Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/22/23

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.

We can start this week with a bang, which is sort of what your nose and tastebuds feel when you get your hands on the first of four wines I’ve got for you this week from a tiny, tiny family producer in the Tokaj region of Hungary. It’s impossible not to be charmed by these wines, from the arrestingly aromatic Muscat to the deeply ethereal and complex dry Furmint produced from one of the regions most famous vineyards.

Charming is among the first words that come to mind when speaking of Erzsébet Pince, a winery established by Erzsébet (Elizabeth) Prácser and her husband Miklós in 1989 when the fall of Communism meant such things were once again possible. From their magical 17th-century stone cellar, the Prácser family makes a mere 1000 cases of wine each year with a level of care and attention that is rare in a region where most of the wine is made by larger companies. The aging Prácsers continue to manage the vineyards, while their son, Miklós Jr., and daughter Hajnalka (or Hajni to her friends) handle winemaking and marketing/operations respectively. Hajni’s husband, American MW+MS Ronn Weigand pitches in with tasting, blending, and hospitality.

One of Erzsébet’s most unique products is their Betsek Dülö Kabar, an unbelievably rare grape (only a couple of acres planted in the world) from one of the most historically famous vineyards in the Tokaj region. If you’re like me and enjoy tasting new and different things, I highly recommend it. Of course, pretty much anything you can get your hands on from this little producer is worth your time, and if you ever find yourself in the town of Tokaj itself, make sure to stop by their coffee shop for one of the country’s best cups of coffee.

Closer to home, I’ve got a couple of newer releases to share with you from superstar winemaker Katy Wilson, who apprenticed with and then partnered with Ross Cobb before launching her own small label LaRue Wines in 2009. Katy’s primary day job is making wine for Anaba Wines, a Sonoma-based brand that began as a Rhône-focused winery but now produces some pretty stellar Pinot Noirs with Wilson at the wheel.

For her own label, Wilson sticks with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, making small batches of exquisite wines from some of the Sonoma Coast’s top vineyards, including Ross Cobb’s Coastlands and the Klopp Vineyard which Wilson helped plant. That’s the Chardonnay I have to share with you this week, along with her Sonoma Coast blend of Pinot Noir fruit from various sources. The Chardonnay is a knockout, easily one of the best I’ve tasted in many months, and the humble Sonoma Coast blend Pinot Noir is better than many people’s single vineyard efforts.

While we’re on the topic of talented lady winemakers, I’ve been watching (and tasting) with anticipation as Priyanka French settles into her position as head winemaker and winegrower at Signorello Estate (assisted by consulting winemaker Celia Welch). After tasting it in barrel with her last year, French sent along the recently released new wine they have decided to call Signori.

French has decided to make 2 flagship Cabernets from the property. Their Padrone wine has always been a “best barrel” blend off of the entire estate, but with Signori, French has decided to focus on their coolest vineyard parcels on the back side of the hill above the winery, as well as to pull back a little on the extraction and oak program to focus more on finesse. It’s early days for this wine, but I’d say she’s headed in the right direction.

Lastly, I’ve got an interesting Australian Shiraz to recommend from Mt. Yengo, a wine that has a nice freshness to it, with excellent acidity. Mt. Yengo…

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Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/22/23  
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