Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. 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 marks another sparkling edition of my samples tasting just in time for your New Years's shopping!
Let's start this week with the most unusual bottle in the lineup which is a sparkling Pinot Blanc from the North Fork of Long Island that was held for a long time before release. Bright and airy, it's a lovely rendition of the Pinot Blanc grape and at $23, it's a steal.
Also a bit unusual, not in its grape or source, but in its flavor, is the latest sparkling wine from Rollin Michael Soles, a pioneer of sparkling winemaking in Oregon. This, from his new project, is quite distinct in character, and tasty in its own savory way.
Before we move on to the Champagne proper, let's not overlook the Adami single vineyard Prosecco from Col Credas which is grown on staggeringly steep vineyards in the Prosecco region. It's got much more personality than most Proseccos.
Let's start our Champagne focus with Franck Bonville, a producer from the town of Avize in the Cote de Blancs region of Champagne. Their prestige Blanc de Blancs of Chardonnay has a bright floral quality that is very compelling, and at only $44 is on the lower end of what you'll spend for a Grand Cru Champagne.
The Chassanay d'Arce bottling comes from the main cooperative winery in the Aube region of Champagne, where they buy grapes from all the local producers to make some pretty decent quality stuff. This "Confidence" bottling is among their top non-vintage wines.
Finally there are a couple of wines in here from the tiny producer Remy Massin, also from the Aube region. This family run outfit, recently taken over by the younger generation is making very high quality wines.
All these and more below. Enjoy.
2012 Domaine Carneros "Brut" Champagne Blend, Carneros, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples, wet felt, and sea air. In the mouth, a coarse mousse delivers flavors of apple, pear, and bitter citrus across the palate, leaving a woody apple skin flavor in the finish. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.
2011 Lieb Cellars "Reserve Blanc de Blancs" Pinot Blanc, North Fork of Long Island, New York
Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of ripe and baked apples. In the mouth, a soft mousse delivers notes of yeasty, toasty bread that give way to apple and citrus pith brightness and an airy finish. Great acidity and nice delicacy. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.
2013 Roco Winery "Rollin Michael Soles Brut" Champagne Blend, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light blonde in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted sesame and pickled seaweed. In the mouth, a soft mousse rolls across the palate tasting of wet leaves, apples, sarsaparilla, and a hint of citrus pith. Unusual. Good acidity. A blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. 12.5% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $53. click to buy.
2014 Adami "Col Credas" Glera, Valdobbiadene, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
Pale gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of butterscotch candy and white flowers. In the mouth, a velvety, voluminous mousse delivers a unique combination of butterscotch, pear, and vanilla into a long finish scented with a touch of camphor. Good acidity. 11% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.
NV Franck Bonville "Prestige" Blanc de Blancs, Avize Grand Cru, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of honeysuckle and pears. In the mouth, bright apple and pear flavors have a nice nutty biscuit quality. Nice and balanced, with equal parts of fruit and biscuity quality. A blend of at least two vintages.12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $44. click to buy.
NV Gardet "Brut Tradition" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples and pears with a hint of vanilla. In the mouth a soft mousse delivers bright apple and pear flavors with a nice rounded quality to them and nice bright acidity and length with a slightly sweet finish. 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39 click to buy.
NV Chassanay d'Arce "Confidences" Blanc de Noirs, Champagne, France
Light blonde in color with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of freshly baked bread with honey, marzipan, and cold cream. In the mouth, flavors of honeysuckle, sea air, wet stones, and pink grapefruit have a nice saltine cracker savoriness to them. A lightly bitter chalkiness lingers in the finish. Made from 50+ year-old vines. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $82 click to buy.
NV Remy Massin "Brut Tradition" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples, pears, and wet stones. In the mouth, bright apple and asian pear flavors have a nice bright crispness to them. Round and bright. Juicy. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.
NV Remy Massin "Brut Reserve" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale blonde in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of asian pear, white flowers, and green apples. In the mouth, green apple crispness mixes with asian pear, wet stones and pink grapefruit citrus crispness. Juicy and bright and very clean. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $62. click to buy.
NV Pol Roger "Brut Reserve" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale greenish gold in color with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of bright apples and pears with a hint of white peaches. In the mouth, flavors of white peaches, apples, and pears take on a citrus peel brightness in the finish mixed with green apples. Soft mousse. Contains one third each of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Ages for 4 years in bottle before release. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.
The Wide Sky
GIRONDE, FRANCE: Cumulus clouds hang across the wide expanse of sky above the vineyards of Chateau Ausone in Gironde on Bordeaux's Right Bank near Saint-Émilion. Ausone is one of only 4 wines classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé in the Saint-Émilion classification.
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This image is from a series of photographs captured by Andy Katz in the process of shooting his most recent work The Club of Nine, a visual exploration and celebration of Bordeaux's top Chateaux. The book is available for $60 on Andy's web site.
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December 31, 2017 (Sun): We are ready to kick 2017 out the door and welcome in 2018. Of course, that requires lots of bubbles. This weekend we’ll be opening them throughout the day (The cork will come out of the Champagne at 1pm both days.) Come by and raise a glass with us.
December 30, 2017 (Sat): We are ready to kick 2017 out the door and welcome in 2018. Of course, that requires lots of bubbles. This weekend we’ll be opening them throughout the day (The cork will come out of the Champagne at 1pm both days.) Come by and raise a glass with us.&[...]
April 22, 2018 (Sun): Cochon555, the nation’s most talked about premium food, wine and spirit celebration and live-event series, is back in Seattle on April 22 at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel. For more details, to share a video, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://cochon555.com/us-[...]
We’re off to the Empire State today for a host of wines, most of which hail from the Finger Lakes region.
From Prosecco-inspired bubbles to Rieslings to Lemberger, these largely inexpensive wines offer a brief snapshot into the large, dynamic New York wine culture. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.
2016 Damiani Wine Cellars Bollicine- New York, Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake SRP: $16
Pale lemon color. Smells like floral perfume, green melon, peaches and lemon pith. Fresh acidity, medium-bodied, a brisk, leaner style with flavors of sliced green apples, lemon and green melon. White flowers, hints of honey and salted almond. Simple but pleasant, a Prosecco-kinda wine, made from Cayuga grapes with 17% Chardonnay and 1% apiece of Pinot Noir & Meunier. (85 points)
2016 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling Dry- New York, Finger Lakes SRP: $15
Light yellow color. Smells o white peaches, guava, apricot, drizzled with lime, topped with chalky and honeysuckle notes. Crisp and clean on the palate with focused acidity and pleasantly creamy but dry texture on a medium-bodied frame. Apricot, summer peach, lime, doused with white tea, crushed sea shells, floral air freshener, dandelion. Long finish with quinine and mineral notes. Impressive stuff from a classic producer. (90 points)
2016 Lakewood Vineyards Riesling 3 Generations- New York, Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake SRP: $20
Light yellow color. Super floral on the nose with orange blossoms, honeysuckle, peaches, pineapple, lime, along with chalk dust and waxy notes. Zippy and zingy on the palate with precise acid on a dry frame. Peaches, limes, green apples, generous fruit blends so well with flowers, chalk dust, mint, sea breeze. Delicious, elegant, precise, impressive. (90 points)
2016 Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling- New York, Finger Lakes SRP: $12
Pale lemon color. Lemon/lime aromas along with apricot, orange blossom, sea shells and peach nectar. Plump peaches and apricots on the palate with evident sweetness but moderating acidity. Notes of sea salt, floral perfume, cucumber slices. Fun, tasty stuff. 11.5% alcohol and 3% residual sugar. (86 points)
2015 Fox Run Vineyards Lemberger- New York, Finger Lakes SRP: $15
Medium ruby colored. Smells of spicy black cherries and summer plums, along with sweet roses, rhubarb, black pepper and anise. Medium-bodied, medium-light tannins, fresh acidity, nice balance, tangy and tart (with black cherries and dark plums), but not lean. Lots of complex herbal liqueur, ginger snap, cocoa, black pepper, spiced black tea. Fun stuff that might do interesting things over the next few years. (88 points)
2014 Whitecliff Vineyard Sky Island Red Wine- New York SRP: $32
Medium ruby colored. Super spicy on the nose with red cherries and raspberries, along with leather, oregano, pepper and tobacco barn. Medium-bodied, fresh acidity, light tannins, a tangy appeal to this wine with cherries, raspberries and red currants. Lighter style but not weak on flavor, along with leather, pepper, tobacco, cedar and coffee. Ready to drink but surprisingly good. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. (88 points)