Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/2/23

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.

This week included some wines that you don’t see all that often, along with something of a lesson in quality to price ratio. I recently received a couple of sample bottles of Bordeaux Blanc. I wasn’t familiar with either producer, but Bordeaux Blanc is something of a rarity for me, certainly when it comes to samples, but also in terms of what I come across on wine lists, in stores, etc. I just don’t see a lot of these wines, though perhaps that will start changing given the current Sauvignon Blanc craze sweeping America.

In any case, I pulled these two bottles out and opened them up. One with a cork, one with a screw cap. I tasted them both. They were both pretty tasty. Not amazing, but pretty tasty. The first one from Château Couhins had a slightly smoky note that suggested expensive oak barrels, the Château la Freynelle by Véronique Barthe a lovely fruity freshness. I gave both of them the same score. And then imagine my surprise when I found out one of them was $250 per bottle and one of them was $15!

My friends, you don’t always get what you pay for. Especially in the world of wine.

In keeping with the “you don’t see these everyday” theme, I also got a pair of Albariños this week. Considering the furor over Sauvignon Blanc at the moment, perhaps we’re also about to see the stars align for an explosion of Albariño? Equally refreshing and with a similar flavor profile, Albariño is just much less common in California, though it’s been around for decades. The two wines I received represent two equally compelling interpretations of the grape, so to speak. The Croma Vera version is fruitier, perhaps more “California” in style, but with the bright acidity and snap you expect from the variety. The Edio Vineyards version is more in tune with the Rias Baixas version of Albariño, lean and steely. There’s an irony here, in that the Croma Vera comes from the SLO Coast, a climate which much better resembles the grape’s homeland in coastal northern Spain, whereas the Edio is grown in a high-elevation mountain climate in El Dorado county. Keep an eye out for the tasty GSM “Frank’s Blend” from Edio as well.

I also tasted a couple more wines this week from Darling Wines—a very lean Pinot Gris and an interesting Pinot Noir, both from the Petaluma Gap AVA.

Moving to the darker shade of reds, we can begin with a crunchy, surprisingly (in a good way) lean interpretation of Nero d’Avola from the Perlegos brothers in Lodi, as well as a classically profiled Cabernet Sauvignon from Post & Beam, which is a sub-brand of Far Niente winery in Napa.

It’s tough to taste Barolo’s when they’re too young, and the bottle of Pio Cesare “Barolo Pio” that got sent to me recently is a good example, but this one will likely blossom with some time in the bottle.

Lastly, and certainly not least, I recently received the latest vintage of Insignia from Joseph Phelps. Their flagship Cabernet-dominant red blend is reliably one of Napa’s top bottlings every year, and one that (though expensive) is made in quantities that allow ordinary humans (or at least humans who can afford it) to get their hands on a bottle without being on a mailing list. The 2019 vintage is beautifully accessible now, but will improve for the next 10 years for sure.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2017 Château Couhins Graves Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon oil, white flowers and a hint of smoke. In the mouth, wonderfully saline flavors of lemon oil, grapefruit and passionfruit mix with a bit of green apple skin leaving a faintly pleasant bitterness in the finish. Contains…

Source :

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/2/23 Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/2/23 *Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/2/23