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 Attune Pinot Noir Rosé, Carneros, CA: Retail $28. True Rosé. I received a couple of bottles of this wine back in 2018 and I liked it then. Perhaps it is not as effusive as it was at that time but now it is perhaps more nuanced. Pale pink in the glass with mostly floral notes and just subtle hints of strawberry and rhubarb. The palate is quite tart, with slightly subdued fruit and some lovely secondary flavors. While this was mainly about the fruit the first go-around, this is much more vinous and contemplative for round two. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Valentin Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon Famiglia Bianchi Seleccion Particular, Uco Valley, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is my first real exposure to the Bianchi brand and (heavy bottle withstanding), I am fairly impressed. Really dark in the glass with dark fruit (black currant, plum, black pepper, rosemary, and even a hint of chocolate. In other words, a ton going on here. The palate is well balanced between fruit, acid, depth, and structure. I just wish the bottle were lighter, a lot lighter. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2018 Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay Reserve, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Argentina: Retail $17. Under screw. Domaine Bousquet has a Chardonnay and a “Gran Reserve Chardonnay” and as far as I can tell this is between the two on the quality/price scale. It is also a fairly new offering by the Argentinian house run by French ex-pats. Did you follow all of that? Light in the glass and delicate on both the nose and the palate, this is pretty close to unoaked (although 50% of the wine sees neutral barrels at some point). Fruity (lemon and yellow delicious apple) and tart with plenty of depth and an above-average finish. Nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Mettler Family Vineyards Albariño Estate Grown, Lodi, CA: Retail $20. I would venture to guess that “Albariño” is not the first guess when one is asked to name the top white in Lodi. While this is certainly not the most widely-grown variety in the appellation (that would be Chardonnay, yawn), it might be the most exciting. Fruity, tropical, floral, this wine has just about everything you would expect from a California white. The palate is not a disappointment either: fruit, tartness, balance. If Mettler is not on your radar, that is on you, my friend. Excellent. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Rive di San Floriano: Retail $35. 100% Glera. I received this a couple of years ago from the importers and I broke it out for my first attempt at a Bolognese ragu as it seemed appropriate. I first met the Franco family several years prior, and they are some of the nicest people one could ever hope to meet. Their wines might even be nicer. Fruity, with the slightest hint of sweetness both on the nose and palate, with well-balanced acidity and a lengthy finish. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2018 Two Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Sexy Beast, Barossa Valley, Australia: Retail $35. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Under screw. Over the past few years, the great people at Terlato have been more than kind to me and thus, I have been able to sample a slew of wines from this premier Aussie producer. While (perhaps) deservedly better known for their Syrah, this Cab is pretty close to mind-blowing: dark in the glass with dark red fruit and plenty of spice which is Two Hands’ calling card (at least in my mind). Fruity? Yes, but not close to over-the-top, with a tartness that is fairly rare in Cabernet. The tannins are there, but in check–this is fabulous now, but could easily go another 8-10 years, improving, mellowing, but also intensifying. Contrasts? Sure, but Yowza. Excellent. 91-93 Points.