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).
I make a lot of statements and I mean most of them. I think. This past New Year’s Eve, I vowed that this year I would drink more Italian wine, since for me Italian wine has always been a bit of a conundrum, particularly when it comes to the whites. So in that vein, I have reached out to a few more Italian wine producers hoping to find a few solid choices.
2014 Mazzoni IGT Pinot Grigio Toscana: Retail $15. One of my main issues with Italian whites is…Pinot Grigio. I am a huge fan of the French style Pinot Gris, but when the Italians get a hold of the variety, they seem to want to make it as tasteless and listless as possible. So, in general, I avoid Pinot Grigio.
But if they were all like this? I would likely drink it on a daily basis, which is not a stretch at all. Lemony and nutty, with some banana and mango. Great balance and bright acidity. This is actually really good which surprised the heck out of me. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 Mazzoni IGT Vermentino Chardonnay: Retail $12. 75% Vermentino 25% Chardonnay. I saved this for the second as I thought it would be the more expressive of the two (see my mini-Pinot Gris rant above). Not so much–I should have tasted them in reverse order. The nose certainly came out to play with guava and grapefruit, but the palate? A bit shy, and reserved, but as it warmed slightly it came around some, but never got up to the level of the Pinot Grigio. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
I visited Turkey many years ago, back when I was studying in France. I had a Eurail pass at the time and I headed to the railway station in Strasbourg with a buddy of mine. We made a pact that we would board the next train headed to either Spain or Turkey. As it turned out, the Orient Express was just about to leave the station as we arrived, so off we went. Now, I will not profess to have tried much wine on that trip, but I can say that Turkey is a beautiful and fascinating country (although Istanbul can be tiring when you are 6’4″ and clearly an American).
2013 Vinkara Narince Turkey: Retail $16. I can safely say that not only have I never tried the Narince grape variety, I had never even heard of it before this was delivered by my brown-outfitted best friend. In a word, the wine is refreshing–I would say that it is on the Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay spectrum, but much, much closer to the former. There is a bit of green-ness here to go along with the peach, lemon zest, and orange blossoms, but a far cry from what some find off-putting about some Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity is lively and lasts all the way through an admirable finish. While this is my first interaction with the variety, I certainly hope it is not my last. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2011 Vinkara Kalecik Karasi Reserve Turkey: $26. 13.5%. OK, not only have I never had the Kalecik Karasi variety either (despite the similarity to my last name), I had to do a bit of research to verify that the varietal name was indeed two words. In my research, I discovered that the variety is closely related to Pinot Noir. Giddy-up. Red berry fruit with a meaty component arising out of the crimson wine with just a touch of heat behind it. On the palate bigger fruit than I expected but it works with the acidity and subtle tannins. Very nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
Our last trip on our mini-world tour today: Argentina. I have never been to Argentina, nor do I have any prospects to go there any time soon, but I would love to go, which is about all I have to say about Argentina at this point.
2013 Trivento Cabernet Sauvignon Argentina: Retail $12. Plenty of fruit (cassis and raspberry) on both the nose and the palate. Not a deep thinker, but certainly a pleasant quaffer. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Here are a couple more from the same winery, Trivento that have rather fun labels perfect for your coming holiday office party, which you have been elected to organize (you just don’t know it yet).
2014 Trivento Decopas Sauvignon Blanc Argentina: Retail $10.”¿Decopas?” is Buenos Aires slang and means “by the glass?” and usually is heard at the start of happy hour. Grapefruit and Acacia on the nose–bone dry and pleasantly bright on the palate. this will not cause you to lock yourself in a closet with the rest of the bottle and contemplate the meaning of life, but well, you don’t really do that anyway…. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2013 Trivento Decopas Malbec Argentina: Retail $10. Fairly dark crimson, with blackberry and cassis dominant in the glass. On the palate the blackberries persist with some pepper and spice thrown in. I searched, but could not find a single tannin molecule, so drink this tonight. Or tomorrow. No need to wait for the next day. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
On a side note, I will be having lunch with the winemaker of Trivento today here in Philadelphia. I am thinking of dropping a few subtle hints that I have never been to Argentina…
…I just hope he does not ask me about soccer. I mean futbol.