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 Valentin Bianchi Malbec Elsa, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina: Retail $12. Under screw cap. Established in 1928, Bodega Valentin Bianchi is one of the oldest and most prominent wine producers in South America. This Malbec comes from one of their entry-level brands and for the price? It is hard to imagine one could find much better. Slightly dark magenta in the glass with dark fruit aromas (blackberry, plum, cassis) which are buoyed by considerable spice. The palate is fruity and fun with ample acidity. Sure, it comes up a bit short in the “depth” department, but what do you want for roughly ten bucks? Very Good. 88 Points.
2017 Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $18. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Sirah, 5% Cabernet Franc. Diam 3 Closure. B.A.B. Quite dark in the glass (thanks in large part to the Petite Sirah, no doubt) with ripe dark fruit aromas (blackberry, plum) all served à la mode with healthy doses of vanilla, mocha, and black pepper. The palate is quite fruity as well with a near tidal wave of fruit up front, followed by some modest tartness and a hint of tannin right before the average finish. All-in-all for likely under fifteen bucks, this is a solid effort. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Livermore Valley, CA: Retail $60. Diam 10 Closure. B.A.B. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petite Sirah. Another Concannon Cab with a good shot of Petite and, as a result, quite dark in the glass with blueberry, blackberry, plum, vanilla, and black pepper on the nose. Rich and fruity on the palate, but this is much more of an acid driven wine than the less expensive Cab from Paso. A couple of layers of complexity on the mid-palate and an above-average finish. Nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc Estate, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $20. Under screwcap. There is not a ton of Sauvignon Blanc in Russian River Valley, but the Foppiano Family has been farming there since 1896 and they have been dedicated to producing the variety even when Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can garner much more of a return in the appellation. Yellow straw in the glass with a green tinge, bright citrus and tropical fruit with minerality on the nose. Bright and tart on the palate as well–all that a Sauv Blanc should be without being overly grassy or loaded with cat pee (yeah, that’s an aroma often found in SB). Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 La Pincoya Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley, Chile: Retail $18. For whatever reason, it seems like I have been getting a lot of Sauvignon Blanc these days (actually, this is one of my last samples that I received in July, so that makes a bit more sense). I have stated countless times that it is not my preferred variety (not by a long shot), but the versions I have had recently, including this one, have been quite delightful. That means I am either coming around to the variety, winemakers are starting to make more palatable iteration, or I have just been extremely lucky. Maybe a bit of all three? This Chilean wine is pale straw in the glass with that characteristic hint of green, with citrus (lemon, grapefruit) and tropical (papaya, mango) notes on the nose. The palate is fruity but still reserved with plenty of tartness to go around and just a splash of the fresh-cut grassiness. All-in-all rather delightful. Very Good. 88 Points.
2017 3 Rings Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia: Retail $20. Under screwcap. 100% Shiraz. I am not familiar with this brand at all, but it comes from an importer who focuses on family-owned wineries and I am always impressed with their portfolio. Australian Shiraz (Syrah) has taken a hit in popularity due in no small part to a certain large producer with a lightly colored tail, which has been putting out a bunch of, well, not very good wine. This, however, is a delightful departure from that paradigm. Dark fruit and vanilla on the nose, with plenty of blackberry and plum on the palate along with some rather intense mocha and spice. Very nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Wente Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Southern Hills, Livermore Valley, CA: Retail $20. DIAM 3 closure. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petite Sirah, 3% Petit Verdot. B.A.B. (Really?? For a $15 wine??). Fairly dark in the glass, which should not come as a surprise with nearly one fifth coming from PS. Fruity (cassis, blueberry, plum) with touches of mocha, vanilla, spice, and just a hint of funk on the nose. The palate is pretty darned fruity as well with just enough acidity to balance it out. Another pretty stellar wine in this price range–I am sure this would be a crowd-pleaser. Very Good. 89 Points.