Vinography Unboxed: Week of August 19, 2018

VINOGRAPHY: A WINE BLOG
By Alder Yarrow

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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 included a few wines from what you might consider a modern miracle of rebranding, Eden Rift vineyards, which has entirely upgraded the tired brand and wines formerly known as Pietra Santa from the out-of-the-way Cienega Valley down on the Central Coast south of Gilroy. Of the three wines reviewed this week, the rosé was the most exciting, but both the Chardonnay and Pinot were both competent and suggest more good stuff may be coming from this revamped estate.

Ive got some truly excellent Pinots for you this week, starting with Alma Fria, the project started by Carroll Kemp, the founder and winemaker at Red Car, and his winegrower friend Jan Holtermann. These two 2014 Pinots, one from the Doña Margarita Vineyard, the other a multi-vineyard blend appropriately named “Plural” are both outstanding.

The second Pinot star this week is another bottle from Calera Vineyards (not too far from Eden Rift). The Jensen is one of Calera’s top bottlings, and is made from older vines planted on the deep limestone of Mt. Harlan. It doesn’t disappoint with its usual dusty, herbal notes.

Finally I’ve got some wines from Limerick Lane Cellars in the Russian River Valley, a specialist in Zinfandel and other big reds. My favorite of the wines this week was the old “Headpruned Block” Syrah, which had some very nice floral notes to recommend it.

All these and more below.

2016 Eden Rift Vineyards “Terraces” Chardonnay, Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and grapefruit pith. In the mouth, bright lemony and grapefruit fruit flavors mix with a faint sweetness and a touch of vanilla. Good acidity and length, with very well integrated wood. A touch of heat lingers inAlmaFria_DonaMargarita_PinotNoir_13 500×1351.jpg the finish. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2017 Eden Rift Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir, Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
Palest baby pink in the glass, this wine smells of watermelon rind and berries. In the mouth, flavors of redcurrant, citrus peel and wet chalkboard make for a bracing and tasty experience on the palate. Crisp notes of raspberry and watermelon rind linger in the finish. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2014 Alma Fria “Doña Margarita” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of bright raspberry pastilles and wet stone. In the mouth, deep, wet chalkboard minerality is scented with raspberry and pomegranate fruit that has a wonderful aromatic sweetness and gorgeous floral quality. Fantastic, vibrant acidity, and the faintest of tannins. Moderate finish. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2014 Alma Fria “Plural” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of sweet raspberry jam, cranberries and exotic floral aromas. In the mouth, flavors of raspberry and cranberry fruit has a wonderful aromatic sweetness even as it vibrates with fantastic acidity. Notes of cedar and citrus peel linger in the finish with hints of strawberry jam and the faintest of tannins. 13.1% alcohol. 325 cases made. Score: around 9 . Cost: $ . click to buy.

2014 Calera “Jensen Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Mt. Harlan, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, cedar, and dusty roads. In the mouth, flavors of red apple skin and cedar mix with dried cherry and hints of dried herbs. Faint tannins nudge the edges of the palate as the wine finishes long and floral. 13.8% alcohol. 495 cases produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $90 . click to buy.

2016 Eden Rift Vineyards Pinot Noir, Cienega Valley, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of slightly leathery cherry and cranberry aromas. In the mouth, surprisingly muscular tannins drape the palate and flavors of dried cherries, citrus peel and dried herbs swirl with excellent acidity. Notes of dried herbs linger in the finish. 14.3% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2014 Onward “Hawkeye Ranch” Pinot Noir, Redwood Valley, Mendocino, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, red apple skin, and dried raspberry jam. In the mouth, cherry and raspberry fruit mix with cedar and a touch of leather. Good acidity and decent length. Missing some vibrancy but pleasing dried herbal notes linger in the finish. 12.3% alcohol. 375 cases produced Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 38 . click to buy.

2016 Limerick Lane Cellars “1910 Block” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry, dried herbs and black pepper. In the mouth, tart blackberry fruit is bright with juicy acidity as blueberry notes linger with hints of cocoa powder in the finish with faint tannins. More balanced than the 2015 vintage. 15.1% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2015 Limerick Lane Cellars “Headpruned Block” Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, rich black cherry and cassis flavors lean towards blackberry as they finish bright and zingy thanks to excellent acidity. Powdery muscular tannins emerge from the shadows to coat the mouth as floral notes linger in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ . click to buy.

2015 Limerick Lane Cellars Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry and a touch of black pepper. In the mouth, blackberry and blueberry flavors are bright and spicy with pepper and licorice notes. Good acidity and length. Faint putty-like tannins. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ . click to buy.