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 Outlot Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, CA: Retail $22. B.A.B. 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot . Another bottle from Outlet that punches far above its weight (pun might be intended here). Garnet in the glass with oodles of dark berry fruit, a touch of mocha, and hints of pepper (both green and black). The nose is close to a Whoa. The palate is quite tart, which suggests it needs some time, but there is also more than ample fruit, close to bracing acidity, and subtle tannins that resist to present themselves until mid-way through the finish. Yeah. Twenty bucks? Giddy-up. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 Outlot Chardonnay Sonoma County, CA: Retail $18. B.A.B. 90% Chardonnay, 10% Gewurztraminer. 48% Alexander Valley, 42% Dry Creek Valley, 10% Mendocino County. It is rare (or relatively so) that one sees a Chardonnay blend and while this is but 10% Gewurz, its impact is noticeable as this wine is quite fragrant with pear, ripe fig, white pepper, and a touch of oak (although I could not find the oak regimen online). The palate is perfectly delightful–good fruit, ample tartness, a hint of oak, minerality. Honestly, despite the really heavy bottle and slight oakiness? This is close to gangbusters, particularly for the price. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Outlot Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County, CA: Retail $18. Under screw cap. B.A.B. (really? for an under $20 SB??). This is my first foray into the Outlot wines and I have to say that I am rather impressed. Sure, I am not much of a SB fan (understatement of the year), but this is a solid effort. Pale straw in the glass with plenty of tropical aspects, some fresh-cut grass, and a modicum of white flower. The palate, as one would expect from a white Sauvignon, is acid driven and it persists from first sip to final flavor. Once again, I am not a fan of Sauvignon, writ large, but this is particularly compelling. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 La Pincoya Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Chile: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Another wine from the La Pincoya brand from TerraPura, and another winner. Medium magenta color in the glass with dark berry aromas along with cigar smoke, mocha, and just a hint of green pepper (which I like). The palate, at least to me, has much more of an Old World approach as the fruit is certainly present, but subdued, more in concert with the ample (but subtle) tannins and acidity than in conflict. There is also a grounding earthiness that is often lacking in New World Cabs. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 La Pincoya Red Blend, Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Chile: Retail $20. Under cork. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 20% Carmenère. I have long been a fan of Chilean wines even though the main varieties down there are far from my wheelhouse. This red blend from La Pincoya is a case in point. Red blends usually involve at least a couple Bordeaux varieties and while I like a good BDX, it is by no means my desert isle kind of wine. But this wine works: dark berry fruit (blackberry, dark cherry), mocha, and hints of spice in the glass, and much more of the same on the palate with plenty of acidity and a splash of soft tannins. As I often say, not a life changer, but I am not necessarily looking for such on a Tuesday. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 St Hallett Shiraz Black Clay, Barossa Valley, South Australia: Retail $15. Under screw cap. 100% Shiraz. The power had just come back on after close to two solid days out during one of the coldest stretches of weather in Houston over the last several decades. It is still pretty cold, but I decided to take advantage of the return (however brief) of electricity to rip through a couple of handfuls of samples. Feeling rather proud of myself and quite productive. Oh, this wine? Dark fruit, heavy spice, and just a touch of dark earth on the nose, with a more subdued fruit on the palate than I would have anticipated. Still, great acidity and spice. Nice. Very Good. 88 Points.
2017 XYZin Zinfandel Old Vine, California: Retail $18. DIAM 5 closure. B.A.B. 80% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah. Rather dark in the glass, even for a Zin (thank you Petite Sirah). Big dark fruit on the nose (blackberry, cassis, plum) with touches of spice and earth. The palate is equally muscular, with that luscious fruit at the forefront throughout. Some tartness, earth, and even the slightest bit of tannin eventually all sneak in by the finish. While this is not my style of Zin, there is plenty going on here to please even the most discerning of palates. Very Good. 89 Points.