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 La Bastarda Terre Siciliane Pinot Grigio IGT: Retail $10. One of two bottles this week with fictional illustrations–apparently there is a relationship between the two, but I do not support rumors (unless I start them). Tropical notes along with peach and a bit of pear emit from this pale straw wine, poured from a screw-top bottle. Fruity and tart, with a shade of astringency. This is not my favorite variety, not by a long shot, but this is a particularly good rendition for the price. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2017 Il Bastardo Rosso di Toscana Sangiovese IGT: Retail $10. 100% Sangiovese. This bottle sports the male protagonist in the “story” of these two wines. Personally? I take a bit of umbrage characterizing the white wine as feminine and the red as masculine, but that’s just me (it might be immaterial that I drink more white than red). A bit of funk on the nose–but I love the funk–along with dark red fruit, certainly more Old World than I would have expected based on the label. Restrained fruit, with spice and good tartness on the palate. This will not cause you to reevaluate your life choices, but it will be a solid wine on your weekday dinner table–and there is a lot to be said for that. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2017 Domaine Bousquet Malbec Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $14. 100% Malbec. Under screw. Domaine Bousquet, a relative newcomer into the value market, has really impressed. All the wines are made with organic grapes and I have yet to try a bottle that did not punch well above its weight. This Malbec was no exception. Quite ripe and rich on the nose with blackberry, plum, raspberry, oodles and oodles of fruit along with black pepper. The palate, while fruity, is far from the fruit salad that the nose suggests. Good fruit, balance, depth, spice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2016 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Limari Valley, Chile: Retail $22. Concha y Toro is one of the largest producers of wine in the world, but I have to say that they really do a wonderful job despite their size. This is a slightly upscale line within the vast offerings, and it is quite nice: straw color with pear, a touch of oak, and wet rock on the nose. The palate has fruit (pear), minerality, and that hint of oak all in balance. For 22 bucks? As my teenager might say (if he were at all interested in wine), this is a “baller” chard. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2017 Georges Dubœuf Chardonnay, Pays d’Oc, IGT: Retail $12. Under screw. This is a new line from the Beaujolais giant, Georges Dubœuf, which features varietally specific wines from the southwest of France, all sustainably farmed. Dubœuf is the driving force behind Beaujolais Nouveau, perhaps the epitome of the “bargain wine” and if this Chardonnay is any indication, he might have another line of solid wines for modest prices. Bright and vibrant on the nose, with no real indication of oak. Good fruit and acidity on the palate as well–at $12? This is a steal. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $20. I am no champion of Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps more accurate: I am no champion of the overblown, overly grassy, cat pee laden, intense Sauvignon Blancs preferred by certain producers. This is not one of those. In fact, this Chilean white is delightful with a bit of citrus, but also tree fruit (pear and golden apple). The palate is certainly tart, a decided characteristic of the variety, which is a good thing, but there is also fruit in balance with the tartness and a minerality that rounds out the wine nicely. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.