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.
2019 Bacigalupi Vineyards Chardonnay Renouveau, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $82. B.A.B. It would not take many digits to count the number of domestic Chardonnays that I have tried in the price range. Thus, I approached this with a bit of skepticism, particularly based on that healthy price tag. 82 bucks? Really? Well, I guess I am going to have to roll with that–this is fantastic; among the best domestic Chardonnays I have had. Rich, full, unctuous–this is decidedly not Cougar juice, but there is both a nod to its Californian heritage while suggesting a strong Burgundian influence (more Meursault than Chassagne or Chablis). Lemon curd a go-go with bits of vanilla and oak on the nose while the palate is rich and voluptuous. Whoa. Fantastic. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $65. B.A.B. 100% Whole cluster fermentation. Why is whole cluster important? Well, most people (at least in my opinion) who do whole cluster wines focus wholly (see what I did there?) on the ripeness of the berry. While that seems to be the obvious focal point, it is also important that the stems are ripe as well. If not, which is the case all too often, the wines can come off overly green or “woody” (what wine folk call “stemmy” perhaps for obvious reasons). That is not the case here. In fact, had I not known this was whole cluster, I never would have guessed it. Rich cherry fruit, spice, and just the ever so slight hint of that slate, flint, chalky nature that I associate with whole cluster (again, I doubt I would have even noticed it). The palate is fantastic: rich fruit but balanced with a zingy tartness, a touch of earth, and some silky, subtle tannins. This is a lovely wine. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, France: Retail $110. DIAM 30. 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 5% Vaccarese. Even though I have been there a couple of times, I do not have a ton of experience with Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Sure, I have dabbled with the Grenache-dominant region, but I would never say that I was anywhere close to an “expert.” Well, that might need to change. Whoa. This is just a baby but this is loaded with dark berry fruit (cassis, black cherry, blackberry), garrigue, black pepper, touches of chocolate, and fresh pencil shavings. The palate is rich, fruity, tart, and layered. Holy. Cow. While this is great from the jump, it only gets better with increased exposure to air. Yowza. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2018 Prats and Symington Douro Prazo de Roriz, Portugal: Retail $17. 35% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 20% Mixed varieties, 15% Tinta Roriz, 10% Tinta Barroca. Most of the dry wine I drink from Portugal comes from Alentejo as it is pretty much where I would live in the country (although I do love Lisbon). This blend from the Duoro, though, pretty much a kitchen sink kind of wine, really makes me question my strict allegiance to all things Alentejano. Fruity, yes, but also earthy, layered, tart, alluring. This steadily improved over the course of the evening. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Sosie Cavedale Vineyard Red Blend, Moon Mountain District, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $45. B.A.B. Under cork. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Even though I have never visited the winery, and this is only the fifth bottle of wine that I have rated, I am pretty sure that I am a fan of the brand. They seem to be pushing the edge of the envelope a bit whether through ripeness, varietal interpretation, or barrel program. This wine, a pretty straightforward Bordeaux-style blend, is fruity, even quite fruity, but balanced, nuanced, and layered. While not my comfort zone (when it comes to varietal makeup), it is a juicy, lovely wine. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Weis Vineyards Riesling Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $18. DIAM 5. I do not drink nearly enough wine from the Finger Lakes. Even while I lived in Philadelphia, I could probably count on one hand the number of wines from the region I would consume on an annual basis. That should change. Not that this is a mind-blowing wine, it’s good, even quite good, but I like to spread the wealth out a bit, I guess. A bright pale straw in the glass with notes of lemon, lime, pear, and a bit of wet rock. The palate is refreshingly tart with subtle fruit and some depth. Very Good. 89 Points.