Vinography Unboxed: Week of 8/26/18

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 perhaps my favorite wine of the new portfolio at the recently rebooted Eden Rift Vineyards south of Gilroy (formerly known as Pietra Santa). Their palest of pale Pinot Gris had just enough skin contact apparently to make it interesting and give it just a hint of color. It’s worth seeking out.

Staying in the crisp zone, I can highly recommend the Calera Chardonnay, which offers all the things you want from a California Chardonnay without a slathering of oak.

Finally, don’t miss the rosé from Limerick Lane Cellars, which is one more point of proof that Rhone-style grapes really do make the best rosés.

Limerick Lane offered several other wines for tasting this week, including a couple vintages of their Syrahs and a Zinfandel, all of which are competent and tasty.

Onward wines, a small outfit in the Anderson Valley offers another proof point in favor of the Cerise vineyard, whose bright Pinot Noirs are some of my favorites being made in California, independent of producer. Onward’s interpretation is particularly pretty.

Finally I’m pleased to point you towards what I think is perhaps the best wine in the Gamble Family lineup, their Paramount red blend, which strikes just the right balance between savory and fruit-forward, and stays quite restrained on the oak. It’s a winner.

Notes on all these wines below.

2017 Eden Rift Vineyards “Terraces” Pinot Gris, Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
Perhaps the faintest pink I have ever seen in a wine, this one smells of berries and pears. In the mouth, electric acidity enervates flavors of citrus peel, unripe raspberries, and pear. Notes of wet chalkboard and a chalky pear skin quality linger in the finish. Dynamic and interesting. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2016 Calera Chardonnay, Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, lemon zest and a touch of vanilla. In the mouth, zingy flavors of lemon curd, lemon zest, and citrus pith vibrate with excellent acidity. Juicy and delicious. 14.4% alcohol. 1800 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $50 click to buy.

2017 Limerick Lane Cellars Rosé, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale salmon pink in the glass, this wine smells of watermelon rind and citrus peel. In the mouth, silky flavors of citrus peel, strawberries, and tangerine oil are electric with fantastic acidity. Gorgeous wet chalkboard minerality lingers through the finish with a faint chalky texture in the mouth. Excellent. A blend of 62% Syrah and 38% Grenache. 12.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ click to buy.

2013 Onward “Cerise Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, cedar and dried herbs. In the mouth, a fleecy blanket of tannins wraps around a core of cherry, cedar and forest floor flavors. Excellent acidity and notes of dried herbs linger in the finish. Excellent. 12.8% alcohol. 125 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $58 click to buy.

2015 Limerick Lane Cellars “Hail Mary” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and blueberry compote. In the mouth, blueberry and blackberry flavors are shot through with crushed black pepper and vibrant acidity. Muscular tannins coat the mouth and linger in the finish with notes of licorice root. Contains 2% Grenache. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2016 Limerick Lane Cellars “Hail Mary” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry pie and black cherry compote. In the mouth, powerfully bright flavors of blackberry and black cherry are screaming with acidity. Notes of licorice and sour cherry linger in the finish. Contains 2% Grenache. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2016 Limerick Lane Cellars “Headpruned Block” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Inky garnet in color, this wine smells of meaty cassis and cherry with a hint of black olive. In the mouth, flavors of black olive mix with black cherry and cassis under a fleecy blanket of tannins that seemingly gain strength through the finish to linger with earthy, leathery muscle. Excellent acidity and length. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2015 Limerick Lane Cellars “Rocky Knoll” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and leather and notes of licorice. In the mouth, flavors of chocolate and blackberry and blueberry have a strong vibrancy thanks to excellent acidity. Faint powdery tannins coat the mouth. A bit of heat creeps into the finish, but the wine shows very little of its 15.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ click to buy.

2014 Gamble Family Vineyards “Paramount” Red Blend, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and a touch of black olives. In the mouth, cherry, cocoa powder and a touch of black olives are draped under a fleecy blanket of fine grained tannins. Very good acidity keeps the fruit fresh and bright through a long finish. A blend of 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. 14.2% alcohol. 805 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $ click to buy.