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 Macchialupa Beneventano Falanghina: Retail $24. Another wine from my friends at Plonk, an exciting online wine club. Not had much Falanghina, but it is an ancient variety that has been around for at least a couple os thousand years. Citrusy and mineral with a sweet corn aspect that harkens back to my grandparents farm. Racy, but not too, brilliant and enough fruit to carry it. A fantastic white. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend, Tupungato Mendoza Argentina: Retail $20. 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky dark in the glass with aromas of blackberry, cassis, and a touch of tobacco. Good tart fruit, earthy mid palate, and that tobacco comes back through on the finish. This is a fine choice for the mid-week red with a burger, a bratwurst, a pizza. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Concha y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Ribera del Tinguiririca Marchigue Chile: Retail $18. 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc. I have had a few iterations of this wine now, and I have always been pleasantly surprised. This vintage seems to be a bit fruitier than previous bottlings with a dark color, dark berry fruit, dark (i.e., black) pepper, and dark soiled earth. On the palate, the fruit is particularly prominent, mostly cassis and raspberry, which leads to an earthy mid palate and a spicy, albeit brief, finish. Another solid effort. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Malbec: Retail $10. Every time I pop a Casillero del Diablo cork I know I will be happy. This is no exception. Relatively dark in the glass with sweet dark raspberry, black pepper, and a touch of anise. Really great fruit that underscores the value of these wines. It’s not going to change your life, but it might make your Tuesday night. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Bodegas Godelia Bierzo Blanca: Retail $18. 80% Godello, 20% Doña Maria. A combination of two varieties, both found in Northern Spain and parts of Portugal, that I believe I have never tried before. Quite tropical on the nose with guava, quince, banana, and a touch of celery root. On the palate, rich and full, with ample acidity. The fruit here is more citrus than tropical, and the wine is angular and precise. Pair with grilled calamari, lake trout, or even baked chicken. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2012 Bodegas Godelia Mencia Bierzo: Retail $19. 100% Mencia. As far as I know, this is my first Mencia, a grape that is not all that well known outside the Bierzo region. There was that time that I was traveling across the South of France with a couple of buddies and we drank plenty of Spanish wine, not really knowing (or caring) what it was. Had this been one of them, I like to think I would have noticed, but we all know how that goes. Sour cherry rules in the glass, with good tartness, depth, and a balanced mouthfeel. If this is truly my first Mencia, it was a good place to start. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Trivento Malbec Reserve Argentina: Retail $15. 100% Malbec. I have been sampling Trivento for a while now, I have tasted through numerous vintages, and I have even met the winemaker for lunch. Does that make me an expert? Maybe in my own twisted mind. Trivento is a rather large operation in Argentina, one of the major players. But they also make nice wines. Really. Yes, this flies against the norm, as in this country (the U.S.), generally speaking, larger wineries don’t make wines that are all that interesting. That is not the case here: dark, nearly opaque in the glass, with blackberry, black tea, and black licorice. Very nice fruit, lively acidity, and just a hint of tannin characterize the palate. The fruit persists throughout and well onto the finish. Look, this is not a home run hitter, it is not a touchdown scorer, a goal kicker, but it is a solid Tuesday night dinner making accompaniment. And then some. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Trivento Malbec Golden Reserve Malbec Luján de Cuyo Mendoza Argentina: Retail $23. I have been fortunate enough to have several vintages of this wine and I have always been impressed, particularly at the price. Dark and brooding with blackberry, cassis, tobacco, and spice. Great fruit past the lips with a bit of weight on the mid palate accompanied with plenty of spice. The finish is quite fruity with plenty of acidity and just a hint of tannins. Good in the short term. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.