Vinography Unboxed: Week of 4/21/24

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.

This week included some lovely whites from California, starting with a stony Chardonnay from Darling Wines, which has a modicum of what wine geeks like to call “nervosity,” but which is too much jargon for throwing into a tasting note. I opted for “brisk” instead. It’s got great acidity and freshness.

Next up is a perennial favorite, the Riesling from Smith-Madrone in Napa. It seems to me that the winery is trying harder to release these wines later, which is a treat. In this case, it has yielded a 5-year-old wine that is beginning to show some of the secondary characteristics that transform Riesling from something fresh and bright into something more profound.

Moving up the richness scale a bit, let’s look at the Rhône-style white blend from Clos Solène in Paso Robles, which offers a wonderful melange of citrus and stone fruit flavors that are really quite appealing, especially with a note of white sage on top of everything.

I’ve been following Pepe Raventós’ Can Sumoi project since its beginnings, and continue to be very impressed with the wines. Can Sumoi is a farmstead established in 1645 high in the mountains of Penedès that Raventós has revitalized. It is farmed organically, and the wines are made with only a minimal addition of sulfur and no other interventions aside from temperature control. The property contains some very old vines and includes plantings of Sumoll, an uncommon ancient variety from the region. The three wines I tasted this week are fresh, bright, and delicious—from the crisp and stony Xarel-lo to the tingly bright berry of the rosé, to the earthy, stony character of the blend of Grenache (known as Garnaxta in this region) and Sumoll. They’re also priced very fairly and come in cute, squat little bottles that are quite trendy.

I also got a bottle of Pinot Noir Rosé from the venerable Flowers Winery on the Sonoma Coast. It’s pretty much everything you want in a cool-climate rosé of Pinot Noir. Crisp, berry, and watermelon notes and citrusy finish that begs another glass.

The Frescobaldi family is essentially Tuscan wine royalty, owning a significant number of estates throughout Tuscany. This week they sent through their Chianti Classico from Tenuta Perano, which sits at 500 meters of altitude in the hills above Gaiole in Chianti. It has a brightness and an earthiness, plus some patina of age that make it an appealing bottle, especially for under $30.

The Donum Estate in Carneros is a spectacular wonderland of large-scale environmental art, but also a serious Regenerative Organic wine estate, making wines from its property as well as from select parcels throughout the North Coast. I can recommend their Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, which is named after an installation on their property by the artist Ai Weiwei. The wine is on the rich side of Pinot Noir but will appeal to anyone who likes their Pinots lush and ripe.

Last but not least, I’ve got two Cabernet Francs to share this week from Lang & Reed, a beloved producer inspired by (and for a number of years, dedicated only to) Cabernet Franc. More than a decade ago, proprietors John and Tracey Skupny released their first vintage of “Two Fourteen” named after the primary Entav 214 clone of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, which John found in a vineyard on the southern side of Napa Valley. Since then that has been the winery’s flagship bottling. Or so we thought. It turns out Skupny has been holding back portions of that wine in key vintages and giving it a long period of aging in a special French oak barrel, and then keeping it for a few more years in bottle before release. Known as Bois Sauvage or “wild wood,” this bottling’s…

Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/04/vinography-unboxed-week-of-4-21-24