Vinography Unboxed: Week of 2/18/24

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.

Let’s start with some interesting whites. Merriam Vineyards has been making wine in Sonoma County since 2000, and they make an oak-fermented and aged Sauvignon Blanc that has a nice brightness and zip to balance out the oak. I believe, however that the wine is only available to their club members.

For many of my readers, Massican needs no introduction, as it’s one of my favorite producers of white wines in California. Proprietor Dan Petroski remains one of the most innovative winery owners around. A couple of years ago he decided to begin a collaborative project in which he convinced other winemakers he respected to make a “massican-style” wine but in their own style. Dan pays for everything (grapes, barrels, custom crush fees if necessary) and pays the winemakers for their efforts, but beyond that lets them do what they want. Dan recently passed me a bottle that was a collaboration with Australian winemaker Erin Pooley who makes wine under the brand Little Frances. It’s made in a slightly funkier, natural style, but will still appeal to many.

I’ve got two Chardonnays to recommend this week as well, at opposite ends of the price spectrum. The Trapiche Tesoro Chardonnay is a great value at $15, while the Lavinea single-vineyard Chardonnay from Oregon commands a steeper price and offers a bit more complexity and refinement.

Shall we linger in the hazy zone between white and red for a moment? Let’s.

Two Shepherds sent along their Centime wine, one of my favorites in their portfolio. It’s a skin-fermented white wine (aka orange wine) usually with a heavy dose of Vermentino in it. In 2022 it also contained a bit of Albariño, which was an interesting, if tasty, twist.

I’ve long appreciated the mother-daughter wine brand Lorenza, which began as purely a rosé-focused project. They recently sent along the latest vintage of that rosé, which is lean and mouthwatering. But they also sent along two new wines, an old-vine Carignan, and an ethereal is-it-red-or-is-it-rosé? rendition of Cinsaut, both of which are very tasty.

Moving on to more reds, I was handed a bottle of Hudson Ranch & Vineyards Syrah recently. Many lovers of California wine will recognize the Hudson name, as it is one of the most storied vineyards in the Carneros growing region. The owner, Lee Hudson, is a legendary grower, and has in recent years launched an eponymous wine brand. I loved the nearly explosive acidity of the Syrah, which helped balance out the ripe, lush fruit.

Finally, I’ve got two more reminders for you of what an excellent vintage 2021 was in Napa. These two releases from Acumen, their Cabernet Franc, and their “Mountainside” Cabernet Sauvignon, are both excellent, and will appeal to anyone looking for well-balanced ageworthy Napa reds that don’t hit you over the head with oak and ripeness. I just wish the winery would get with the times and stop using such awful heavy bottles for their wines. They’re horrible for the planet, and suggest to anyone handling them that the winery puts ego above sustainability.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2022 Merriam Vineyards “Fumé Blanc – Danielle’s Estate” Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in color, this wine smells of apples and lemon pith. In the mouth, lemony green apple and hints of vanilla have a bright zing thanks to excellent acidity. The oak emerges a little more in the finish but doesn’t hit you over the head. Contains 10% Semillon. Spends 12 months in 35% new French oak. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42.

2022 Massican “Little Frances” White Blend, Australia
Light gold in the glass, this wine…


Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/02/vinography-unboxed-week-of-2-18-24

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