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 Castillo Ducay Cariñena: Retail $9. Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of raspberry, green pepper, and olive with a touch of anise and mocha. On the palate, holy molly, that’s fruity. Although it calmed down with some time open, the fruit was there–Jolly Rancher style fruit. There is a touch of earth, at the bottom after it was open for several hours, but make no mistake, this is a wine to drink now. With pizza or paella–and is a first date kind of wine–when you are not sure where it is going, so you do not want to invest all that much. Good. 83-85 Points.
2014 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Monopole Blanco: Retail $15. 100% Viura. When I first twisted and poured (yes, it is under screw cap, which is a bonus in my book), it came out in chunks. Yeah, chunks–I had elected to chill it in the freezer, and, well, kinda forgot about it. There really is no problem with a quick chill in the freezer (30 minutes is plenty), but leaving it to long, well, not so great. It does not do any damage to the wine, but you need to warm it back up a bit. Once it got back to where it should be temperature-wise, there was plenty of white flowers and white peach. On the palate, a bit of almond nuttiness and plenty of citrus-like acidity. Plenty of the same with a touch of flinty-ness on the palate. Lesson learned: don’t drink this one too cold–maybe an hour in the fridge should work. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Kalfu Kuda Unfiltered Chardonnay Leyda Valley Chile: Retail $19. A rather amazing nose of guava and banana with some lemon thrown in for fun. On the palate, this is quite viscous and rich. This wine is by no means your typical Chardonnay, but throw some grilled seafood, roasted chicken, or even a bit of ham at this and you will revel in the results. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2013 Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir Leyda Valley Chile: Retail $25. I do not have a ton of experience with Chilean wines, but these two from Kalfu will certainly cause me to rethink that. Light color in the glass, but not on the nose with eucalyptus, pepper, and black cherry–there is a lot of flavor going on here. Surprisingly, not overwhelming on the palate, where all those flavors seem to meld together nicely. This is certainly a New World wine, but there is plenty of Old World restraint–a fine combination in my opinion. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2011 Rutini Malbec Encuentro: Retail $19. I tasted this wine over the course of two days, and I do believe this was better on day one. Dark fruit, intriguing depth, and a strong finish, a rich, mocha laden wine. On day two, it was certainly similar, but the mocha-richness from day one was muted. Don’t get me wrong, this is a Very Good wine no matter when you drink it–particularly if you pair it with some beef off the barbecue….88-90 Points.
2012 Trumpeter (Familia Rutini) Malbec Argentina: Retail $11. On day one, this was a bit nondescript–closed up and tight as a drum. Day 2? Different story altogether. Smoky and fruity in the glass with a hint of heat. Fairly rich on the palate without being huge. That smokiness persists and accents the blackberry and dark cherry notes. I do not have a lot of experience with Argentinian Malbec, but this is really Very Good (maybe more). 88-90 Points.
2013 Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha Spain: Retail $15. 100% Cariñena. Instantly, I was drawn to this–good fruit (raspberry with a bit of an umami/celery component). On the palate, certainly a bit of fruit up front followed by an earthy gamey-ness through the mid-palate. The finish was rather brief, but that may improve with a little time (can keep maybe another year or two). Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.