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 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir Estate Willamette Valley, Oregon: Retail $24. White Pinot has been around for centuries, but usually the wine has bubbles (Pinot Noir is one of the three signature varieties in champagne). Recently, particularly in the New World, producers have made a still white wine from Pinot—removing the juice from the skins before there is any discernible maceration with the skins (when a red wine gets its color). This LCC White Pinot is rich, in fact I believe it is even richer than some the red versions of the variety I have tried from the winery. Luscious pear, white grape, and acacia flower lead to an unctuous mouthfeel with plenty of fruit, heft, and yes, richness. Some people have a hard time trying to understand the concept of a white Pinot Noir, but I say just kick back, relax, and don’t over-analyze, this is tasty. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Left Coast Cellars Pinot Gris Estate The Orchard Vineyard Willamette Valley, Oregon: Retail $18. Quite pale with a slight yellow hue, with rich peach and honeysuckle on the nose, the wine has nice fruit and good weight initially with a lasting mineral/flinty finish. For me, Pinot Gris/Grigio is a tough variety as the interpretations are all over the map. I get excited when I find a bottle that seems to have gotten it right. I am excited. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Pedroncelli Sangiovese Alto Vineyards Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County: Retail $17. It seems like I have known him forever, but I just met Ed St. John, Vice President at Pedroncelli (and husband to Julie Pedroncelli St. John) just a few short months ago. We immediately hit it off despite our differences in baseball allegiance, political affiliation, and height (sorry Ed, I couldn’t resist). On our second meeting, he brought this wine to lunch and I was immediately smitten: great cherry and raspberry fruit, depth on the mid-palate, and a wonderful finish. At this price, if this does not become your immediate pizza/pasta wine, I have a strong feeling that you and I will never hit it off. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Rochioli Estate Chardonnay Russian River Valley: Retail $45. When it comes to the Russian River Valley, the name “Rochioli” is as close to legendary as one gets. One of the pioneers in the region, Tom Rochioli regularly produces some of the best Pinot and Chardonnay in the appellation (and the Sauvignon Blanc is no slouch, either). This wine is rich: lemon curd with bits of oak and butter, but it is also near perfectly balanced. Fruit, tartness, complexity, this wine has it all and then some. Really. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Rombauer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley: Retail $24. When Rombauer contacted me to see if I would like to sample their wines, I honestly thought that they would be sending a bottle of their most famous wine, their Napa Chardonnay. Nope. Instead, I found a few different wines, including this Sauvignon Blanc, and I was ecstatic. Why? Well, I have had different iterations of the Chardonnay, but I had never had any of their other wines. And this one is fabulous: bright, tart, racy, and loaded with attitude—I imagine this is much like many a student at an Ivy League school showing up for their first semester. Plenty of grapefruit and white peach frontline the wine, but I really think the story here is the depth and weight on the mid palate, no doubt a result of the time it spent in neutral oak barrels. One of the best Sauvignon Blancs I have had recently. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Zin Phomaniac Old Vines Zinfandel Lodi, California: Retail $15. I am a huge fan of Lodi, and a big fan of Zinfandel, but yet always puzzled by the “Old Vines” designation as there is no formal definition of what that term means. In the glass, however, there is no confusion–this is a big juicy Zin–perhaps the type of Zin that comes to mind when one sees “Lodi” and “Zinfandel” on the label. Big and fruity, with a touch of earth (but just a touch), on the palate: big, fruity, and, well, fruity. On the palate it is more of the same with fruit, fruit, and a side of fruit. This is not an expensive Zin, but for lovers of fruity Zins, don’t be puzzled: this is right up your alley. Very Good. 86-88 Points.