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.
NV Domaine Mittnacht Freres Crémant d’Alsace Extra Brut: Retail $23. 60% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling, 10% Pinot Gris, 10% Pinot Noir. Despite having lived in Alsace for a while and visiting several times since, I believe this is the first time I have tried a wine from this house in Hunawihr, which is sandwiched between the picturesque towns of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé. Peach and pear dominate the nose as well as the palate along with a bit of slate on the latter. This is a delightful quaff and as complex as many champagnes, but a fraction of the price. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2016 Famille Perrin/Perrin & Fils Gigondas La Gille, France: Retail $40. 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah. Gigondas is one of those regions whose wines I had always enjoyed, but I never really understood. Until I visited. Most French wines underscore the notion of a “sense of place.” Be it Burgundy, the Loire, Champagne, and, to a lesser extent, Bordeaux, French wines above all else come from “a place.” I have yet to find a region where that sentiment is truer than Gigondas. For years I have approached the wines as Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s little step-sister: same grapes, similar blends, less powerful wines. But after visiting what just might be the most charming village in France (and that is a really HIGH bar), I came away with a unique appreciation for the town and the wines. From the Perrin family, one of the top producers in the region, this is replete with dark berry fruit, a touch of spice, and plenty of character, adjectives that I would also use to describe the village that shares the name. If you get a chance, visit. If you do not fall in love with the town, I will buy you dinner (paired with Gigondas wines, natch). Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Domaine de Poulvarel Costières-de-Nîmes, France: Retail $22. 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache. I received this bottle way back in February, which is really not all that long at all for me to hold onto a bottle of wine, even an inexpensively priced wine like this one. That’s close to an eternity, though, in the wine writing/blogging world. I have to believe that those extra six months have helped this wine, however (at least that is what I chose to believe rather than feeling guilty for the delay). Many of the wines I have tried over the years from this appellation have been rather listless or even astringent, particularly the younger wines. Dark red fruit, considerable spice and pepper, and a bit of earth, this is rich without being over-the-top, fruity, tart, all the makings of what one might want in a red. Lovely. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2015 Pascual Toso Finca Pedregal Single Vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $80. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Malbec. Now that I have been blogging about wine for the better part of a decade, I occasionally receive pretty good bottles of wine to review. Based on it’s suggested retail ($125), this has to be considered “pretty good” or even better. And it is. Dark fruit (plum, blackberry) on the nose with ample, yet reserved fruitiness on the palate. This is much more Old World than New in scope, and for me, that is a good thing. The tannins are supple, inviting a more immediate consumption, but another 3-5 years would be ideal. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Alto Adige – Südtirol Riserva Giatl: Retail $38. Peter Zemmer does a fantastic job–every one of his wines that I have tried has been particularly stellar, and this is not an exception. However, and this is a big “however,” the Big Ass Bottle is completely stupid. It serves absolutely no purpose other than to leave a much larger carbon footprint than is necessary. I refuse to ever buy a bottle of this wine until it is available in a more sensible bottle. And that is a shame since the wine is fantastic: peach and citrus bookend an incredibly floral wine with both a bracing acidity and a rich, luscious mouthfeel. This contrast, this tension, is remarkable. The finish is lengthy and scrumptious. Close to a Whoa. Too bad. I can’t support this stupid heavy bottle. Excellent. 91-93 Points.