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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 Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial Sardon de Duero: Retail $25. 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah. Almost squid ink dark in the glass with notes of cassis, black raspberry, and a savory, meaty component. On the palate, plenty of fruit and a lush mouthfeel with a lingering finish. Abadia Retuerta is perhaps the leader in the Appellation, which is just to the East of the Ribera del Duero, and tasting this wine it is clear why. I opened this one night while flying solo at home—the wife and kids were out of town. I powered up the immersion circulator and cooked the best steak I have made since moving to Texas. With this wine? I did not bother with any side dishes as this pairing was darn near perfect. Why muddy the waters? Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé: Retail $14. 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Cinsault. Of all the time I have spent in France, very little of it has been in the Rhône Valley. I did spend a few days there a couple of years ago, and then a few more a year later. I need to go back—there is plenty more to explore and there is some fantastic cycling. I have, on the other hand, tasted many a wine from the region and this might be described as a “classic” Rhône rosé: vibrant pink in the glass with great strawberry, melon, and gravitas—it’s all there. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc: Retail $14. 35% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 25% Grenache Blanc, 5% Clairette, and 5% Marsanne. A blend of most of the classic white Rhône varieties, this wine is tropical and weighty, with plenty of acidity and a flintiness on the finish. If you never have had a Rhone white, this might just be the place to start—it is a great representation of the region and the price is quite kind as well. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Kaiken Ultra Malbec Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $20. I visited Kaiken in Argentina a couple of months ago (and yes, those stories are coming soon, I promise!), so getting a chance to revisit this wine at home brought back some wonderful memories. Just looking at the label, which has a simple representation of the Andes mountains caused me to pause and reflect on how much time I spent glaring aimlessly at the peaks on the horizon. The wine? Dark, as one would expect from a pure Malbec with dark berries, chocolate, and floral notes wafting over the rim. Rich berry fruit on the palate with just a hint of oak—a bit surprising that it is so subtle since this wine spent 12 months in French barrels. A bit of tannin on the finish suggests at least a few more years in its future. There is no doubt that Kaiken is one of the best bang-for-the-buck bottles on the market—this delivers way above its $20 tariff. Outstanding. 99-92 Points.
2016 Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés Salta, Argentina: Retail $16. Kaiken, the Argentinian sister winery of Montes across the Andes Mountains in Chile is not a modest enterprise—it can produce nearly ten million bottles annually—but each bottle contains several aspects that are not always extant in similarly sized enterprises: quality and a sense of place. The first is undeniable as at $16, I defy anyone to find a better value. Sense of place is harder to define, but tasting this, I immediately think the snow-covered Andes, warmed by a summer sun, gradually melting and passing over countless rocks and pebbles, meandering down to a valley stream. Perhaps that is a bit over-the-top, but this wine has that striking minerality coupled with citrus and peach flavors, enshrouded in a driving tartness. 90.
2014 Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir Aconcagua Coast Chile: Retail $15. Grapes were hand selected from the choicest lots of Montes’ Aconcagua Coast vineyards. Black cherry, and other dark berry fruit are buoyed by a perfumed, almost sweet violet aspect. On the palate, the cherry really comes through leading to a lengthy finish that comes off as just a tad hot (13.5% abv) at the end. Still, Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Tokaj-Oremus (Vega Sicilia) Tokaji Dry Mandolás: Retail $24. 100% Furmint. In a word? Fantastic. Dry Furmint is gradually becoming more available outside of Hungary, causing much rejoicing in the streets (or at least at my house). Great fruit (white peach, muskmelon) combined with a slightly herbaceous quality upfront. On the palate, this is reminiscent (in weight, at least) of a luscious Bordeaux, seemingly laced with lanolin—smooth, silky, clinging to all surfaces of the mouth. The wine finishes with a mineral tartness that lingers for quite some time. This is my first Furmint in over a year—it will not be that long before the next. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.