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 Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Ribera del Rapel Chardonnay Colchagua Valley Chile: Retail $17. This is one of those wines where one does a double take. Can a wine this good be that inexpensive? 20% is fermented and aged in concrete eggs, while the remainder is treated like the great wines of Burgundy: with French oak at various stages of age. Lemon, lime, and vanilla on the nose with great tartness and a lemon meringue thing on the palate. This is really fantastic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Garofoli Verdicchio dei Castello di Jesi Macrina DOC Marche: Retail $15. 100% Verdicchio. Verdecchio is the white grape of the Marche, along the “spine of the boot” of Italy, a variety that does not get much recognition in the Italian white wine renaissance. 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. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Garofoli Podium Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore, Marche: Retail $25. 100% Verdicchio. Yellow color with a slight green tinge, nice fleshy white peach and pear and a touch of pineapple. On the palate, this is initially rather subtle, but after it warms in the mouth a bit, the fruit emerges as does an intense minerality. The acidity is bracing, but in balance with the fruit and the finish is lengthy. A lovely wine. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
Locations E-5 Spain: Retail $22. Grenache, Tempranillo, Monastrell, Carignan. I believe this is the third (fourth?) iteration of Dave Phinney’s Spanish blend and this might just be the best thus far. A quite dark violet in the glass with rich blackberry pie, a smattering of anise, and hints of earth and smoke. The palate is quite juicy with loads of red berry fruit and a vanilla like sweetness on the back-end. Not much by the way of tannins here, so I would look to a short-term consumption. Crowd-pleaser kind of wine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
Locations F-5 France: Retail $20. Grenache, Syrah, and assorted Bordeaux varietals. I Am not entirely sure how many of the French blends by Dave Phinney I have tried, but this is at least the third. Darker than I envisioned, as this is rather brooding with dark berry fruit (blackberry, black raspberry). Rich and full on the palate. this is another wine for rather rapid consumption: great fruit, a bit of depth, and ample acidity. Nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
Locations NZ-7 New Zealand: Retail $20. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. I have tasted through many of Dave Phinney’s Locations wines now (actually, the brand was recently sold to E. & J. Gallo, but Phinney remains involved…for now). Light yellow with a very slight green tint, grassy with tropical fruit on the nose and a slight herbal influence. Tart and vivacious, this is really a great representation of the genre. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 La Mora Tuscan Red Blend Maremma Tuscany: Retail $17. Cabernet Sauvignon, 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 Nik Weis Urban Riesling, Mosel: Retail $15. Under screw. It has been a while since I first met Nik Weis in New York, but I have been a fan of his wines well before that. This is a relatively new brand for the St. Urbans Hof crew, but it remains a solid, inexpensive Riesling from the Mosel. Pale, almost colorless with jus a slight yellow-green tinge. Loads of lemon curd and just a hint of petrol and wet rocks. Instantly sweet then immediately followed by intense tartness, leading to some minerality on the mid-palate and an above average finish. It amazes me how Nik can put out such a high quality wine for this price. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.