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.
2018 10000 Hours Red Blend, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $35. B.A.B. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. 18 months in 50% New American Oak. This is the newest (?) brand from the Aquilini family, and it appears to be focused solely on Red Mountain, the smallest and best (?) appellation in Washington. So all five Bordeaux varieties in the blend here and it works (go figure). Good fruit on both the nose (blackberry, cassis) and the palate (plum, cassis, black raspberry). The palate has an ample amount of acidity and even more prominent tannins–this might be on the market a tad early, but it is pretty darned good. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 10000 Hours Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $35. B.A.B. 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot. 18 months in 85% New American Oak. The Aquilini family is changing the status quo on Red Mountain. A few years ago, they shocked the local community by purchasing, essentially, every last available acre in the tiny appellation (670 acres in total). While that ruffled a few feathers (there were several groups trying to pool their cash together to buy different parcels within those 670 acres). This is (as far as I can tell) the eighth brand from the Aquilini from their extensive purchases in the Columbia Valley (the 670 acres on Red Mountain are just a fraction of their recent acquisitions). This wine? Yes. Finally. And close to a whoa. Plum, blackberry, cassis, black pepper, vanilla, I could go on about the nose, but that would be pretentious (and I avoid pretentiousness at [almost] all costs). The palate is rich and layered, unctuous, delicious, and balanced. Yeah, I dig this wine. While, like the red blend, this might need a bit more time (there are some chunky tannins on the finish), it is fantastic now and more than worthy of the tariff. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Red Phoenix, California: Retail $25. 57% Zinfandel, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Petite Sirah, 7% Syrah, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 75% Lodi, 25% Napa Valley. 86% 2018, 14% 2015 Vintage. That is by far, the longest composition description that I have ever written, I believe (not really, but there is a lot going on here). It is a new brand, and this is the first release (as far as I know). Dark in the glass, thanks in large part to the two Petit(e)s. Fruity on the nose with plenty of mocha and tobacco smoke, like I said, there is a lot going on here. The palate is really fruity, but stopping just short of fruit bomb or over-extracted. This is what I classify as a crowd-pleaser. It will not cause much introspection, but it will quickly be empty in even a slightly thirsty crowd. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Earl Stevens Selections Prosecco Extra Dry Rosé, Italy: Retail $15. Glera with Pinot Nero. The information for this wine is scant as I do not believe that it has been released yet, but it is perhaps the best effort from all of the wines (and wine-based beverages) that I have tried from Earl Stevens (perhaps better known as the rapper E-40). Quite pale in the glass with good fruit aromas and flavors (red berry, melon), balanced acidity, and just a touch of sweetness–even though it is an Extra Dry (which has more sugar than a Brut), the sweetness is not out of place at all, in fact it works quite well with that acidity. A solid effort, particularly at this price. Excellent. 90 Points.
2015 Stoller Pinot Noir Legacy LaRue’s Brut Rose, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $65. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. Earlier in the day, I received a sample of the 2017 LaRue’s Brut Rosé so when my wife asked (demanded?) more bubbles, I certainly had this wine on my mind and it seemed like a good choice. It was. I loved this wine during my Second Annual Blind Tasting of American Sparklers and I still do (although maybe slightly less–I am a cruel person). Really light color in the glass, just barely a drop of salmon color (if it were not labeled as a rosé, I could believe otherwise). Quite yeasty (almost funky) with subtle red berry fruit and just a hint of wet rock on the nose. The palate is chockfull of that yeasty goodness, but the fruit and tartness come in strong on the mid-palate, buoyed by a fervent sparkle. This is not a fruity sparkler meant to be consumed without much thought. No, this is an introspective bottle of ~49 million bubbles that demands undivided attention. Only slightly below where I thought it was a couple of years ago. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Yalumba Grenache Samuel’s Collection Bush Vine, Barossa Valley, Australia: Retail $20. Under screw cap. 100% Grenache. When I popped this wine, I was fairly certain that I had tried this wine before. But on Cellar Tracker, there is this wine and the very similar “2018 Yalumba Grenache Old Bush Vine.” There is really no way to tell the difference on Cellar Tracker, at least as far as I am concerned. Apparently, I was convinced the previous bottle I tasted was the latter and this the former. Um? I have no idea. What I do know is that this is quite tasty: light in color, but rich in aromas and flavors with plum, black cherry, pomegranate. A lot going on here. I liked the other bottle (whatever it was) and I like this one as well. Rich, layered, spicy on the palate with a lingering finish. Yeah. Giddy-up. Excellent. 92 Points.