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 Amalaya White, Salta, Argentina: Retail $10. 85% Torrontés, 15% Riesling. Hmmm. A unique blend of Torronés and Riesling, which I am pretty sure I have not seen before. Light yellow color with just the slightest green tinge. On the nose–almost moscato like with exotic fruit and a slight muskiness to it. Great acidity and ample fruit, with a mineralogy and resilience to it. I am not sure about the flavors, but this is different, and difference is often revered. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Bodega Catena Zapata D.V. Catena Tinto Historico Red Blend Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $18. 92% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot. Inky dark in the glass with dark red and black fruits brooding casually in the glass with hints of nutmeg and spice. On the palate, the tannins seem to be essentially integrated, resulting in a creamy texture with waves of fruit buoyed by vanilla and a touch of oak. For $18? Yet another example of the great values coming out of South America in general and Argentina specifically. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90. Points.
2016 Colomé Torrontés Estate, Salta Argentina: Retail $13. Under screw cap. Torrontés is the signature white wine of Argentina, and DNA studies have determined that it is likely a cross between Spanish mission grapes and Muscat of Alexandria. On the nose and palate the latter clearly comes through with prominent tropical notes and a decided astringency. Bright and mineraly driven, this wine is in desperate need of food: Asian dishes, white meats, or even oysters would help this wine shine. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Dow’s Vale do Bomfim Douro DOC, Portugal: Retail $13. 30% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 15 Tinta Roriz, 5% Tinto Cão. This wine, produced by one of the larger and more renowned producers in the Douro, was originally only produced for the family’s personal consumption, but due to its popularity among friends and guests, they made it available commercially. Black berries and a touch of vegetation (bell pepper). This is not a game changer, it is not a mind bender, but this is a steady warrior, a bottle at the ready for any day the week throws at you. Grab a steak, a lamb chop, a burger, and throw it on the grill just as you open this bottle. This is not a dinner for the would-be in-laws, or the would-be spouse, or even the night of your first-born, but it is solid. Rock solid. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
N.V. Ferrari Rosé: Retail $30. 60% Pinot Nero, 40% Chardonnay. Salmon pink with Wild strawberry and groiselle on the nose. On the palate this really is fantastic–good fruit, brilliant acidity and plenty of baked bread. No. It’s not champagne. But….I was about to say that this is just as good, but that would cause my Faux-French passport to be revoked. (But, sshhh, this wine gives those Frenchies a run for their money.) Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2009 Ferrari Perlé: Retail $49. 100% Chardonnay. It is tough to beat Ferrari when it comes to bubbles (and not just Italian either). Lemon curd pie on the nose which continues on to the palate with oodles of flavor and depth. The only problem? I really think this needs more time–those delectable secondary sparkling wine flavors are lurking behind that rich citrus. Now? Outstanding. 92-94 Points. In 5-10 years? Look out.
2015 Stemmari Grillo Sicilia: Retail $12. I am headed to Sicily for the first time in a few days (nine, actually, but who is counting) where I imagine I will imbibe my fair share of Grillo. I am not sure if Stemmari, one of the larger producers on the island, is on the agenda, but I eagerly twisted off the top of this bottle as I have fond memories of their sister cooperative, Mezzacorona. Yellow with a decided green tinge in the glass, with tropical fruit (mango) and white flowers (acacia?) on the nose. On the palate it has that nice fruit, with plenty of acidity, and a bit of depth. For the price? Yowza. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
N.V. Valdivieso Brut Rosé Chile: Retail $13. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. I have a passing knowledge of sparkling wines from Chile, but it is just that. This wine has tons of luscious red berry fruit with plenty of sparkle, this is certainly a crowd pleaser. All that fruit on the palate comes off a bit sweet, but that only adds to its allure. Vibrant, racy, and inexpensive. Sounds like a fun evening. Very Good. 87-89 Points.