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 Bonny Doon Vineyard Picpoul Beeswax Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, CA: Retail $17. Under screwcap. 100% Picpoul. Simply put, there is not a ton of Picpoul outside of France, there is some in Lodi, and of course, Randall Grahm has some in the Central Coast. “Picpoul” means “lip-stinger” and is thusly named, at least according to those who know a lot more than I, due to its relatively high level of acidity. While this wine certainly “stings” the lips a bit, it is perhaps a bit rounder than the Picpouls I have tried from Pinet, the traditional home of the variety, but there is citrus fruit, salinity, and plenty of verve. Excellent. 90 Points.
2016 La Fortezza Aglianico del Taburno, Italy: Retail $18. B.A.B. 100% Aglianico. Made from a variety the historically has needed a ton of time to calm down a bit after bottling. Open too soon, and Aglianico can be quite tannic and harsh (which is why this 2016 is the current release). As one would expect, dark in the glass with brooding aromas of black (blackberry, cassis) and blue (blueberry, plum) fruit, spice (black pepper), and even some earthiness on the nose. The palate is, surprisingly, not nearly as heavy and muscular as I had expected: good fruit, plenty of tartness, and a bit of earth. Sure, there are tannins on the finish, but they are mostly soft and integrated. Lovely. Excellent. 90 Points.
2016 Gaja Barolo Dagromis, Italy: Retail $120. 100% Nebbiolo. Fairly light in the glass, but heavy on rich aromas of red and black fruit with oodles of spice (black pepper, sage, even oregano) on the nose, close to a holy cow. The palate is even more incredible with balanced fruit, intense acidity, and a lengthy finish. Sure, this is already five years out from vintage, but this could use another half-dozen years or so. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Hosmer Chardonnay, Cayuga Lake, Finger Lakes, NY: Retail $18. Under DIAM 5. Well, I am not entirely sure how I came across this wine, but it underscores my longhand contention that I need to drink more wines from the Finger Lakes. (I did when I lived in Philly. Here in Texas? Not so much.) A bit of color in the glass (a light straw) and quite shy on the nose with just a hint of tropical fruit peeking through even after some time open and considerable time in the glass. On the palate, though, it is another story, with a potpourri of fruit contributing to a weighty mouthfeel (although I doubt this wine saw much new oak if any), a tangy mid-palate, and a lengthy finish. A wonderful quaff and a wine for the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd to consider. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 Kellerei Kurtatsch Alto Adige – Südtirol Amos, Italy: Retail $35. Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Kerner, Sauvignon Blanc. An interesting white blend from Northern Italy that is nearly golden in the glass with tropical aromas and a splash of minerality. Quite fruity on the palate as well, which I would characterize as more round than linear, but still with fantastic tartness. Lengthy finish, quite good. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Il Poggio Coda di Volpe, Sannio, Italy: Retail $20. Under DIAM3. 100% Coda di Volpe. The variety is new to me (at least I think) and means “tail of the fox” (at least I think) and I have no idea what that has to do with wine (and that I know). Close to golden in the glass with really rich aromas of dried apricot, ripe peach, and perhaps even some exotic fruit. Yowza. The palate is incredibly rich, round, and layered with an unctuousness that is surprisingly rare. This is a bit reminiscent of an orange wine–any skin contact here? Yowza. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Fattoria La Rivolta Falanghina del Sannio Taburno, Italy: Retail $20. Under DIAM5 closure (which started spinning as I inserted the corkscrew–not a good thing). 100% Falanghina. As I (finally) made my way through the small sea of Sannio wines that I received several months ago, I realize that I am a huge fan of Falanghina and this is a perfect example of why. Light to pale straw in the glass with lovely aromas of tropical fruit, an herbal element (sage?), orange blossom, and a distinct salinity. On the palate, all of the aforementioned (particularly the fruit and the salinity) are enhanced by a tartness that is not only refreshing but salivating. Delicious. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Cantine Tora Falanghina del Sannio Kissòs, Italy: Retail $25. 100% Falanghina. Golden color in the glass with plenty of rich aromas of lemon, peach, mango, papaya, hazelnut, and white acacia flower. The palate is rich, round, and layered with plenty of fruit, ample acidity, and a spicy aspect that is fairly rare at least outside of Falanghina. Yet another gem from Sannio. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Bodegas Volver Tempranillo La Mancha Single Vineyard, Spain: Retail $15. B.A.B. 100% Tempranillo. I am going to let you in on a little secret: my New Year’s Resolutions include “learning to speak Spanish.” Sure, it has been on that list at least for the last decade, but this year is the year! Average to dark garnet in the glass with lovely aromas of black and blue fruit on the nose: black and blue berry, plum, cassis, some forest floor, sage, and white pepper. Yeah, a lot going on. The palate is certainly on the fruity side (at least in an old-world way) with balancing acidity, and a brief earthiness. No, this wine will not cause me to ponder a move to La Mancha, but it might encourage me to make a mid-week paella. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 Zenato Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto, Italy: Retail $18. 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta. There is really no other way to put it–this is a delightful wine, that is fantastic on its own and would perhaps be enhanced by food. Fruity, but not over the top, just the right amount of acidity, and what comes off as a bit sweet (but I have found no indication that it is). Really, just a fun, fantastic wine. Excellent. 92 Points.