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.
This week, there is a tangential relationship in that each of the bottles here have suggested retail prices somewhere north of $50, which is far more than the $12 average price per bottle in this country. Thus, these wines I would consider “special occasion” wines, while other people I know (who have requested to remain anonymous) call these “Fancy Pants” wines (although they provide no objection to sample these wines with me).
2015 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: Retail $90. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Not as dark as many Cabs, but still a deep crimson. Black raspberry, vanilla, pepper, spice, and oak. Initially, plenty of fruit (but far, far, far from a bomb) with vanilla, mocha, and spice. The mid palate is quite tart, with racy acidity and a bit of forest floor. The finish has ample tannins, but this is more of a wine for short-term consumption (now to 5-8 years) than the other two, but this is really fantastic. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard, Atlas Peak Napa Valley: Retail $95. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. A bit darker than the Napa Valley (above) with richer, deeper, even darker fruit (with plum thrown him here) and much more pronounced black pepper. The oak and vanilla, though present, are both less prominent likely due to the intense fruit. On the palate, the fruit is much more shy, keeping mostly hidden behind the bright acidity and more prominent oak. The healthy tannins start to come in on the mid-palate and last throughout the finish and long thereafter. A much bigger and longer lasting wine (10-20 years, easy). Whoa. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2015 Addendum Cabernet Sauvignon Skellenger Lane Vineyard, Rutherford, Napa Valley: Retail $90. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. A touch lighter than the Stagecoach (but darker than the Napa Valley). More spice than fruit here on the nose, with fleshier red fruit (plum), cigar smoke, and oodles of spice. Fruitier and less aggressive than the Stagecoach on the palate, with more subtle dark fruit, less apparent oak influence, but perhaps more spice. Of the two single vineyards, while this certainly has aplenty of life ahead of it (8-15 years at least), and this is drinking much better right now. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2014 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Vineyard: Retail $125. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc. Dark red fruit with a savory note and a touch of pepper (both green and black). Palate? Balance. Fruit (black and red berries), earth, cassis, and anise characterize the palate. This is a baby, but it reveals its precocious nature: big body, focused acid, and a deep and rich soul. This needs a bit of time (but not much) and it will show what “gangbusters” means. Close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
The next two wines come from Château la Nerthe, the oldest wine producer in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Neither wine has been released, but I was fortunate to get to try them when the winery’s Commercial Director, Christophe Bristiel, visited me in Houston a few weeks ago. This is a new wine for la Nerthe, and a rarity as it is 100% Grenache.
2015 Château La Nerthe Les Clavelles Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Retail $200. 100% Grenache Noir. I am not much into making grandiose statements, but quite simply, this might be the singular most amazing nose of a wine that I have ever experienced. Perfumed, floral, and incredibly fruity, this is a combination of aromas that I have never experienced. I literally sniffed this for close to 15 minutes before I tasted it. The palate is equally, if not more enticing as that same glorious mélange is present on the palate: incredible fruit, several layers of depth, silky tannins (suggesting years of cellaring), and a finish that is off the charts. I do not think I have ever given 100 points to a wine, but this is really close. Let me try this wine again in a decade. Please. Whoa. Outstanding Plus. 97-99 Points.
2016 Château La Nerthe Les Clavelles Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Retail $200. 100% Grenache Noir. A bit darker both in the glass and on the nose than the 2015, and certainly more shy. After a few swirls in the glass, far darker fruit here, even on the verge of brooding: dark plum, cassis, black pepper, and a touch of anise. Unbelievably rich on the palate, big, bold, but far short of over-bearing, this wine is more of what one might expect from a top tier Châteauneuf-du-Pape with all the above and a bit of spice. Whoa. Another incredible wine that indicates that this new wine is one to watch–with such variation between vintages, it seems as though this might be a vineyard that is more susceptible to vintage variation than any other with which I am familiar. This is truly amazing. This might surpass the 2105 eventually–I need a case or two to make sure. Outstanding Plus. 96-98 Points.