Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples begging to be tasted. It is my pleasure to bring you the latest installment from Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the best bottles that have come through my door recently.
This week included a number of fun wines.
Let’s start with something quite off the beaten track. Depending on your age and when you started drinking wine, you may have heard of Bulls Blood, also known in its native Hungarian as Egri bikaver. This blend of red grapes from Hungary’s Eger region had a brief moment of popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s when it became the cheap (and rather terrible) drink of choice for many. many people shopping on the bottom shelf the red mixture has a long history. Since around 2000, a wine renaissance in the Eger region has given rise to excellent versions of it, and in 2011 a white partner of Bikaver named Csillag emerged, also made with mostly local grapes. . The version I have to share this week is from a winery run by a brother-sister team from Gergö and Boglárka Böjt, and that’s excellent.
Since we’re in Hungry, let’s go ahead and talk a bit about the other Hungarian wine I’m sharing this week, because it’s a doozy. One of the coolest experiences I have as a wine lover is trying wines made from grapes that I have never heard of. It’s safe to say that most people around the world have never heard of the Fekete Járdovány grape. When I first saw it on this bottle, I thought it was someone’s name (as Fekete is a common surname in Hungary). But no, Fekete Járdovány is the name of a grape variety, and to the knowledge of the importer of this wine, it is the only wine in the world made from it. Considered a popular variety in southern pre-phylloxera Hungary, it has almost disappeared, without the efforts of the Hungarian Vine and Wine Research Institute. Attila Gere of the Gere vineyard became interested in the ancient varieties of the Carpathians in their nurseries and began to experiment with several, the most promising of which turned out to be Fekete Járdovány. If you want to try something really exotic and special, go find yourself a bottle of this spicy, lean and spicy light red.
Well, back on the white wine train for a moment, I have the last Chardonnay from Bibiana Gonzalez Rave’s Cattleya. Rave is a Colombian-born winemaker based in Sonoma County after having been trained in France and having worked the grape harvests all over the world. This Chardonnay is resolutely Californian, which will undoubtedly delight some drinkers.
Minus the tide is a relatively new wine brand started by three friends focused on wines made on the cold coast of Mendocino, and they’ve sent in some of their more recent wines, both admirable. Their Chenin Blanc is crisp and light, while their Carignan is truly appetizing.
Many Californian pinot noir connoisseurs have come across wines from the Terre Promissio vineyard, which sells fruit to brands such as Kosta Browne and Williams-Selyem. The latter is responsible for making me discover the vineyard. But the Karran family, in addition to selling their fruit, also has their own brand, known as Promised land from which they make their own wines, and I have two to share with you this week, both fragrant and apparently more ripe than their younger vintages would have you believe.
Last but not least this week, I have two vintages of Château Lassègue, the Grand Cru Saint-Emilion estate created in 2003 as part of the Jackson family wines portfolio, in large part thanks to the work of Pierre Seillan, who is the estate’s official winemaker, although his son Nicolas Seillan today has an important stake in both the winemaking and the management of the estate.
Notes on all of this and more below!
2017 Böjt “Egri Csillag Superior” White Mix, Eger, Hungary
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of ripe apples and peaches. On the palate, the juicy flavors of apple, citrus and stone fruit are pleasant thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of pink grapefruit persist on the finish. Quite delicious and easy to drink. A blend of 50% olaszrizling, 32% sauvignon blanc, 10% Leányka and 8% yellow muscat aged briefly in oak barrels. – known article: an equivalent white assembly, called Csillag. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screw cap. Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 22. click to buy.
2019 Cattleya “Cuvée Number Five” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of tropical fruits and lemon cream. On the palate, tropical flavors of papaya, pineapple and lemon swirl in a silky textured flow through the palate. There is a touch of warmth on the finish. Decent acidity but definitely tips a bit more ripe than I would like. Luckily, it’s low on overt woody flavors, which means if you like rich, fruity CA Chardonnays, this is your ticket. 14.1% alcohol. Note: approximately 8.5. Cost: $ 60. click to buy.
2019 Minus Tide “Buddha’s Dharma Vineyard” Chenin Blanc, Mendocino County, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon and poached pear with a hint of white flowers. On the palate, the wonderfully crisp lemon and pear flavors have a hint of grapefruit while the fantastic acidity keeps the mouth watering. Pleasant and spicy, with hints of citrus zest on the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Closure with a technical cap (plastic). Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 29.
2018 Minus Tide “Feliz Creek Vineyard” Carignan, Mendocino County, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine gives off an aroma of blackberry, black cherry and cola. On the palate, the Boysen blackberry and cola flavors have a wonderfully bright sour cherry juiciness that is mouth-watering (think Purple SweetTart) with fantastic acidity. Delicious, with light tannins that haunt the edges of the mouth. 13.8% alcohol. Closure with a technical cap (plastic). Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 30.
2018 Gere Fekete Járdovány, Villányi, Hungary
Medium ruby in the glass with some bronze hues, this wine gives off an aroma of red apple skin, toasted nuts, juniper and thyme. On the palate, fine tannins wrap around a core of blackberry, blackberry and dried apple with distinctly tasty qualities. Dusty road notes, juniper berry and dried herbs linger in the finish which also has a hint of citrus. Very interesting. This is perhaps the only commercial bottling of this ancient Carpathian grape variety called Fekete Jardovany. It is aged for 10 months in oak barrels. 13.5% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 28. click to buy.
2019 Walter Scott “Cuvée Ruth” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet with purple reflections in the glass, this wine smells of herbs, flowers and raspberries. On the palate, the raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors are vibrant with excellent acidity and sprinkled with fine tannins. Notes of citrus and dried flowers persist on the finish. Pretty. 13.5% alcohol. Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 58. click to buy.
2017 Land of Promise “Deo Favente” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light to medium ruby in color, with a hint of orange, this wine smells of red apple skin and warm spices. On the palate, the lively flavors of raspberry, orange peel and dried herbs have a nice silky texture and light wispy tannins. Excellent acidity. It tastes like it’s older than it is – blind, I would have guessed a 5-10 year old Pinot. Whole Pinot Noir clone 777, picked early. 13.4% alcohol. Note: approximately 9. Cost: $ 75.
2017 Land of Promise “Patriae Fidelitas” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine has an aroma of orange peel and warm spices. On the palate, hot spices, orange peel, red apple skin, raspberry jam and cedar notes mingle with a beautiful luminosity thanks to a very good acidity. Tastes slightly older than I would expect, showing some secondary aromas which usually come with more time. The last plot harvested from the vineyard includes clones 97, 943 and Calera. 14.8% alcohol. Note: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 75. click to buy.
2017 Château Lassègue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Libournais, Bordeaux, France
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis with hints of dried herbs. On the palate, muscular, fine-grained tannins firmly capture flavors of black cherry, black pepper, pipe tobacco and a touch of espresso. Excellent acidity brings a certain freshness, with notes of dried herbs and dried fennel seeds lingering on the finish., 14% alcohol. Comes in a bottle a little heavier than necessary which weighs 1.6 kg full. Note: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ 58. click to buy.
2012 Château Lassègue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Libournais, Bordeaux, France
Dark ruby in the glass with a hint of garnet remaining, this wine smells of pencil shavings, cigar box and red berries. On the palate, velvety and suave, the powdery tannins delicately enclose flavors of cherry, pencil shavings, hot spices and dry earth. Wonderfully floral notes strike a fragrant tone above the wine’s tantalizing core. Excellent acidity and fluidity. 13.5% alcohol. Comes in a bottle a little heavier than necessary which weighs 1.6 kg full. Note: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ 40. click to buy.
2018 Amor Fati “Murmur Vineyard” Syrah, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black olives and blackberries. On the palate, the flavors of black olive and blackberry present a nice fruity-umami balance, with lingering herbal notes on the finish. Correct acidity (but I want more) and a bit of heat on the finish. I can’t argue with the flavors though. 14.6% alcohol. Slightly offensive heavy bottle, weighing 1.7 kg full. Note: approximately 8.5. Cost: $ 45. click to buy.