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….
2017 Acquiesce Bourboulenc Lodi: Retail $28. Bourboulenc comes from the South of France, where it is almost always blended with other grapes, most notably in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. In fact, other than a couple of producers in the La Clape region of Southwest France, I am not sure there is another producer of 100% Bourboulenc anywhere (although Tablas Creek, where Sue Tipton purchased these vines, might make one in the future). On top of the unique contents, I doubt there is a more attractive bottle in this country than Sue Tipton’s now “trademark” glass that she imports from the South of France. Of course, it would not mean much if the contents did not measure up to the packaging. This wine does not just measure up, though, as impressive as the bottle is, the wine is fantastic, once again proof that Ms. Tipton is one of the more talented and daring winemakers I’ve met. This Bourboulenc is testament that she is willing to tackle obscure varieties and does so with aplomb. Great citrus, particularly grapefruit, and white flowers lead to a wonderfully tart wine with juicy fruit, a salinity on the mid palate, and that citrus tartness on the finish. Wonderful. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Acquiesce Clairette Blanche Lodi: Retail $28. Most of the description above for the Bourboulenc can be pasted here: Clairette Blanche comes from the South of France, is one of the grapes found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends, and is rarely seen as a stand-alone varietal wine. Sue Tipton of Acquiesce purchased the vines and planted them on her property a few years ago, and this represents the first ever 100% Clairette Blanche in the U.S. (Tablas Creek grows some on their property in Paso Robles and uses it in their Rhône-style white blend, but do not make an 100% Clairette, as far as I know). Almost colorless in the glass, with pineapple, lime, and white pepper. On the palate, this is simply delightful: the lime is prominent with some lemongrass and a constant undergirth of salinity and minerality. Round and full but far from flabby, this wine (along with the Bourboulenc) begs the question: why is it never made as a single varietal wine? Well, after tasting these two beauties, the answer is clear—they were both waiting to be discovered by Sue Tipton and to be planted in Lodi. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Concannon Vineyard Vintner’s Select Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Concannon is a legendary name in the history of Northern California wine—the winery was founded in 1883 and is one of the few to survive Prohibition (largely due to the production of sacramental wines). Now a part of the rather mundanely titled “The Wine Group” Concannon still produces several high quality wines, and are best known, perhaps, for their Petite Sirah—they were likely the first to produce a varietal Petite. This wine, part of the CV (Concannon Vineyard) line, has a medium color for a Cabernet, with a nose of blackberry, raspberry, and green pepper. The palate is characterized by plenty of fruit: the raspberry is most prominent with some earthy notes, but it finishes with that luscious fruit. Minimal tannins on the backend, this is a wine for short-term consumption, and it is yummy. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Lucas & Lewellen Estate Hidden Asset Red Wine Santa Barbara County: Retail $29. 32% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 26% Syrah, 9% Petite Sirah, 2.5% Cabernet Franc. Lucas & Lewellen, one of the larger growers in Santa Barbara County with over 400 acres on the family owned estate. A dark, brooding wine with dark red fruit, sage, and clove. Fruity and jammy on the palate with a lush, heavy mouthfeel. After an hour or so open, this is fantastic on its own, but could benefit from some beefy protein. Texas BBQ anyone? Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Vermentino Cuvée Rolle Applegate Valley Oregon: Retail $20. 90% Vermentino co-fermented with 10% Marsanne. Rolle is what the French call Vermentino, and constitutes nearly all of the white wine produced in Provence. While Rolle only accounts for about 5% of Provençal wine production, it is usually round and rich with a distinct tartness. That is why I wish the kind people at Troon would just dive in and call this Rolle, and ditch the “Vermentino” altogether. This is decidedly crafted in the French style with citrus, stone, and exotic fruit (lemon rind, pineapple, white peach) with a lip-smacking tartness, a mid-palate flintiness, and a sweet vanilla finish. Another winner from Troon. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.