Home Glass brand Week of 7/11/21: Vinography

Week of 7/11/21: Vinography


Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples begging to be tasted. It is my pleasure to bring you the latest installment from Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the best bottles that have come through my door recently.

Let’s start this week with some reliable values. Many Pinot Noir enthusiasts are familiar with Calera Wines, the passionate project of a lifetime by Josh Jensen who found his own little place to make Pinot Noir on limestone called Mount Harlan. Calera, which was bought by the Duckhorn family of brands a few years ago, has long been making a few inexpensive Central Coast wines. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which I reviewed this week, are tasty and excellent values.

I have been speaking, whoever will listen, for about 10 years on the subject of the Nerello Mascalese and Carricante plantation in California. Specifically, I think someone should plant them in the volcanic soils of Lake County. To my knowledge, no one has done this yet, but the folks at Rhys Vineyards planted them in a vineyard north of Lake Sonoma in Mendocino County and started harvesting the grapes and putting them in a brand that they call Aeris, which also includes the Sicilian wines that they produce on the slopes of Etna.

Writing about Rhys wines always gives me a little pang in my heart following their offensive environmental debacle. But their wines are quite remarkable and deserve to be mentioned, with the hope that they have learned their lesson when it comes to ignoring the law and wiping out ecosystems.

The two wines they took out of their centenary mountain vineyard are a white, made from Carricante, and a red which is a blend of Nebbiolo, Nerello Mascalese, Carignan, Primitivo and Barbera. I like them both a lot, even if the Carricante, solo, evokes more of its Sicilian heritage than the red mixture. Both are worth looking for. I can’t wait to see this project evolve.

I have two Pinot Noirs from a single vineyard in Lavinea in Oregon to recommend this week, both with distinct personalities, but each quite tasty.

Finally, I have some big Napa reds for you this week, including the Crane assembly, an upscale Napa Cabernet project from Dave Phinney, the man who brought you the Prisoner wine, and two wines from the Peju winery. My favorite of the set is the 1886 Napa Cabernet from Ehler’s domain, a biodynamic winery north of Sainte-Hélène run by a non-profit cardiovascular research organization. It has a nice combination of power and balance which are the hallmarks of the great Napa Cabernet. I just wish there wasn’t such a heavy bottle.

All this and more below!

Tasting notes

2018 Calera Vineyards Chardonnay, Central Coast, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and pineapple. On the palate, the rich flavors of pineapple and candied lemon zest have a nice juiciness thanks to good acidity. Definitely leans towards the more ripe end of the Chardonnay spectrum, but the acidity balances the intense fruit. 14.2% alcohol. Note: approximately 8.5. Cost: $ 25. click to buy.

2017 Aeris “Centennial Mountain Vineyard – Bianco” Carricante, California
The palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of star fruit, celery and wet chalk. On the palate, the juicy and salty flavors of lemon cucumber, white flowers and star fruit have incredibly crisp acidity and a hint of candied green apple that lingers on the finish with hints of wet pavé. This is the first plantation of the Carricante grape in America, as far as I know. 12% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 40. click to buy.

2017 Aeris “Centennial Mountain Vineyard – Bricco Rosso” Rouge Blend, California
Medium ruby ​​in color, this wine gives off an aroma of nutmeg and warm spices, cedar and strawberry jam. On the palate, the very juicy cherry and strawberry flavors are tinged with cinnamon, cardamom and cedar, while muscular and powdery tannins envelop the heart of the wine. Excellent acidity. A blend of 50% Nebbiolo, 20% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Carignan, 10% Primitivo and 10% Barbera. 14.5% alcohol. Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 50. click to buy.

Pinot Noir Lavinea “Tulatin Estate” 2018, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and a hint of potpourri. On the palate, lively raspberry and redcurrant flavors mingle with strong spices and some dried flowers. Excellent acidity gives the wine a shine of citrus peel, which lingers until a long finish. Fine and powdery tannins. 13.8% alcohol. Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 59. click to buy.

2018 Lavinea “Elton Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of a struck match and raspberry. On the palate, wonderfully earthy and stony notes of raspberry and raspberry leaf have a light tannic texture and crisp, juicy acidity. Gives an impression of refinement. 12.9% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 68. click to buy.

2018 Calera Vineyards Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry compote. On the palate, the vibrant flavors of cherry, cranberry and raspberry have a juicy, sweet shine supported by a tiny hint of dusty tannins. Simple and pleasant. Easy to drink. Good acidity and length. 14.4% alcohol. Note: approximately 8.5. Cost: $ 32. click to buy.

2015 The Crane Assembly Cabernet Sauvignon “GB Crane Vineyard”, Saint Helena, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raisins, chocolate and cherries. On the palate, the chocolate coated cherries and raisins have a surprisingly light touch on the palate and with good acidity, making it a wine riddle. At the same time quite ripe, but certainly not strongly extracted, the wine is of an admirable grace and a surprising balance considering the 15.7% alcohol. Unfortunately, the heavy bottle weighs 1.78 kg full. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 225. click to buy.

2017 Ehlers Estate “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, California, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco leaf. On the palate, the wine has a lively elegance, with flavors of cherry, tobacco, plum and hints of dried herbs. Fine-grained tannins hang like a mist over the palate, and notes of licorice and dried flowers linger on the finish. Excellent acidity makes for a mouth-watering bite. Quite pretty. 14.5% alcohol. 1,100 cases produced. Comes in an extremely heavy bottle weighing 1.79 kg when full. Note: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ 125. click to buy.

2018 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, CA
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, tobacco and cola. On the palate, the cherry cola flavors are vibrant with juicy acidity. Notes of tobacco and espresso persist on the finish. Muscular tannins envelop the fruity core of the wine and a hint of mint permeates the wine. 14.5% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 57 click to buy.

2018 Peju “Fifty / Fifty” Red Blend, Napa Valley, CA
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. On the palate, the mellow flavors of black cherry and cassis have a nice minty freshness and a touch of espresso and dark chocolate that lingers on the finish with this mint. The light and leathery tannins expand as the wine progresses in the mouth. Blend 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.5% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 120. click to buy.

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