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….
2015 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Limari Chile: Retail $25. Concha y Toro is an enigma to me—easily the largest producer in South America, and depending how one counts, maybe the largest in the world. Nonetheless, they continually produce some of the best readily available wines on the market. This Chardonnay is a good example: citrus, almond, pear, and honeysuckle on the nose with good weight, balance, and acidity on the palate. I would not hesitate to recommend this wine to discerning palates, this is well-done and a joy to drink. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Concho y Toro Frontera Moonlight: Retail $6. I am usually hesitant to taste a wine before I know the blend, and I never write about it before having some cursory understanding of what is in the bottle. After a rather extensive search, I could only find reference to a “Moscato Blend” which did not help all that much. I also found the wine described on one sight as “a Still, Dry, White Wine” but on another as “Sweet (but not cloying) and Slightly Effervescent.” Well, it is certainly sweet (but not cloying), but also still (not even slightly effervescent). There are some nice tropical notes and good fruit, but the sweetness covers whatever acidity might be there. Look, for six bucks, one could do a lot worse, and this will certainly appeal to those who like a bit of sweetness in their wines. Good. 85-87 Points.
2016 Concha y Toro Frontera Chardonnay: Retail $10. From Magnum. You know, I was ready to not write about this wine at all—wines I dislike do not make it on to these “pages.” Why? Well, I really feel no need to bash wines since I have a several month back-log of really good wines that I have just not had enough time to write about and publish. So why waste bandwidth on wines that are not worth the time or energy? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to my pre-conceived notion of this wine—it is pretty good! Yes, I would agree with most in the wine world that a wine that costs less than a sawbuck (that’s $10 for the uninformed) for a magnum is better left on the shelf. I have to admit, however, that this really is good: nice tropical fruit, no appearance of any oak flavors, and rather impressive acidity. For the price? You bet. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2015 Valdivieso Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva Single Valley Lot Valle de Leyda, Chile: Retail $17. Not everyone goes for Sauvignon Blanc, and there are very few on the planet that can command top dollar. Why? Well usually, those vineyards that are best suited for Sauv Blanc will also be well-suited for other, higher priced varieties (like its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon). While this is far from a “top dollar” Sauvignon, it is rather tasty: bright citrus with some grassy notes and plenty of asparagus, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2016 Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Valle de Casablanca, Chile: Retail $15. As some of you know, I was down in Chile earlier this year and was amazed—the people were so nice, the food so tasty, and the wines fantastic. The trip, as wonderful as it was, was limited, however, to just one producer. Based on some of the other wines from the long, skinny country I have tried recently, I need to head back. And soon. In my mind, this is pretty much everything a Sauvignon Blanc should be: tart, spry, and loaded with flavor. Really nice and straightforward. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Valle de Maipo, Chile: Retail $15. Nearly each time I open a bottle of Chilean wine I kick myself (and since I bruise fairly easily, this is not the greatest idea)—the quality to price ratio of nearly every wine I have tried is impressive if not ridiculous. That holds true here as well. At 15 bucks, you really can’t go wrong: good fruit (blackberry, cassis) and secondary aromas (tobacco, black pepper) with ample fruit and plenty of intrigue on the palate. Gimme a burger, a slab of skirt steak, or even some roast chicken, a bottle of this, take away my steel tip boots, and I will be just fine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.