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.
2018 Bonny Doon Vineyard Picpoul Beeswax Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, CA: Retail $18. One of the great qualities of Bonny Doon is that they produce serious wines without taking themselves all that seriously. I can not be certain, but I would be willing to bet that one of the reasons that they decided to grow and produce Picpoul is that it is so much fun to say. “Picpoul” is also directly translated as “lip-stinger” which is also a ton of fun to contemplate. The wine is delicious: citrus fruit (grapefruit), fantastic acidity, as easy to sip on the patio as it is to pair with shellfish or mild cheese. Picpoul should be a part of every cellar. And lexicon. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 McIntyre Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA: Retail $38. I do not believe that I have ever met the (whom I assume to be) fine people at McIntyre, but I can’t swear to that (getting old kinda sucks). I have tried several of their wines, though, and I can say this without equivocation: McIntyre Vineyards is a leader on the Central Coast. The wines are always precise, incredibly well-balanced, and lovely representations of the region. This Pinot is not an exception. More raspberry than the typical variation of cherry on this Pinot Noir with spice, pepper, a touch of vanilla on the nose. The palate is equally inviting with reserved fruit balanced by tangy acidity, and just enough intrigue to require additional glasses. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
Tipp Rambler Sparkling Rosé, California: Retail $28 (4 x 187ml). 100% Pinot Noir (Carneros & Russian River Valley). At this point in my blogging career, I get sent products quite a bit. That is not to say that I am worthy of receiving all that is sent my way, nor should it suggest that all that is sent is deserving of being reviewed. Thus, when I received a four-pack (the equivalent of one 750ml bottle) of this new twist-top sparkling wine, I approached it with what I felt was the appropriate level of skepticism: I put it at the back of my wine counter and forgot about them. This week, though, as I was trying to get my samples organized, I saw the cute little four-pack and threw them in the fridge. I figured it was sparkling wine under screw top so how bad could it be? Well, quite bad, but in the “hip” ’80s version of the word (think: “Bad” by Michael Jackson, before you realized that the song might have a really unfortunate title). This stuff is actually really good. I was anticipating a sweet, bubblegum style of wine, one that I would pass along to my mother-in-law as she loves her sweet wines. Nope. Not here. The dosage (6 grams/liter) is barely noticeable, it’s loaded with bright raspberries and a fervent sparkle. This is tart, dry, and delicious. As I sat down to write a note, I consulted the website for more information. Specifically, I wanted to know the method used to make the wine. Since it is only available in 187ml (as far as I could ascertain), I assumed it was made using the Charmat method (essentially the same way Prosecco is made), but that detail was not readily available on the site (I later found out that my assumption was correct). What is indicated on the site is the winemaker: James MacPhail. OK, now I get why this wine is so tasty–James is one of the masters of California Pinot Noir, and one of my favorite winemakers on the planet. I had no idea he made this wine, but I had already decided to keep all four bottles to myself before I uncovered that tidbit. Sorry, mom. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2016 Troon Vineyard Cuvée Pyrénées: Retail $60. 62% Tannat, 38% Malbec. My history with Troon started the day that General Manager Craig Camp moved from Napa Valley up to the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon to begin the task of turning the winery around. Starting with the first vintage, he did exactly that. Now, several years in, Troon continues to put out some of the most exciting wines in the region. While impossible to pick a favorite wine, this is certainly in the running. Not as dark as one would expect from a Tannat/Malbec blend, which also translates onto both the nose and the palate with black raspberry and blueberry dominant on this fruit-driven beauty. There is plenty of acid and depth to balance out all that fruit, and just enough tannin on the finish to suggest that one need not be in a rush to pull this cork. Excellent. 91-93 Points.