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.
2019 Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc, Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $12. It has been a few vintages now that I have sampled through Domaine Bousquet’s line. I have always been impressed, particularly with this Sauvignon Blanc, made with organic grapes. This iteration is solid as well: grassy and tropical on the nose with guava and a hint of funk (and I love the funk). The palate is juicy, but maybe a bit thin on the mid-palate. The wine finishes a bit short, but it is quite tart and fruity. Very Good. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Cattleya Cabernet Sauvignon Alma de Cattleya, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $48. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 337. I am not at all familiar with this brand, but I think I need to be: dark and rather brooding in the glass with dark berries, mocha, and ample spice on the nose. The palate is rich and inviting: blackberry and cassis initially lead to mocha and depth on the midpalate. The spice (clove?) comes rushing in just before the finish–delightful. I would never say I am a “Cab Guy” but this wine could certainly start me headed in that direction. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
NV Jansz Wine Company Premium Cuvée Brut, Tasmania, Australia: Retail $30. 58% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Meunier. I have very little experience with Australian fizz since I imagine most of what is produced is consumed locally. This golden sparkler is quite lovely, though, with pear, citrus, and honeyed nougat on the nose. The palate is clean and precise with a fine sparkle, good to great acidity and plenty of fruit. Very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Ramos Pinto Douro Duas Quintas, Portugal: Retail: $15. 45% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, 25% other regional grapes. A while ago, I went to a trade tasting here in Houston for Portuguese wine and I left with a couple of bottles from Ramos Pinto to try at home. While I will crack the 20-year old Tawny another day, this dry red is fruity, fun, and flirtatious. No, it is not, perhaps, the kind of wine you might want to spend the rest of your life with, but it is fun for a night (maybe two) with a bit of pasta, a sappy movie, and a hope for a nice breakfast companion. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Sektkellerei Szigeti Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, Neusiedlersee, Austria: Retail $24. 100% Pinot Noir. As with the Jansz wine from Australia, I do not have a ton of experience with Austrian Sekt, but I have at least been to Austria, so a bit of bubbles from the country has crossed my lips. Decidedly pink, almost cotton candy color in the glass with strawberry, cherry, and a pronounced nuttiness on the nose. It has a fine sparkle and nice tartness, but that nuttiness is on the verge of overwhelming on the palate. This would undoubtedly be aided by a food accompaniment. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2015 Sullivan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Rutherford, CA: Retail $110. Dark in the glass and on the nose with blackberry, anise, and earth. The palate is fruity, yet balanced with cassis predominate. On the mid-palate, I pick up some clove along with the ripe blackberry. There are certainly tannins there on the backend, so this could go for a bit longer (5+ years?), but it is pretty darned tasty right now. A new winery to me, which clearly needs additional exploration. Excellent to Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Sullivan Vineyards Chardonnay Estate, Rutherford, CA: Retail $49. I have never visited Sullivan in Napa Valley (other than the Cabernet above), nor do I remember ever trying one of their wines, but I was excited to try this Estate Chardonnay. Why? I think Napa gets sold a bit short when it comes to the most popular of white wines, it is easily drowned out by the unrelenting wave of Napa Cabernets (they also sent me a Cab, above). This Chard is a bit of a throwback to the classic California Chard: big fruit, touches of oak, and plenty of butter and vanilla. While it stops well short of “Cougar Juice” it is decidedly in the “big” category. I, for one, still like to visit that style and this is a particularly delightful iteration: plenty of citrus (lime), golden apple, considerable weight (14.5% ABV), and a rich, tart finish. I know this is not for everyone, but I am in a bit of a happy place. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.