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….
2014 Maxville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: Retail $60. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. After some time open, lovely aromas of blackberry, cassis, black pepper, and cedar. This lovely mélange continues on the palate, with rich blackberry jam upfront followed by a balancing acidity and spice. The finish? Fruity as well, but also lengthy, grippy (plenty of tannin), and lengthy. This is not the most earth-shattering Napa Cab I have ever tasted, but for the price? This is a lovely example. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Maxville Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley: Retail $30. 100% Estate grown from the “Musque” clone, this is more Kiwi than Napa in style with vibrant aromas of peach and red apple with a scootch of guava. On the palate, plenty of fruit with melon, peach, and a different aroma, closer to coffee than anything else. Overall? This is a great choice, and an example of perhaps what Napa Sauvignon Blanc should be—although at this point, most of it is being ripped out in favor of its red offspring. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Mercer Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $13. Another Sauvignon Blanc on the docket this week, but this hails from the great state of Washington and the Horse Heaven Hills appellation in the eastern portion of the state. The first Mercer arrived in what would become the United States a full two score before the Declaration of Independence, and his offspring gradually moved west, eventually calling Washington state home. This wine has gobs of grapefruit, a bit of fresh-cut grass, and succulent stone fruit. On the palate, good fruit but a bit on the round side, this could benefit from a deft shot of tartness.
2015 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay Spring Mountain, Napa Valley: Retail $34. I have not hidden my affection for Smith-Madrone wines–their value is just off the charts. Although I have never visited the winery, it sits firmly atop the “must-see” Napa Valley list. This Chard is another reason why: golden in the glass, with pear, apple, white flower, and wet gravel. There is also a bit of oak, but it is certainly shy despite being fermented and aged in French oak (and 80% new). On the palate, this is rich, unctuous, and loaded with body. The fruit is front and center, and beautifully balanced with the tartness and aforementioned richness and oak. That oak, while present, is far from dominant–it melds in beautifully. Bravo. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain Napa Valley: Retail $52. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot. I have reviewed numerous Smith-Madrone wines on this site (I thought about counting them, but that struck me as a bit odd), and each time I have decried my favor for their approaches to both wine-making and marketing. Here is yet another stellar wine crafted with that the consumer in mind. Rich fruit and hints of oak on the nose and the palate, but neither over-powers in either aspect. That should not be casually glanced over–many (most?) Napa Cabs focus on the fruit and oak with such fervor, that many of them have no resemblance to wines produced in other parts of the world. They decided to let the fruit do the talking–not shouting–and the oak, tartness, and tannin all play supporting roles. Blackberry, plum, cassis, splashes of vanilla, mocha, spice. Yum. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc, White Family Vineyard, Applegate Valley, Oregon: Retail $25. 55% Marsanne, 45% Viognier. I have tasted through many Troon bottles at this point, and their wines are of impressive quality and have always delivered, particularly for the price. This is no exception. A fairly dark golden-yellow in the glass with tropical aromas (mango, papaya) as well as white flower (acacia). Initially a bit round and fruity (citrus and mango), but the acidity kicks in on the mid-palate to balance the fruit and provide plenty of structure. The finish is lengthy and tasty, urging the drinker to grab another sip (or seven). Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Untamed Vine Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley: Retail $9. This is another bottle from my new friends at Lidl, the discount grocery chain based in Germany that is now opening stores in the U.S. Quite dark in the glass with aromas of really dark black cherry, a touch of tobacco, and just a hint of earth. On the palate, quite fruity and fun, this is a wonderful glass of wine for that moment that you are watching Grey’s Anatomy with your wife and you need a distraction–anything–to dull the pain, but the wine can’t consume you to the point that it appears that you are not paying attention, not engaged in “date night.” Very Good. 87-89 Points.