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.
2017 Herdade do Esporão Esporão Reserva Branco, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $22. Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro. Slight straw color in the glass with aromas of ripe tropical fruit and a dash of salinity. The palate is lush and inviting with a nice tanginess, but far from bracing, with luscious fruit that coats the mouth. Every time I open an Esporão, I am taken back to my visit to Alentejo a couple of years ago. Such a beautiful region with wonderful people and fantastic wines. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, CA: Retail $65. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark, and a bit brooding in the glass with dark, spicy notes (blackberry, Christmas spice). The palate is initially fruity (plum, black raspberry), followed by a healthy shot of dark fruit acidity, and some earthy notes. The wine finishes earthy yet fruity, this is all that one could hope from a California Cab. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2017 The Lost Chapters Pinot Noir Volume X, CA: Retail $30. So, I spent a bit of time on the Lost Chapters website and the history of the brand is much too complicated for a tasting note. In short, it is owned by the Scotto Family (who own Scotto Cellars and J. McClelland Cellars). One of my favorite winemakers, Mitch Cosentino is also involved somehow, but I have no idea why this is called “Volume X.” I tried to figure it out until my brain started to hurt and then I just drank. This is decidedly on the fruity side of Pinot Noir, with Bing Cherry, spice, and even anise on the nose with oodles of fruit, good tartness, and a bit of spice on the palate. Forget earth–this is all about the fruit. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2018 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc, CA: Retail $22. 54% Grenache Blanc, 46% Vermentino. This is the third or fourth iteration of this wine that I have tried and this is right up there with the best of that handful of vintages. Just a hint of color with tropical and tree fruit (mango, pineapple, pear) in the glass with plenty of tangy fruit, salinity, and depth. As I said, this is right up there. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2014 Orsi Family Sagrantino, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $34. 100% Sagrantino. This is the fourth bottle of Orsi that I was sent and really, all have been excellent or more. This Sagrantino is no deviation: great fruit and earth, plenty of body, a touch of old-world funk (I love the funk), and some drying tannins on the finish. This could easily go another ten years, but it is so lovely right now Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Orsi Family Sangiovese Home Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $24. I received four bottles from Orsi last fall for an online tasting (writers across the country receive the wine then have a chat via Twitter about the wines, usually with the winemaker). For whatever reason, I was not able to “attend” the tasting. I felt bad at the time and feel even worse now having tasted through the wines. This Sangio is bright and fruity with considerable depth and might even be better on day two. Excellent. 90-92 Points.