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 Avalon Chardonnay, California: Retail $10. Under screw. Three months in French oak. Ten bucks for a California Chardonnay? Color me skeptical. But this checks most of the boxes: lemon curd nose with just a hint of oak, tart, fruit-driven palate with, again, a suggestion of oak and a subtle creaminess. This Chard packs a pretty good punch given its weight class of ten bucks. One could do worse. A whole lot worse. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2019 Avalon Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $16. Under screw. I was invited to taste this wine as part of an online “get-together” of some pretty heavy-hitters in the wine world (at least when compared to me). Classic Sauvignon with citrus and peach on the nose with plenty of zest on the palate. The citrus (lime) is there along with a decided herbal quality. 16 bucks? No brainer here folks. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Domaine Bousquet Malbec Reserve, Tupungato Valley, Chile: Retail $18. 85% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a lot to love when it comes to Domaine Bousquet: organic grapes, incredibly consistent, tasty wines, and affordable. I can honestly say that I have never opened a Bousquet that I didn’t love and this is no exception: juicy, tart, depth, and a lengthy finish. The tannins are soft and mostly integrated already, so no real need to cellar this bad boy. Drink up! Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Càntele Primitivo Salento IGT, Italy: Retail $15. 100% Primitivo. This wine hails from the Puglia region (the “heel” of the “boot”) and is made from a really close relative to the American Zinfandel (some say that the two are identical, but I won’t get any more into that here). Fairly dark in the glass with ripe, dark fruit (plum, cassis), and a healthy shot of black pepper. The palate is certainly more reserved than most of its American brethren, but there is still plenty of fruit to go around. As one would expect from an old-world wine, there are also oodles of acidity–this wine, while fruity, still craves food. In all, a solid wine for a more than a reasonable price… Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Failla Chardonnay Seven Springs Vineyard Eola – Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. I have been a fan of Failla Wines for a very long time and I was beyond excited to receive this wine, which is a relatively new venture for the Sonoma Coast stalwart (even though the winery is on the Silverado Trail in Napa, nearly all the fruit comes from Sonoma). Light straw in the glass with faint aromas of lemon curd and acacia flower tease out of the glass. The palate is equally subdued with good acidity and delicate fruit, more of a Chablis-type wine than Montrachet focused. There is no doubt in my mind that this wine will benefit from some additional cellar time: 3-5 years at a minimum, though it may be difficult to wait that long. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Enrique Mendoza Alicante La Tremenda, Spain: Retail $15. 100% Monastrell (Mourvèdre). This wine received a rather high score from one Robert Parker (92) but was been less well-received on Cellar Tracker (average of 86 in 23 reviews). Nearly opaque ruby red with aromas of black fruit (black raspberry and black cherry), spice, nutmeg, and just a hint of funk (but I love the funk). The palate is certainly more acid than fruit-driven, but there is some lovely fruit, particularly on day two. On day one, I was less than thrilled (closer to the Cellar Tracker opinion) but twenty-four hours later? While not all the way there, I am a lot closer to the Parker assessment. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Troon Vineyard Cotes du Kubli Rouge, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $38. 72% Syrah, 28% Grenache. In recent years, Troon has made a concerted effort to make more wines with a sense of place–well-made wines that clearly reflect Southern Oregon, the Applegate Valley, and the Kubli Bench. While this wine certainly does that, there is also a decided nod to the Côtes-du-Rhône region of Southern France. The fruity nose leads to a more reserved palate that, while laden with fruit, is much more driven by the acidity, as are the wines of the Rhône Valley. Delightful on its own, this wine improves with the addition of food, particularly if said food is fresh off the grill. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2015 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Primus, Maipo Valley, Chile: Retail $19. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I know this sounds a bit contrived, but this smells like Chile: red fruit, cedar, a bit of green bell pepper. I have only been there once (I was supposed to go a second time in April, but “the 19” took care of that), but this reminds me of the slender country on the west coast of South America. The palate has plenty of fruit but refrains from smacking you in the face with it. There is also plenty of spice and firm tannins. Great now, but will improve over the next 3-5 years. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Veramonte Carménère Primus, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $19. B.A.B. Yet another wine that claims to be “sustainable” but uses a bottle that ways close to two pounds. Huh? Really dark in the glass, virtually opaque, with lovely red fruit, green bell pepper, white pepper, and a touch of earth on the nose. Big and fruity on the palate, with considerable heft particularly for a Chilean wine. Paired well with my huge Ribeye, which was still lighter than the bottle. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.