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).
N.V. Forget-Brimont Premier Cru Champagne: Retail $50. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay. I have never visited this Domaine, located in Craon-de-Ludes on the Montaigne de Reims, but that will likely change whenever I get back to Champagne. The house is currently run by the sixth generation winegrower Michel Forget, who also produces an eponymous label. In this wine, the citrus and green apple dominate. Bright with a slew of slate and a hint of brioche and nuttiness. This is an outstanding option for oysters and other shellfish, alone out on the patio, or just about anything. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2011 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino: Retail $80. Whoa. I did a passive decant (I opened it, poured a bit out to get some oxygen in, and let it sit for about 45 minutes) on this while at one of my favorite BYOBs in Philadelphia (A Mano). Dark red fruit with plenty of tobacco and a hint of mint. Whoa. On the palate this is young, but it comes out swinging. Black raspberry and mocha a go-go here. Before I opened it, I thought it would be way too young but it really showed well, particularly by the end of the bottle. This was gangbusters after only being opened for less than an hour. Rich and full. No need to wait here, but do decant for an hour. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2015 Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand: Retail $12. The makers of the first Kiwi Sauvy (1974) consistently produce one of the better values of the variety from the region, and this is no exception. Exotic and tropical fruit with grass and a touch of cat pee (yes, that is actually a thing, and many SB drinkers like it). On the palate really great fruit with an abundance of tartness. If you like NZ Sauvignon Blanc you will love this wine. If you typically do not like the genre, give this a try anyway (it won’t see you back all that much). Who knows? You may become a convert. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
The last two bottles come from Seed Wine, a relatively new and certainly small venture (just 350 cases!) in Argentina. The founding partners have a strong commitment to social causes as they donate a textbook to a local Mendoza school for every bottle that they sell (hopefully, they will soon feel the same way about the environment and reduce the weight of their bottles–some of the heaviest I’ve handled).
2014 Seed Red Wine Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $75. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc. Quite new world in both aromas and flavors: dark berry fruit, with a pleasant jamminess. On the palate, very rich–a blackberry jam of a wine. There is, however, ample acidity and a bit of tannin on the back-end to indicate that it is not a New World fruit bomby wine. I dare say it approaches the best of both worlds: great fruit, plenty of structure. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Seed Malbec Paraje Altamira Mendoza Argentina: Retail $50. 100% Malbec. Surprisingly, this is not quite as New World as the red wine, but make no mistake, there is still plenty going on: blackberry and plum with mocha and pencil shavings on the nose. On the palate, the fruit is a bit forward, but this is well put together, as after the initial fruit, there is some nice depth on the mid-palate with an earthy component. Long finish where the fruit comes back in. This seems to be more of a food wine than the other Seed, and that is fine with me. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.