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 a couple of new releases from the Wilcox, Arizona-based Aridus Wine Company. Started in 2012 by couple Scott and Joan Dahmer, this little outfit has been making wines sourced from the southwest and California for a while, with an emphasis on their home state of Arizona. Their Sauvignon Blanc is among the purest expressions of passionfruit I’ve ever experienced in a wine, and worth trying if that’s a flavor that you get excited about. I know I do. Their latest Malbec, sourced from vineyards in New Mexico, is more like a Cahors than a California or Argentinian Malbec, so if you like them savory, then this one’s for you.

I’ve also got two new releases from Post & Beam, a label under the Far Niente family of wineries. Their Napa Chardonnay and Napa Cabernet are solid entrants in their category and great options for those looking for slightly more inexpensive options from Napa. Yes, sad to say that $50 is now “inexpensive” in Napa but that’s the truth.

I guess we’re going in pairs this week, huh? Because I’ve also got two new wines from Troon Vineyard up in Oregon’s Applegate Valley. These are a white and a red blend (grape varieties undisclosed) designed to be inexpensive quaffing wines that nonetheless demonstrate the biodynamic farming and winemaking of the estate. They’re both tasty, though I prefer the red slightly. At $25 apiece, they’re great values.

The next pair of wines comes from Two Shepherds Winery, both from grapes that don’t get enough attention: Cinsault (in this case the oldest Cinsault vines in California) and Pinot Meunier. Both are delicious and absolutely worth seeking out.

Last but not least, I’ve got a Pinot Noir from Tolosa Winery down in Edna Valley, which has a lovely umami character along with its bright fruit. Definitely recommended.

Notes on all these wines below.

Tasting Notes

2020 Aridus Wine Company “Limited Production” Sauvignon Blanc, Arizona
Pale greenish-gold in color, this wine smells of sweet passionfruit and gooseberries. In the mouth, faintly sweet but deliciously bright and aromatic passionfruit flavors are hard to dislike, so perfectly juicy and bright as they are. Had you put a droplet of this on my tongue I would have sworn it was passionfruit juice. Somewhat remarkable for that purity of flavor. Very good acidity. Aged in stainless steel. 12.6% alcohol. 360 cases made Score: around 9. Cost: $28.

2020 Post & Beam Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and butterscotch. In the mouth, lemon curd, cold cream, and pink grapefruit flavors are juicy and bright with only a hint of toasty oak emerging on the finish, along with a touch of alcoholic heat. Excellent acidity. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $33. click to buy.    

2020 Troon Vineyard “Druids Fluid” White Blend, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of chamomile, unripe apples and pears, bee pollen, and white flowers. In the mouth, bright pear and apple flavors mix with herbal and floral notes, with some citrus pith tartness emerging in the finish. Excellent acidity. 12.2% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2020 Troon Vineyard “Druids Fluid” Red Blend, Applegate Valley, Southern Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry, plum, and boysenberry. In the mouth, somewhat muscular tannins wrap around a core of boysenberry and black plum flavors that are shot through with sarsaparilla and dried herbs. Juicy, thanks to excellent acidity. 13.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2020 Two Shepherds “Ancient Vine – Bechthold Vineyard” Cinsault, Lodi, Central Valley, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and boysenberries and just a hint of yogurt. In the mouth, faint, powdery tannins wrap around a core of boysenberry and sour cherry fruit that has a wonderful floral quality. Excellent acidity and a nice stony underbelly, this is a delicious wine that I recommend serving slightly chilled. Made from the good stuff: 135-year-old ungrafted, organically, and dry-farmed vines in the sands of Lodi. Fermented with native yeast and aged in neutral wood with minimal sulfur additions. 12.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.

2019 Two Shepherds “Hopkins Vineyard” Pinot Meunier, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light ruby in color with orange highlights, this wine smells of sour cherry and a hint of cola nut. In the mouth, the faintest of tannins have a wispy texture amidst delicate flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and earthy beetroot. A touch of floral quality lingers with a faint herbal bitterness in the finish. Quite pretty. Ages in neutral oak for 16 months, bottled unfiltered with minimal sulfur additions. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.        

2018 Tolosa “Stone Lion – Edna Ranch” Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and a hint of something earthier and meatier. In the mouth, cherry and black raspberry fruit mix with a touch of red miso and rusted iron. There’s a faint salinity to the wine and a touch of sweet oak in the finish. 13.6% alcohol. Comes in a bottle that is somewhat heavier than it needs to be. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2019 Aridus Wine Company “Limited Production” Malbec, USA
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and earth. In the mouth, black cherry and licorice root flavors are savory in quality, with a taut tannic musculature. Hints of black tea linger in the finish with the strengthening tannin. Good acidity. This is not a wine for those looking for lush fruit, but if you’re a fan of Cahors, you’ll enjoy this wine’s restraint. Includes 5% Petit Verdot. The grapes from this wine come from Deming, New Mexico. 13.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.

2019 Post & Beam Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cola. In the mouth, that cherry cola quality continues, with hints of toasted oak and juicy blackberry underneath. Faint, fine-grained tannins add texture and depth, while good acidity keeps things juicy. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.