It is time for another edition of “Random Samples”–I occasionally get samples from marketing agencies and/or producers, and these can often be grouped together into some sort of over-arching theme: Drink Them and It Will Come, Summer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.
Other times, I get just a bottle or two that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category (and, being the math geek that I am, “random sample” has a bit of a double entendre to it).
2014 Chapoutier Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc Rosé: Retail $13. Blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Some faint red berry on the nose, but really restrained. On the palate, however, a different story–nice strawberry and watermelon held in check by really active acidity. This is why the French still lead the way when it comes to making great rosé–the fruit is farmed to be a rosé and the wine reflects that. Fruit, acidity, balance, verve. Well done and Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2014 Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc: Retail $12. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu. Nice beginning of melon, grapefruit, and banana. Certainly some roundness here, but with balanced acidity. Regardless of price, this is a wonderful quaff with a lasting finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Mezzacorona Estate Pinot Noir Dolomiti: Retail $12. For the price? this is an attractive wine. I am a big Pinot Noir drinker and I have had more than my fair share of some higher end bottles. This is not one of those, but it does have some nice cherry aromas and a bit of earth on the mid palate. This is not a world beater, but neither is the tariff. I would grab this in a heartbeat, however, over other Pinots in the same price range. Good. 84-86 Points.
2012 Stemmari Pinot Noir Sicily: Retail $10. Pinot from Sicily? Sicily?!? Yup. While this will not cause you to abandon the Côte d’Or Pinot for the island off the boot, there are certainly some endearing qualities to this wine. Although the nose is a bit hot (13.5% ABV), there are still some nice black cherry and cassis notes. On the palate, it is clear that the acidity level was important as the tartness is prominent. There are some additional earthy flavors and the black cherry is in permanent residence. As one might expect, it is a bit thin on the mid-palate, but the finish is entirely pleasant. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
2014 Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay Reserve: Retail $9. Concha Y Toro is the largest wine producer in Latin America, and one of the largest in the world. Their Casillero del Diablo brand is usually a solid value and this Chardonnay is no different. Pineapple and citrus are dominant early on, with hints of butter and oak. On the palate, this is bright and lively with more stone fruit than pineapple. A bit thin at times, but the finish is strong albeit brief. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserve Malbec, Chile: Retail $9. Fruity. I need to say that again: Fruity. This is no doubt popular with the wine drinking public as it is rather, dare I say “Fruity?” But there is more than just the fruit of blackberry and cassis–after that initial wave, there is some definite depth causing a bit of introspection. With time, this wine would likely turn some heads (particularly given the price) and in this day of “big is bad” this wine defies that notion–this is a quality quaff. No, it is not an epiphany type of wine, but if we had epiphanies every night, wouldn’t they no longer be epiphanies? Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Trivento Torrontés Reserve Argentina: Retail $12. Under screw-cap. Bright grapefruit and tangerine jump out of the glass of the slightly yellow liquid. Past the lips, the acidity instantly grabs hold as the fruit tries to fight its way to the front. Good depth through the mid-palate, but comes up a tad short on the finish. Regardless, Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2014 Trivento Amado Sur Mendoza Argentina: Retail $11. 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Grigio, 10% Viognier. A bit of lemon, but really floral, undoubtedly that hint of Viognier has an impact on the nose. On the palate, bright and clean, but lacking a bit of depth. Still, for the price? This is really nice and refreshing. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.