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….
2015 Cecchi La Mora Tuscan Red Blend Maremma Tuscany: Retail $15. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A couple of years ago I visited Cecchi when this brand was relatively new. It comes from western Tuscany, just a few kilometers from the Mediterranean, where the ocean breezes cool the grapes at night, enabling the fruit to maintain its acidity. Dark berry fruit, with mocha and even tobacco on the nose. Loads of fruit, decent depth, and enough acidity to balance it out. Nice. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé: Retail $15. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah. I am not entirely certain, but I believe this is one of the first samples I received to review on this site way back when. That would make this the fifth (?) vintage that I have reviewed. While there have been a host of changes in my blog and in my personal life (I still can’t believe I live in Texas), the fact that this is one of the best values in rosé on the market has remained constant. Fresh and tart red berry fruit on the nose and the palate, this vibrant pink wine under screw-cap is refreshing, vibrant, and delicious. Its consistency is not all that surprising, though, given the producer: Chapoutier is the standard-bearer for most of the south of France. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Concha Y Toro Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Chardonnay Ribera del Rapel Colchagua Valley Chile: Retail $15. This is one of those wines where one does a double take. Can a wine this good be that inexpensive? The Serie Riberas is an even further selection of the Gran Reserve. Lemon, lime, and vanilla on the nose with great tartness and a lemon meringue thing on the palate. The wine spends nine months in French oak barrels and while the oak is certainly there, it melds in nicely. This is really fantastic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Concho y Toro Gran Reserva Malbec, Marchigue, Chile: Retail $22. 90% Malbec, 10% Syrah. Concho y Toro is big. Really big. As in one of the largest wine producers in the world kind of big, but they also produce some of the best values in the wine world today. This is a perfect witness to that assertion. After a good bit open, this dark-in-the-glass wine shows blackberry, cassis, tobacco, and black pepper up front, but on the palate, it is all fruit initially. A little smoke and tar come through on the mid-palate and it finishes with a spicy notes and a brief shot of tannin. This is a crowd-pleaser now, and could improve slightly over the next couple of years, but it is, and will be a great value. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2016 Count Karolyi Grüner Veltliner Pannen, Hungary: Retail $12. Austria is the country best known for the production of Grüner, but if this beauty is any indication, Österreich might look to the East for its most stringent competition with the variety. Pale yellow, with a bit more color than I perhaps anticipated, but the oodles of lemon-lime goodness definitely were expected. Great weight with a tangy mid palate and finish, this screw-cap closed wine checks all the boxes for a refreshing Grüner. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.