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 Domaine Jean Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon, Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $16. Inky-dark purple in the glass with dark fruit, pepper, earth, and a touch of smoke. Rich fruit, that smoke, and wonderful tartness. I have long been a fan of Bousquet and this screwtop wine is a perfect testament as to why. This degree of fruit and richness for under twenty bucks? You bet. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2016 Château Lamothe Castéra, Bordeaux, France: Retail $15. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot. Fairly light in the glass with dark and red berry fruit, considerable spice, and hints of earth. Classic Bordeaux on the palate with subtle fruit, plenty of earth, and enough tannic structure for short-term cellaring. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2018 Bodegas Gallegas Mencía Ribeira Sacra Rectoral de Amandi, Galicia, Spain: Retail $12. 100% Mencía. I am not entirely certain, but I think this might be my first 100% Mencía, which is mainly grown in Galicia, in northwest Spain. Dark in the glass with a heavy dose of black cherry and a smidgen of earth. Fruity and fun on the palate with that cherry fruit, a bit of dirt, and medium tannins. Not an overly complex wine, but solid from start to finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 San Michele Appiano (St. Michael-Eppan) Pinot Bianco Weissburgunder, Alto Adige – Südtirol, Italy: Retail $19. Of all the Pinots (Noir, Gris, Blanc, Meunier), Blanc is without a doubt the least respected. Noir and Meunier are used in Champagne and Gris achieves Grand Cru status in Alsace. Blanc? Well, it just keeps chugging along, making fabulous wines along the way. This a fine representation, which I was shocked to see had five years of age on it. It hails from the northern part of Italy. A slight hint of funk with peach and pear. Tart with subtle fruit and depth, this is delightful. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2018 St. Urbans-Hof Dry Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany: Retail: $15. Fantastically fruity (apricot and citrus), floral (acacia), and even honey. The palate is delightful: fruity, rich, robust and tart. This will likely change one’s view on German Riesling–it is bone dry and yet the acidity is certainly in check with the fruit. Sehr gut, Herr Weis. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Quinta do Vallado Douro Vallado, Portugal: Retail $10. 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz, 5% Sousao, and 25% mixed old vineyards (over 80 years old). A bit funky in the glass, but that is fine since I love the funk (at least in moderation). Fruity on the palate, with some nice secondary flavors. This is an easy drinker, not requiring a ton of introspection. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2018 Yalumba Grenache Bush Vine, Barossa Valley, Australia: Fairly light in the glass with an abundance of red fruit on the nose. The palate, a bit of time after having unscrewed the top, really came alive. Bright red berry fruit a near-perfect level of tartness, just a hint of earth. When I first opened it, I was not so sure, but now? Close to a holy cow. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2017 Yalumba Viognier Samuel’s Garden Collection Eden Valley, Australia: Retail $22. Viognier can be a tricky variety. Done well, it can be a delightful diversion from oaky Chardonnay, delivering some joyful spice along the way. Done poorly, it can be odd and disjointed, never quite figuring out what it wants to be. This is decidedly in the former camp. Light straw in the glass with white peach and citrus along with honeysuckle and hyacinth. The palate is well-balanced between fruit and acidity. Nice weight and finish. Lovely. Excellent. 90-92 Points.