Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples that show up asking to be tasted. 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’s dive into the samples pile yielded more than the normal share of wines that weren’t good enough for me to review here on Vinography. So I’m bringing you the list of wines that were good enough, but it’s a bit shorter than normal.
We’re going to start the week off with some bubbly, the first of which is a very nice Cremant de Bourgogne from the inimitable Jean-Charles Boisset, whose family is the region’s largest producer of Cremant de Bourgogne. To be honest, this is one of the better examples of the form that I’ve had. Specifically made to pair with caviar, hence the name, it’s got great balance and finesse.
In addition, I’ve got two sparkling wines from Raventos i Blanc, who are one of a handful of producers seriously changing the game in Spain’s Cava region. In fact, these wines are deliberately not labeled as Cava, and are instead sparkling wines from the Conca del Riu Anoia region, which Raventos has fought hard to establish as an apellation in its own right. Both wines from Raventos are very good, but the rosé is particularly excellent.
I’ve also got a few Pinots this week, one from Dutton-Goldfield and two from Coventina, a producer in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. The Coventina wines were interesting, but suffer from big-bottle-syndrome, weighing far more than they should. Somewhat oddly, the standard Pinot Noir bottle weighed more than the reserve, but that could be simply a variance in fill-levels.
That’s all for this week. I hope the hit rate is higher next week.
NV JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset “Caviar Blanc de Blancs” Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
Pale greenish gold in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of citrus pith, sea air, wet chalkboard, and a hint of apples. In the mouth, a voluminous, silky mousse delivers flavors of melted butter, citrus pith, golden apples, and a touch of butterscotch, all suffused with a faint floral sweetness. Quite pleasant, with nicely rounded edges and very easy to drink. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $47. click to buy.
2019 Raventos i Blanc “Blanc de Blancs” Cava Blend, Conca del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Spain
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers, golden apples, and a hint of butter. In the mouth, a soft, voluminous mousse, delivers flavors of bright apple, florals, and a touch of citrus pith, with notes of pomelo lingering in the finish. Clean, crisp, bright, and dry. A traditional blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada, with (for the first time) about 5% of Malvasia de Sitges blended in.12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2019 Raventos i Blanc “De Nit” Rosé Cava Blend, Conca del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Spain
Palest peachy pink in color with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of rosehips, citrus peel, and berries. In the mouth, a soft, silky mousse delivers flavors of citrus peel, unripe strawberries, and rosehips. Tangy, mouthwatering finish with excellent acidity and just the barest hint of salinity. Tasty, with a nice savory complexion. A blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and Parellada, with some Monastrell blended in for color. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.
2019 Dutton-Goldfield “Angel Camp Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cherry, and new oak. In the mouth, flavors of cranberry and cherry are shot through with the nutty vanilla flavors of oak, which linger with a bit too much prominence in the finish for my taste. Decent acidity. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.
2016 Coventina Pinot Noir, Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of candied cherries. In the mouth, sweetish cranberry and cherry flavors have a very faint tannic structure and a touch of cedar and citrus peel. Not horribly complex, but doubtless a crowd-pleaser. Slightly softer acidity than I’d like. 14.5% alcohol. In a ridiculously heavy bottle, weighing 1.76 kg when full. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $35.
2016 Coventina “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries, cherries, and dried herbs. In the mouth, flavors of cherry and raspberry are shot through with traces of oak and its vanilla-and-toasted-mocha qualities. Good acidity and a nice faint citrus peel note feature in the finish along with the wood and raspberry. Barely perceptible tannins. I wish I tasted less wood here. 13.8% alcohol. In a much heavier bottle than it needs to be, weighing 1.65 kg when full. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $45.