present, is very well integrated. Cola notes linger in the finish with muscular, fine grained tannins. 14.4% alcohol. 27,000 cases produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.
2014 Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco leaf. In the mouth, bright cherry, cola, and tobacco leaf flavors have a juicy bounce to them thanks to excellent acidity. Fine grained tannins wrap the core of fruit like a fleecy blanket and hints of vanilla and oak waft breezily above the lush fruit in a way that doesn’t distract from the cherry symphony that is the main course here. Contains 7% Cabernet Franc and 6% Merlot. Fermented with native yeasts and bottled unfined and unfiltered. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2014 Signorello Estate “Padrone” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match, cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, silky cherry and black cherry flavors are heavily oak inflected and have a slightly sulfurous note to them. Good acidity and length with muscular tannins. Made from the oldest Cabernet on the property, planted in 1990. 14.5% alcohol Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $160. click to buy.
2015 Nickel & Nickel “C.C. Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, rich cherry and black cherry fruit is lively with excellent acidity and shot through with faint notes of vanilla and oak that add a spice to the wine rather than overpower the fruit. The oak really makes an appearance in the tannins of the wine, however, which are somewhat drying, leaving the mouth feeling a bit parched. Excellent acidity. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $95. click to buy.
2015 Nickel & Nickel “Hayne Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cassis. In the mouth, cassis and cherry flavors are draped in fleecy tannins even as they gush with juicy acidity. The tannins gain strength as the wine finishes with floral notes, leaving the palate in a tight chalky grip. This one needs some time. Good balance and well integrated oak. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $95. click to buy.