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 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato Mendoza Argentina: Retail $18. 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Gris, 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Next to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay might be the least blended grape variety, so this blend is not only rare, but it is intriguing, particularly given the Pinot Gris, which is one of my favorite varieties. An interesting mélange of aromas and flavors: tons of stone fruit (white peach), pear, and even a hint of guava on the nose with the peach and honeydew melon on the palate. Quite tart and angular with some salinity on the midpalate and a lengthy finish. For the price? A no-brainer. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
NV Cono Sur Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé, Bio Bio Valley Chile: Retail $15. 100% Pinot Noir. Faint pink with a slight orange tinge and a fine consistent sparkle. Aromas of watermelon, ripe peach, and minerality lead to a fruity, zesty, fun wine with just the slightest hint of sweetness that helps round out all that tartness. Very nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2012 Donnafugata Tancredi Rosso IGT Terre Siciliane: Retail $40. Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola, Tannat. While I have been to Sicily, I have not been to Donnafugata, perhaps the premier producer in Sicily (although I might be there in June). I tend to avoid hyperbole, but I can safely say that I have not tried a Donnafugata that I have not enjoyed thoroughly. This is no exception: While not the darkest wine in the glass, it is no doubt darker than most. The fruit is dark as well–blackberry, cassis, as well as black pepper and even fresh black top–which leads to an exciting mélange of flavors. That dark berry fruit is there, but the acidity is the headliner–tart, racy, exciting. On day two, all the positive elevated while the detractors diminished. Nice. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2012 Donnafugata Contessa Entellina Mille e Una Notte: Retail $80. “Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Syrah and other grapes.” Another iconic wine from the esteemed Sicilian producer. Fairly dark mulberry in the glass with aromas of violet, blackberry, and anise. Once past the lips, there is more than ample acidity, subtle, but at the same time, prodigious fruit with coffee grounds, baked blackberry pie, and delicate but stringent, pithy tannins. Some patience (3-5 years) here will be greatly rewarded. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Lusenti Gutturnio Frizzante: Retail $24. 60% Barbera, 40% Croatina (Bonarda). A fantastic wine from the Plonk Wine Club, a wine that would prove difficult to discover elsewhere. “Gutturnio” is the local term for wines made from the Barbera/Croatina blends in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. Dark, fruity, and slightly sparkling in the glass, the wine exudes very dark berry fruit, plum, and plenty of spice. On the palate, only slightly a-sparkle with rich juicy fruit, spice, earth, and just hints of sweetness and tannin. While there is certainly a lot going on, there is no getting around it—this is an immensely fun wine that could handle a variety of meals from a simple pasta, to game, to a finely grilled ribeye. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Visigodo Verdejo Rueda: Retail $10. Yet another gem from the friendly folk at Lidl, the German supermarket that has opened numerous stores in the U.S. with plans to expand. The Rueda is a Spanish wine region just to the north and west of Madrid with high elevations that are perfect for making zingy white wines, mostly from the Verdejo grape. While there are some exceptions, the wines are mostly affordable and can provide some great value. That is the case here with tangy melon and white peach, a bit of minerality, and plenty of lip-smacking acidity. For the price? This is a complete steal. Very Good. 87-89 Points.