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 Be Human Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $16. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot. This is becoming ridiculous. I am almost to the point of not trying another Aquilini wine (not really) since they are all great and they are all at stupidly low price points. I realize that the family has more money than I could ever count in eight (80? 800?) lifetimes, so I imagine they are at least a little better at business plans than I (my next business plan will be my first), so take that last comment with the appropriate amount of derision. Rich fruit, good weight, and depth, just another solid effort. Really? Sixteen bucks? Excellent. 90 Points.
2016 Coeur de Terre Pinot Noir Sarah Jane’s Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. Growing up (as much as I have ever “grown up”), there was one constant: I hated admitting I was wrong. This manifested itself in many ways and on countless occasions, but I would never give in. Well. I like to think I have grown and this wine is a case in point. When I first tasted this wine for my Largest Blind Tasting Of American Pinot Noir, I was not impressed. I was less than enthralled, I was, well, disappointed. Now? 18 months later? Holy cow. Sure, it is a bit hot on the nose, but the black cherry trumps the heat. As does the spice and mocha (really? in a Pinot??). Whoa. While I know this is a Pinot, it belies my assertion–rich, spicy, dark. Really? Pinot? Indeed. Acidity off the charts, fruit (however reserved), minerality (however disguised). Yowza. Was the first bottle off? Should I have known? Should I have popped this second bottle that afternoon of the Grand Tasting? Perhaps. But I didn’t for whatever reason. Excuse me while I retreat to the cellar and kick myself. Repeatedly. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mother Vine Livermore Valley, CA: Retail $45. Diam 10 Closure. B.A.B. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petite Sirah, 7% Malbec. The third of three Concannon Cabs I found on my doorstep back in August, this is clearly the class of the trio. Dark in the glass in both color and aromas: plum, cassis, blackberry, mocha. The palate is certainly fruity, but well-balanced by a tart backbone and hints of spice. This is a solid effort from Concannon and despite drinking wonderfully now, it’s a wine that could certainly improve over the next 3-5 years or so. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir “Red Cap” Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under screw cap. I first tasted this wine a few months ago as part of the Largest Blind Tasting Of American Pinot Noir,. Then, I was less than enthralled. Upon opening this second bottle and taking a bit of a swirl, then a sniff, and finally a sip, my initial response proved accurate: a bit of a mess. I screwed the cap back on and went to bed, bottle still a healthy 3/4 (or more) full. The following day, I resisted. While there still was some funk on the nose, it was faint (and required a search party). Instead, there was black and red berry fruit (blackberry, cherry) and more than a pinch of spice. While this wine will likely not top my Best Wines of the Year in 12 months, it is certainly better than the other bottle showed. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Mud House Wines Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough, New Zealand: Retail $16. Under screw cap. In another tasting note (below) I literally wrote: “I have been sampling a ton of Sauvignon Blanc recently but none have come from New Zealand, perhaps the present day “home” of SB. While this wine hails from Chile, it perhaps approaches that Kiwi style more closely than any of the previous bottles of the variety I have tried this season.” Well, a funny thing happened on a return to the sample pile. While this wine is from New Zealand, it is not in that typical grassy/cat pee style. Sure, there are both of those elements (albeit very slight) here but they are held in check by the fruit (oodles of lime and lime zest) and the minerality. The palate is even more enticing with a zingy acidity dominate but also those citrus and mineral aspects. Yowza. It has been a minute since I have been this excited about a NZ SB. A looooong minute. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc, St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $22. Under screw cap. One does not see much Grenache Blanc outside of the Rhône Valley, although there are a few acres in various parts of California. The Napa Valley, though? Um, no. At least that is what I thought until this beauty showed up on my stoop several months ago. Quite pale in the glass with a decided greenish-pink tint that while refrigerator cold offered very little nose. As it approached cellar temperature (55°F or so), it really started to sing. Plenty of fresh peach, cantaloupe, and white flower finally show up. The palate, however, had no such vacation. From the jump it was bright, tart, and complex (although in a very understated way). Look, this is a fantastic wine, but you will definitely need some patience with it. If you can muster the restraint, you will be rewarded. Highly. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile: Retail $12. Under screw cap. I have been sampling a ton of Sauvignon Blanc recently but none have come from New Zealand, perhaps the present day “home” of SB. While this wine hails from Chile, it perhaps approaches that Kiwi style more closely than any of the previous bottles of the variety I have tried this season. Tropical and citrus fruit abound here, as does a touch of freshly cut grass and just a hint of cat pee (yeah, that’s a thing with SB). The palate is tart, fresh, and concise with good balance and an acidity that tickles the taste buds all the way through to the finish. Very Good. 89 Points.
A quick update on our situation here in Houston, Texas. After three days of power insecurity (36 hours in the dark and then rolling blackouts), it seems that the power situation (at least for us) has been resolved. Water, however, remains an issue. We have not had running water in the house since Sunday and will likely not have it until Monday (fingers crossed). We have been surreptitiously “borrowing” water from the community pool to flush the toilets and was the dishes (after boiling it, of course). Sadly, we had to cancel our trip to Cancun because we could not secure a police escort at the airport.