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 past week included a few wines that didn’t make the final cut for inclusion in my roundup of the best sparkling wines in California that I wrote for Jancis Robinson last month. Which isn’t to say these wines aren’t so good. On the contrary, they’re excellent, but my column has room for only so many tasting notes.
Let’s start with Paula Kornell’s latest effort, which I think is her best Blanc de Noirs yet, fully of apples and citrus and round sweetness that will make it appealing to a wide range of drinkers.
Then there’s the beautifully aged (and yes, slightly hard to find as a result) 2005 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs from Domaine Carneros. At 18 years old this wine proves quite definitively the longevity of this top bottling from Domaine Carneros, and will delight those who enjoy the flavors of older bubbly.
As I noted in my piece for Jancis, California is in the midst of a sparkling wine revolution, and the next two bottles I have to recommend demonstrate some of the more exciting participants in that revolution. Under the Wire is a sparkling wine project started by Chris Cottrell and Morgan Twain-Peterson which makes some really compelling and unique traditional-method sparkling wine, including some select bottlings from Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Vineyard, which is a treasure trove of old vines in Sonoma County. What is essentially a sparkling White Zinfandel made from ancient vines will destroy most preconceived notions of that vilified genre.
The other sparkling rosé this week comes from Alma Fria, whom I’ve praised extensively in previous writings. Carroll Kemp’s latest sparkling rosé gets a short tirage in the bottle and is topped with a crown cap, letting you know that it’s not a long-aging wine to cellar, but merely one to pop anytime you want a brisk berry and floral party that requires no corkscrew to enjoy.
Leaving the bubbles behind, I’ve got the latest picnic wine from Troon Vineyard to recommend. Formerly known as Druid’s Fluid, but now known as Druid’s Red, this unspecified blend of southern Rhône varieties comes from younger vines on the property, which means they get the same Demeter-certified, Gold Regenerative Organic Certified farming as the rest of the estate. This is an earthy quaffer of a wine, that you might be tempted to drink with a slight chill given its crunchy acidity and low alchohol. I gave into that temptation but found I vastly preferred it at a normal red wine temperature, and that it also benefitted from decanting (not something you’d think much about doing with a $25 wine, but there you go).
Speaking of crunchy reds, I really enjoyed the latest Syrah from Kendric Vineyards, which has a lovely cool-climate quality and a lot of savory character to love, including one of my favorite things to find in Syrah, which is a little salinity.
Markus Niggli is a Swiss-born emigré to Lodi where he worked at Borra Vineyards before launching his own label Markus Wine Co. in 2014. He makes a number of different bottlings, but this week I’m highlighting one from his “Ancient Blocks” series, which is a field blend from 1930’s-era Church Block vineyard, which is planted with Carignan, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and Zinfandel.
Sticking with the old vines theme I’ve got two wines from Puccioni Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, an old vine (119+ years) Zinfandel and a Petite Sirah, both of which will satisfy a craving for richer, darker red wines should the winter weather push you towards the genre.
Notes on all these below.
2020 Paula Kornell “Blanc de Noirs” Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California
Pale gold in the glass with…
Source : https://www.vinography.com/2023/12/vinography-unboxed-week-of-11-26-23