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 The Federalist Chardonnay Mendocino County: Retail $17.76. Light to a medium yellow with smokey yellow peach, ripe pear, and that big Chard combo of oak and butter. On the palate, this is certainly big and bold, but it well stops short of over-the-top. I have said before that I will never shy away from a robust Chardonnay, since they need loving, too. This is no exception. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 The Federalist “Honest” Red Blend: Retail $17.76. 39% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Zinfandel, 11% Malbec. This wine is a blend of several varieties, but also a blend from a few appellations: 80% Mendocino County, 15% Napa Valley, 5% Sonoma County. I wonder if the variations both in variety and location, coupled with Abraham Lincoln on the label are a coincidence. Mr. Lincoln is, by far, my favorite president, and I have read countless biographies on the 16th as well as many of his own writings. From a young age, I was smitten with the Honest One and I like to think that it is not coincidence that we both achieved the height of 6’4” (all my immediate relatives are all under 5’10”). It seems clear, at least to me, that he strived to “blend” the various elements of the American experience into a cohesive whole. While the country, perhaps, struggles to achieve that goal, this wine does not: fruity and spicy, much like the American populace, with discernible elements, but much more powerful as one cohesive unit. Am I reading too much into this wine? Perhaps. But there is something about this wine other than the president that adorns its label. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 The Federalist Zinfandel, Aged in Bourbon Barrels, Mendocino County: Retail $20. 93% Zinfandel, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Malbec. Originally, I thought the whole Bourbon Barrel angle was a gimmick (and it still might be), but this is a tasty wine. I have not seen Hamilton but I wonder if seeing the most popular musical in my lifetime (?) might lend some insight into why Alexander Hamilton figures so prominently on this bottle. Dark fruit with, yes, a touch of bourbon on the nose, this is big without being obese, large, but short of “gigantic.” Much the same on the palate, but this is not a jammy wine; it is subdued, even elegant, while having the racy bourbon aspect to it. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Troon Vineyard Riesling Whole Grape Ferment, Applegate Valley, Oregon: Retail $20. I have mentioned before that I think I get more than my fair share of wine to try, but every once in a while I get a wine to sample that causes me to come to a full stop, causing me to ponder, to take a second (or third) glance at the label, and consume a large majority of the bottle before contemplating a review. This, of course, is one of those wines. A brilliant amber/orange in the glass with oodles of aromas: beeswax, orange rind, honey, yellow rose, and a hint of petrol. On the palate, this is 98% wine-geek: oxididative with lanolin and a rich, unctuous mouthfeel, this a wine for the free and the brave. Bravo Troon for producing a gem that is outside the mainstream, that challenges our conception of “wine.” If you are a wine geek or even a novice, this is a wine that will challenge what you think wine is or can be. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Montepulciano, Rubli Bench, Applegate Valley, Oregon: Retail $25. 100% Montepulciano. There is a fairly good chance that unless you are a bit of a wine geek, you have never heard of Troon Vineyard or even that world-class wines were grown in Oregon outside of the Willamette Valley. Well, you should put both Southern Oregon and Troon on your oenological bucket list. Dark in the glass with blackberry, black pepper, and even black cherry. The palate has nice balance between fruit and acidity and just the slightest hint on tannin. This wine, like its brethren in Italy, is meant for early consumption, but it might be more complex than its Italian counterparts—at least those that I have tried. Bravo. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Sangiovese Kubli Bench, Applegate Valley, Oregon: Retail $25. Very light in the glass, a translucent crimson with numerous red (cherry, raspberry) and black (black cherry, blackberry, plum) fruit populating the nose. The palate is nothing short of joyous with a defining tartness, mounds of said fruit, but also plenty of depth, and a finish that lingers. This is not a blockbuster wine—it will not bowl you over. It is more of a subtle beauty that requires, if not demands, introspection. For short-term drinking, but this is a gem. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.