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 Cortonesi Rosso di Montalcino La Mannella, Italy: Retail: $25. 100% Sangiovese. As one might expect, there is good color here, but still characteristically translucent (it is Sangiovese, after all). Subtly rich (is that an oxymoron?) with wild cherry, black truffle, and a hint of vanilla on the nose. The palate, though, is the story here, with that classic old-world balance and harmony. Sure, there is fruit, but it is held in check beautifully by the acidity and earthiness. There is a touch of tannic dryness on the finish, suggesting this could wait a bit longer with no fear. But why wait? It’s delicious now. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2015 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé, Sicily, Italy: Retail $35 (375 ml). 100% Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria). Bias. In just about every arena that requires judgment, there is bias. And I have a ton of it here. Donnafugata has been very kind to me and my blog, and I even had the chance to visit there last year. Part of the visit included a trip to the island of Pantelleria, where Donnafugata grows the Zibbibo (what a fun word to say) for this wine. The island? Holy cow. Wow. Bucket list. The island is astounding. But get this: the wine might be better (OK, not really, but I needed a segue). Incredible apricot dominates the nose to the point that one might think this is actually an apricot wine. The palate? Whoa. Certainly sweet, but oh my goodness: rich, tart, unctuous, this might verge on life-changing. Outstanding to Outstanding Plus. 95-97 Points.
2016 Georges Dubœuf Saint-Amour, Beaujolais, France: Retail $20. 100% Gamay. Last month I was fortunate enough to travel to Beaujolais and hang out a bit with the Dubœuf family, including Georges himself. What a great group of people and incredible ambassadors for the region. Only about 10-20% of what Dubœuf bottles is under the flower label, the rest he acts as a négociant for about 80 growers. This wine has bright cherry fruit with a touch of earth and hints of red roses. The palate is fruity and tart, but luscious through the mid-palate. I was not expecting a whole lot, but boy does this over-deliver. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Domaine des Gerbeaux Mâcon-Villages, Burgundy, France: Retail $20. 100% Chardonnay. A couple of surprises here. The first was that it is under screwcap–a big plus in my book and it might be the first I’ve seen from Burgundy. Second: there is a bit of color to this wine in the glass. I was expecting a nearly colorless wine, but this is beyond “straw” and into “gold.” The nose is creamy and rich with lemon curd and peach and the palate is much rounder than I expected, which really works here. Rich, on the verge of unctuous, this has much more gravitas than most wines I have tried from the appellation. Bravo. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Symington Douro Quinta do Ataíde, Douro, Portugal: Retail $25. A field blend of traditional Portuguese Port varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tina Barroca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Cão. Pretty darned dark color in the glass and that continues on the nose with dark berry fruit, black pepper, and a touch of funk (and I love the funk!). The palate, however, is decidedly lighter on its feet with rich fruit, noticeable vanilla, and oak (which works here) with some chewy tannins on the finish. It’s delicious now, but I know it will be better in 2-5 or even ten years–if you can wait that long. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Pascual Toso Malbec Single Estate Reserve Barrancas Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $$$$. 100% Malbec. The in-laws were coming over for dinner (in case you don’t already know, they live right around the corner, yeah, exactly) and every time my father-in-law expects me to break out the good stuff (even though, well…). Every time my goal is to pull a wine that has a lot of proverbial “bang for the buck.” So I grabbed this. Well played. Dark in color and aromas (blackberry, anise, black pepper), and long on flavor (fruity, earthy, tart, unctuous). Malbec from Argentina? Giddy-up. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.