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.
2018 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $20. 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 1% Petite Sirah. Another solid wine from Avalon–not a world-beater, but certainly a crowd-pleaser. Plenty of fruit, a touch of earth, and a bit of depth. Solid wine, affordable price. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2018 Avalon Pinot Noir, California: Retail $10. I have rarely met a Pinot Noir under $30 that I could recommend, and never have I found one at the $10 price point. This one comes close. While it stops far short of a Clos de Vougœt, it is a pleasant quaff under screw cap. Black cherry, black pepper, ample acidity. Ten bucks? Sure. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2013 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Italy: Retail $50. 100% Sangiovese. Gran Selezione is the newest (and highest) classification in the Chianti Classico DOCG. Only estate fruit is allowed and requires a minimum of 30 months aging before release. Beautiful ruby color in the glass with dark fruit (black cherry, plum) dominating the nose along with cedar, anise, and all-spice. The palate is both powerful and refined with an initial wave of fruit followed by complexity, earth, and tannin on the finish. This beauty is not going anywhere for a while, 5-10 years at least. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2018 Clif Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc RTE, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $28. Under screw. First, I am a BIG fan of Clif Bars (made by the same owners), but that has nothing to do with my feelings about this wine (I’m fairly certain). Second, Napa Sauvignon Blanc is a dying breed and that is a damned shame for no other reason (but there are several more) than this bottle of wine. Really close to a Whoa. Light in color, but heavy on aromas: white peach, freshly cut grass, lemon rind, crushed limestone. The palate is much of the same with luscious fruit, tangy acidity, and hints of salinity. I don’t usually like Sauvignon Blanc, but, OK, Whoa. Excellent. 92-94 Points.
2017 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns, France: Retail $15. 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Cinsault. The Côtes-du Rhône appellation can be a real crapshoot as the area is huge and there are thousands of producers. I, therefore, look for producers I trust and who make solid wines every year. One of my favorites in the category is Ferraton Père et Fils, and this bottle is why: great fruit (even better on day 2), balanced acidity, and a reasonable price. Yes, there are “better” wines in the Rhône, but they will put a much more serious dent in your bank account. For an everyday pizza/patio wine? This is tough to beat. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2018 Malene Wines Rosé, Central Coast, CA: Retail $22. Grenache and Cinsault. The color is on the lighter side, perhaps, for a Californian rosé, but it would be a bit dark for a wine from Provence. Fruit (fresh peach, watermelon), minerality, and salinity on the nose. The palate is equally fruity but balanced by a tartness that carries on through the finish. I received this wine back in November and I should have included it in my rosé tasting, but it slipped through the cracks somehow. I’m glad it did–I can enjoy it on its own, it deserves it. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2017 Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I received this wine back in October (2019) and I think the extra time in the bottle has helped this wine (if ever so slightly). Fruity. Really fruity both on the nose and the palate with dark fruit dominate on both (blackberry, plum) along with cedar and tobacco. The wine comes off a bit sweet due to its intense fruitiness, but it certainly works. And works well. This is far from a “typical” California Cabernet (if such an animal exists) and is likely closer to a Petite Sirah in flavor profile, but damn, it’s good. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah, Lodi, CA: 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.
2019 Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Rosé, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $15. 50% Touriga Nacional, 30% Syrah, 20% Aragonez. Every time I open a bottle of Alentejano wine, I harken back to my visit there a couple of years ago. It was certainly one of my more memorable press trips: the people, the food, and of course, the wine. Fairly light in the glass with aromas of wild strawberry and peach. The palate is fruity, tart, and delightful. A perfect hot afternoon quaff or, in my case, with beef chorizo tacos with adobo slaw. Magical. Very Good. 87-89 Points.