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.
2016 Brooks Riesling Cahiers Vineyard, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $30. While it is far from certain, I imagine that Brooks is better known for its Pinots than for its Rieslings, but I have it on good authority that they take the latter just as seriously (if not more so) than the former. This is certainly in the Old World model: bracing acidity, citrus, a touch of petrol, and just enough sweetness to balance it out. At 12%, this is likely a bit higher in alcohol than its German brethren, but it is every bit as tasty. Really close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Joseph Jewell Pinot Noir Elk Prairie Vineyard, Humboldt County, CA: Retail $42. I took this over to the in-laws for dinner and despite a perpetual 74* in our house, this came off a bit hot (the ABV is listed at 14.2%). Still, a classic dark cherry, a splash of earth, and a hint of spice. I was not aware of much Pinot in Humboldt County, but wine acreage must struggle against the more prominent crop up there. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Joseph Jewell Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $55. I have mentioned several times that I am a bit of a champagne hound. Based on Cellar Tracker, I currently have just over 200 bottles of bubbly. Well, the same report indicates that I have nearly two and a half times that in Pinot Noir. Yeah. I guess if I am a champagne hound, does that make me a Pinot, um, slut? Perhaps. Regardless, this is a producer with whom I had very little experience. Based on the two bottles I have now tried, I need to take a much deeper dive into Joseph Jewell Wines. Fruity, spicy, earthy, and rich, but not overly so, this is pretty darned close to what I have in mind when I think of Russian River Valley Pinot. And it’s delicious. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2016 Joseph Jewell Zinfandel Grist Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $45. Not knowing this brand at all, I approached it with an open mind (which is the way I should approach every bottle–I get it). The label states that it is not only a Zinfandel, but also from Sonoma, and more specifically from Dry Creek Valley. I adore Dry Creek, and I love this wine. Rich, fruity (dark berry fruit), mocha, and just a tad earthy. This is not an over-the-top Zin, but it is a “serious” wine that is down-right tasty. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Lucas & Lewellen Cabernet Sauvignon Valley View Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $27. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.5% Petit Verdot, 7.5% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. My buddy (although we have never met), Isaac James Baker summed this up exceedingly well–this is a “baller” California Cab from the Santa Ynez Valley which has none of the pricepoint (nor pretense) of its more known neighbors to the north. Fruity, expressive, vibrant, and reflective, this is a solid California Cab at any price. $25?? Oh yeah. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2014 Massolino Barolo Serralunga d’Alba, Italy: Retail $45. 100% Nebbiolo. Every time I try a Barolo, I think that I should be drinking more of it. Much like Pinot (but with a bit more tannic structure, perhaps), Barolo, made from Nebbiolo, produces fantastic food wines. Sure, like any wine, they can be fruity or less so, but the similarity lies in the acidity. This is no exception. Tart and earthy with plenty of fruit, this would pair well with a wide variety of food as well as out on the patio after the warm evening sun has set. Excellent. 90-92 Points.