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.
NV Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rustico, Italy: Retail $22. 100% Glera. It has been a while since I have had Rustico and it seems as though either my tastes have changed or they have increased the dosage as this seems noticeably sweeter than past iterations. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a delightful wine, with good fruit, acidity, and sparkle, but it just seems a tad sweet tonight. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Henry’s Drive, Padthaway, Australia: Retail $42. 72% Shiraz (94% Padthaway, 6% McClaren Vale), 28% Cabernet Sauvignon (100% Padthaway). Under screw. Inky dark in the glass with blackberry, plum, even cassis on the nose with intense fruit on the palate, along with some black pepper, and just a hint of tannin on the finish. At first, honestly, I thought this was overly fruity but fun, but with more reflection, this is pretty darned good with some depth (but certainly fruity). Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Henry’s Drive Shiraz, Padthaway, Australia: Retail $40. 100% Shiraz (92% Padthaway, 8% McLaren Vale). Noticeably darker in the glass than the Shiraz/Cabernet blend. Darker fruit (if possible) as well, with more spice and black pepper. The palate is, somewhat paradoxically, fruitier, but also with more spice. Less tannic structure (as one might expect) on the finish, but this is certainly a tasty quaff. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Henry’s Drive Syrah H, Padthaway, Australia: Retail $30. 100% Syrah (with grapes 54% from Adelaide Hills and 46% from Padthaway). Interesting that “Syrah” and not “Shiraz” is used here–the producers embracing a more modern, finesse-driven wine instead of the typical jammy, fruit-driven wines of the region. Dark berry fruit with plenty of spice on the nose, while the palate is quite reserved, particularly on the fruit level, with incredible tartness and marked by spice on the lengthy palate. Quite a derivation from the “typical” Aussie Syrah/Shiraz. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2018 Alois Lageder Vernatsch-Schiava, Alto Adige-Südtirol, Italy: Retail $15. 100% Schiava (known locally as Vernatsch). Initially, there was a bit of funk here (OK, there was a lot of funk), but that gradually burned off to a minor funk (but I love the funk). Really light in the glass, in fact just a shade or two above “rosé” less if you consider Tavel. Light fruit, but quite tart. This is not the most robust wine I have tried, but it is certainly tasty and rather friendly on the wallet. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Second Generation Vintners Pinot Noir Cuvée, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $100. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle (which serves no purpose, whatsoever). At first opening, this wine was rather non-descript, with muted aromas and flavors. After some time open, there was a considerable improvement: blackberry and black cherry with spice on the nose. Good, not “great” fruit with plenty of acidity and spice on the palate, with a bit of patience, this really becomes a lovely wine. Certainly steep in price, could improve a bit with more time. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $35. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon. 5% Petit Verdot. Bright fruit with minerality and depth, particularly on the backend. Holy cow this is a fabulous wine regardless of price. I liked the wine so much, in fact, that I did something I have never done: after tasting I immediately went to my local grocery store and bought some of the Ghost. Three bottles in fact, at just over 30 bucks a pop. It’s that good. Excellent. 93-95 Points.
2015 Zenato Rosso Veronese Alanera Veronese IGT, Italy: Retail $15. 55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon (50% appassimento). This is what some call a “baby Amarone” a wine that is made similarly to the famed, quite ageable red from the Veneto (100% of grapes in an Amarone are partially dried, while 50% of this wine’s grapes are). Dark in the glass, with a cornucopia of red fruit aromas and flavors (blackberry, cassis, plum). Fruity and a bit funky on the palate (and I love the funk), with intense acidity. No, this is not an Amarone, but it is pretty darned tasty. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.