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.
2001 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Clos de Beauvenir, France: Retail $120. Roussanne, Grenache Blanc. Ever since I started tasting white Chateauneuf-du-Pape from la Nerthe a handful of years ago or so, it has been my benchmark and I measure just about every other white, regardless of variety, against it. Well, here I am not only judging la Nerthe against itself, but this is a) a white from the best plot (only about three acres) for white on the estate, but also a wine that has two decades* of age on it. Sure, it is a golden yellow in the glass (suggesting its age) but the nose is luscious with tropical notes, some citrus, a hint of vanilla, and a wheelbarrow full of verve. Whoa. The palate, if possible, is even more engaging than the nose for this 20 year-old wine. Rich & unctuous, but the fruit is subtle, this wine has impeccable balance, an incredible mouthfeel, and one of the longest finishes I can remember. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2020 Scattered Peaks Vineyard Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $20. Non-DIAM agglomerated stopper. I tasted this with Joel Aiken via Zoom and while I am certainly no fan of Fumé Blanc, this wine is fairly compelling. Yellow-straw in the glass with lemon rind, white peach, and acacia flower are all on the nose with only minimum evidence of any oak treatment. The palate is quite bright, with plenty of fruit and tartness to go around and as with the nose, the oak is subtle, but its effects are not. Unctuous and full with plenty of weight and creaminess. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Scattered Peaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $40. Big. Ass. Bottle. Joel Aiken, winemaker. Right off the front, this is a ridiculous bottle–clearly the fine people at Purple Wines have no love for the planet as this bottle must weigh well over two pounds and more than twice what it needs to be. Either they think the consumers are complete idiots or, indeed, consumers *are* as dumb as rocks by using this bottle. I almost want to leave it there since this really ticks me off, but there is wine in the bottle and it is fairly good, punching above its price point (I almost said “weight class” but even I can’t use that pun here). A load of red and dark fruit with a surprising amount of dark earth on the nose, it is quite enticing in the glass. On the palate, it is much the same with great balance and plenty of weight, stopping far short of being over the top. Excellent. 91 Points. If I had any integrity, I would give this 49 Points because of the bottle, but I like Joel Aiken (and I am pretty sure the bottle choice was not his).
2020 Troon Vineyard Grenache Glou-Glou Cowhorn Vineyard, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. 100% Grenache. Carbonic maceration. The list of great things that are going on at Troon these days is a long one and somewhere in the middle has to be this wine. Using techniques that have been in practice for some time in Beaujolais, this Glou-Glou is exactly what the name would imply, a fruity quaff that is fun to drink and goes down exceedingly easy. Bright cherry fruit along with the characteristic grape and bubbles that often comes with the process, and a tartness that lasts well beyond the last swallow. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Vermentino, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under Diam 5. Estate Vineyard, Kubli Bench. 100% Vermentino. I have tasted through several vintages of Troon’s Vermentino and this is, without much equivocation, the best iteration I have tried thus far. It is also the first Troon I have tasted here in Houston since my visit to the winery this past summer. While this might sound cliché or even worse, biased, after visiting the magical spot in Southern Oregon and understanding what Troon is doing with and to the vineyard (converting to 100% biodynamic, replanting the entire vineyard, too much to enumerate here), this wine is not only Outstanding, but on the verge of transformational. While that might sound over-the-top (and I admit, it is), this wine is truly fantastic. Tropical fruit, minerality, depth, and a brilliant acidity, this is a memorable and lovely wine.Outstanding. 94 Points.
2016 Yamhill Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir, McMinnville AVA, Willamette Valley, OR: Can’t seem to find this one, but I am sure I liked it. Or my wife did. Or perhaps my under-age son. Oh crap.