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 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon Blanc: Retail $14. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu. On this site I have extolled the virtues of many a producer that I trust almost without reservation and Chapoutier is certainly on that list. Despite being one of the largest producers in the South of France, one that delves into several different appellations with dozens of varieties, Chapoutier consistently produces wines of quality. This is no exception: bright citrus and tropical fruit, a noteworthy tanginess, and considerable verve, this wine delivers. In fact, it delivers more than some wines twice its price. Bravo. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Côtes du Roussillon Villages: Retail $30. Syrah, Grenache et Carignan. One of the gems in the Bila-Haut line for Chapoutier, this Syrah blend is a fairly dark indigo wine emits notes of plum, cassis, and blackberry jam. On the palate, this is quite fruity as well, with boysenberry being the predominant flavor. Also plenty of earthy depth and tannin, the latter expressing itself on the lengthy finish. Another solid effort with this vintage of one of the premier wines from the region. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Concha y Toro Carménère Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Peumo, Chile: Retail $17. 90% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the dark side of wines in the glass with black currant, blackberry, and black pepper—a whole bunch of black going on. On the palate this is not nearly as foreboding as the color would suggest—quite fruity and vibrant while plenty tart and spicy. Big and beautiful, I imagine this would be a hit with everything from the Thursday night skirt steak, to the weekend block party, to the late night bowl of popcorn with a vintage Bond movie—as long as it is Sean Connery, the James Bond. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Ferraton Père et Fils Crozes-Hermitage La Matinière: Retail $23. 100% Syrah. In a similar vein to “Côtes du Rhône” I approach “Crozes-Hermitage” with more than an ounce of trepidation. Why? Well, like the more general “Côtes du Rhône” appellation, the Crozes-Hermitage designation cuts a rather wide swath—there are wines that are off the charts on the traditional Quality/Value calculation while others seem to hope to ride the reputation of the appellation without the requisite effort. While this wine is decidedly in the former camp, I have one main issue: the funk. As I have mentioned countless times on this blog, I welcome, nay, I embrace the funk. Well, this wine has a bunch of funk in the trunk, a bunch. Even after a day open, there is plenty of that funky Brett to go around. Plenty. Having said that, I really dig this wine: fruit (blackberry), tartness (enough acidity to cut through most dishes), depth (forest floor and clove), and yes, funk. Everything here. If you shy away from the funk, this wine is not for you, but if you embrace the funk like I do, giddy-up! Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 De Oliveira Lecestre Chablis: Retail $18. 100% Chardonnay. This is another selection from my friends at Lidl, the European grocery chain that has recently come to the U.S. I have lost count on the number of bottles that I have tried from Lidl, but all have been impressive. And a Chablis? They really know my weaknesses. Chablis, the northern most area in Burgundy (in fact, it is closer to Champagne than it is to the Côte d’Or, the other main area in Burgundy) is known for its crisp, fruity, bone dry Chards. Pale yellow with a slight green tint, this wine starts with plenty of lemon, delicate mineral notes, and a hint of pineapple. On the palate, this is a classic Chablis: fruit, acidity, and minerality. Not the most complex Chablis I have tried, but as a regional wine, it is not expected to be. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Primus Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This came on the heels of a bottle of champagne, which came on the heels of an 88-22 drubbing for my son’s JV Basketball team (which I coach). What does that all mean? I am not sure other than I was looking for something positive, anything positive, after three hours of pain (it was a 45 minute drive before and after the shellacking). I think I found plenty on the plus side of the ledger in this wine: potent black cherry Jolly Rancher fruit with both dashes of black and hints of green pepper. Much of the same on the palate, with oodles of that dark berry fruit, bookended by the two peppers. While not my style of Cab, this really is a tasty quaff. All for a couple of sawbucks? You bet. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.