Monday, September 18, 2023

California gems to welcome Autumn

Mid-September sunrise on the Potomac
I’m a big fan of the astronomical calendar for the seasons, and I love celebrating the Autumnal Equinox. So, at least in that sense, we’re still in Summer. It’s still been quite warm here in the Mid-Atlantic, and the hurricanes keep cranking, but the humidity is dropping and the cooler mornings are starting to arrive. I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying September so far .

There’s plenty of delightful weather on the way, and I have some fresh, California wines that will keep things cool all Autumn long. Delicious Chardonnay abounds here, including one from one of my favorites (Smith-Madrone), a stunner from Three Sticks, and some relatively new-to-me wines (Ettore and Waypoint), and throw in a classic value from Ferrari-Carano.

But there are some awesome reds in here as well, from crisp a crisp and airy Waypoint Pinot, to another winner of a Zin from Frank Family. Lastly, I have the Lithology Cab from the Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate, which is a real treat if you’re looking to bury some shockingly-good Napa Cab in the cellar and enjoy the 2019 vintage. Check this one out.

These wines were received as samples and tasted sighted.

2022 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $22
Light yellow, slight green color. The aromas pop with gooseberry, lime, kiwi, green melon, along with wild mint, fresh oregano, sliced chives, and some floral perfume and honeysuckle. The palate is ripe and peachy and generous in texture, but shows racy acidity and a focused sense of clarity. White peach, limes, guava, the fruit is laced with cool tones of herbal tea, white pepper, celery seed, sliced green bell pepper. Those elements are nuanced and woven in really well with honey and minerals, lots of flowers. Summery for sure but year-round goodness in here. A steal and a complex value at the price point. (90 points)

2022 Conundrum Wines White Table Wine - USA, California
SRP: $16
Medium yellow color. Smells peach-keen with daisies, dandelion, hay, orange blossom (floral city!), along with notes of honey, circus peanuts, and some herbal hints. The palate has a rich and creamy texture but surprising acidity, with flavors of yellow plums, pineapple, lime zest, peach nectar, a tropical mélange of all sorts of goodness. White and yellow flowers mix with tones of chalk, celery seed, mint. Very pleasant with a tropical, breezy vibe that will keep summer going all fall. I’ve long been a fan of this perennially-changing, fun, ripe, experimental wine, and it’s nice to know this style is still going. Screaming value, crowd-pleasing, what’s not to love? Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier. (89 points)

2021 Ferrari Carano Chardonnay - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $25
Rich yellow color. Yummy aromas of yellow apples, juicy pineapple, some lemon curd, with nuances of buttered biscuits, honey, tropical blossoms, with some hay and almond skin. The palate sports a delightful creaminess and moderate acidity, with a fun feel and pleasant balance. Yellow apples, kiwi, and lemon curd fruit, a fresh and juicy appeal, with notes of almond, bruised apple, nougat, along with some salty, floral complexities. Classic stuff, crowd-pleasing for sure, but balanced and delicious. Aged in stainless steel and 30% French oak. (89 points)

2019 Ettore Winery Chardonnay Zero - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
SRP: $32
Rich yellow color. Intense aromatic display, with bruised apples, white peach, orange marmalade, and apricot, along with saline, hazelnut, and a waxy, spicy, almost Jura-esque vibe, and it smells awesome. Rich and waxy texture yet vibrant acidity keeps this alive and kicking, with flavors of apricots, lemon marmalade, dried pineapple, and orange peel. There’s a lot of cool nutty, deep, honeyed tones, but the wine stays so fresh and tingly, with complex floral, saline, chalk dust, and herbal vibes. Perhaps a bit on the adventurous side, but it pulls it off so well and is delicious as it is interesting. (92 points)

2019 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
SRP: $65
Rich yellow color. The lemon curd, orange peel, and yellow pear aromas are delightful, with notes of yellow and white flowers, inviting tones of biscuit dough, sea salt, crushed stones – love it. The palate is racy and spritely with a delightful texture and harmonious fruit (lemons, yellow pears, white peach). Nuances of white tea, honey, sea salt, slight nougat and graham cracker. Racy and precise, deep and age-worth, this has it all. Disclaimer, I’m a huge fan of this wine in general, but even if it was not my personal style, I don’t think you can argue that this is one helluva well-made Chardonnay. And the 2019 is singing, and will continue to do so in the cellar. Absurd value, easy buy. (95 points)

2021 Three Sticks Chardonnay One Sky - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain
SRP: $70
Rich yellow color. The nose shows yellow pears, lemon curd, orange peel, along with a lot of yellow flowers, honey, chalk and limestone dust, along with nuances of almond, peanut skin, white tea, shaved ginger. The palate sports a bold texture with lip-smacking acidity, and flavors of yellow apples, lemon bars, along with crunchy green apples. The palate is gorgeous, with beautiful texture and focused acidity. The complexities are really impressive: smashed rocks, chalk dust, ocean spray, limestone, nuanced of saltine cracker and hay. The mouthfeel, flavors, balance, and finish are gnarly. A shockingly awesome Chardonnay that will age for a very long time. For the price? C’mon, this is nuts. (94 points)

2020 Waypoint Chardonnay Heintz Vineyard - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
SRP: $60
Juicy, deep yellow color. The aromas show a delightful mix of rich and vibrant, with lemon curd, orange peel, with white peach, almond biscuits, cinnamon crumb cake, flinty minerals, chalk dust, white flowers. The palate shows such creamy, lovely texture, balanced with pristine acidity and a clear mineral focus. Flavors of golden apples and lemon curd, mixed with all sorts of honey, graham cracker, almonds, hay. There’s also a lot of sea salt, crushed stones, minerals, all sorts of good stuff packed in here. The nuance and lip-smacking vibrancy of this wine, and the balance with the richness, really fires. Aged 18 months in 43% new French oak. (94 points)

2021 Waypoint Pinot Noir Terra de Promissio Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $60
Vibrant ruby color. So fresh and lively, with fresh raspberries, strawberries, sliced rhubarb, with notes of white pepper, clay, creosote, mint, dried rose petals, very cool! The palate is crisp and airy with a fresh appeal and nervy aesthetic despite the fine-grained tannins and solid structure. The juiciest and tangiest strawberries, red currants, and cranberry relish, mix so well with tones of oregano, mint, dried rose petals, all sorts of savory spices and nuances. Despite the depth, age-worthiness, and complexity, it maintains a cool, airy, vibrant appeal. Beautiful Sonoma Pinot. (94 points)

2021 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel - USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $45
Rich purple color. Roasted figs, blackberry jam, tangy blueberries, with notes of smoky earth, sage, incense sticks, charcoal, anise – a lot of cool things. The palate sports exceptional balance with suave tannins, a rich feel, but a bright acidity. The fruit is tangy and deep, like farm fresh blueberry and blackberry jam, with crunchy currants, and that is woven together with threads of violet petals, black pepper, oregano, all sorts of earthy, stony, and mineral vibes. This is a perennially excellent Zinfandel, but this vintage in particular has such vibrancy and staying power. Bring on cooler nights and this wine. (93 points)

2019 Lithology Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $150
Such a deep but inviting purple color. The nose shows a dark core of black currant, blackberry, fig paste, and these classic Napa Cab nuances you love to sniff: dusty earth, pencil shavings, tobacco, some eucalyptus and violet tones. On the palate, you really start to grasp the depth and intricacy of this wine, with grippy but refined tannins and fresh acidity, setting an open stage for the tangy black currant and dark plum fruit. The non-fruit nuances show so much, with graphite, charcoal, and minerals on one hand, and coffee grounds, dark chocolate, sweet pipe tobacco, and clove on the other. The concentration and depth are a delight. Yes, it is very enjoyable to sip this wine this young, but this should be buried for five to ten at least. I love the 2019 vintage, and this expression is exquisite. Cab with Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, aged 22 months in French oak. (95 points)

No comments:

Post a Comment