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.
NV A to Z Wineworks Rosé Bubbles, Oregon: Retail $15. 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Carbonated. Sure, this is not a world-beater, but it is not intended to be, either. It is intended (I think) to be a fun bottle when you are Jonesing some sparkle or when a group of in-laws appears unannounced and you have absolutely no desire to break out the serious stuff. Fruity, straightforward, only a tiny hint of sweetness (I’d say it’s dry). Some on Cellar Tracker stated that this is a Charmat Method wine–pretty sure it’s carbonated (infused). Very Good. 87 Points.
2019 Cosentino Winery Zinfandel The Zin, Lodi, CA: Retail $22. 99% Zinfandel, 1% Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot. Cosentino was my gateway to California wine as it was the first wine club I joined after years of leading bicycle trips in Europe and focusing on the wines there. Cosentino went through some tough times, but it seems as though they might have righted the ship. While this is not the best Zin I have ever tried, this is likely a crowd-pleaser with a ton of fruit, a splash of acid, and some depth. It does come off as a bit sweet, however, which, well… Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Herdade do Esporão Esporão Reserva Branco, Alentejo, Portugal: Retail $20. Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro. Under cork. I popped this wine for a seminar for Esporão which occurred over Zoom, naturally. I was a little late to the party, unfortunately, so I tasted this after the Colheita. Oh well, gotta roll with it. I have been a fan of Esporão for some time now, particularly the whites, and this bears that out. Fresh citrus fruit, a layer of minerality, followed by a savory note. Lovely. Fresh and tart, plenty of complexity, and a lengthy finish. All for around twenty bucks? Portugal is my top spot for quality over price and Alentejo is the top within the tiny, skinny country. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Girard Old Vine Zinfandel, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $28. B.A.B. Before I get started on the wine, here is yet another case of a wine with a ridiculously heavy bottle. I mean come on. What is the goal here? To destroy the planet faster than we need to? If so, bravo! As for the wine? Regrettably, I like it, maybe even a lot. Medium color, with plenty of fruit (although it seems a bit over-extracted), black pepper, vanilla, oak. On the palate, quite fruity, but balanced, with enough complexity to keep it interesting. Nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut, Champagne: Retail $45. 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier. I don’t drink a ton of L-P for a few reasons, not the least of which is the relative price vis-à-vis other grandes marques. Also, it is slightly less in the Pinot Noir department than what I normally like. But. Lemony-pear biscuity goodness going on here on the nose. Close to a holy cow. The palate is close to impeccably balanced between the fruit (yellow apple and pear), the yeastiness, and the “bangin’” (my teenage son’s term) tartness. As I said, I do not come across L-P all that often, but I am glad I did tonight. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Mettler Family Vineyards Zinfandel Old Vine Epicenter, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. B.A.B. This is now the third iteration of this wine that I have tried and while the bottle has not become any lighter, the wine has remained rather stellar. Fairly dark in the glass (which makes me suspect there is some Petite Sirah here), with loads of fruit and spice. The palate is likely a Zinfandel lover’s dream, with wave after wave of fruit, a zingy acidity, and a more than admirable finish. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Muret-Gaston Blanc Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, WA: Retail $32. B.A.B. 52% Marsanne, 33% Roussanne, 15% Viognier. I have had a few Muret-Gaston wines at this point now, and at every iteration, I have been impressed. Very impressed. Such is the case here. A solid Rhône blend with tree fruit, and a touch of citrus on the nose, followed by a wonderful balance of fruit, acidity, and depth. Yet another winner from the dynamic duo of Amy and Kyle Johnson at Muret Gaston slash Purple Star slash Native Sun (yeah…). Excellent. 91 Points.
NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée, France: Retail $50. Disgorged September 2020. 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Meunier, 20% fermented in oak. While I have never met M. Paillard, I have met his daughter and CEO, Alice, on several occasions and she might be the single nicest person I have ever met. While that is a lot, I don’t know how much that has to do with the wine (although I choose to think it means just about everything), which is fantastic. Nutty, yeasty, and loaded with citrus on the nose, brilliant acidity, creaminess, and a walnut aspect on the palate. While I have tried a number of champagnes from Bruno Paillard, it seems as though each wine is better than the previous. Gangbusters. Outstanding. 93 Points.
NV Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Pink Moscato, Texas: Retail $16. Varietal composition? I perused the Los Pinos Ranch website and could not find much information other than the retail price. When I saw “Pink Moscato” I was a bit hesitant, OK, really apprehensive before even pulling the cork. The nose is fruity, with some of that classic Moscato tropical fruit, a few red berry aromas, and, well, sweet. The palate is both quite fruity and sweet, even really sweet. But there is tartness, and even some depth, albeit with a short finish. I was more than ready to dislike this, but it is actually rather good if you are into the sweet side of wine. Very Good. 87 Points.
2017 Rock Wall Wine Co. Zinfandel Alégria Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $45. B.A.B. Field blend (about 75% Zinfandel, with 22 other varieties). A lot to unpack here. First, the wine is made by Shauna Rosenblum, and if that last name is not immediately identifiable, well, the name “Kent Rosenblum” also known as the “King of Zinfandel” does not speak to you either. Well, Shauna, even after the passing of her father in 2018, is doing quite well and, as with many cooler climate Zins, this should appeal to Pinot lovers as well. Second, this fruit is from the Alégria Vineyard, which is owned by Betsy and Bill Nachbaur (owners of ACORN Winery), two of my favorite people in Russian River. Fairly light (at least for a Zin) with dark fruit and plenty of spice, this is close to gangbusters on the nose. But. The palate takes it to gangbusters and beyond. Great fruit, off-the-charts tartness, and layers of complexity that one rarely sees in Zinfandel (although it is clearly possible). Whoa. Yowza. An incredible wine, regardless of price. Outstanding. 96 Points.