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….
2014 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Anderson Valley: Retail $38. Ferrari-Carano’s winery located on the Northwest end of Dry Creek Valley is known for its fairly big reds and racy whites. It is not, however, the first winery that comes to mind when one is looking for Pinot. On the other hand, Lazy Creek Vineyards, which Don and Rhonda Carano purchased in 2008, has been known for quality Pinot Noir for close to half a century, and this is where this wine is made. I met with Christy Ackerman last year at Lazy Creek and came away impressed. This wine, too, carries on in the same direction. Decidedly a New World Pinot, this checks all the boxes (and adds a few others): fruit, depth, acidity, complexity, verve. All in spades. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 The Q Collection Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast: Retail $18. Hmmm. I am trying to reconcile a statement I frequently make: it is tough (impossible?) to make a quality Pinot Noir for under $30. This is not the first wine to challenge that assertion, but this might be the best: dark cherry fruit, earth, depth. There is no doubt that this wine ranks far above its pay grade. Excellent. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 The Q Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: Retail $19. A Napa appellated Cab for $20? What’s the catch? Well, there is none. Now, no one will confuse this for a wine that goes for 10 times the price, but there is nice dark berry fruit (blackberry, black currants, plum), a bit of tobacco, and some earth. On the palate, it is much richer than I expected, particularly after some time open: great fruit, depth, and a bit of chutzpah. For under $20? This is a steal. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2013 Rombauer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection Napa Valley: Retail $80. Inky dark in the glass with a very tight nose even after having been open for a while. Eventually some blackberry and mocha wafted out of the glass, with touches of smoke and oak. Fairly concentrated fruit with considerable depth on the mid-palate and finish. There is still plenty of tannin there as well, four years out. This is fantastic now, but will continue to improve over the next 3-5 years easy. Patience will be rewarded here. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyards Riesling Whole Grape Ferment Applegate Valley, Oregon: Retail $20. This is described both on the label and online as an “Orange Wine” meaning that this white variety was made at if it were a red wine. Normally, white wines are first pressed and the skins removed immediately. Here, the grapes were first crushed by foot, then destemmed, and fermented with the skins for about ten days. Then the wine was pressed (skins removed) and aged for three months in neutral French oak barrels. The result? Well, for those that have never had an “orange wine” the flavors are certainly unlike any that you have experienced in a wine before. Golden with a slight orange tinge in color with apricot, mango, and menthol on the nose, the wine is quite viscous and tart on the palate with a savory characteristic on the finish. There is no doubt that this is a wine for the geekiest of wine people or open it up for the wine curious in your circle and see if they can guess the grape. My bet is that they won’t. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.