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.
2017 Clos des Brusquières Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France: Retail $45. 80% Grenache Noir, 10% Mourvèdre, 9% Syrah, 1% Other 10 grapes permitted in the AOC. I do not drink a ton of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, particularly if it is not labeled “Château la Nerthe.” Part of the reason, I guess, is there is a bunch of wine that comes out of the region that is, well, crap. This one, even though it is relatively moderately priced (yes, $45 is “moderate” in CdP). Moderate in color but dark in aromas: blackberry, cassis, plum, black earth. Yowza. The palate is fairly incredible, fruity, tart, and nearly impeccably balanced. I need to find the key to CdP producers because when it’s good? CdP can be on the verge of magical. Excellent. 92 Points.
2016 Château de Corcelles Beaujolais-Villages Vieilles Vignes, France: Retail $20. DIAM 5 closure. 100% Gamay. Owned by the Richard family, who also own Château la Nerthe in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, among others. Fruity and earthy on the nose with red berry fruit (cherry, raspberry), wet rock, and hints of spice. The palate is fruity, but reserved, as one would expect from an old world producer. Still, that fruit dominates from start through the finish, held together by a fervent tart acidity and a reticent minerality. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Experience Wines Trail 3150 Proprietary Red, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $60. According to Jeb Dunnuck: “close to an even split of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, all from the Oak Knoll District in the southern part of the Valley.” Similar to most occasions, I will take Jeb’s word on it. Fairly dark in the glass with dark fruit aroma (blackberry, plum, cassis), a vegetal/herbal aspect (basil?), and some freshly tilled earth. The palate is fruity, tart, balanced. Lovely. For a Napa appellation that puts out 16% ABV wines on the reg, this 14.5% ABV blend is a welcome delight. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, California: Retail $11. Under screw cap. Another solid offering from a rather large, family-owned winery that was first bonded in 1880 as California’s 29th winery. Other than that, information is scant about the iconic brand other than it has changed hands several time over the years. Known for value-driven wines, this is a case in point. For a wine that is usually under ten bucks (it is $8 at my local grocery store), this wine still packs in a ton of flavor. Grapefruit, lemon rind, and a bit of cat pee on the nose, the palate is initially a bit round until the acidity waltzes in on the mid-palate along with some zingy fruit and even some mineral aspects. For under $10? You bet. Very Good. 88 Points.
2017 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, California: Retail $12. Diam 5 closure. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 6% Zinfandel. Another exceedingly affordable wine from one of the historic California wineries. Dark in the glass with blackberry fruit to beat the band, black pepper, dark earth. In other words, a lot of brooding going on. The palate is fruity, even quite fruity with the aforementioned blackberry, plum, and boysenberry, ample acidity, some spice. For likely under ten bucks in your local supermarket? Another no-brainer for when your relatives (those who disagree with you politically) stop over for Spam sandwiches. Very Good. 88 Points.
2018 Mud House Wines Pinot Noir, Central Otago, NZ: Retail $20. Under screw cap. I have mentioned here before (although not that often) that I do not try a ton of Kiwi wines, including Pinot Noir. Part of the reason, I imagine, is due to the fact there are not a lot of quality NZ wines that reach these shores. While this wine might not be a life-changer or even a game-changer, it is a solid effort particularly for the price. Flinty cherry and brambly raspberry on the nose with a touch of earth. The palate is quite lively, with oodles of tart cherry, medium depth, flinty earth, and a spicy, and somewhat lengthy, finish. I think I dig it. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Walking Tree by Geyser Peak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Appellation Series, Alexander Valley, CA: Retail $25. 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Shiraz. B.A.B. This is the 13th vintage of Geyser Peak’s upper-end Cab and it is pretty tasty. I tried the flagship Cab yesterday and that one, at ten bucks, is tough to beat from a value standpoint, but this is certainly a step up on the quality scale. Fruity and a bit brooding on the nose with plenty of dark berry fruit. The palate is a bit livelier than one would expect from the nose as it is driven from start to (above-average) finish by a tangy acidity. There is plenty of fruit (and a hint of tannin), though, rendering this quite pleasant quaff quite balanced. Another solid value from the folks at Geyser Peak. Excellent. 90 Points.