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….
2013 Viña Bujanda Rioja Crianza: Retail $15. 100% Tempranillo. I have never been to Rioja. Yes. Sad. But the truth is I do not speak any Spanish and as such, the bike tour company I worked for was loath to send me there. I will get there at some point, with or without a bike (but preferably with, naturally). Until then, I will “suffer” through drinking the region’s wines. This is dark and opaque, with some lovely old world emphases: tar and spice play with the dark red berries. Wonderfully restrained and balanced with a tartness on the finish that begs for a meal. Fine on its own, certainly, but better with a bit of chicken from the grill, perhaps. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
N.V. Chloe Prosecco D.O.C.: Retail $17. 100% Glera. I have this love/hate relationship with Prosecco. I love the good ones and hate the bad ones. This falls into the former camp. Bright and active with plenty of peach and red apple. There is so much fruit on the palate, that it comes off a tad sweet, but the acidity balances that out nicely. For me, I find that most of the Proseccos that finish with a bitter almond aspect are bottles that I would prefer to avoid—no need to avoid this one! The fruit persists all the way to the finish. Very Nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Cellier des Dauphins Côtes du Rhône: Retail $15. 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre. I have always had a bit of a troubled relationship with Côtes du Rhône wines. I have certainly had a few outstanding bottles, but most of those have been while traveling in France, usually under the guidance of either a local aficionado or a producer of top-notch CdR. In this country, honestly, I usually avoid the appellation altogether as it seems as though many of the CdR wines that reach this country tend to be mass-produced and either not interesting or worse, insipid. Well, if this wine is any indication, I might need to readjust my approach to the wines from the appellation. Dark in the glass with raspberry jam and mocha coming through. Fruity and round on the palate, with plenty of spunk, this is not a deeply introspective wine, but pop it before the pizza shows up and you just might finish it before it arrives at the door. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Rutini Trumpeter Rosé de Malbec Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $13. The fine people of Rutini wanted to know if I would like to sample this wine during the winter under the guise that people should be drinking Rosé all year-long (I am ignoring, of course, any coincidental connection to the U.S. presidential election). Since I have long been a proponent of just that sentiment, I wholeheartedly agreed. It just so happens that it was 75°F in Houston (and 34° in Philadelphia) on the day that I tried this wine, but I am fairly certain that is irrelevant (judge as you will). Fresh strawberries a go-go here, with a tartness that you would expect from a solid rosé. There is plenty here to be happy about: good fruit and a smattering of spiciness (which I think works well in rosé). There seems to be just a touch of sweetness, which the dry rosé purists will eschew, but to heck with them: it is December, I am drinking rosé, and I am loving every minute of it. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Valminor Rías Baixas: Retail $20. 100% Albariño. If there is one place on this planet where I have never been but would love to visit, it would have to be Rías Baixas area of Northern Spain. From all accounts, it is a beautiful area with wonderful customs and cuisine. Oh, and there is wine. Albariño is one of my favorite white varieties and this is a great example why: pale with a slight green tinge in the glass, with tropical notes a go-go. On the palate, this is wonderfully tart, but stops short of being of being an acid bomb—there is an inviting roundness here, mush like I imagine how the people of Rías Baixas will greet me once I finally make my way there. Yes. That was over-the-top corny. But hey, it’s my fantasy. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.