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Vinography Unboxed: Week of 5/19/19

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 continued the rosé onslaught that marks spring wine releases everywhere. For starters, I’ve got a somewhat unusual pink from Laurel Glen vineyards, which has three rows of old-vine “mixed blacks” that they harvest every year and blend with Cabernet to make this rosé.

Randall Grahm sent along his consistently crisp Vin Gris de Cigare, which is done in the Rhône style and includes some white grapes as well as a mix of reds. Grahm uses a little Vermentino which no doubt helps with the citrus kick. I’ve also got a nice rosé of Nerello Mascalese from Tasca d’Amlerita in Sicily, which offers a taste of Sicily for summer.

In addition to a Central Coast rosé of Grenache, Zinke wines sent along a Sauvignon Blanc as well, both offering crisp and bright fruit flavors at a reasonable tariff.

Moving on to reds, Williams-Selyem sent through some of their Pinots, which are predictably good. Both their Sonoma Coast and Sonoma County bottlings offer fresh fruit bursting with excellent acidity and well integrated oak treatments that let the berry flavors shine.

Moving down the darker end of the spectrum, Sutro Wines makes excellent Bordeaux varieties in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, and both their Cabernet and Merlot are excellent.

Finally Duckhorn offered up three of their Cabernets this week, one of them from the distinctive Patzimaro Vineyard, the other two from Rutherford and Howell Mountain respectively. All are worthy examples for those buying Napa wines at that price point.

Notes on all these and more below.

2018 Zinke Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of sweet, freshly cut golden apples. In the mouth, bright flavors of green and golden apples have a decent acidity to them and a nice citrusy finish. Juicy and fresh. 12.7% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2017 Laurel Glen “Rosella” Rosé, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma, California
Light baby-pink in the glass, this wine smells of berries and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, faintly sweet flavors of cherry, orange peel, and bitter orange mix with a touch of herbs. Good acidity, but the wine is a bit bitter in the finish. Roughly 50% Cabernet and 50% old “mixed blacks” of unknown variety. 12.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2017 Tasca d’Almerita “Regaleali – Le Rose” Rosé of Nerello Mascalese, Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy
Light coppery-ruby in color, this wine smells of watermelon rind and cherries. In the mouth, tart cherry and watermelon flavors have a slight bitter orange quality that lingers with orange zest through the finish. Excellent acidity. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $17. click to buy.

2018 Bonny Doon “Vin Gris de Cigare” Rosé, Central Coast, California
Palest peachy-pink in color, this wine smells of strawberries and white peaches. In the mouth, strawberry and citrus peel flavors have a nice snap thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of orange peel and unripe strawberries linger in the finish. A blend of 38.5% Grenache, 30.5% Grenache Blanc, 12.5% Carignan, 10% Cinsault, 6% Mourvedre, 2% Picpoul, and .5% Vermentino. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $19. click to buy.

2018 Zinke Wine Co. Rosé of Grenache, Central Coast, California
Palest pink in color, this wine smells of orange peel and raspberries. In the mouth, tart berry flavors mix with orange peel and a touch of herbs. Good acidity keeps the wine fresh and bright. 12.9% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2017 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and pomegranate. In the mouth, bright cherry and cranberry flavors are shot through with herbs and touches of vanilla. Excellent acidity makes this a mouthwatering gulp of raspberry and herb brightness. Faint tannins. Good length. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2017 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and redcurrants. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cherry flavors have an electric acidity to them and a gorgeous orange peel citrus quality that lingers in the finish. Very faint tannins buff the edges of the mouth, with hints of dried herbs. Excellent acidity keeps the mouth watering for minutes. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2016 Sutro Wine Co. “Warnecke Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and fresh cherry pie. In the mouth, juicy bright cherry flavors have a fantastic acidity to them and the wine is mouthwatering even as powdery tannins coat the mouth and start to put the squeeze on the palate. Notes of cola and cocoa powder linger in the finish. Excellent. 14.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2016 Sutro Wine Co. “Warnecke Ranch” Merlot, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plum and cherry fruit. In the mouth, plum and tobacco notes mix with roasted nuts and cocoa powder. Good acidity and faint, leathery tannins round out the package. Plummy finish. Very tasty. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.

2015 Duckhorn Vineyards “Patzimaro Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, deep black cherry flavors have a toasty hint of vanilla and oak but mostly they resonate with a deep cassis darkness that is quite compelling. Faint gauzy tannins and excellent acidity. A somewhat mysterious wine. 14.7% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $98. click to buy.

2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and dark earth with a hint of roasted nuts. In the mouth, roasted espresso, cherry and the distinct signature of oak battle it out on the palate, and unfortunately, the wood wins. But other than that, fine tannins and good acidity make this a very drinkable wine. Just too much wood for my taste. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $98. click to buy.

2015 Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry fruit with a hint of cola. In the mouth, bright cherry cola flavors are shot through with the vanilla and toast of French oak that is very well integrated. Fine-grained tannins hang gauzily above the wine drifting down gently to settle on the palate as the cherry fruit linters long in the finish. Excellent acidity. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $98. click to buy.