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 Alcance Gran Reserva Chardonnay Valle de Itata, Chile: Retail $20. I have been to South America precisely once, and it was a memorable trip to Chile and Argentina. I left with the determination to return, to experience more of both countries, but particularly Chile, which has rich culture and traditions that are largely unknown in the U.S. Fairly light in the glass with pineapple and lemon, and a touch of oak. The palate is rich and unctuous with some initial fruit that is quickly subdued by a wave of butterscotch as well as considerable minerality. This is really a fantastic wine, but likely one that will not be embraced by the haters of Chardonnay. Rich, full, focused. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2018 Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $13. Organically grown grapes, under screw cap. Quite pale straw with stone fruits (mostly pear with some peach). Pleasant on the palate with subtle fruit, a lengthy tartness, and a lingering finish. Look, this is not a mind-blowing Chard, but it is not intended to be. This is meant for that Tuesday night when the kids were away at camp, your wife was on a business trip and for some reason you’re cooking in your underwear. Then Alexa belts out a familiar tune and you start singing Like a Virgin at the top of your lungs just as your in-laws walk in, unannounced, because your wife gave them a key to water the plants, not realizing you were home. It is not your proudest moment, but this wine is perfect—it eases the pain as you search the internet for locksmiths, with Madonna still racing through your mind. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2017 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castello di Jesi Macrina DOC Marche: Retail $17. The Marche region, along the spine of the boot, is perhaps the most underrated region, particularly for white wines, in Italy. Pale yellow in the glass with mostly citrus notes and a smattering of minerality. Good fruit (lemon and yellow apple) and tartness on the palate with a decent finish, this is solid from beginning to end. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Luca Bosio Vineyards, Gavi DOCG: Retail $14. 100% Cortese. It is very hard to believe that this is my first Cortese, but looking over my notes, it seems to be the case. Wow. I need to get out more often. Fairly pale with a yellow tint with a hint of funk (I like the funk) nestled in with the citrus, herbaceousness, and minerality. On the palate, racy with subtle fruit and the finish is long and chalky. Nice. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Matetic Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley Chile: Retail $20. Under screw. As I mentioned above, I have been to Chile, but only once. Each wine I try from the region confirms my resolve to get back soon. Pale straw yellow in color. A bit funky (reduction?) with citrus and tropical notes on the nose. The palate is tart and fruity (pear and peach) as well as tropical notes. This is a solid entry into the SB market and the tariff speaks to its value. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Matetic Corralillo Pinot Noir San Antonio Valley Chile: Retail $25. Under screw. Pinot at this price point is always a gamble, but this lighter colored ruby wine delivers. Black cherry and more than a touch of funk, this wine just might be a unicorn: a Pinot under $30 that is, indeed, a solid effort. Good fruit on the palate, with a tartness that identifies the variety and depth that decries its similarly priced brethren. Tart black cherry, earth, depth. This is beyond a “solid effort.” Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2017 Simonsig Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch, South Africa: Retail $15. I have never been to South Africa, but I know of Simonsig, one of the largest producers in the region. I am a bit dismayed that most of the producers there have abandoned the regional name of the variety, Steen, for the more widely accepted and recognized Chenin Blanc, but that speaks more to my personal demons than to the wine. Speaking of the wine, this pale yellow wine exudes aromas of ripe peach and sweet mango, with plenty of peach and tart apple on the palate. There is a hint of sweetness that helps to round out the tangy acidity. Overall? Solid. Very Good. 87-89 Points.