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 Ameal (Esporão) Bico Amarelo Vinho Verde, Portugal: Retail $12. Loureiro, Avesso, Alvarinho. Agglomerated stopper. Pale straw in the glass with a surprisingly complex nose of exotic fruit (pineapple, kiwi), citrus (lemon, tangerine), and a mineral/chalky aspect in the background. Incredibly tangy and mouth-watering with mostly citrus fruit on the palate, followed by a wave of minerality. Incredibly bright and refreshing. Not your parent’s Vinho Verde (or the one that I served at my wedding). Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Cattleya Chardonnay Alma de Cattleya, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $25. DIAM5 closure. This is the third vintage of Bibiana González Rave’s Chardonnay and all have been stellar, but this is the best of the three. Slightly golden in color with oodles of aromas: peach, golden apple, hints of oak, vanilla, and a honeyed aspect. The palate is delightfully balanced between the aforementioned fruit and a tangy acidity. Really a fantastic Chardonnay. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 King Estate Pinot Noir Inscription, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $20. Under screw cap. From one of the larger producers in the Willamette, this is another affordable yet still solid effort from King Estate. Fairly dark in color, at least for a Pinot, with plenty of red berry fruit, a bit of forrest floor, and touches of eucalyptus and anise. The palate is quite fruity with a healthy dose of tartness coming in on the mid-palate, followed by earth and then more fruit before an above-average finish with just a hint of tannin. Quite lovely regardless of price (but that makes this wine close to a steal). Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Lost Eden Red Blend, Kakheti Region, Country of Georgia: Retail $19. Under glass closure. 100% Saperavi. Fancy B.A.B. I have very little experience with Saperavi (I have tasted some from the Finger Lakes) and even less with the wines from Georgia (the country), but I forge ahead with this wine, nonetheless. Medium to dark color with a fruity and even sweet nose of blackberry and cassis. On the website, the wine is described as “Semi-dry” and at 15+ g/l of residual sugar, it is certainly that, even more. While it is decidedly not my “style” of wine, I guess it is “Very Good” for what it is. I do not like the overly fancy and heavy bottle (how much carbon did that take to ship it to me from Tbilisi?), but for my first foray into Georgian wine? It’s aight. Very Good. 87 Points.
2018 Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Block 007 Estate Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $28. 100% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Cork closure. I have had a couple of double-oh-sevens now and though I bristle at the name (there is one 007: Sean Connery—stop before you embarrass yourself further), this is a gangbusters wine. Dark in the glass with plenty of blackberry, anise, a green aspect (which I love), and oodles of black pepper. Yowza. The palate? It is all about the fruit initially even though said fruit is subtle, begging to be acknowledged. The acidity kicks in on the mid-palate, vying to neutralize all that fruit (it comes close), but then the tannins rise to speak. Whoa. While striving to attain “supple” the reality is “grippy” or even beyond. Look, this is a young wine that is dying to rest a spell but if you are pining to pull that cork, decant, decant, decant, and pair it with some glorious animal fat (Ribeye!!) or a meaty portobello (just kidding, this is not a wine for the Vegan). OK, Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Ravines Wine Cellars Cerise Finger Lakes, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $19. DIAM10 closure. A blend of Pinot Noir and Blaufränkisch (about 60%-40%). I have never been a fan of Blaufränkisch. Even though it is a vitis vinifera variety, it reminds me of the hybrid Chambourcin and that is not a good thing. For me, Blaufränkisch is always a bit stinky and funky and while I normally love the funk, this is on a different level. This wine, however, is blended with Pinto Noir and while the Blaufränkisch overpowers the Pinot, there is enough Pinot to mitigate the offensiveness of the Blaufränkisch. I love Ravines, and this wine is a lot better than I have portrayed it, but I really do not understand why add the Blaufränkisch. Good fruit, plenty of funk, really tart. Very Good. 88 Points.
2019 Reddy Vineyards VMR White Blend, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $25. 35% Roussanne, 33% Marsanne, 32% Viognier. I sampled this almost a year ago and I loved it then: “From my experience, white Rhône varieties outside the region can be harsh, overly floral, particularly fleshy, or any combination therein. Not this wine. While certainly floral on the nose with tropical notes, the palate is full of fruit, particularly tart, and presents a lengthy finish. Quite nice.” I might like it more now. What few rough edges there were have rounded out a bit, resulting in a more concentrated fruit and even more harmonious wine. Very nice. Excellent. 92 Points.