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.
2020 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $22. As I stated last year when I tried the 2019, I am generally not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc (unless it has “Sancerre” emblazoned on the bottle, of course). This Alma de Cattleya has now become another exception to that rule. Last year’s rendition was Excellent (just short of Outstanding) and this vintage is fantastic as well. Bright citrus fruit, plenty of minerality, a bit of celery root, and a whole lot of verve on the nose of this pale straw wine (with green highlights). The palate is equally inviting with an initial wave of fruit, plenty of acidity, a luscious mouthfeel, and a lengthy finish. Another lovely effort. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Ius Naturae Brut, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Italia: Retail $20. 100% Glera. Organic. For me, it is always a joyous occasion to open a DOCG Prosecco from Valdobbiadene. One, it reminds me of the incredibly beautiful town and the surrounding vineyards which truly are stunning. Two, I know the wine will be very good, even excellent since the wines from the hillsides of the DOCG are much more carefully made than those from the valley floor (DOC). This is no exception. An incredibly fruity wine with loads of green apple and citrus, with intense minerality and tartness. It’s pale straw color, with persistent and fine bubbles is particularly inviting in the glass as well. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Henry’s Drive Sauvignon Blanc H, Adelaide Hills, Australia: Retail $30. Under screw-cap. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle. Another successful line of wines from Kim Longbottom, who, along with her late husband Mark, founded Henry’s Drive in the 90s in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. This “H” Sauvignon Blanc is a classic with citrus aromas, an herbal aspect (basil?), considerable minerality, and a reserved sophistication. Yowza. As I have stated ad nauseam, I am no fan of the variety, but this Sauvignon is simply stellar. Plenty of fruit and even more lip-smacking acidity, this is a Sauvignon Blanc that I could drink for a very long time (not continually, of course, since, well, I’d pass out). Whoa (and that might be a first for this variety for me, excluding Sancerre, natch). Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Lucky Rock Wine Co. Pinot Noir Country Cuvée, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $22. Under screw cap. Fairly light in color in the glass, but on the darker side of aromas when it comes to Pinot (black cherry, blackberry) along with some earth and rose petal. The palate is a bit lighter than the nose with more of a Bing cherry, but the earth is still there as is a healthy dose of acidity. For right around twenty bucks? This is a solid effort. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Ravines Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $22. 100% Cabernet Franc. DIAM10. When I lived in Philadelphia, I quickly learned that hybrid grapes (such as Chambourcin), engineered to endure the sometimes brutal Pennsylvania winters were, for the most part, an abomination. Sure, there were (and are, I imagine) supporters of these varieties that often taste like, well, ass, but it seems as though winemakers in the Commonwealth are gradually realizing that with modern viticultural and winemaking techniques varieties such as Cabernet Franc are a much more palatable path. While not in PA, Ravines shows with this wine that Cabernet Franc (with a bit of assistance) can withstand the even harsher Finger Lakes winters in New York State. Perhaps lighter in color than the average CF, this is still rich and full on the nose with red berry fruit, rose petal, black pepper, and just the slightest hints of green pepper and sage (which, I feel, should be a characteristic of the variety). Whoa. On the palate, particularly after some time open, this is fantastic with rich fruit, lip-smacking tanginess, a touch of earth, and just a boatload of verve. Sure is not very opulent, but holy Christmas this is delicious.
Outstanding. 94 Points.
2017 Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $18. DIAM10 closure. I have been to the Finger Lakes a few times now and every time I visit I find a winery that surprises and I compare it against…Ravines. Sure, there are a few such standard setters in the region, but Ravines is always right there near or at the top. While all of the wines are top-notch, Riesling, of course, is *the* wine of the appellation and Ravine’s iteration (for under twenty bucks) is simply stellar. Just a hint of color in this bright wine, with aromas of white peach, lime rind, wet rock, white acacia, and a lovely hazelnut aspect. The palate is equally compelling with lovely fruit, a tangy acidity (8.2 g/l, 3.18 ph), and while it comes off completely dry, the touch of residual sugar (only 4 g/l) softens that sharpness just a shade. This is fantastic now, but I would love to revisit in a decade or so. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Rodney Strong Upshot White, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $18. Under screw cap. 53% Grenache Blanc, 18% Pinot Noir, 16% Gewürztraminer, 8% Viognier, 5% Sauvignon Blanc. A kitchen-sink blend from Rodney Strong, the Sonoma stalwart, which, curiously, includes Pinot Noir, a grape that you rarely see as a still white and even rarer still, as part of a still blend (of course, very common for both in sparkling wines). Really light color, more green that yellow, particularly in the clear bottle. Fruity and nutty nose of citrus, pear, popcorn, hazelnut, the palate is laden with fruit and ample acidity. This is a crowd-pleaser kind of wine that I am literally taking to the community pool as soon as I finish this note. Very Good. 89 Points.