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 Herdade do Esporão Vinho Regional Alentejano Monte Velho Branco, Portugal: Retail $15. 40% Antão Vaz, 40% Roupeiro, 20% Perrum. Made by the fine people at Esporão, when of the best producers in Alentejo. A light golden straw in the glass with honeyed pear and peach, some wet rock, and a decided salinity aspect to the nose. The palate is rich and unctuous with healthy weight, plenty of fruit, honey, some minerality, and a touch of chalkiness on the finish. I really do not know how Esporão can continually produce wines of such quality at these price points. Fantastic. Excellent. 90 Points.
2016 Herdade do Esporão Esporão Reserva, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $25. 40% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Trincadeira, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Big Ass Bottle. I only have to touch a bottle of wine from Alentejo and my mood immediately improves. I spent a week there a couple of years ago now and I immediately fell in love with the region, the people, the wines. And at the top of the list was Esporão. Despite being one of the larger producers in the area, they just seem to “get it.” Take care of the land, take care of the vines, take care of the people, and the wine will pretty much take care of itself. While I would love to see this in a lighter bottle, the wine is delightful. Dark in the glass (thanks Alicante), fruity (plum, cassis, blackberry), but also earthy and complex. The palate is initially all about the fruit, but the considerable acidity kicks in on the mid-palate and drives the bus from that point forward. The tannins are subtle (at best) so this is a wine for short-term drinking. I’d probably serve it at slightly above cellar temp (18-20°C, 64-68°F). Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Le Garenne Chinon, Loire Valley, France: Retail $20. 100% Cabernet Franc. This is a new producer in the Loire Valley, which is reason enough to celebrate, but they are also committed to sustainable farming—perhaps a greater reason for kudos. Dark in the glass with considerable red and dark berry fruit (along with some plum), spice, and earth. The palate is also quite fruity, one of the fruitiest Chinons I can remember tasting. There is also considerable acidity, attempting to balance the fruit, and just a touch of the earthiness that I have come to expect from the region. Still, a solid effort. Very Good. 88 Points.
2019 Le Garenne Sancerre, Loire Valley, France: Retail $27. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. When I received an email from the kind folks at Le Garenne asking if I would like to sample their wines, I was excited for a number of reasons. First the wines were from the Loire Valley in France, where I have spent many a summer leading bike trips. Second, the website indicates that they believe in sustainable viticulture, dry farming, wild native yeasts, all kinds of good stuff. I tried the Tourraine first, and it was stellar. When I opened this Sancerre, what I consider the apogee of Sauvignon Blanc, I was on the verge of giddy. But it was weird, it came off as rather flabby, flat, even sweet. Not adjectives usually used to describe Sancerre. Disappointed, I put a cork in it, plopped it in the door of the fridge, and went to bed (a bit depressed, I have to say). When I returned to the wine the next day? Wow. A complete transformation: great fruit on the nose and palate, rich, complex flavors, and minerality. The perceived sweetness was gone and there was considerable acidity. If I did not know better, I would have sworn it was an entirely different wine from what I had opened the night before. Not sure how to rate this one, but today? Yowza. Outstanding. 90 Points.
2019 Le Garenne Touraine, Loire Valley, France: Retail $27. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Under screw cap. This has been reviewed a couple times online and neither Roger Voss (86) nor Jancis Robinson (15/20) were thrilled with this wine. While I am not doing cartwheels out in the rain (it could use a bit more fruit), I am not nearly as pessimistic as those other two. Varietally correct with great citrus on the nose along with minerality and a touch of smoke, and the palate is quite tart with a laser-like acidity, plenty of wet-rock, and enough fruit to maintain balance. Yes, likely not as inviting as the Sancerre from the same producer, but this is a fine Touraine. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Mettler Family Vineyards Albariño Estate Grown, Lodi, CA: Retail $20. Under screw cap. This is now my third vintage of this wine that I have sampled and it follows along with the 2018 & 2019: Excellent. As I mentioned in those previous notes, Lodi is far from “known” for its Albariño, but the Mettlers (along with a few other notables) should be changing that perception if they continue to produce wines like this. Light straw in the glass with oodles of tropical fruit, wet rock, and a bit of chalk dominate the nose. The palate is tart with loads of guava and mango, that chalkiness that i picked up on the nose, and a lengthy finish. While I find this a slight derivation from the previous vintages, it is still fantastic. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Samuel Lindsay Cabernet Sauvignon The Gandy Dancer, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. 97.75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.25% Merlot. 85% Lodi, 12.75% Napa Valley, 2.25% Mendocino. Inky dark in the glass, particularly for a Cab. Really fruity, almost to the point of over-extracted, with dark fruit (blackberry, plum), spice (black pepper, clove), and a hint of toasty oak are all present on the nose. The palate is, as expected, quite fruity, almost to the point of coming off sweet, with some spice and a couple of layers of depth. This reminds me a bit of a Napa wine, that is more than three times the price, but is not nearly as good. This is not my style of wine, but it is quite good for what it is-a fruity crowd-pleaser. Very Good. 89 Points.