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.
It has been just over a month since I have posted a Random Samples, which is way too long since my samples pile is not getting any smaller. So here we go…
2019 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $33. 92% Sauvignon Blanc, 8% Sauvignon Gris. 59% was fermented in French oak (13% new) and spent seven months in barrel on the lees. The other 41% was in stainless steel. Quite light in the glass, almost colorless but quite floral with tropical notes, Meyer lemon, and tart honeydew. The palate is quite tart with plenty of fruit and surprising weight (no doubt due to its time in barrel with bâtonnage). It is not until right before the finish, however, that I pick up the oak component where there is a decided smoky, woody aspect that sets it apart from the vast majority of Sauvignon. Delightful. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Herdade do Esporão Vinho Regional Alentejano Monte Velho, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $15. 40% Aragonez, 35% Trincadeira, 20% Touriga Nacional, 5% Syrah. Esporão has always been one of my favorite producers from Alentejo–sure, they are a big producer, but they seem to do everything the right way. This Monte Velho is likely not going to cause an epiphany, but it will be a welcome addition to the dinner table on pizza night. Fruity, fresh, with good red fruit, loaded with plenty of acidity, and goes down quickly. Better with a slight chill, but holy cow how does Esporão do it? Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Girasole Vineyards Chardonnay “Organically Grown Grapes” Mendocino County, CA: Retail $15. Under screw cap. Organic grapes. 95% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Blanc. While I have been to Mendocino County quite a bit over the last handful of years but this is, I believe, my first interaction with the brand. Fairly light in the glass with really good fruit (peach, pear, and some citrus and tropical notes), this is as inviting a Chard I’ve seen in a bit. Bright and a touch creamy on the palate (four months on neutral oak, but no malolactic fermentation), this is particularly enjoyable and in no way heavy. A delightful wine, regardless of the price. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Owen Roe Red Wine, Yakima Valley, WA: Retail $28. Under Cork. Big. Ass. Bottle. 59% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec. Another kitchen-sink kind of blend and yet *another* ridiculously heavy bottle. This is my second Owen Roe blend of the night (Sinister Hand was the other) and this might be slightly more complex. Medium color, but fairly big fruit, with blackberry and plum coming through. There is also a fair amount of “greeness” which, no doubt, comes from the Cab Franc in the blend. The palate is quite fruity as well and ready to drink–some good acidity, but the tannins are subtle and integrated. Drink now. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Owen Roe Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $28. DIAM 5 closure. 57% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, 5% White Rhone, 2% Cinsault. I am not quite sure what “White Rhone” means as a variety, but it is safe to say that this is a bit of a kitchen sink kind of blend and the story behind its name is certainly gruesome. But the wine? Fruity and quite quaffable. Now, at nearly thirty bucks, this might be a bit beyond the “every-night-kind-of-wine” but it certainly has all the markers: great fruit, above-average acidity, a bit of depth and intrigue. But the fruit is the story here, no matter if you happened to have chopped off your own hand in order to win a race. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $21. Under cork. Inky dark in the glass with black and red fruit on the nose with black pepper, a bit of pencil shavings, and considerable spice. Nice. The palate is quite fruity, mostly red and purple fruit, with some of that spice kicking in just before the finish. Not a ton of tannin here, so this is a wine for the short-term, but it is a lovely quaff, for sure. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut, France: Retail $45. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 20-25% Pinot Meunier, 15-20% Chardonnay with 10-20% Reserve wines. My records here on Cellar Tracker indicate that I have purchased (and consumed) several cases of this wine and I would have to say that after Mailly Grand Cru Brut and Veuve Clicquot, this would be our “house champagne.” (Given the amount of champagne that we consume, we are allowed to have more than one “house champagne.” It’s a rule. I looked it up.). Yeasty, citrusy, lovely on the nose, with a straw color with a slightly golden hue, there’ are delicate, yet persistent streams of bubbles, looking to escape after their years of captivity. The palate is crisp, fresh, fruity, yeasty, and delicious. It is also a tad drier than previous iterations I have consumed with utter glee. I wonder if (relatively) new chef-de-cave Émilien Boutillat, when he replaced the legend Régis Camus in 2019, dialed back the dosage just a bit? I guess I will have to get some more and see (yes, I could do some research, but where is the fun in that?). Excellent. 91 Points.