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Vinography Unboxed: Week of 12/1/19

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 included a random white from Bordeaux — the Clarendelle from Clarence Dillon Wines, an in-house brand developed by one of Bordeaux’s top wine merchants. It is supposedly inspired by Haut Brion, whatever that means. The wine offers some bright flavors and the welcome influence of Semillon on the overall picture.

In addition, I’ve got notes for three Chardonnays on offer this week. The first two are from the legendary Pinot house William Selyem, whose customers typically buy up all the limited amount of white wine that they produce, including these bottlings, which come from the winery’s estate vineyard, and a neighbor down the road. They’re both on the lean side of California Chardonnay, which means that I like them a lot, and they’ll both age well.

The third Chardonnay this week comes from Eden Rift, down south of Hollister on the Central Coast. Eden Rift is a new brand that has been developed on the old Pietra Santa property. The wines are finding their way.

Moving into reds, I’ve got some seriously killer Pinot Noirs to call your attention to. Talley Vineyards sent me a few of their wines. It’s been a few years since I tasted these wines and damn, they are seriously rocking these days. All three are distinctive, bright, juicy, and quite delicious. I highly recommend them, especially for those who like their Pinot Noirs with great acidity.

Before we move into the darker side of the spectrum, I’ve also got two of the most recent releases from Troon Vineyards in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. These are a Grenache and a Grenache/Syrah blend, and both are picked early, and made much more on the savory side, to the point of being slightly austere. With a little time, I think they will blossom a bit, but for now, they’re more herbs than fruit, so to speak.

Lastly, I’ve got a proprietary red blend from Paraduxx in Napa. Proprietary Red is what most people call a wine when they want to sell it for a lot of money. This one, as Napa reds go, isn’t outrageous (at $35 in some outlets), and it will satisfy those looking for lush Napa darkness, especially if they can wait a couple of years for the tannins to just slightly loosen their grip.

Notes for all these below.

2018 Clarence Dillon Wines “Clarendelle” Bordeaux Blanc, France
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of ripe golden apples and a hint of warm felt. In the mouth, apple and citrus flavors are bright and juicy with a hint of astringency. A touch of white flowers lingers in the finish. Good acidity and length. A blend of 42% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon and 28% Muscadelle. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2017 Williams Selyem “Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of cold cream and apples. In the mouth, bright pineapple and lemon curd flavors have a nice bright snap to them thanks to excellent acidity. Tropical notes emerge in the finish. There’s also a nice underlying chalkiness to the wine as sweet grapefruit pith lingers. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $130. click to buy.

2017 Williams Selyem “MacGregor Estate Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stone and citrus pith. In the mouth, flavors of lemon curd and lemon oil have a wonderful grapefruit zippiness as excellent acidity keeps the wine vibrating across the palate. A hint of bitter orange emerges in the finish. Silky and smooth. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2017 Eden Rift Vineyards “Estate” Chardonnay, Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of apples and citrus pith. In the mouth, sour and zippy apple and citrus flavors have a nice crispness to them thanks to very good acidity. There’s a faint bitterness that lingers in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $48. click to buy.

2017 Talley Vineyards “Stone Corral” Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry. In the mouth, bright cherry and cranberry flavors have a sweet cedary quality to them but also a ripping acidity that makes the mouth water. Sweet fruit and floral notes linger in the finish. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $71. click to buy.

2017 Talley Vineyards “Rosemary’s” Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest berries and cherries. In the mouth, juicy cherry and raspberry pastille flavors all but burst with fantastic acidity above a faint tannic backbone and hint of dusty earth. Delicious. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2017 Talley Vineyards “Rincon” Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, Central Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and dried flowers. In the mouth, exceedingly silky flavors of raspberry, redcurrant and dried herbs mix with sweeter floral aromas. Fantastic acidity keeps the wine bright and juicy across the palate. Notes of citrus peel linger in the finish with hints of dried herbs. Mouthwatering and deliciously complex. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $68. click to buy.

2018 Troon Vineyard “Cowhorn Vineyard” Grenache, Applegate Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dusty road and a hint of barnyard. In the mouth, savory flavors of cherry, and strawberry are shot through with potting soil and chalk dust. Powdery tannins coat the mouth. Surprisingly muscular. Good acidity. 12.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2018 Troon Vineyard “Cotes du Kubli – Cowhorn Vineyard” Red Blend, Applegate Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of wet earth and cassis. In the mouth, tight, powdery tannins wrap around a savory core of black and blue fruits tinged with wet earth. Dusty notes linger in the finish. Good acidity. A blend of 72% Syrah and 28% Grenache. 12.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2016 Paraduxx “Paraduxx” Proprietary Red, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis and a bit of alcohol. In the mouth, black cherry and cassis flavors mix with wet earth under a thick, leathery blanket of tannins that gain weight and strength as the wine finishes with notes of licorice. A bit much. I’d give it a year or two before drinking, for sure. 14.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.