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 rockstar white wine from Bedrock Wine Company, run by Morgan Twain-Peterson, the son of pioneering Zinfandel winemaker Joel Peterson. Morgan has become one of the state’s specialists in heritage vineyards and is the owner of the ancient Bedrock Vineyard, one of California’s greatest viticultural treasures. Bedrock (the wine brand) makes wines from several old vineyards around the state, including the Compisi Vineyard, which hosts a wonderful mix of old white grape varieties (including Gewürztraminer, Roter Veltliner, and what might be the oldest Riesling in California, planted in 1953) that Peterson has co-fermented and made into a stunning white wine that positively makes the mouth water.
I’ve also got a bunch of other white wines to offer this week from around the state. Longboard vineyards have an Albariño on the more opulent side of the variety from the Russian River Valley. On the leaner side of the grape, Bokisch Winery in Lodi makes their Terra Alta Vineyard version of Albariño with the austerity you might find in Rias Baixas, Spain. The Bokisch Tizona Picpoul Blanc on the other hand offers a more plush interpretation of the grape.
I’ve been following Tara Gomez’s winemaking career since she was making her Kitá wines in Santa Barbara. Sadly that project was shuttered, and she is now focused on the Camins2Dreams brand she runs with her partner Mireia Taribó. They make two still Grüner Veltliners, of which I think I prefer this Spear Vineyard version, which has a nice crisp brightness and good varietal character.
A couple of days ago, just in time for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, I published a lengthy piece on California kosher wine. In the course of my tasting for that article, I ended up tasting some wines that weren’t from California and couldn’t be included in the piece, so I’m sharing them with you now.
Jonathan Hajdu is one of the few orthodox Jewish winemakers in California who can make certified Kosher wine. His eponymous kosher wine brand sources fruit from all over, including from Washington State, where he’s found some Riesling and Syrah that I can recommend if you ever come across them. I think the Riesling was made in tiny quantities and is sold out, but you might be able to find the Syrah on his website.
Lastly, Covenant Wines in Berkeley became well-known for making high-end kosher Napa Cabernet, and then after 10 years, began making wine in Israel as well. Their Blue C Viognier is a very nice representation of the variety, as is their Syrah.
That’s all for this week. Notes on all these wines below.
2022 Bedrock Wine Co “Compagni Portis Vineyard” White Blend, Sonoma County, California
Palest gold in color with a hint of green, this wine smells of lemon and lime citrus zest with hints of herbs. In the mouth, fantastically juicy and saline flavors of citrus pith, lime leaf, aromatic herbs, and crushed shells positively vibrate on the palate. Salty, bright, mouthwatering and compelling. Hints of chamomile and bee pollen linger with pomelo pith in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $35.
2022 Longboard Vineyards “Elieo Vineyard” Albariño, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied lemon and lime. In the mouth, silky flavors of candied lemon and lime mix with a touch of makrut lime and grapefruit. Rich for the variety, but with an admirable intensity of flavor. Foot-stomped whole clusters get a few hours of skin contact before pressing into old French oak barrels and stainless drums. Lees stirred twice monthly for 5 months. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $36.
2022 Camins 2 Dreams “Spear Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Pale gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of bright pear and lemon pith flavors. In the mouth, pear, lemongrass, and a touch of grapefruit mix with very good acidity and a hint of dried herbs. Crisp and bright. 13.0% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.
2022 Hajdu Wines Riesling, Yakima Valley, Washington
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of orange peel and Asian pear. In the mouth, bright and only faintly sweet flavors of Asian pear, white flowers, and orange oil are bright and juicy. There’s a nice wet chalkboard minerality on the finish. 10 g/l residual sugar. Certified kosher, non-mevushal. 13% alcohol. 50 cases made. Score: around 9. Cost: sold out.
2022 Bokish Vineyards “Terra Alta Vineyard” Albariño, Clements Hills, Lodi, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of sea air, green apples, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, lean flavors of green apple, wet pavement, and lime zest have a nice crispness thanks to excellent acidity. A hint of chalkiness lingers in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $24.50. click to buy.
2022 Bokish Vineyards “Tizona – Terra Alta Vineyard” Picpoul Blanc, Clements Hills, Lodi, California
Pale gold in the glass this wine smells of citrus zest and pears. In the mouth, pear, dried herbs, and citrus peel flavors have a filigreed acidity and a silky texture. Notes of vanilla and a hint of woodiness linger in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.
2020 Covenant “Blue C” Viognier, Israel
Pale straw in the glass, this wine smells of apricot, citrus pith, and pink grapefruit. In the mouth, apricot and pink grapefruit flavors mix with unripe peach and a nice citrus punch. Excellent acidity and a nice bright stony minerality with a hint of salinity. Native yeast ferment in neutral oak barrels. Comes from two vineyards, one in the Golan Heights, and one in Galilee. Certified kosher, non-mevushal. 12.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $29. click to buy.
2017 Covenant Syrah, Israel
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of roasted nuts, as well as dark, rich blackberry and blueberry fruit. In the mouth, rich blueberry and blackberry fruit have a faint sweetness and notes of roasted nuts. Fleecy tannins with some muscle. A hint of heat on the finish. A blend of two vineyards, one in the Golan Heights, and another in the Galilee that is one of the few biodynamic vineyards in Israel. Certified kosher, non-mevushal. 15.4% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.
2022 Hajdu Wines Syrah, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Washington
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and black cherry with a hint of mint. In the mouth, bright and juicy blackberry and black cherry flavors are shot through with a sort of minty Peppermint Patty quality. Very restrained, fine-grained tannins. Interesting. 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases made. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50.