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.
2015 Valentin Bianchi Enzo Bianchi, Uco Valley, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $55. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Wow. This. Is. A. Heavy. Ass. Bottle. Why on earth do these still exist? Dark in the glass with rich red and black fruit, chocolate, and anise. The palate is equally delightful, rich, full-bodied, fruity (but not overly so), with good tartness and some noticeable, yet silky, tannins. Already nearly five years old, it could easily go another 3-5. But that *%#&ing bottle, how completely idiotic. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Valentin Bianchi Cabernet Franc Particular, Uco Valley, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $40. Wow. There is a lot to love here. First, it’s a Cabernet Franc, which in and of itself, is a reason to celebrate. Second, it’s a Cab Franc for chrissakes! And third, it is completely delicious. What’s not to love? Holy cow is this bottle ridiculously, and unnecessarily, heavy. The wine? Close to a whoa. Really dark and opaque in the glass, with dark fruit, black pepper, and just the ever-so-slightest hint of green pepper. The palate? Vibrant and rich, fruity, savory, and tart. Big and full of power (as well as some mocha), this is a beef lover’s delight. Rich, full-bodied, and tannic. Holy cow. Really close to a Whoa. But that damned bottle… Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2018 Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Tupungato, Valle de Uco, Argentina: Retail $18. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Organic grapes. It is difficult to find a better value from top to bottom than Domaine Bousquet. This is yet another example of the fantastic wines in their portfolio and for under twenty bucks? Dark and brooding in the glass with blackberry, cassis, plum, and mocha oozing forth. The palate is rich, fruity, and deep with subtle, silky tannins. As good as this is, it was even better on night two, so give it a good decant and enjoy. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 M. Chapoutier Shiraz Tournon Mathilda, Victoria, Australia: Retail $12. 100% Shiraz. Under screw. If you are anything like me (and if you are, I feel your pain), you did a double-take upon seeing “Chapoutier” and “Australia.” Well, the famed Chapoutier house of the Southern Rhône Valley in France purchased some vineyards in Touron, considered the Australian Pyrénées in 2007. Even though they have been “Down Under” (I usually shy away from using that term but it seems to fit here) for over a decade, this is the first Australian Chapoutier I have tried (I think). Fruity, relatively big, and ripe for consumption. This is not a wine that will require considerable contemplation, but it will provide a parade of joy. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2018 Cline Cellars Pinot Gris, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $15. Under screw. I have been a huge fan of the winery for a number of years I neglect to enumerate. The winery continues to lead the charge in proclaiming that wonderful wines should be available to the masses, not just those with a mid-six digit income. Fairly light in the glass with tree fruit (apple, pear, white peach a go-go. The palate is tart and laser-focused upon that trait. This is not the most sophisticated wine on your menu, but it is plenty delightful. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2016 Casa Lapostolle Carménère Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $28. 95% Carménère, 5% Syrah. From one of the larger producers in Chile, the Cuvée Alexandre line always delivers. Dark in the glass, as one would expect, with blackberry, cassis, and a vegetal aspect that is more reminiscent of Cab Franc than Carménère. The palate is fairly luscious and inviting with rich fruit, good tartness, and subtle tannins. Yum. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV Saint Cosme Little James’ Basket Press, Vin de France: Retail $14. 100% Grenache. OK, go ahead and argue with me, but I firmly believe that Grenache (and Syrah for that matter) reaches its apogee in the South of France. While this is not technically in the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation, it probably should be. Fruity, full, fun (not all wine has to cause introspection) with a nice tartness and an above-average finish. While this was bottled in 2019, it is technically a non-vintage as it is a solera wine–some wine from each harvest is added to the tank (ostensibly the same amount that is pulled out to be bottled), thus it is a constantly changing blend of several vintages. Think about what a big shot you will be when you pull out that tidbit at your next party (whenever that is allowed to happen). Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Silver Ghost Cellars 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.