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 included a whole bunch of pink wines. But before we get into that hue, I can recommend a sparkling wine from the Russian River producer Inman Family Wines. Winemaker and owner Kathleen Inman has made a fresh-tasting extra-brut wine from a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Further south, in the cool Santa Cruz Mountains, consulting winemaker Shalini Sekhar makes Neely Wines from their vineyard in Portola Valley. Their Holly’s Cuvee Chardonnay has a nice balance to it with notes of herbs and minerality.
OK, shall we talk pink wine? I got a handful of rosatos from Italy recently, thanks to importer Dalla Terra. They’re all very good, and an excellent reminder not to have Provençal tunnel vision when it comes to refreshing pink wine. In particular, the rosatos of Puglia in the heel of Italy’s boot are especially excellent, as the two wines from Masseria Li Veli this week demonstrated. Both the Torrerose, which is made from Negroamaro, and the Susumaniello rosatos are excellent. The Susumaniello, in particular, has this gorgeous floral quality that will sweep you off your feet.
There’s also a domestic rosé to pay attention to, thanks to a bottle of Grenache-dominant rosé from Quivira, the organic producer in Dry Creek Valley.
Moving into reds, I’ve got another mountain Grenache to recommend from producer Edio Vineyards at Delfina Farms in El Dorado County, who have a crunchy, stony interpretation of the grape in this bottle.
From lower elevations, I can recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon from Sutro Wines in Alexander Valley, a producer who is maybe better known for their Merlot.
Finally, Rosemary Cakebread sent along her Gallica estate Cabernet Sauvignon from 2020, a vintage that many in Napa Valley did not produce. This wine is quite elegant and poised, though perhaps not quite as dynamic as it could be. I can’t wait to taste the 2021 version.
Notes on all these below.
2018 Inman Family Wines “Luxe Cuvée – Extra Brut – Inman Sisters” Sparkling Wine, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow-gold in the glass with coarse aggressive bubbles, this wine smells of freshly cut apples and lemon pith. In the mouth, lemon peel, apples, and a faint chalkiness turn slightly salty as the wine finishes. The mousse is extremely voluminous, almost too much so, filling the mouth even with a delicate sip. Good acidity, with a tart green apple note in the finish. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $90. click eto buy.
2020 Neely “Holly’s Cuvee” Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Light to medium yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and yellow herbs. In the mouth, lemon peel, lemon curd, and pomelo flavors have a nice yellow-herb tinge to them. Delicate acidity (wish there was more) supports and balances the fruit and herbal tones. Faint sense of minerality. 13.9% alcohol. 44 cases made. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55.
2022 Masseria Li Veli Susumaniello Rosato, Salento, Puglia, Italy
Pale salmon pink in color, this wine smells of peonies, strawberries, and citrus peel. In the mouth, bright berry and floral flavors have a satiny texture and light tannic grip. Excellent acidity and brightness. Extremely refreshing, balanced, and alluring with its floral perfume. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2022 Masseria Li Veli “Torrerose” Rosato, Salento, Puglia, Italy
Light baby-pink in color, this wine smells of strawberries and watermelon rind. In the mouth, bright citrus peel and strawberry flavors have a zingy quality thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a faint tannic grip that adds structure and complexity to the wine, which finishes with orange peel and wet chalkboard. Delicious. 100% Negroamaro. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $14. click to buy.
2022 Scaia Rosato, Veneto, Italy
Light salmon-pink in the glass with a coppery sheen, this wine smells of citrus peel and pith. In the mouth, orange peel, pomelo pith, and a hint of melon have a nice chalky crispness thanks to excellent acidity. There’s a faint tannic grip that lingers in the finish along with citrus peel. Made of 100% Rondinella. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a glass stopper. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2022 Capezzana “Vin Ruspo” Rosato, Barco Reale di Carmignano, Tuscany, Italy
Pale coppery pink in the glass, this wine smells of orange peel and redcurrant. In the mouth, orange peel, raspberry, and a hint of watermelon have a nice bouncy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Orange peel and grapefruit linger in the finish. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Canaiolo. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2022 Garofoli “Kòmaros” Montepulciano Rosato, Marche, Italy
Pale baby pink with salmon highlights, this wine smells of strawberry and watermelon. In the mouth, bright strawberry and watermelon flavors have a faint salinity that is quite mouthwatering, along with the bright acidity. Hints of herbs and dried citrus peel linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Closed with a polymer cork. Score: around 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.
2022 Quivira “Wine Creek Ranch” Rosé, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale baby pink in the glass with a hint of salmon, this wine smells of strawberries and watermelon. In the mouth, strawberry, watermelon and a hint of citrus peel have a nice silky texture and a faint grip. Very good acidity keeps the wine lively and fresh. A blend of certified-organic grapes: 59% Grenache, 20% Primitivo, 10% Counoise, 6% Petite Sirah, and 5% Mourvèdre. 13.3% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2020 Edio Vineyards “Estate Blend” Grenache, El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of strawberries and a hint of something meatier. In the mouth, strawberries mix with saddle leather and a touch of dried herbs as bright acidity and lightly grippy tannins make for a crunchier quality. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40.
2020 Sutro Wine Co “Warnecke Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, black plum, and mocha. In the mouth, black cherry, cola, and mocha flavors have a nice aromatic sweetness to them, as the toasty aroma of oak emerges to pervade the finish. Decent acidity, but could use a bit more. 14.5% alcohol Score: around 8.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.
2020 Gallica Wine Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and chopped green herbs. In the mouth, smooth cherry cola flavors mix with dried herbs and a hint of tobacco. Excellent acidity and fine-grained tannins round out an elegant and refined package. 14.5% alcohol. Comes in a slightly overweight heavy bottle weighing 1.58 kg when full. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $180. click to buy.