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.
2015 Left Coast Cellars Truffle Hill Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $42. Based on the B.A.B., I assume that this wine is one of the slightly more expensive wines in the Left Coast portfolio (and after a quick check of the website, my assumption was confirmed). Simply put, I love what Left Coast is doing: they are making fantastic wines and selling them at prices that are well below the mean for the appellation. This is no exception: fairly dark in the glass and on the nose with black fruit, black pepper, and black currant. The palate is fairly fruity, but also earthy—this is one of the richer wines I have sampled from this producer, and the lengthy finish (with just a hint of tannin) indicates that this might improve in the short-term, but should be consumed fairly soon (2-4 years). Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2013 Lenamon-Pepi Pinot Noir Negociant, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $50. This is my first time even hearing of this brand, and, well, I am ashamed. Why? The easy answer: it’s good. Really good. A lovely nose of ripe, but reserved fruit, but also considerable earth–even on the nose, this seems to be an effort to meld the Old and New Worlds. A bit dark in the glass, but good fruit buoyed by earth, tar, and anise. Very, very nice in a very Old World way. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Steele Wines Cuvée Chardonnay, CA: Retail $24. A blend of Chardonnay from three counties (48% Santa Barbara County, 43% Sonoma County, 9% Mendocino County), I have tried countless domestic Chardonnays, but this might be the run-away winner (particularly at this price) with its aromas of lemon curd, a touch of oak, and vanilla. The palate? Balance. Beautiful. Great body, just the right amount of fruit, and a killer finish. Jed Steele assures me that it is not his super hero name. Or a porn star moniker. Maybe it should be. Damn. This is good. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2017 Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, CA: Retail $15. The second label for the irrepressible Jed Steele (or is it third? Seventh?). Pale, almost colorless in the glass, with bright peach, a splash of citrus, and a notable salinity on the nose. The palate is tart but with plenty of fruit and a roundness on the midpalate with that tree fruit all the way through to the finish. I have stated that SB is far from my favorite variety, and while this wine is likely not to change that, it is a quite lovely expression of the variety. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 True Myth Chardonnay, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley, CA: Retail $18. From one of the more fabled vineyards on the Central Coast, this wine is loaded with lemon rind and a bit of white pepper. There is oak here, but seems to fit in well. The palate is fruity and creamy, with good weight and a healthy finish. For under 20 bucks? One could do a lot worse—a lot worse. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Wrath Wines EX Unoaked Chardonnay, Monterey, CA: Retail $20. The whole “unoaked” phenomenon is, in my opinion, a response to the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd of the late 1990s. The sentiment is rather straightforward: Chardonnay in the US had become over-oaked, over-buttery, over-the-top. Today, there are countless Chards trying to swing the pendulum in the other direction: dump the oak (and malolactic fermentation) and embrace the fruit. That seems to be the case here: bright citrus (lemon) on the nose with tart fruit and plenty of depth on the palate. Delightful. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Wrath Wines EX Sauvignon Blanc, Monterey, CA: Retail $20. Light yellow in the glass with a classic Sauvignon Blanc nose of bright citrus and a touch of minerality. The palate is also clean and bright, with a bit of body and roundness on the mid-palate. The tart finish is refreshingly enticing, lasting well beyond average. There is a lot of Sauvignon on the market, many of them not worthy of much attention. This is not one of those, very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.