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 Acquiesce Winery Ingenue, Lodi, CA: Retail $32. 35% Clairette Blanche, 35% Grenache Blanc, 20% Bourboulenc, 10% Picpoul Blanc. I have spoken about (winemaker, owner) Sue Tipton a number of times on this blog and I have to say that she is certainly one of my favorite winemakers. Not only does she make stellar wines, but she is willing to take risks and thumb her nose at the easy path. Such is the case here as the blends four varieties that the average American wine drinker has never heard of, much less tasted, into a beautiful harmony of tropical fruit goodness: melon, pineapple, guava all dance on the tongue with a shot of tartness and considerable depth. Really close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Berryessa Gap Chardonnay, Yolo County: Retail: $27. Bright, citrusy, and mineral with just the slightest hint of oak, which is surprising since 50% of the wine was fermented in oak. The palate is clean and crisp with good fruit, great tartness, and a healthy finish. Even if you have sworn off Chardonnay, this is one to try. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $40. 68% Sauvignon Blanc, 32% Sémillon. I have always felt that the whites from Bordeaux do not get enough attention. The reds steal the show in the minds of most and the whites, primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blends, are relegated to the background. Way, way, way back there. And that is too bad, particularly those that are well made. While this wine does not hail from perhaps the most hallowed wine region in the world, it would certainly give the top white Bordeaux wines a run. Golden straw in the glass with yellow apple, paraffin wax, citrus, and, curiously, sage, which works well with the other aromas. The palate is tart, yet voluptuous with a multitude of flavors and a lingering finish. Yowza. And a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2017 Desert Wind Vineyard Chardonnay Desert Wind Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, WA: Retail $15 This past year or so, I have become more familiar with Washington State wines. Most of my familiarity rests in a fairly small pocket of the Columbia Valley: Walla Walla and Red Mountain. This wine, from the Wahluke Slope, which like the two others I mentioned, is a smaller AVA within the humongous Columbia Valley appellation. I do not have much experience with the Wahluke Slope, but I hope that changes soon. Fairly dark for a chard, but far from oaky (as one might expect from the color). Lemon meringue pie on the nose, with lovely fruit, nice tartness and minerality, and a chalky finish. Even though this was fermented and aged in oak, the wood is subtle, letting the fruit be the star. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2015 Daven Lore Winery Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain, WA: Retail $32. This is not only the first wine that I have tried from the Snipes Mountain AVA, but I believe it is also the first from the broader Prosser, Washington area. Bright red berry fruit emanates from the fairly translucent wine along with vanilla and even clove. The palate is luscious, coating the mouth with great fruit and acidity. Quite tasty, a wonderful introduction to the region. Should all the wines be this impressive, I might need to hop on a plane. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 M2 Wines Vermentino, Mokelumne River, Lodi, CA: Retail $20. Winemaker/Founder Layne Montgomery is one of the more colorful people in Lodi and any time spent with him usually results in several quotes, most of which can’t be published, and his wines are usually unapologetically bold while also inviting. This Vermentino, which I prefer to call Rolle (its French name), is not all that common in the U.S., but this is Lodi, where convention is routinely tossed to the curb. After a quick twist of the cap, one discovers pineapple and acacia, with plenty of tartness and a pleasantly long finish. A near-perfect wine for the back patio, the pool, or listening to Layne rattle of another tale in the early evening Lodi sun. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.