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).
2017 Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, CA: Retail $33. The Benzinger Family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Napa Valley for over four decades. In case you have not been paying attention, that is pretty long, at least for most wineries in this country. Just slightly darker than your average “straw-colored” wine, this exudes fruit (golden delicious apple and Bosc pear) and a delicate herbal quality (and a touch of funk) on the nose, while the emphasis is on the acidity on the palate. Tartness, fruity and mineral notes, along with hints of oak carry this wine to the mid-palate where the acidity really takes hold along with vanilla, that minerality, and just a kiss of oak. If this sounds like I am a fan, you would be correct. It was shy initially, but with some time open and a tad warmer (62°F? This starts to sing, softly, but beautifully. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Mettler Family Vineyards Copacetic, Lodi, CA: Retail $20. Zin blend. Gig 4. Big Ass Bottle. I do not know a whole lot about this wine other than it is a non-vintage blend of mostly Zinfandel and it is a solera wine (each vintage, new wine is added to the tank that contains wine from several vintages already, thus the *exact* blend is impossible to determine). Fruity, a bit spicy (black pepper), and a little hot (14.5% ABV) on the nose. The palate is equally fruity and perhaps more inviting–this is an easy, delectable quaff at a (relatively) easy pricepoint. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Mettler Family Vineyards Zinfandel Old Vine Epicenter, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. Like the other Mettler wines I received, this bottle is extremely heavy, the information about the wine is scant, and despite the previous two points, I can’t help but like it. Dark in the glass (the word on the street–the blend has some Petite Sirah), with dark fruit, spicy, and subtle earthy aromas. Good fruit and black pepper initially on the palate, with more than adequate acidity and just a touch of heat. Without question, this is on the “big” side of Zinfandel (an aspect which I normally eschew), but it all comes together nicely. Delicious. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. Another wine, of four, that I received with little information as to the blend but that’s OK, it’s how I roll. I think. I hope. Another wine, dark in the glass and on the nose with black fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum), black and white pepper, which meld together to create an inviting entrance. The palate, like the other Mettler wines I have sampled, is fruity up front but it is quickly followed by tartness and earth. Another winner from Mettler. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. As one might expect, this is dark. Really dark. There is a relatively significant subset of the wine world that absolutely adores Petite Sirah. I am not one of them. Not even close. But I do appreciate, on occasion, the well-made PS that, while big, still has balance. This Mettler is one of those. Big fruit. Big. A bit of spice, some earth, but this is all about the fruit. Big fruit. Holy cow. 88 Points.
2018 The Paring Sauvignon Blanc, California: Retail $25. As I have mentioned numerous times, Sauvignon Blanc is not my go-to wine by any means, but I do like a well-made SB as much as many do. Well, this is a case in point. Great aromatics, not grassy (although a bit herbal) but laden with citrus (lime and lemon) on the nose. The palate is tart and angular, with significant acidity, and ladles of fruit. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Troon Vineyard Tannat Estate, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $45. 100% Tannat. Tannat is never the first word that scrolls off a tongue when one is asked to list the most popular wine varieties in the world. In fact, Tannat is fairly rare particularly outside of the southwest corner of France. Why? Well, it is a *tough* grape. Typically, wines from Madiran, where Tannat reigns supreme, are extremely tannic and need at least 5-10 years before they are approachable. This 2017 Troon is already there and then some. Dark in the glass but fresh fruit on the nose: blackberry, cherry, plum. Add in some spice (allspice, cumin, anise, clove) and some earthy notes and there is a ton going on. The palate is rich, nuanced, juicy, and textured. Really close to a whoa here. If you have never experienced Tannat, this is a great place to start. Excellent. 91 Points.