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 Agostón Viura & Chardonnay, Cariñena DOCG, Spain: Retail $13. 70% Viura, 30% Chardonnay. Straw color with a slight impart of lemon rind. In the glass, citrus aromas along with white flower and other perfumed notes. The palate is much of the same, with a tart resilience and a chalky astringency. I am not sure if I have ever seen a Viura/Chardonnay blend, but this is particularly delightful. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Cantina Andriano Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige, Italy: Retail $18. Since I consider Alsace my second home, I am fairly critical of Alsatian varieties grown in other parts of the world, and perhaps none more so than Gewurztraminer. Outside of my beloved Alsace, Gewurz can be overly perfumed, too dry, or both. That is not the case here; pronounced, but not overpowering white acacia flower with tropical fruit (guava?) and white pepper. On the palate, far from sweet, but the residual sugar is noticeable and completely in balance. The acidity is on point and the finish is lengthy. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Bila-Haut L’esquerda Cotes du Roussillon-Villages, France: Retail $28. Mainly Syrah, with Grenache and Carignan. Fairly dark purple with a bit of funk, a decided meatiness, black pepper, and black raspberry on the nose. Fantastic, lucious fruit on the palate–while the nose is all Old World, the palate leans more toward the New with an emphasis on fruit, tartness, and a silky mouthfeel. There is a bit of tannin on the tail end, suggesting that this could age well for at least 3-5 years. Yum. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Mathilde Chapoutier Grand Ferrage, Côtes de Provence, France: Retail $18. Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Syrah, Rolle. Daughter of the omnipresent and renowned Michel Chapoutier (see above). Vibrant pale pink with a slight orange tint, with red berry fruit (strawberry and cherry) a bit of minerality, and even a shade of funk (I love the funk). From the onset, the tartness is at the forefront–bright watermelon and even some melon, a touch of minerality, and a fruity finish. Delightful. Certainly a year-round kind of rosé. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Jako Vino Stina Plavac Mali Vrhunsko Vino, Majstor Barrique, Croatia: Retail $24. 100% Plavac Mali. There was a time that I was fairly convinced that I was Croatian. Initially, I thought I was of Serbian heritage, but Slobodan Milošovic convinced me that I might want to re-think my ancestry. Thus, I abandoned my Serbian “blood” and pivoted to their neighbors to the south: Croatia. I was all in–I loved being a Croat, I was excited to receive this Croatian red to review, as I had considered myself a Croat for close to a decade (but then found out I was actually Slovenian, oh well, I still love Croatia). Dark crimson, but translucent, black raspberry, cassis, and a hint of black peppery spice. On the first night, this wine was a bit nondescript, but on day two, this began to sing. Subtlely, but forcibly. Wine available HERE. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2015 Quinta do Vallado Reserva Field Blend Douro DOC, Portugal: Retail $30. “Old vines, more than one hundred years old: 45 grape varieties with a predominance of Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca.” (The absence of the Oxford comma there drives me a bit nuts, by the way, but I digress.) Another selection from my friends at Quitessential Wines, with a fairly dark, opaque crimson color with aromas of dark berry fruit, anise, and a touch of forest floor. The palate is simply delightful with subtle dark fruit, a bit of smoke and tobacco, and a searing acidity. Initially, I thought that this would be a solid pizza wine, and it is, but it is far more complex to pigeon-hole it thusly. Very nice. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.