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).
2013 Château Blouin Bordeaux: Retail $12. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. I do not drink a ton of Bordeaux since it is a huge appellation and other than the top Châteaux, you really have to do a bit of homework to know what you are getting. And since I got my Ph.D. I have been rather averse to doing homework. Having said that, I think it is time to turn over a new leaf. Thus, this year, I will be delving into the Bordelais region. Given that the region is huge, it is impossible that every wine can be mind-blowing. Case in point. Don’t get me wrong–this is a perfectly fine wine, an every night sort of wine (and it fills that role well), but this will not cause you to pause to evaluate your relationship with your parents. Nor will it urge you to run out in the middle of a crowded park and scream “Hallelujah.” It might, however, suggest that you seek it out and buy it by the half-case to keep around for your random Wednesday. Dark fruit and a bit of pepper with ample acidity. Not a world-beater, but the planet needs copy-writers just as much as Pulitzer Prize winners. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
2014 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem: Retail $28. Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault. Chapoutier, a legend in the Rhône, bought the Bila-Haut estate in 1999 and, honestly, it is one of the few labels that I would dare to say I have no hesitation buying. The bulk of the wine under the label is well-made and tasty entry-level wine, but this is clearly a step up. “Occultum Lapidem” is Latin for “hidden gem” and refers to the estate’s oldest (and presumably best) vineyards. This wine has been a favorite of Robert Parker’s for years, and I can see why: rich opulent fruit (particularly after being open for a while) with a dark purple hue, this wine is quite tasty without a hint of becoming overbearing. Intense red fruit and a bit of cocoa lead to a lingering and satisfying finish. I don’t always agree with Mr. Parker (which no doubt causes him considerable angst), but this wine is fantastic. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Galil Mountain Winery Upper Galilee Rosé: Retail $12. 74% Sangiovese, 23% Pinot Noir, 3% Grenache. While the Sangiovese was produced using the pressed method, the Pinot and Grenache both were made from saignée. Plenty of fruit here, mostly strawberry and rhubarb. Initially, nice acidity, but the fruit comes through quickly and it rounds out in the mid-palate before ending in an angular finish. One of the few (only?) wines from the Upper Galilee that I have ever tried, and you know what? I likee…. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2015 Rutini Trumpeter Torrontés Mendoza: Retail $11. Like many Argentinian Torrontés I have had, this is bright and juicy with tropical fruit oozing out in every direction. This wine will not cause you to question the role of humans in an ever complex world, but it will please your party guests at your wedding or your first born’s graduation. It will also please your wallet. My advice? Always have several bottles handy in case your nosy neighbor drops in or you want to avoid the mid-week guilt trip of opening a second bottle after dinner to watch Game of Thrones on the DVR. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2011 Domaine du Théron Cahors Cuvée Prestige: Retail $20. 100% Malbec. For the most part, Malbec has pretty much disappeared from France, despite it once being one of the six blended grapes in Bordeaux. Only Cahors, in Southwest France (where Malbec is also known as Côt), produces any significant amount of the variety. In Cahors, the wine produced is usually inky dark, with significant heft and gripping tannins. This wine, already a few years removed from its harvest, still has that dark, opaque inkiness, but the tannins have soften considerably, revealing luscious fruit and a wonderfully balanced wine. There is a touch of Brett initially, but it detracts little from this fun-drinking wine. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.