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 really fantastic white wine from the little producer in Southern Oregon that more and more people are starting to learn about, Troon Vineyards. I’ve reviewed a number of their wines over the past couple of years, but under the leadership of General Manager Craig Camp they have gotten better and better. This white blend is perhaps one of the best I’ve tasted from the estate, offering all sorts of savory deliciousness that will waken any tired palate.
I’ve also got a rosé with a pedigree this week. The main name on the label is “Lucy” but if you look closely you’ll see a much more famous name in the world of Pinot Noir, Pisoni. This is Gary Pisoni and family’s pink interpretation of their Santa Lucia Highlands (hence the name) Pinot Noir. Not bad for a saignee rosé.
Moving into reds, I was happy to open a bottle from the ever reliable Feudi di San Gregorio, superstar (or if not, then certainly super reliable) producer from Italy’s Campania region. This is their Rubrato bottling of Aglianico and it offers all the charms of that slightly rustic but definitely refreshing grape.
Closer to home we’ve got several Cabernets, both Franc and Sauvignon, including the standard and single vineyard bottling from Heitz Vineyard. I was surprised that I didn’t like the Trailside single vineyard bottling more than I did but it had an angular quality that kept it from being better. That said, it’s still an excellent wine, though I’d be tempted to buy the standard Cabernet for the money.
Finally, I’ve got a well aged example of why Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is highly under appreciated and undervalued. Laurel Glen has been quietly making consistently good Cabernets for more than four decades, and this 2008 shows that the wines have some decent ageability.
All these and more below.
2018 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apple and honeysuckle. In the mouth, bright green apple and Fuji apple flavors are juicy with excellent acidity. There’s a slight sense of elevated alcohol here, but generally the wine is pretty balanced. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.
2018 Troon Vineyard “Cotes du Kubli – Cowhorn Vineyard” White Blend, Applegate Valley, Oregon
Pale yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of bee pollen, lemon zest and white flowers. In the mouth, slightly waxy flavors of lemon, apricot and chamomile swirl in a bright, vibrating bouquet as electric acidity makes the mouth water. Notes of bee pollen and yellow herbs linger in the finish. Delicious. A blend of 51% Viognier, 28% Marsanne and 21% Roussanne. Outstanding. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2018 Pisoni “Lucy” RosÉ of Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, California
Pale baby pink in the glass, this wine smells of strawberries and watermelon rind. In the mouth, silky flavors of watermelon rind, raspberry and citrus pith have a nice zippy snap to them. Citrus notes linger in the finish. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2017 Barnett Vineyards “Tina Marie Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light ruby in color with a hint of purple still in it, this wine smells of cranberry and cherry. In the mouth, cranberry juice, cherry and red apple skin flavors have a faint powdery tannic texture and decent acidity. There’s a faint cedar and sawdust note in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48. click to buy.
2015 Feudi di San Gregorio “Rubrato” Aglianico, Irpina, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and leather. In the mouth, earthy flavors of cherry and citrus peel and leather have a faint tannic backbone and excellent acidity that keeps them fresh and bright through the long finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.
2016 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc, St. Helena, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plums and almond skin. In the mouth, flavors of cola, cocoa powder and oak mix with plum and cherry fruit that is bright with juicy acidity. Nutty, oaky flavors linger in the finish with a hint of bitterness. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.
2014 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry and tobacco leaf. In the mouth, cherry and cola nut mix with dark chocolate and a touch of bitter herbs. Excellent acidity and nice length. Notes of herbs linger through the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $57. click to buy.
2013 Heitz Cellars “Trailside Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and dark chocolate and walnuts. In the mouth, cassis and black cherry mix with nuts and cocoa powder. Excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright while faint muscular tannins squeeze the palate. There’s a bitterness in the finish that keeps this from being as fantastic as it could be. 14.5% alcohol. 2419 cases made. Score: around 9. Cost: $125 . click to buy.
2008 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of pencil shavings and dried cherry fruit. In the mouth, black cherry and pencil lead and cedar flavors have a nice cool herbal tone and excellent acidity, despite the dried fruit. Faint tannins dust the palate, but the wine is smooth, smooth, smooth. Excellent, but I would say drink up, this one is on the decline. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2016 Barnett Vineyards “Rattlesnake” Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of candied cherry and brown sugar. In the mouth, candied cherries and brown sugar flavors mix with a touch of cedar and mulling spice. Putty-like tannins buff the edges of the palate as the wine lingers with a sweetness of licorice in the finish. Big and brawny and a touch too sweet for my taste. Also nasty heavy bottle. 14.7% alcohol. 1400 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $185. click to buy.