Vinography Unboxed: Week of 12/3/23

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.

Like last week, this past week included a few gems 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.

Down on the Central Coast Nicole Bertotti Pope has been making some very interesting single-vineyad sparkling wines at Haliotide, the label she started with her husband Lucas in 2016. Her 2018 Blanc de Blancs from Stolo Vineyards (where she’s currently the winemaker) has a lovely combination of precision and more bready, yeasty notes that I enjoy.

Speaking of those autolytic bready and yeasty notes that I love so much in sparkling wines that have been aged for a long time on the lees, one of the finest examples in California has to be the J. Schram Late Disgorged bottling from Schramsberg Vineyards. The 2004 I tasted recently was a saline, toasty knockout. Unfortunately it’s hard to find in the market.

As was the well-aged top cuvee from their competitor, Roederer Estate. Their 2005 l’Ermitage bottling is in excellent shape right now, and perhaps slightly easier to find than the Schramsberg. It’s time to drink this one up, however, so if you can get your hands on a bottle, don’t hold back.

Moving on to still wines, I can recommend the white equivalent of the red I reviewed last week, from Troon Vineyard. The Druid’s White is an unspecified blend of bright and crunchy white grape varieties with a nice balance of fruity and savory qualities and a price that’s hard to beat, especially for a biodynamic wine grown with gold-level Regenerative Organic Certified grapes.

The Smith brothers at Smith-Madrone have been making excellent wines high up on Spring Mountain for many years. My favorite wines of theirs are their Cabernet and their Riesling, but their Chardonnay also has its charms, especially if you don’t mind some wood influence.

It seems like forever ago that Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits were just a nice couple living in my neighborhood in San Francisco, very excited about having gotten their first vintage of fruit into a barrel to make their own wine. This was back in the days when there were several urban wineries in the city that would allow anyone with the time, money, and inclination to make their own wine. Most of those projects faded away, as many expensive hobbies are wont to do, but for some people, they were just the beginning of the rest of their lives. Waits-Mast Cellars has been going strong since 2005, quickly becoming a serious brand with reliably tasty wines. Today the wines are made by winemaker Shalini Sekhar, with a focus on Mendocino county fruit. The two single-vineyard Pinots I tasted this week were as distinctive as they were excellent, though I’ll admit to having been more charmed by the bright cherry tones of the fruit from the Oppenlander vineyard.

Last but not least, we’ll end on another small family winery run by two professionals who decided to dabble in the wine business one day and then fell in head over feet. Juliana Arvai and her husband Sean W. McBride were living in New York when they made their first vintage in 2006, and by 2010 they had moved to Napa, quit their day jobs, and taken the plunge into wine completely. Under the name Crosby Roamann (the two last names of Sean’s grandparents) they make about 2500 cases of wine, including their “Bon Ton” bottling which shows remarkable restraint and savory character for a Napa red wine, and contains a secret dollop of Zinfandel for extra allure.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2018 Haliotide “Blanc de Blancs – Stolo Vineyards” Sparkling Chardonnay, SLO Coast, Central Coast, California
Pale gold in the glass with fine…


Source : https://www.vinography.com/2023/12/vinography-unboxed-week-of-12-3-23

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