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 Domaine le Galantin Bandol, France: Retail $28. Under screw cap. 60% Mourvèdre, 25% Cinsault, 15% Grenache. Fairly light in the glass, particularly for a Bandol with aromas of rose petal, strawberry, and rhubarb. The palate is quite tart, but certainly still fruit-driven, with multiple layers of flavor. Red berry, watermelon, peach, a real fruit bowl going on. That acidity, though, really holds it all together, highlighting a bit of spice along the way and carries the wine all the way to the lasting finish. Very nice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Hugel Pinot Gris Classic, Alsace, France: Retail $24. DIAM5 closure. Ah, Hugel. Every time I see the name, I think of the week, about a decade ago, that I spent with my wife and two boys in the picturesque town of Riquewihr (calling Riquewihr merely “picturesque” is akin to calling the pope merely “religious”). The tiny Hugel tasting room was maybe a two minute walk from our VRBO and I got “lost” there on at least three occasions (for those that have visited the hamlet, it is impossible to “get lost” there, but my wife is well aware of my directional difficulties, so I think it worked). This “base” Gris is, well, lovely. Only a slight pale straw hue in the glass with dried apricot, ripe peach, the slightest hint of fennel, and a wheelbarrow full of moxie. The palate is rich, unctuous, and luscious, but the heavy dose of tartness is the main actor. Yowza (and close to a Whoa), this takes me back to yes, that week with the fam, but also my year as a student. I love Alsace. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Latentia Winery Ca’ di Prata Prosecco Brut, Italy: Retail $16. 100% Glera. All cards on the table: I am not usually a fan of wines from the Prosecco DOC. Those from the DOCG, of course, are a different matter (I am a big fan), but the larger production wines are, well, underwhelming. This wine, though, is a bit of an exception. Pale straw in the glass with a fervent bubble and plenty of fruit on the nose (peach, Granny Smith, lemon rind), this like many a Prosecco might have a bit too much residual sugar, but it works with a fairly racy acidity. Very Good. 88 Points.
2019 Reddy Vineyards The Superior Texan, Texas High Plains: Retail $45. Agglomerated stopper. B.A.B. 49% Sangiovese, 41% Tannat, 7% Montepulciano, 3% Malbec. Dark, on the verge of “quite dark” the nose is characterized by a slight funkiness (I love the funk), plum, blackberry preserves, and considerable spice. The palate starts with plenty of fruit—red berry, plum, even some blueberry—and then welcomes in the tartness that subdues that fruit, but only a bit, on the way to a lengthy finish. I do not have the exact figures, but I assume that a fair amount of the wine made by Reddy Vineyards never leaves Texas and that makes sense as this screams for some Lone Star style BBQ. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Reddy Vineyards TNT Reddy Vineyard, Texas High Plains: Retail $40. Agglomerated stopper. 63% Tempranillo, 37% Touriga Nacional. B.A.B. I first tasted the 2017 vintage of this wine and I liked it a lot (91 pts) and I feel similarly about this more recent iteration. Fairly dark in the glass with a rich nose of raspberry jam, clove, cedar, and campfire, this wine promises a fairly big wine and that is what it delivers on the palate. Bold fruit which is buoyed by ample acidity, plenty of spice, a mocha aspect, and that smokiness from the nose. I imagine that this wine was made with a Texas-sized ribeye in mind and that is what I am looking for right about now to finish off this bottle. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Stoller Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $32. Under screw cap. This marks the third consecutive vintage of this wine that I have cracked and, well, it has been fairly consistent over the past three years. There is a decided funkiness here (Brett?) which I normally embrace. In moderation. This seems to be a tad more than even my definition of “moderately funky.” Still, there is good fruit, balancing acidity, and even a hint of verve. The palate, particularly after some time open, is much more up my alley. Plenty of fruit, a near-bracing acidity, and some richness that is masked on the nose by that funk. Sure, there is still some funk, but it is moderate on the palate–right in my wheelhouse. Excellent. 90 Points.
2019 Stoller Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under screw cap. Shortly after the first twist of the bottle, I took a step back. I reaffixed the top, set it on the counter, and decided to revisit after a moment or so. Well. Upon second pass, it was much like the first–fantastic. Sure, there is a smidge of funk on the nose (who doesn’t love the funk?), but there is also bright red berry fruit as well as some earth. The palate starts of quite fruity, but the tartness roars in on the mid-palate and dominates through the finish. A little lighter in color and style, and that works well. This is no doubt a large production wine for the Willamette Valley stalwart, but the incorporation of a higher percentage of estate fruit is paying off. For under $25 in most retail locations? Yeah, gimme some of that. Excellent. 90 Points.