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 Antica Masseria Venditti Barbera Barbetta Campania IGT, Italy: Retail $30. 100% Barbetta (Barbera). Fairly dark in the glass with dark fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum), quite a bit of earth (fresh soil), and a hint of funk (but I love the funk). The palate is quite approachable with modest fruit, a bit of the aforementioned funk, considerable tartness, delicate tannins, and a certain verve to it. I do not have a ton of experience with Barbera, and while this might not ever become a “go-to” variety for me, this is particularly compelling. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner’s Reserve, California: Retail $15. I have tasted this wine countless times, over several vintages and it is amazingly consistent. Yes, it is pretty fruity, and yes, it is produced by one of the largest wine conglomerations in the country, but neither of those facts makes it a bad wine. In fact, I have tasted other vintages of this blind with scores of other American Pinots, and it always holds its own. Would I buy it? Probably not given my Pinot-snob status, but I did buy this bottle for an online tasting…
Dark cherry fruit, slightly meaty, just a dash of dark soil, and maybe some rose petal highlight the nose. The palate is laden with fruit–this is not shy or understated–but the acidity works hard to keep that fruit in check. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA: Retail $28. Big Ass Bottle. (Come on Rodney Strong, I know how committed you are to sustainability, this bottle does not need to be this heavy). 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. DIAM10. While the retail is at $30, I found this for a bit lower than $20 at my H.E.B. (I love my H.E.B.). I actually bought this wine from my local grocery store for an online wine tasting for the people that work with my wife. I was the only male on the tasting, so I was really concerned with how much man-splaining was going on. It was a bit touch and go initially but it turned out great. So did this wine, which I feel is woefully underpriced. Why did I choose this wine for the tasting? Well, it is pretty widely available and it is always stellar. Dark red fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum), cedar, mocha, and the slightest hint of green pepper (which I love), The palate is fruity upfront, followed on the mid-palate by some earth, dried fig, and depth. Yowza. My boy Rodney (he actually sold the winery in 1989 and died in 2006, long before I would have had the chance to meet him) never disappoints–the wines dance across the tongue like few others. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Scattered Peaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Sage Ridge Vineyard, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $125. Really, Really, Big. Ass. Bottle. Yikes. Another bottle from Scattered Peaks that is so heavy it really should be criminal. Seriously, this is a crime against humanity. Ugh. Again, here I am talking about a freaking stupid bottle than the actual contents, which, in this case, are actually fantastic. Really dark in the glass with rich black fruit (cassis, blackberry, plum), vanilla, mocha, loads of aromas. The palate is rich, yet also reserved with all that fruit at the front, but not in an opulent way. Good acidity, and close to impeccable balance. Really well done. But get rid of the moronically heavy bottle. Please. The wine? Outstanding. 94 Points. Environmental stewardship? Epic Fail.
2018 Scattered Peaks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Morisoli Vineyard, Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $150. This bottle takes “Big. Ass. Bottle.” to an entirely different level. I am pretty sure that this bottle needs to be registered as a deadly weapon as it could terminate any number of living beings with just the slightest of contact to the skull. That is if the perpetrator could lift the damned thing. Give me a break, Scattered Peaks/Purple Wines, or, rather, give the planet a break. Holy crap, this is ridiculous. The wine? Yeah, it’s good, Outstanding even, with rich dark fruit, plenty of layers, some earth, and a lengthy finish. But now I am off to the hospital to pop my shoulder back into its socket. Horrible. The Wine? Outstanding. 96 Points. The effect on my eventual grandchildren? Kentucky Fried.
NV Zardetto Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy: Retail $15. 100% Glera. For a large producer that is close to ubiquitous here in the U.S., it is actually pretty good. Quite light in color with citrus and that characteristic flintiness that I get in many DOC Proseccos. Quite fruity on the palate with the requisite acidity and just a hint of sweetness (which is far better than most), one could do (and I have done) much worse in this category. Very Good. 88 points.