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….
2015 Black Magnolia Pinot Noir Willamette Valley: Retail $22. I was asked by a friend to review this wine, which is new on the scene in perhaps the country’s premier region for Pinot (calm down Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Sta Rita Hills, you know there is plenty of love to go around). The website claims that the fruit is sourced from the Hyland Vineyard and the aim is to produce a wine that “over delivers on quality for the price.” I have said countless times in this space that I rarely see a quality American Pinot below $30. Well, this is one. The winery’s website offers only this $22 bottle for sale, gives a flat rate of $10 for shipping at least six bottles, and boasts the rather mundane (and that is kind) Black Magnolia (I assume) symbol on the label. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The wine itself? It was extremely tight initially, but once it had some time open, wow. Bright cherry fruit, intriguing earth, fantastic balance, and all for $22? This is a steal folks—a wine that would beat out many from the region at twice the price. Really. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2013 Borra Vineyards Heritage Field Blend Red: Retail $25. 70% Barbera, 10% Carginane, 10% Petite Sarah, 10% Alicante Bouschet. Made by one of my favorite winemakers not just in Lodi, but anywhere, Markus Nigli. Field blends are always fun, and this is no exception: red berry fruit, decided earth, and a smoky funk–all elements of a fantastic red (if you ask me). The same continues on the palate with plenty of depth and intrigue. This might not be the wine for the casual dinner party, but rather for that group of wine geeks that you know that really wants to try something with a bit of Alicante Bouschet, which is incredibly fun to say (and yes, you just said it again out loud and you agree). Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Cosentino Cigar Zin Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi: Retail $22. 100% Zinfandel. I have a bit of a history with Cosentino–they were the first wine club I ever joined–and so I am trying to be objective (the original owner and namesake is no longer with the winery, which I think was an unfortunate move, but…). At first I thought this was a bit thin and over-extracted, but with a bit of time, I have adjusted that view. There is certainly an extracted aspect to this wine (big, stewed fruit), but it is not as pronounced on the palate and there is the classic smoky element that brought this wine to prominence. This is in the “classic California Zinfandel” mode–chesty fruit, a bit of oak and smoke, and high-octane (15.5%), so if you are looking for a more introspective Zin, this is not it, but it does represent a historic representation of the variety. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
I had ridden my bike by Pedroncelli Winery on Canyon Road, about a mile off of Dry Creek Road at least a dozen times, but I had never stopped in. That changed just over a week ago when I finally visited the winery that has been family owned and operated since 1927. Yes, that makes this the 90th anniversary of the winery, and if subsequent visits come anywhere close to this maiden voyage (more on that soon), I will be back multiple times.
2015 Pedroncelli Chardonnay Signature Selection Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County: Retail $15. Screw Cap (nice!). Rich yellow color and wonderful aromas of lemon curd and just a hint of oak. The fruit is rich and luscious, but not overbearing, and while I might have liked a bit more acidity, this is a nicely balanced wine that would certainly be a crowd pleaser. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County: Retail $18. 100% Zinfandel. Originally planted in 1904, these vineyards were replanted in 1980 with clippings from those original vines. Deep red and black fruit on the nose with a bit of tobacco and even tar. On the palate, this is wonderful expression of “America’s variety.” There is quite a bit of depth and plenty of grip–drink this wine now if you must, but I believe it will be even better in a year or two. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.