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….
Coincidentally (or “randomly”) all the selections this week come from New Zealand, which to quote Joe Walsh, even though I “ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice.” One of these days I will get there, though, and when I do I will be sure to have my fill of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, perhaps the two signature grapes from the island-nation’s thriving wine growing industry.
2015 Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand: Retail $17. There are few times in my life that I have ever uttered the words: “What I really need right now is a Sauvignon Blanc.” Why? Well, don’t get me wrong, I am a fan, it’s just not necessarily my first choice when grabbing for a white wine. When I do latch on to a Sauvignon, I am pretty particular—it has to be racy. It just does—otherwise I’d grab a Chardonnay, a Riesling, or even a Vermentino (did I just say that?). And this one brings the race: grapefruit a g0-go here, out from under the screw-top with a great fruit and tartness on the palate. In fact, this comes pretty close to finding the right balance between fruit and acidity—and what I think a SB should be. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Catalina Sounds Pinot Noir Marlborough: Retail $22. New Zealand Pinot is a special bird (there was some pun intended as this wine is named after NZ’s “famous and largest warbird, the Catalina”). A bit darker than the average NZ Pinot, with plenty of pine needle and blackberry. On the palate, quite rich, but far from stewed or overblown, this is really a delight—and for you other Pinot freaks out there, as you explore other expressions, this might be a good place to start. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand: Retail $18. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is not for everyone—take my wife for example—but I am usually a fan. Sure, it can be overly tropical, quite green with racy acidity, and over-run with cat-pee, but it has its place, and if the wine is well done, I am all in. While this wine has all of those characteristics, none of them are over done, and none are out of place. Light and bright with white pear and yes, kiwi, even the most ardent New Zealand hater would come around on this wine—take my wife for example. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2015 Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago: Retail $27. This makes several dozen New Zealand Pinot Noirs that I have tried and there seems to be some common threads: great fruit, minimal earth, plenty of acidity. I know that is a bit of a broad brush, but this wine fits that precisely with tight berry fruit that is tart through the mid-palate with a slightly above finish. I might have to taste a few hundred more to get a real feel for the genre, but this one seems to fit in nicely. Very Good. 87-89 Points.