Vinography Unboxed: Week of 8/28/22

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 couple of pretty decent canned wines that are worth calling to your attention. I have reviewed wines from Maker Wine before, the company started by two Stanford Business School students as their final project. Their offerings, which continue to focus on smaller winemakers, continue to improve. This week I’m featuring two wines of theirs made by another Stanford student, Chris Christensen, whose Bodkin Wines label offered a tangy sparkling rosé (technically a blush, as it blends red and white wines) and (somewhat unusually) a dry Muscat Canelli. Both are extremely easy to drink, either straight from the can, or in a glass. The third Maker wine I’m highlighting this week is the latest vintage of Pinot Noir from Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley. It’s on the richer side of Pinot Noir, but pretty darned good out of a can.

Michael Brughelli has been farming grapes in Santa Barbara County for some time. Specifically, he spent seven years working for the Miller family, who own Bien Nacido Vineyards, selling grapes to some of the top wine labels in California. He was also one of the founding partners in the boutique label Scar of the Sea but has now moved on to work on his own project, Brvghelli Wine (yes, with a “v”) which he launched in 2018. Brughelli’s project is aimed at the uppermost echelons of Santa Barbara wine lovers. His Chardonnay is finely detailed and quite pretty, while his Pinot Noir offers some very nice savory qualities along with more evolved fruit flavors. At $200 per bottle, they are among the highest-priced wines made in Santa Barbara County.

Lastly, I’ve got three newer releases from Aperture Cellars, the father-son project by photographer Andy Katz (a friend whose images I feature here on Vinography from time to time) and his winemaker son Jesse Katz. I’m particularly excited about the second release of the wine that Jesse is calling his “1912 Estate,” which represents something rather new under the Aperture label. The swanky new(ish) Aperture Cellars winery and tasting room are south of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, and the land they purchased for the cellar included 8 acres of an old “mixed black” vineyard planted with Zinfandel and a number of other grape varieties. I didn’t get to taste the first vintage of this wine, but this second one is a pleasure to drink.

In addition to that, I can recommend the estate’s “Soil Specific” Bordeaux blend from Sonoma County, and the Oliver Ranch Cabernet from Alexander Valley, which is one of several single-vineyard Cabernets that Katz makes, showing off his skill at balancing power with finesse.

Notes on all these wines below.

Tasting Notes

2021 Maker Wines “Bodkin Wines” Sparkling Rosé, North Coast, California
A pale peachy pink in color with big bubbles, this wine smells of berries and citrus pith. In the mouth, a coarse mousse delivers tart citrus peel and redcurrant flavors that have hints of strawberry and watermelon. Mouthwatering and bright, even zippy. A blend of 60% Barbera, 20% Zinfandel, and 20% Chardonnay. 10% alcohol. Packaged in a 250ml can. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $8. click to buy.

2021 Maker Wines “Bodkin Wines” Muscat Canelli, Lake County, California
A bright yellow-green-gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied lemon, candle wax, and star fruit. In the mouth, candied citrus, melon, and pomelo flavors have a nice bright acidity that sneaks up on you. There’s a faint chalky texture in the finish. Very well done for Muscat Canelli, exceptionally well done for canned wine. 10% alcohol. Packaged in a 250ml can. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $8.

2018 Brvghelli Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara,…

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