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 though 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. Being a bit of a statistician, the whole “random samples” has a geeky double-entendre to it as well.
2013 Marke Wines Gladi Riesling Mendocino County: $30. Marke Wines certainly has an interesting story (the owner/winemaker was born in Sierra Leone) and I have heard a lot about the wines, but this is the first I have been able to try. A muted nose but able to coax a bit of lemon and petrol out eventually. On the palate subtle fruit with good acidity and an admirable finish. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $17. Pineapple, melon, and a touch of acacia flower leads to an abundance of citrus with a hint of minerality. I am not a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc, but this is solid–the slight cat pee on the nose underscores its heritage, and this is a fine example of the genre. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Franciscan Estate Equilibrium White Wine Napa Valley: Retail $23. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat. Quite fanciful on the nose with white flower, pear, and melon. On the palate more of the same with a crispness that is both refreshing as well as an indicator that this could hold up to a host of cuisines. Not the least of which is Asian food–pot stickers, kung pao chicken, or even bulgogi would all pair wonderfully. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2013 Murrieta’s Well The Whip White Wine Livermore Valley: Retail $22. 28% Semillion, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Orange Muscat, 11% Viognier, 11% Gewurztraminer, 1% White Riesling. A kitchen sink type blend with the Muscat and Gewurz really coming through with lychee and orange blossom predominant. On the palate, a really fun and vibrant wine with some peach showing up during the lingering finish. I have to be honest, when I saw the blend I thought “Here we go” (and that was not a good thing), but this seems to work, and work well. Very Good to perhaps more. 88-90 Points.
2012 Murrieta’s Well The Spur Red Wine Livermore Valley: Retail $25. 33% Petite Sirah, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot. On the first day, this was a bit listless, but came out swinging on day 2. A bit meaty with black raspberry and anise on the nose. Plenty of fruit up front, which fades a bit through the mid-palate, leading to an above average finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Robert Mondavi Pinot Grigio Private Selection Central Coast: Retail $11. Despite my misgivings about Pinot Grigio, I gave this one a whirl. Like many Pinot Grigios, this was far too cold initially, but as it warmed, it started to show some tropical fruit: banana, pineapple, and guava. On the palate, nicely balanced with tangy acidity. On the finish, there is a flinty chalkiness that adds a bit of intrigue, overall Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2014 Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc Private Selection Central Coast: Retail $12. A fine rendition of the variety with lemon and pineapple from the outset. The palate is nicely balanced with subtle fruit and plenty of tartness. Mondavi wines took a bit of a hit from the critics about a decade ago, but at this price point? It is tough to find better wines out there. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 St. Innocent Freedom Hill Dijon Clone Chardonnay: Retail $26. A very interesting wine–fresh on the nose with impressive citrus and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, this is instantly inviting with bright acidity, but also a roundness–the strong acids gradually fade away. There is a bit of a nuttiness and minerality on the finish, which would make this a wonderful accompaniment to a variety of dishes (shellfish, cheese, chicken, pork). There is just a hint of oak, but it is very much restrained and held in check. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.