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….
2016 Kokomo Winery Sauvignon Blanc Timber Ridge Vineyard: Retail $22. I stopped by Kokomo one day while on another project and Erik Miller thrust this into my hand while I was leaving. I did not get the low-down on the Acacia content (in previous vintages he fermented part of some of the fruit in Acacia barrels). He knew, though, that I have been a huge fan of his past versions of this wine, which is perhaps why he added: “I think it might be my best yet.” Well, he was partially wrong: it is his best yet. Whether or not you are a fan of the variety, this is a wine you need to try. Darker than a “typical” Sauv Blanc with tropical notes and white hibiscus flower, on the palate this has more weight, roundness, and depth than any Sauvignon Blanc I have tried in recent memory. Yet it also has more than enough acidity to handle just about any occasion: apéritif, sipping by the pool, oysters, even Korean barbecue. Bravo Erik, bravo. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Martin Ray Rosé of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $25. OK, so it is a saignée, which I normally eschew. The one (?) variety that can possibly pull off a saignée, however, is a Pinot since it is naturally high in acidity, which is paramount for a rosé. This Martin Ray (under screw-cap—hooray!) is simply lovely. Strawberry, lemon, and cherry out of the glass with a juicy, tart acidity initially on the palate, then a wave of fruit, followed by a tangy, enduring finish that helps you think that even with all of the craziness in the world right now, there sure is plenty to appreciate. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Martin Ray Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley: Retail $18. OK, I will admit it up front—I am not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan. In fact, unless it is a Sancerre or from Saint Bris, I usually do not bat an eye. There are exceptions, of course, and this Martin Ray might be one. Tropical and bright, and utterly lacking in “Cat Pee” (in case you did not know, the odor of feline pee is a thing when it comes to Sauv Blanc, and some people actually like it!). On the palate, it is everything you (or at least I) would want in a SB: tart, tropical, tantalizing. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, but do not like this wine, I might be done with you. No. We are finished. Kaput. Sayonara. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Pedroncelli Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley: Retail $20. Ok Some background: I LOVE Dry Creek Valley—even though there is no Pinot Noir, nor much sparkling wine to speak of, the region has captivated my heart. Second, Ed St. John of Pedroncelli is a really good guy even though he has questionable baseball allegiances. Third, I would not say I am a fan of Petite Sirah (or “P.S.” as aficionados like to say)—it is just too big and bold for me (I am pretty much a wallflower when it comes to just about any topic). But this opaque, rich, blueberry, blackberry pie à la mode is really tasty. This is not for the faint of heart, but if you like your reds “balls-to-the-walls” and high-octane, grab this. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Q Collection Chardonnay Russian River Valley: Retail $18. A Russian River Chardonnay for $18? I was skeptical. Initially a bit shy, but as the wine warmed, it opened up. Freshly baked apple pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, this wine over-delivers for the price. Good acidity, with tons of butter, there is certainly a place for this wine: the dinner table. Serve it up with some scallops or some garlic laden shrimp pasta and you will be just fine. Very Good. 87-89 Points.