Vinography Unboxed: Week of 4/14/24

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.

I’ve got an eclectic group of wines to recommend this week from exotic locales like Australia and New Jersey. Yes, they do make wine in New Jersey.

Let’s start with Australia, though, and some wines from a region that many people are unfamiliar with, the Grampians. Located in western Victoria (the wine region in southeastern Australia that surrounds the city of Melbourne), the Grampians is a mountainous region that, thanks both to its altitude and the proximity to the sea, tends to be cooler than some other parts of southern Australia. It’s an old region from a grape growing perspective, having hosted grapevines since the mid 1800s. One of the modern pioneers of the region, Mount Langi Ghiran, sent through a Riesling and a Shiraz this week, two of the most common varieties grown in the region. The Riesling has a nice stony profile and the Shiraz a pretty combination of ripe fruit and more mineral undertones. Both are excellent values.

Moving on to New Jersey, where grapes have been grown since the late 1700s, doing their part to support the state’s nickname as the Garden State. New Jersey was, in fact, one of the earliest locales for American experiments in Viticulture, and had a thriving wine industry that was pretty much entirely wiped out by the double whammy of phylloxera and Prohibition. Things didn’t really get started again until some laws were changed in the early 1980s, but they’ve been accelerating quickly since then and there are now more than 50 wineries in the state. Many are hobby wineries, but some are more serious in their efforts. I was sent a bunch of wines recently, and while many weren’t recommendable, I do have nice things to say about the Home Vineyard Chardonnay from Unionville Vineyards, which is a textbook rendition of the variety that will definitely appeal to your average American Chardonnay lover.

New Jersey seems to have settled on Bordeaux varieties as the most promising set of grapes to produce. Both the Beneduce Open Source Bordeaux Blend and the Auburn Road “Gaia” Blend show some promise, with a more medium-bodied approach with restrained tannins and good acidity.

Closer to home, winemaker Bibiana Gonzáles Rave of Cattleya Wines sent along her Sauvignon Blanc and rosé of Pinot Noir, both of which were tasty and very good values.

I also got a couple of new Pinot Noirs from Darling Wines. Of the two the Turnstone is a little more generous and expressive at this point in their evolution, but both will appeal to those who favor leaner expressions of cool-climate Pinot Noir.

Finally, I also tasted the single vineyard “Amoenus” Cabernet from long-standing Napa producer Turnbull Cellars, which is newly released or just about to be released. The Amoenus vineyard is Turnbull’s Calistoga site, and their highest elevation vineyard at between 400 and 800 feet of elevation. The wine has some admirable qualities, but the weight of its bottle is not among them.

That’s all for this week. Notes on all the wines follow.

Tasting Notes

2023 Mount Langi Ghiran “Cliff Edge” Riesling, Grampians, Victoria, Australia
Pale straw in color, this wine smells of Asian pear, a hint of struck match, and citrus oil. In the mouth, juicy and bright mandarin and tangerine zests mix with Asian pear and wet pavement, as excellent acidity keeps things fresh. Dry and crisp, with no trace of sweetness. 12% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.

2023 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, California
Pale gold in the glass with blonde highlights, this wine smells of passionfruit and guava. In the mouth, silky flavors of passionfruit and guava don’t…

Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/04/vinography-unboxed-week-of-4-14-24