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 (and last for 2022) installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.
This past week included a couple of cheerful, fresh, and greenish tangy Sauvignon Blancs from Viña Leyda, in Chile. I had a hard time deciding which one I preferred, but I think in the end, the wine from the new single-vineyard coastal project won out by a hair.
Next, I’ve got a few more wines to recommend from the new (to me) producer Newfound Wines. I reviewed a couple of their bottles last week and the ones I tasted this week were just as excellent. In particular, they’re Semillon, which is a grape that gets much less attention here in California than it should. It’s usually blended into Sauvignon Blanc (often with excellent results) but really it can, and should, stand on its own more. Don’t miss their Grenache, either.
Limited Addition Wines is also receiving a second week of coverage for their tiny-production, quirky wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Thanks to them I have now tasted my first domestically produced rendition of the Mencia grape, which I usually enjoy from producers in northern Spain. It was tasty, though not quite as delicious as their Gamay, Jura-inspired red blend, or their Cabernet Franc. Fans of crunchy red wines will enjoy all these wines.
On the richer red front, I’ve got a nice red blend from the heel of Italy’s boot to offer below, as well as a tasty Shiraz from Australia’s McLaren Vale.
But the star of the red wine show this past week was undeniably the latest (not quite, but just about ready to be released) flagship wine from Cathy Corison: her always spectacular Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Displaying its usual restraint and elegance, along with the near-perfect balance that came with many 2019 wines in Napa, this is a stellar, old-school expression of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from an old vineyard in St. Helena that yields precious little fruit. As usual, it is built for the long haul, and will evolve and improve for two or three decades.
OK, notes on all these and more below.
2021 Viña Leyda “Coastal Vineyards – Garuma” Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of lime zest, cut grass, and green apple skin. In the mouth, tangy green apple and lime zest flavors mix with cut grass and a hint of gooseberries. Excellent acidity. Faint salinity. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.
2022 Viña Leyda “Reserva” Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley, Chile
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of cut grass, lime zest, and gooseberries. In the mouth, tart green apple, gooseberries and lime pith flavors mix with lime juice and a touch of grapefruit. Bright and juicy with excellent acidity. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15
2020 Newfound Wines Semillon, Napa Valley, California
Pale gold with a hint of hazy green in the glass, this wine smells of lemon and white flowers. In the mouth, lemon pastry cream and white floral flavors have a nice zip to them thanks to excellent acidity and a nice silky texture. Hints of citrus zest linger in the finish. Subtle, but delicious. This wine will get richer with age. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2019 Newfound Wines “Scaggs Vineyard” Grenache, Mt. Veeder, Napa, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of candied strawberries. In the mouth, gorgeous crunchy flavors of strawberry and flowers have fantastic acidity and a surprisingly muscular grip for a wine this pale in color. Hints of redwood bark and red licorice linger in the finish. Excellent. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $53. click to buy.
2020 Newfound Wines “Gravels” Red Blend, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of boysenberry and blueberry. In the mouth, powdery muscular tannins coat the mouth, as the wine offers boisterous berry and herb notes tinged with blood orange. Tastes like some or all the wine was carbonically macerated, and the tannins make the 100% whole cluster fermentation somewhat obvious. Excellent acidity. A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah aged in 500 to 600-liter barrels. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $29. click to buy.
2021 Limited Addition Gamay, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium purple in the glass, this wine smells of blood orange and boysenberry. In the mouth, crunchy, bright boysenberry and blood orange flavors are shot through with a touch of earth and dried herbs. Herbal notes get almost minty in the finish, while light grippy tannins buff the edges of the palate. Dry-farmed grapes. 12.6% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2021 Limited Addition Mencia, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium purple in color, this wine smells of struck match and dried flowers. In the mouth, vaguely saline flavors of smoky meaty blackberry and cassis mix with stony pavement and crushed dried herbs. There’s a faint hint of black pepper in the finish. Dry-farmed grapes. 12.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.
2021 Limited Addition Red Blend, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in hue, this wine smells of forest berries, flowers, and green herbs. In the mouth, crunchy berry and herb flavors are shot through with a hint of earth and dried flowers. There’s a light salinity to this wine as well that makes it quite gulpable. A blend of 33% Trousseau, 33% Gamay, and 24% Pinot Noir, all dry-farmed. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.
2021 Limited Addition “Field Blend” Cabernet Franc, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black plum, sweaty socks, and green herbs. In the mouth, very silky flavors of black plum, black cherry and a hint of green herbs are gorgeous and stony, with fine, powdery tannins that coat the mouth. Floral notes linger in the finish. Very pretty, and likely to blossom more with time. The “field blend” referenced in the name is a wide variety of different Cabernet Franc clones planted in high density together. 12.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.
2019 Terre et Sang “The Patriarch – Larner Vineyard” Syrah, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and sweet oak. In the mouth, blackberry and oak flavors compete for attention with the mocha sweetness of wood finally tipping the scales. Fine, powdery tannins and good acidity. Just slightly too polished for my taste. 14.9% alcohol. Comes in a bottle that is heavier than it needs to be, weighing 1.58 kg when full. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $75.
2017 Tenute Rubino “Jaddico – Rosso Risserva” Red Blend, Brindisi, Puglia, Italy
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of prunes and black cherry with an unusual hint of camphor. In the mouth, rich black cherry and blackberry flavors have a hint of sweet raisin to them, along with a lovely dark earthiness that turns to licorice in the finish. Excellent acidity and putty-like tannins. A blend of 80% Negroamaro and 20% Susumaniello. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.
2015 Koomilya “DC Block” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry and a hint of struck match. In the mouth, lush blackberry and black pepper flavors mix with a hint of minty green herbs that expand into the finish with a touch of menthol heat. Excellent acidity and faint tannins.14% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.
2019 Corison Wines “Kronos Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St.Helena, Napa, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackcurrant, black cherry, and dried flowers. In the mouth, black cherry, cola, and cassis flavors are wrapped in wispy tannins and stony with excellent acidity. With a gorgeous texture and fantastically well-balanced, this wine is showing just a touch of its oak barrels at the moment, and needs a couple of years for the fruit to eclipse the wood. In 5 to 10 years, this wine will be stunning, but it’s pretty damn delicious right now. 13.7% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $250. click to buy.