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 Concha Y Toro Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. When I started this blog, I had not tasted much Chilean wine and those that I had tried were likely served at a wedding. Thus, my opinion of the region was fairly straightforward: cheap, rather uninteresting, the type of wine that you serve to a bunch of people you either don’t know or will likely never see again. How unfair. Since, not only have I tried my fair share of Chilean wines, I was also fortunate enough to visit the region. A land of lovely wines and beautiful people. As the largest producer in South America, many assume that Concho y Toro produces mass-market (i.e., tasteless) wines. This wine is proof that this assumption is simply not the case. Dark crimson in the glass with truckloads of dark berry fruit: boysenberry, blackberry, dark cherry. The fruit is buoyed by black pepper, clove, and a splash of nutmeg. Good fruit (those luscious dark berries) on the palate with plenty of acidity and a bit of tannic grip on the finish. Every time I try a Concha y Toro wine I think “This is the one that will let me down.” It still hasn’t happened. A stellar wine regardless of price. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 E. Guigal Gigondas, France: Retail $30. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre. I try to avoid making proclamations on this site, but here is one: if you ever get the chance to visit Gigondas, you should go. It is exceedingly small (not a destination but a detour), but it has all the charm that one could ever want to experience–much more charming than its more famous neighbor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in my humble opinion). The wines are not shabby either and are usually a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned kingpin of the region. I tasted this wine over several days, and it seemed to get better with each subsequent sip. By American standards, it is already a bit long-in-the-tooth (already four years past vintage–gasp!), but it could still use more time. Dark and brooding with baked blackberry, clove, pepper, evergreen, and rum-raisin ice cream, this requires patience. Initially, there is more than a bit of funk, dabs of astringency, and even Brett. But over time, wow, what a transformation. Bigger with each subsequent day, but never ascending to “over-the-top,” this wine kept raising the bar. On the third (or was it fourth?) day, this had developed a baked berry pie with maple ice cream aspect that was mesmerizing. Day one? Meh. Day three? Wow. Now? Close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points..
NV Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne: Retail $45. 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir 15% Pinot Meunier. L-P, admittedly, was never my jawn. Typically, it is a more moderate to light bodied champagne and I prefer my bubbles full-throttle (heavier on the Pinot Noir). Make no mistake, though, this is “ready for prime time.” Slight yellow glow to the wine in the glass with a biscuity meringue of a lemon variety on the nose. The palate it tart and vibrant, but certainly thinly more on the delicate side with tons of citrus and a morsel of minerality. It is clear that I need to study a bit more heavily all styles of champagne, not just those that to which I have grown accustomed. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
The last two wines this week come from Greece, a country close to my heart as that was where my wife and I spent our honeymoon however many years ago (don’t worry, I know the number and the date). I have not been back since, but I hope to be shortly as a “significant” anniversary approaches rapidly.
2017 La Tour Melas Idylle d’Achinos Dry Rosé, Greece: Retail $16. 40% Agiorgitiko, 35% Grenache, 25% Syrah. This Greek wine with the very French name, comes from the mainland region of Phthiotis (Fthiotida) a region I know next to nothing about, but based solely on this wine, I need to know more. Quite pale in the glass, with the slightest salmon tinge to an otherwise clear wine. Fresh strawberries on the nose with touches of citrus and wet rock. The palate is fairly delicate–certainly Provençal in style–with balanced fruit, tartness, and minerality. A very nice wine from one of my favorite countries in the world. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Moraitis Paros Dry White: Retail $14. 100% Monemvassia. So, as I expected with this wine coming from the island of Paros in Greece, it was likely a grape that I had never had the privilege of swirling and sipping (at least to my knowledge). The island is located smack-dab in the middle of the Aegean, about half way between Mykonos and Santorini, both of which I have visited (but I failed to stop on Paros). A pale straw yellow with tropical and citrus fruit on the nose, a tart mid palate, and a bit of a chalky, citrusy finish. Nice wine, particularly if you want to drink tasty wine and still make your rent or save up for a new leaf blower. Very Good. 87-89 Points.