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.
These first five wines all come from Alentejo, Portugal, a region I visited a few years ago, which I documented yesterday.
2014 Carmim Reguengos Garrafeira dos Sócios, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $25. 65% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional, and 15% Tinta Caiada. Big Ass Bottle. Information on this wine is all over the place on the interwebs; it is listed as anywhere from $18 to $48 and the varietal composition is equally widely reported. What I do know? It is a really good wine in a really heavy bottle… Dark in the glass, fruity and earthy on the nose, and plenty of depth on the palate. While I can find little consistent information on the wine, it is damned good. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Herdade dos Coelheiros Coelheiros, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $18. 50% Alicante Bouschet, 50% Aragonez. Two fellow writers here on CT seem to be of similar opinion on this wine, but I find it a bit more appealing. Fruity with rich dark fruit and mocha on the nose of this inky-dark wine from Southern Portugal. The palate is equally inviting with rich fruit, plenty of acidity, and just enough earth to maintain interest through the finish. Very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Herdade do Esporão Alentejo Colheita, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $18. Antão Vaz, Viosinho, Alvarinho, and others. I visited Esporão a couple of years ago now, and I remain as impressed now as I was then. Just a slight golden hue to the otherwise straw-yellow wine, with aromas of pear, white peach, and wet rock. The palate is delightful: subtle fruit, plenty of weight, balanced acidity. The traces of minerality and hints of spice on the finish add to the allure. Very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2018 Herdade dos Grous Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal: Retail $15. B.A.B. 35% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional, 15% Syrah. A traditional blend from Alentejo: a field-blend type of approach with mostly Portuguese varieties (and a splash of international). A nice, nearly translucent violet-ruby shade with red and dark red fruit (plum, red currant) on the nose along with touches of heat (13.5%) and earth. The palate is fruity and approachable, a delightful pairing with my meatless Monday spaghetti Arrabbiata. But why, oh, why the heavy bottle?? Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2018 Herdade de São Miguel Sao Miguel do Sul, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $14. 50 % Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 15% Trincadeira, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Extremely fruity and a bit of funk on the nose (I love the funk). The palate is also quite fruity with plum and blackberry from start to finish. While this is not exactly my favorite style of wine, I can see how this would be a crowd-pleaser. And it’s from Alentejo, which is fun to say and even more fun to visit. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Sadly (?), I am waaaay behind on tasting through my pile of samples, so I offer a few more tasting notes from some wines I received several months ago.
2018 Donnafugata SurSur, Grillo Sicilia DOC, Italy: Retail $21. 100% Grillo. Ok, full disclosure: I love Donnafugata. Everyone I have ever met there is among the nicest people on the planet. Sicily, where they are located, has to be one of the greatest places on earth, and their wines are simply fantastic. Except for this one. It tastes like dirty socks.
Just kidding. It is also fantastic. It’s almost demoralizing, as I struggle to go through my daily routine knowing that out there, on the picturesque Italian island, there is a group of extremely nice people continually producing some of my favorite wines in the world without even, seemingly, the slightest hiccup.
Yeah. It would be disgusting if they were not all so nice.
Grillo is the quintessential Western Sicilian white grape and this is a fantastic rendition: fruity, racy, tart, decisive. Ah, Donnafugata, you vixen, you never cease to show that it just might be possible to find paradise here on this earth. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2016 Dueling Pistols Dry Creek Valley Blend, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $55. 50% Zinfandel, 50% Syrah. A new brand from Terlato Wine, this is marketed as a wine with competing interests between the two varieties. While a 50/50 Syrah/Zinfandel blend is certainly rare, this is 100% Dry Creek. Fruity, rich, even unctuous, this wine lays down the rules from the get-go: big (but not boisterous), fruity (but not frivolous), and complex (but not confounding). Yes, the fruit is at the forefront, but there is much more here: rich texture, earthiness, and depth. Yowza. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 McCay Cellars Syrah Abba Vineyard, Lodi, CA: Retail $36. As I have mentioned a few times now, I have never met Mike McCay, but I have tasted several of his wines. The result? I feel I need to meet him as he manages the delicate balance between New and Old World with aplomb. While he certainly does not shy away from the ample fruit that can be attained in Lodi wines, nor does he choose to smack you about the head and face with said fruit. Case in point is this Abba Syrah. Dark, but not brooding in color, rich dark fruit but also earth and pencil shavings on the nose and more of the same on the palate. Fantastic. Excellent to Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Ridgecrest Vineyard Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. Under screw. OK, I was more than a bit confused by the label and trying to determine which wine this was/is here on Cellar Tracker. I know the fine folks making the wine have no trouble with it, but it was confusing, to say the least. Fairly translucent with dark cherry fruit aromas and flavors. As I mentioned in my previous note, this is quite fruity, particularly for a Willamette Valley Pinot, but it works exceedingly well. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.