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….
2017 Cline Cellars Farmhouse White Wine, California: Retail $15. 41% Palomino, 25% Muscat Canelli, 22% Roussanne, 6% Marsanne, 5% Viognier, 1% Riesling. A real kitchen sink type of blend from one of the better value driven wineries in California. Twisting off the screw cap, the Rhone varietal wines really come through on the nose with floral and tropical notes emanating from the slightly golden colored wine. Good tart fruit dominate the palate, with the tartness persisting through the mid palate and on to the finish. An amiable quaff with fantastic fruit. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast: Retail $19. Beautiful crimson in the glass with rich (and slightly extracted) aromas of dark red berry (blackberry and cassis), and touches of tar and tobacco. The palate is dominated by the bright berry fruit (but more red than the nose suggests). Above average acidity, depth, and tannins on the back end. Pop this at your next neighborhood party and you will be a rock star. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Locations #5 Washington: Retail $22. Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Sirah. Quite dark in the glass as one might expect from Washington. Dark fruit (black raspberry, cherry. and spice with plum and verve. The palate is rich, dark, and full, with dark red berry fruit predominate. I get why this was a successful brand for Dave Phinney: it checks a ton of boxes. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2012 Longevity deb-ru-vée Vintner Select Red Wine, California: Retail $36. 40% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 17% Mourvedre, and 7% Petite Sirah. Located in the Livermore Valley, Longevity is a new brand to me and is quite small (2000 cases), but I am impressed. Certainly California in style, this is fruity from the jump, with dark red fruit and vanilla on the nose. The palate is equally as fruity, but far from being “explosive.” Fairly well balanced with some earth, spice, and depth to accompany the fruit, with an above average finish. Very Nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2011 Longevity phil-osophy Vintner Select, Livermore Valley: Retail $44. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. I thought the deb-ru-vée was an anomaly being already six years old, but this does that wine a year better! What a joy to find a wine that has been held back until the winemaker deems it ready. Red and dark fruits with black pepper and a bit of cedar. The palate is surprisingly fruity for a seven year-old wine with bright berry fruit, pepper, cassis, and notably drying tannins. While this is fabulous now, it still has some aging potential. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Steele Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills Lake County, CA: Retail $28. A dark crimson in the glass with a dark cherry and raspberry nose that is buoyed by black pepper and just the slightest hints of vanilla and clove. The palate is lovely with ample yet also subtle fruit, and balanced acidity and tannin. The finish, though, is where this wine is particularly remarkable as the fruit comes rushing back in, with all that balanced acidity. This is a lovely wine. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Steele Viognier, Lake County, CA: Retail $19. Pale straw with a slight golden tinge, this beauty has tropical fruit (guava, mango), wet rock, and a touch of white pepper. While it seems that most of the Viognier focus in this country is on Virginia, there are many solid Viogniers being made in California. And this is one. Fruity. So fruity, it comes off a bit sweet, but it works. Well. Tropical and zesty, with a bit of spice on the finish, this is particularly tasty regardless of the price-point. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Steele Zinfandel Pacini Vineyards, Mendocino County: Retail $20. Fairly dark crimson, yet still translucent in the glass with blackberry, cassis, and anise on the nose. The palate starts with tart dark red fruit that comes off as a tad sweet, but it is the richness of the fruit that gives that perception. A bit of depth on the mid-palate, and soft, yet drying tannins on the finish. This is quite nice right now, but could use another year or two of patience in the cellar. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley: Retail $17. From perhaps the Edna Valley’s most famed vineyard, this twist-off is a pale straw yellow in the glass with an intensely perfumed nose of white flower, jasmine, with oodles of tropical fruit. The palate is quite tart with that tropical notes, minerality, and nice weight. I am not typically a huge SB fan, but this is a particularly compelling iteration. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Troon M*T Kubli: Retail $25. 52% Tannat, 46% Malbec, 2% Tempranillo. Quite dark, almost inky, with bright, but considerably dark, red fruit, a bit of anise, and a touch of vanilla on the nose. Simply delightful on the nose. Yes, it is beefy and brooding, but it is also down right tasty: good fruit, fantastic balance, great acidity. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.