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 some more of the latest releases from the venerable Rhys Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the last decade, Rhys has become one of the best producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (also Syrah and Sparkling wines) in California.
This week we’re looking at a couple more of their Chardonnays, the standard Santa Cruz Mountains bottling, which is tasty, but also the Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay which is definitely next-level in terms of its flavor and complexity.
A similar story can be told in the Pinot Noirs that I’m reviewing this week, with the standard Santa Cruz Mountains bottling quite pleasing and tasty, but a number of the single vineyard bottlings demonstrating what some of the impressive sites that Rhys farms are capable of. Interestingly, Rhys top wines are usually their black labeled “Hillside” bottlings which represent the steepest, lowest-yielding parts of their mountain vineyards. This week, however, I have to say that for the first time that I can recall, their Skyline Vineyard Pinot Noir outperformed their Horseshoe Hillside Pinot. Of course, both are spectacular, but the 2021 Skyline bottling is definitely one of the best California Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted from the vintage.
The Rhys wines can be tough to get ahold of, but invariably some of them make their way to the secondary market and to some retailers as well. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2021s, as they are truly epic.
Regular readers will recall the recent deep dive I did into Trousseau and Trousseau Gris as part of my tasting coverage for Jancis Robinson’s website. Well, some of the wines I was trying to get my hands on didn’t manage to make my cutoff for that article, so I’m pleased to recommend two Trousseau-Noir-based wines from Matthew Rorick’s, who has gone from finding a spare ton or two of obscure grape varieties all over the state each year to farming an exceptional vineyard in the Sierra Foothills planted with, you guessed it, obscure grape varieties. These two Forlorn Hope wines are very classic in their expression of Trousseau Noir, and have that alpine freshness that you can find in their Jura homeland.
Before we leave the lighter red zone, I’ve also got a lovely Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Tulatin Hills to recommend courtesy of single-vineyard specialist Lavinea.
Now let’s move into slightly more powerful shades of red, shall we? We can finish up this week with three expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon (and related varieties) from Napa Valley. The first, from Baldacci, is a red blend that fits the dominant Napa red mold: big-shouldered, ripe, powerful, and bolstered heavily with new oak. It will doubtless appeal to some, but was a little over the top for me, despite being well-made.
The Flora Springs Trilogy is a well-known flagship wine, though in recent years it has gone through something of a transformation, as Flora Springs sold their Oakville estate and a bunch of their vineyards to Cathiard in 2019. The Komes family has dramatically scaled back production of the brand (by almost 50%) and have revamped their Komes Ranch Vineyard in Rutherford, set up a new winemaking facility and brought in consulting winemaker Mike Smith to work alongside winemaker Enrico Bertoz. So, this is something of a new wine in an old bottle, so to speak. That said, it falls nicely in line with the lush richness that Trilogy lovers have come to expect from the wine.
Lastly, I’m thrilled to recommend the 2021 Cabernet from Larkmead Vineyards, which is a knockout of a wine, offering a wonderfully balanced and poised expression of Cabernet, with just the right combination of power, fruit, and more savory components welded together…
Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/02/vinography-unboxed-week-of-2-4-24