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 past week included a bright and stony Sauvignon Blanc from Trois Noix wines in Napa, which is admirable for its slightly more austere approach to the grape which reminds me of the more typical European interpretation of the variety.
I’m always excited to receive the wines from Can Sumoi, a natural wine project by Raventos i Blanc, based on the revitalization of an old farm in the Penedes region of Spain and its indigenous grape varieties. These wines are made with minimal sulfur additions, organically farmed grapes, and yet they’re wonderfully clean and pure. They also come in cute, squat bottles that are probably a nightmare to put into a rack, but look pretty neat.
I’ve got another Armenian wine to share with you this week, from producer Van Ardi, begun by a public accountant from Los Angeles who decided to return to his homeland and make wine. It’s a lovely interpretation of the native Areni Noir grape with a little age on it.
I also got the latest release from legendary Montalcino producer Biondi-Santi this week. Their 2020 Rosso di Montalcino is elegant and refined, and while it may not have the profundity of Brunello, it’s still delicious and will likely age beautifully. It’s also a darn sight cheaper than the pricey and hard-to-find Brunello.
Lastly, I’ve got a couple of rich reds from Peter Mathis at Mathis Wine, who focuses on making wines from Sonoma Valley. For those looking for robust and powerful red wines, you’ll enjoy both his Grenache and his unusual blend of Petite Sirah, Grenache and other grapes.
Notes on all these below.
2022 Troix Noix “Ryan’s Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc, Oak Knoll District, Napa, California
Palest gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of orange peel and passionfruit. In the mouth, orange peel and green apple flavors have a lean crispness thanks to very good acidity. There’s a slightly austere, wet pavement quality to this wine that is compelling. 13.3% alcohol. Certified B Corporation. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.
2022 Can Sumoi Garnaxta Blanca, Spain
Pale blonde in color, this wine smells of ripe golden apples and white flowers. In the mouth, slightly melon-like flavors mix with white flowers and golden apples as hints of citrus pith emerge in the finish. Bright and juicy thanks to very good acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Certified organic. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??
2022 Can Sumoi “La Rosa” Rosé, Penedes, Catalunya, Spain
Palest peachy pink in the glass, this wine smells of candle wax, hibiscus, and citrus peel. In the mouth, bright flavors of citrus peel, redcurrant, and watermelon rind have a nice briskness thanks to excellent acidity. A blend of 50% Sumoll, 30% Parellada, and 20% Xarel-lo that macerates for 4 hours on the skins. 11.5% alcohol. Certified organic. Score: around 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2021 Can Sumoi Red Blend, Spain
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest berries and wet pavement. In the mouth, crunchy flavors of boysenberry, cherry, and mulberry are wrapped in a gauzy haze of tannins that coat the mouth. Excellent acidity and a deep stony quality make this a refreshing wine to drink. A blend of Garnaxta (Grenache) and Sumoll. 12.5% alcohol. Certified organic. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26. click to buy.
2018 Van Ardi “Reserve” Areni Noir, Aragatsotn, Armenia
Light to medium ruby in the glass with garnet highlights, this wine smells of strawberry and dried flowers. In the mouth, juicy strawberry and cherry flavors mix with dried herbs and dried flowers as a citrus-peel brightness emerges in the finish. Excellent acidity and very nice balance, with lightly grippy tannins that linger. Aged 14 months in Armenian and French oak. 14% alcohol. Packaged in an unnecessarily heavy bottle weighing 1.58 kg when full. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2020 Biondi-Santi “Tenuta Greppo” Sangiovese, Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of orange peel, leather, and dried berries. In the mouth, wonderfully juicy flavors of dried herbs, cherries, and redcurrant are wrapped in a fleecy blanket of tannins. Excellent acidity and brightness, as dried flowers and herbs linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $100. click to buy.
2019 Mathis Wines Grenache, Sonoma Valley, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry jam and mulling spices. In the mouth, flavors of strawberry jam and dried herbs are wrapped in fleecy tannins. There’s a lovely aromatic sweetness here, and enough acidity to keep things fresh, but this is definitely richer, higher octane Grenache, with hints of raisins in the finish. 14.8% alcohol. Packaged in an unnecessarily heavy bottle weighing 1.56 kg when full. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2019 Mathis Wines “Überblend” Red Blend, Sonoma Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of chocolate-covered strawberries. In the mouth, rich strawberry and black cherry flavors mix with a touch of mulling spice and dried herbs. Lightly grippy tannins grab the edge of the palate, but good acidity keeps things dynamic. Notes of oak linger in the finish. The wine is a blend of 44% Petite Sirah, 33% Grenache, 13% Carignane and 10% Alicante Bouschet. 14.9% alcohol. Packaged in an unnecessarily heavy bottle weighing 1.54 kg when full. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30.