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 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône: Retail $13. Grenache and Syrah blend. Immediately after twisting off the top, this wine, well, smelled. And not in a good way. Although I have mentioned countless times that I like the funk, this initially was a bit much. After an overnight, though, this wine lost the funk and brought plenty of fruit of the dark berry variety. There was also some earth, a bit of coffee, and sage. On the palate? The pleasures kept coming: fruit, fruit, fruit, a splash of earth, and acidity at the end. For the price? I dare you to find better (but throw it in a decanter first). Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Rouge Samorëns: Retail $15. 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault. There is a sea of wine that falls into the Côtes du Rhône appellation and most of it is, well, meh (and that is being kind). This is not one of those. Ferraton produces some of the wines at the very top of the quality spectrum in the appellation: luscious raspberry fruit couched in chocolate and Christmas spices. This time of year, there is always a scramble to find a singular wine to plop on the table for holiday festivities. Wine geeks like me have been saying for years that just one wine does not exist. Well, this comes close. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Graham Porto 10 Year Old Tawny: Retail $35. Port Blend. Ruby brown with caramel infused roasted hazelnuts–dates, figs, apple tart, and tartness, this is close to a Whoa. Depth, richness, and religion. Really close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
Mezzacorona Mezza Sparkling Wine, Italy: Retail $15. 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco, 10% Müller-Thurgau. From the makers of Rotari sparkling wine (one of the better deals on the market), this wine has plenty of fruit (stone and exotic). On the palate, nice round fruit–the Pinot Bianco and Müller Thurgau really come through as does a touch of sweetness. A really nice easy drinking quaff that will likely be a crowd pleaser. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Trenel Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, France: Retail $28. 100% Chardonnay. From the Chapoutier family of wines. Pouilly-Fuissé is located to the South of the Côte d’Or, in the Mâconnais, a region generally seen as one that produced quality Chardonnays at a fraction of the cost of their more northerly brethren. As the wines from Chassagne, Puligny, and Meursault, wines from Pouilly-Fuissé also have crept up in price and prestige. Golden yellow in the glass with honeyed pineapple and minerality. On the palate, plenty of acidity and fruit, bookended by salinity and the aforementioned minerality. Nicely done. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Warre Porto Otima 10 Year Old Tawny: Retail $20. Port Blend. Ruby caramel color in the glass, with wafts of black cherry, hazelnut, and a touch of heat. Nutty caramel on the palate with some smoke. This is not the richest, deepest, most thought-provoking port I have ever had, but it is tasty, balanced, and lovely. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Nik Weis Selection Urban Riesling Mosel: Retail $15. This is the second label from St. Urbans Hof and winemaker Nik Weis. While the first label uses the estate fruit, Nik makes solid wines out of purchased fruit for this second label. A bit viscous in the glass with lemon, pineapple, and a slight hint of petrol. Tart and lovely on the palate, with bright fruit and just the right amount of sweetness. This is really a wonderful expression, and hits well above its weight. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.