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 number of decent white wines from near and far.
Let’s start with the more familiar — a Chardonnay from one of the top growers in the state, Dutton Ranch. I tend to review a lot of the Dutton Goldfield wines, but this is the wine from the other brother, Joe Dutton. It’s named after Joe’s oldest daughter who is carrying on the family’s business these days.
In addition to this Chardonnay I’ve got a nice Viognier from Domaine Terre Rouge in the Sierra Foothills. Made by Bill Easton, this wine comes from the Fiddletown area of Amador County, which is a higher elevation area and that fact no doubt helps with this wine’s freshness.
Farther afield, but still in the rich end of the white wine spectrum, we’ve got a winner from Arizona by the Aridus Wine Company in this unusual blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia. The latter two often grow together in the Friuli region of Italy, but Viognier is an interloper in this triangle of flavors, but it seems to work.
Lastly, I don’t know if somehow I just lost this bottle in the cellar, or if the folks at Veramonte sent me an older bottle on purpose, but I popped open (well, unscrewed if you must know the truth) their 2015 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc and not only was the wine not dead, it was in the midst of a transformation to maturity that added some extra sumpin’ sumpin’ to the picture.
In addition to these whites, I’ve got a few Pinot Noirs as well, the most exciting of which were a couple from Williams Selyem — two of their more limited production wines. The first was their single-vineyard Sonoma Coast bottling of the Terra del Promissio vineyard, and the other was their Westside Road neighbors wine, which is a mix of fruit from very close to the winery on Westside road west of Healdsburg. Both are worth seeking out.
Notes on all these and more below.
2017 Aridus Wine Company “Field Blend” White Blend, Arizona
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of ripe peaches and lemonade. In the mouth, juicy peachy lemonade flavors are crisp and bright and quite pleasant, with enough acidity to keep them bouncy and lively across the palate. Clean finish. Quite tasty. A field blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia Bianca. 11.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28.
2016 Dutton Estate “Kyndall’s Reserve – Dutton Ranch” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of lemon curd, butterscotch and pineapple. In the mouth, butterscotch and pineapple flavors are bright with a juicy acidity and notes of candied lemon peel linger in the finish. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $42. click to buy.
2016 Terre Rouge Viognier, Fiddletown, Amador County, Sierra Foothills, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of apricots and honey. In the mouth, apricots, honey and a touch of citrus stay bright and fresh thanks to excellent acidity. There’s some heat that creeps into the finish, but the wine stays silky and fruit driven throughout. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2015 Veramonte “Ritual” Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of honey and lime juice. In the mouth, lime juice and green apple flavors have started to take on a patina with very interesting results. Hints of butterscotch and honey are woven through the greener flavors. Nice acidity. 14% alcohol. Proof, perhaps, that you don’t have to drink your screwcapped Sauvignon Blanc immediately. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2017 Bonny Doon “Vin Gris de Cigare” Red Blend, Central Coast, California
Pale coppery pink in color, this wine smells of watermelon rind and strawberries. In the mouth, watermelon and strawberry flavors are bright and juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Crisp and tasty with a little citrus note. A blend of 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc, 9% Mourvedre, 6% Roussanne, 5% Carignane, 5% Cinsault. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2016 Moshin Vineyards “River Myst Haven” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberries. In the mouth, faintly sweet cranberry and cherry fruit is rich and dark with faint gauzy tannins that hang in the background. More ripe than I’d like. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.
2016 Moshin Vineyards “Rosalina Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry jam. In the mouth, slightly sweet flavors of candied raspberry have a slight herbal tinge to them. Excellent acidity and faint wispy tannins add structure and dimension to the wine. Lengthy finish, but somewhat clunky and ripe overall. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $58. click to buy.
2017 Williams Selyem “Terra de Promissio Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of candied raspberries. In the mouth, incredibly pure candied raspberry flavors have a wonderful floral aspect to them and electric acidity. Gorgeous gauzy tannins seem to float through the mouth as a touch of sweet oak lingers in the finish. Very pretty. 13.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $95. click to buy.
2017 Williams Selyem “Westside Road Neighbors” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and dried underbrush. In the mouth, beautifully crystalline raspberry flavors mix with dried herbs and gorgeous floral aromas that waft through the mouth. Excellent acidity and very faint tannins make for a supremely juicy mouthful. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.