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.
2018 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir, California: Retail $23. Under screwcap. 27k cases. B.A.B. A blend of three appellations: Monterey, Napa, Santa Barbara County. While the SRP here is $23, most of the time this wine can be had for under twenty bucks. I say this a lot, but you could do much worse (“Me oh My”). Fruity, spicy, fun on the nose of this fairly dark and nearly translucent crimson wine, with a nose dominated by (yes) Cherry (OK, Cherry Pie). The palate is clean, tart, and relatively focused, but becomes a bit more aggressive after open for a while. With time, this becomes a more serious wine, welcome to barbecues and the like. Me? I had this with a relatively spicy jambalaya and it was delightful. Very Good. 88 Points.
NV Laetitia Winery Brut Cuvée, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA: Retail $28. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc. I have been a fan of Laetitia sparkling wines for years now (although I am fairly certain that I got on board after the Maison Deutz years). It has been awhile, though, since I have popped one of their sparklers and I have to say, I have missed the brand. Pale straw in the glass with a persistent, delicate sparkle exuding Fuji apple, hyacinth, and lemon curd. The palate is delightfully tart initially, followed by rich fruit and just a hint of sweetness. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Matetic Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Corralillo, San Antonio Valley, Aconcagua, Chile: Retail $22. Under screw cap. I have not hidden the fact that I am no fan of the variety. In fact, when Sauvignon Blanc is the only wine available, I am likely to opt for beer instead (OK, not really, but it is a close call). This wine, however? I might just choose this over other wines. Pale straw color (with some green highlights) but brilliant at the same time in the glass with tropical notes (mango, pineapple) and grapefruit dominating the nose. The palate is defined by an angular sharpness and buoyed by fruit and minerality. While this is not a Sancerre (my opinion of the apogee of SB), but it is pretty darned good and one I would search out. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $25. 100% Syrah. Originally made in 2002 as a wine that apparently was still drinkable after devastating fires in the area (hence the name for those Latin speakers out there), this pre-release 2018 is still a baby but quite delicious. Dark in the glass with rich aromas of blackberry, cassis, mocha, and spice. The palate is equally enticing, particularly after a few hours open, with luscious fruit, plenty of spice (as one would expect from a WA Syrah), and some noticeable tannins on the finish. This is delightful right now but may improve in the short term (3-5 years). Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $20. This wine has yet to be released, but I have it on good authority that the blend is: 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 2% each of Mourvèdre, Counoise, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot, 1% Nebbiolo. Fairly dark in the glass in both color and aromas with dark berry fruit (blackberry, blueberry), vanilla, and spice predominate on the nose. The palate is initially quite fruity, but a wave of acidity and spice roll in on the mid-palate to balance it out. A lovely, easily consumed wine with just the right balance between character and fun to keep just about everyone drinking. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc, High Valley, California: Retail $15. I have had a few vintages now from this producer and this wine, from Lake County, north of Sonoma, is stellar. Brilliant straw in the glass with lemon/lime rind, verbena, subtle cantaloupe, and flinty mineralogy on the nose. The palate is sharp, but far from bracing, with a tartness that balances the fruitiness fantastically. Intrigue (not usually found in Sauvignon Blanc, at least by me), depth (ibid), and a joyfulness that is rare in the variety (again, according to me). Yeah, I can do this. Over. And. Over. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Vila Nova Vinho Verde, Portugal: Retail $12. 60% Loureiro, 40% Fernão Pires. While I do not drink a ton of Vinho Verde, I am a huge fan as it was the white wine that I served at my wedding close to 20 years ago. Pale yellow in the glass with plenty of citrus (lemon, lime) and tropical (mango) notes. The palate is fruity, yes, but more characterized by its zingy acidity rendering this a delightfully crisp and tangy quaff. Great as an apéritif or with white/shell fish. Very Good. 89 Points.