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….
These next two wines come from Domaine Bousquet one of the largest producers of organic wine from Argentina. Both of these wines were produced using the Charmat method, where the second fermentation occurs in a large tank.
Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut, Mendoza Argentina: Retail $15. 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir.. Loads of wet rock with exotic fruit (guava, papaya) on the nose, vibrant sparkle with that fruit really upfront. The finish is lasting and persistent, with a strong focus on minerality. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut Rosé, Mendoza Argentina: Retail $15. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Light peach color with Watermelon and white flower on the nose. On the palate, this comes off fuller bodied than the white with red berry fruit, a bit of rose petal and just a touch sweet. In all, two solid sparklers from organic grapes, both would do well on any table, but I slightly prefer the rosé. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Château Carbonneau Classique, Sainte Foy Bordeaux: Retail $12. 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. From the extreme southwest corner of Bordeaux (quite close to Bergerac and just south of Entre-Deux-Mers), the Sainte Foy appellation, created in 1937, originally covered the sweet wines from the region. Since the early 1990s, however, the appellation has also included the red wines, which are often made in classic claret-style blends, including this wine from Château Carbonneau. I tasted this before I knew the price and while I was not overwhelmed, I certainly was whelmed: fantastic fruit, balance, and even a dash of verve. Dark in the glass and on the palate: black raspberry a-go-go with coffee and a decided meatiness. All continue on the palate with a dash of tartness for balance. Very nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
The next two wines come from the fine people at Plonk Wine Club who specialize in organic wines from lesser well-known regions and varieties.
2015 Santomas Refošk, Slovenia: Retail $25. 100% Refošk. From my friends at Plonk Wine Club. It is safe to say this is my first Slovenian Refosco, but hopefully will not be my last. Really meaty and a bit funky (although the funk wore off after a bit), this reminds me of a Mourvèdre in many ways, but might be even more savory with cassis, plum, and plenty of earth, finishing with noticeable tannins. A bit outside of the norm, which is always a good thing. Very Good 87-89 Points.
2016 Matetic EQ Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $16. This is another wine sent to me by Plonk Wine Club, and another winner. Certainly New World in style, with lime, melon, and a touch of grassiness on the nose. The palate is tart and lively with plenty of fruit buoyed by the acidity. The finish is quite mineral and of decent length. A fine effort. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
These next two wines come from Fontanafredda, the single largest continuous estate in Piedmont, which was started by the first king of Italy to produce outstanding Barolo.
2013 Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG Silver Label: Retail $40. 100% Nebbiolo. Translucent dark ruby-red in the glass with dark cherry, earth, and cinnamon. On the palate, this is both subtle and fantastic: dark cherry fruit, plenty of tanginess, and enough tannin to indicate that this wine has considerable time ahead of it. Just short of a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2013 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d’Alba DOCG: Retail $45. 100% Nebbiolo. More raspberry and even strawberry here on the nose with a touch of clove. On the palate, fruity goodness with wet eucalyptus and forest floor. Make no mistake, though, this is a fruit driven wine from start to finish, although there is a touch of chalky tannins at the back-end. Rich and full, and would benefit from a bit of cellar time. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Château Peybonhommes-les-Tours “Le Blanc Bonhomme” Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux: Retail $15. 50% Semillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc. When I pulled this bottle out of the box provided by my brown-clad delivery person, I did a double-take at the label. Yes, it did say “Grand Vin de Bordeaux” but the bottle shape was decidedly Burgundian, which undoubtedly causes it to stand out. The wine is also a noticeable departure from most Bordelais Blancs as it is more tropical than citrus, more hedonistic than staid. On the palate, that trend continues with soft notes of mango and guava and just a kiss of sweetness. The acidity is definitely on the reserved side, however, so those expecting a racier wine, well, surprise! This is an entirely pleasant sipper, though, great for an apéritif or even slightly spicy Asian or Latin American fare (I served it with my chipotle infused tilapia tacos and it was fabulous). Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.