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 couple more wines from the Marchesi di Gresy portfolio of wines, including their Moscato d’Asti, which while not something I really would want more of a half-glass of myself, is pitch-perfect in its green apple sweetness and refreshingness. Much more serious and worthy of contemplation, their Martinenga Barbaresco offers that fantastic balance of fruit and herb and earth that you want in a Nebbiolo, with the potential to improve for the next decade.
Closer to home, I want to strongly draw your attention to what I think might be my favorite rendition of Sangiovese currently being made in California. Wonderfully light in color, it is taut, bright, juicy, elegant and beautifully, varietally correct. Anyone who thinks California Sangiovese at an inky, 14.8% alcohol is the proper expression of the grape needs to taste this wine and take a lesson from winemaker Stewart Johnson and his tiny label Kendric Vineyards. At $22, it’s a complete steal.
The rest of this week is simply just one big box of Pinot, from Oregon, Chile, and California.
Let’s start with a trio of 2018 wines from Dutton-Goldfield here in California. Each is worthy of attention, but my favorite is the wine from Dutton’s estate Fox Den Vineyard, which has a bright citrus-peel quality that I appreciate.
I grabbed a wine out of the pile from Yamhill Valley Vineyards this week—their entry-level estate Pinot Noir, which for $26 delivers a lot of pleasure.
And finally, I’ve got a few wines from Kingston Family Vineyards, who continue to make excellent Pinot Noir from their family estate in Chile’s Casablanca Valley. CJ’s Barrel is always one of their best Pinot Noirs, but the star this week was their Tobiano Pinot, named as many of their wines are, for one of the wild horses that roam their property. Kingston has apparently begun to do single-block bottlings of their Pinot Noir, as evidenced by a new wine I received recently, the “La Cantera.” I didn’t find it as compelling as the other two Pinots they sent, but it’s an intriguing direction for the estate that I am looking forward to watching as it evolves.
2019 Marchesi di Gresy “La Serra” Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Light gold in the glass with coarse bubbles, this wine smells of candied green apples. In the mouth, moderately sweet flavors of candied green apples and green melon have a pleasant sparkle and enough acidity to keep from being cloying. Crisp and refreshing, but hard to drink a lot of, as it’s pretty sweet stuff. However, as an aperitif or for those who like sweeter wines, it’s a classically clean interpretation of the form. 5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $19. click to buy.
2018 Kendric Vineyards “Reward Ranch” Sangiovese, Shenandoah Valley, Sierra Foothills, California
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells of sweet cherry and cedar. In the mouth, lovely cherry and citrus peel flavors are shot through with cedar and a touch of cinnamon as excellent acidity keeps the fruit fresh and bright while faint powdery tannins dust the edges of the mouth. Notes of orange peel linger in the finish. A beautifully elegant expression of Sangiovese, and one of the best that is currently being made in the state. 13.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2018 Dutton-Goldfield “Freestone Hill Vineyard – Dutton Ranch” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry, and sweet cedar. In the mouth, cherry and cedar and raspberry flavors have a nice citrusy brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Hints of herbs and dried citrus peel linger in the finish. 13.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $72. click to buy.
2018 Dutton-Goldfield “Docker Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of brown sugar, cherry, and a hint of sweet oak. In the mouth, cherry, brown sugar, and sweet oak flavors have a nice brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Rich and bright, with a faint hint of sweetness. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.
2018 Dutton-Goldfield “Fox Den Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth, bright raspberry and cherry fruit have an intense juiciness thanks to excellent acidity. Faint tannins caress the edges of the palate, while hints of dried herbs and citrus peel linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.
2017 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir, McMinnville, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cherries with a hint of dashi broth. In the mouth, juicy cherry and cedar flavors mix with a hint of dried herbs and that more savory dashi flavor. Good acidity and 13.9% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.
2019 Kingston Family Vineyards “CJ’s Barrel” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, raspberries, and redcurrants with just a hint of struck match. In the mouth tangy redcurrant and raspberry flavors have a hint of forest floor and dried herbs to them. A hint of green herbs lingers in the finish with faint tannins and excellent acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $50.
2019 Kingston Family Vineyards “Tobiano” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of citrus peel and raspberries with a hint of herbs. In the mouth, gorgeous crystalline raspberry pastille flavors are shot through with fresh green herbs and a wonderful hint of forest floor. Gorgeous acidity and faint powdery tannins that ghost the edges of the palate linger with a hint of citrus peel in the finish. Excellent. 12% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2019 Kingston Family Vineyards “La Cantera” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and redcurrants. In the mouth, raspberry, redcurrant, and sour cherry flavors are bright and juicy, with a light tannic backbone that has a hint of muscle to it. Notes of dried herbs linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.
2017 Marchesi di Gresy “Martinenga” Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of strawberries, dusty earth, and dried herbs. In the mouth, beautifully muscular, fine-grained tannins wrap around a core of very pretty strawberry jam and potting soil. Notes of licorice root and dried flowers linger in the finish. Excellent acidity keeps the wine fresh. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.