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: Sauvignon Two Ways, Chardonnay Any Day, 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 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais, France: Retail $15. 100% Gamay. Although I shouldn’t need to do this, I feel I must: this is not Beaujolais Nouveau, it’s Beaujolais. The difference? Nouveau is the first wine of the harvest, it is picked, fermented, and bottled quickly so that it can get out before the end of the year of its harvest. Beaujolais, on the other hand, is usually considered a more serious wine. Sure, it’s fruity and usually meant to be consumed young, but this spends both more time in tank and bottle and is typically better with food. Fruity, with that characteristic bubblegum aspect that defines many a wine from the region. Sure, the fruit dominates the palate but the acidity is not far behind, nor is the complexity that is absent from its Nouveau cousin. Yes, I am a fan of the Dubœuf Family and its wines and this entry-level Beaujolais is part of the reason why–it’s fantastic. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Imagery Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, California: Retail $20. Under screwcap. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah. Dark crimson in the glass with a very rich nose (particularly after open for some time) of blue and dark fruit (blueberry, plum, boysenberry), intense vanilla, and spice. Impressive. The palate is also worthy of remark (again, after some time) with rich fruit, plenty of weight and depth, and a lingering finish. I have to say, it has been some time that I have tried a more intriguing Cabernet at this rather modest price point–be sure to decant! Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Pascual Toso Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $23. 100% Malbec. Malbec and Argentina have become inextricably linked despite the French origins of the grape. There is something about the Andean soils and climate that allows Malbec to excel and this Reserva, from one of the better-known producers in the country, is a wonderful iteration. Inky dark in the glass with dark fruit (plum, blackberry), mocha, spice (black pepper, clove, allspice). Yowza. the palate is fruity, tart, and rich with several waves of complexity and depth. All this for under twenty-five bucks? You betcha. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Quinta do Vallado Douro Prima, Portugal: Retail $25. 100% Moscatel Galego Branco (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains). Pale straw in the glass with lovely aromatics: honeysuckle, white rose, fresh white peach, and a bit of spice. The palate is completely dry–breaking away from the traditional style associated with this variety. It is also quite fruity, paired with an intense tartness, and several layers of depth and complexity. Quite different from the “usual suspects” this Moscatel Galego Branco is a delightful departure. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Quinta do Vallado Douro Vallado, Portugal: Retail $23. 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz, 5% Sousão, 25% mixed old vineyards (over 80 yrs old). Fairly dark in the glass with rich red and black fruit aromas (blackberry, plum), an herbal aspect (mint, basil), and spice (black pepper). Quite fruity, particularly for an “Old World” wine, on the palate but make no mistake, this is true to its origins–it’s an acidity-driven wine with depth and even intrigue. A bit too tart on day one, but close to gangbusters on day two. Be sure to decant. Excellent. 91 Points.
NV River Road Family Vineyards and Winery Ron’s Chillable Red, California: Retail $13. Another wine from the River Road Winery where there is absolutely no indication regarding what varieties go into this screwcapped wine. Initially rather stinky on the nose (dirty socks is the nice version) but that blew off revealing a textbook Grape Jolly Rancher nose. I mean, really. I hope that my 12-year-old does not get a whiff of this. The palate is sweet, but not quite as sweet as the rosé. Can I see a use for this 7.1% ABV wine? Over ice? By the pool? For my sweet wine-loving mother-in-law? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Good. 86 Points.
2016 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Bernau Block, OR: Retail $65. This was an additional bottle sent for the 2019 Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir where it showed quite well. Today, as I opened it up as my team was taken behind the woodshed and shown what it really meant to be a competitor, I could not focus immediately on the wine. As the game became more and more of a butt-whipping, I tried to focus on the wine (what else was there to do?). Dark in the glass with “dirty” dark and red fruit (tons of black cherry), flinty earth, and a hint of allspice. The palate is much more of the same: decent fruit, plenty of earth and spice, above-average finish. Nice. Excellent. 90 Points.