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 10000 Hours Syrah, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $34. B.A.B. 100% Syrah. Aged 20 months in 30% new French oak. Another wine from the Aquilini family, a titan of industry in Canada, and now a major player in the #WaWine scene. Quite dark in the glass with a meaty nose with dark fruit and spice. The palate is well-balanced with dark fruit, acidity, earthy and spicy notes, and some soft tannins on the finish. I have to say that while a tad rough around the edges, this wine sings. Fantastic. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir, Oregon: Retail $22. Under screwcap. Shortly after twisting off the cap, a wave of smoke wafted out of the glass. I Googled, but could not find much evidence that there was much smoke taint in the 2018 Oregon vintage. By Day 2, that close to overwhelming smoke had all but dissipated, leaving black cherry, some dark earth, and, yes, a whiff of campfire smoke. The palate is fruity, with some tartness, particularly on the finish, where the smoke also comes through. Now I normally like a little smoky, “woodsy” aromas and flavors, but this is a bit too much, at least for me. Very Good. 87 Points.
2017 ACORN Dolcetto Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $42. A field blend of 94% Dolcetto, 3% Freisa, 3% Barbera. I first tasted this wine several months ago at the winery with Bill and Betsy and while tasting the wine in the comfort of my humble abode has its advantages (e.g., tasting it over time), it can’t replace the experience with the Nachbauers. But suffer through it I did, you know, for the knowledge. While this was quite nice upon opening, it was clearly better on day two: dark in the glass with reserved fruit (raspberry and plum), some dark earth, cardamom, and black pepper. The palate is, and I should not have been surprised, much more old world than new with subtle fruit, great tartness, and a lengthy finish. I loved this back in July, but I am pretty sure I like it even better now. Yum. Excellent. 92 Points.
2014 ACORN Acorn Hill Red Blend, Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $55. B.A.B. 49% Syrah, 49% Sangiovese, 1% Viognier, 0.5% Mammolo, and 0.5% Canaiolo. Curiously, I was sent this 2014 after having tasted the 2015 at the winery, but it is so fabulous, why complain? Dark in color as well as aromas (blackberry, cassis, plum, along with dark earth and pencil shavings), this is a wine to contemplate (albeit with dinner). Fruity, yes, but in a reserved way on the palate, with earth, plenty of acidity, and a surprising level of tannins (with the better part of a decade of age), this wine is simply scrumptious. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2020 Domaine Bousquet Virgen, Tupungato, Argentina: Retail $13. Under screwcap. 35% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc. I have been reviewing Domaine Bousquet’s organic wines for several years now and I have been impressed with both the wines and the seeming commitment to the planet (no stupidly heavy bottles here). That is the case here, with a particularly fruity nose (cherry, raspberry, blackberry) that also is hiding some nice spice. The palate (particularly after some time open) is quite nice, with good fruit, tartness, and even some depth. At thirteen bucks? This is a tough wine to beat. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, CA: Retail $30. B.A.B. While I do not know for sure, since the tech sheet on this wine does not offer any insight, I think there might be some Petite Sirah in this wine (although I could be wrong) as it is fairly dark in the glass, has a near overload of fruity blackberry on the nose, and the Mettlers grow a ton of PS. Just a hunch. As I said, quite fruity on the nose, with tons of berry fruit (mostly black), a hint of vanilla, loads of coffee, and a touch of spice. The palate is much of the same, although the fruit is more in balance with added depth and more of that spice. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is a fun, fruity wine that is best with tacos, barbecue, or a back patio. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Muret-Gaston Chardonnay French Creek Vineyard, Yakima Valley, WA: Retail $30. B.A.B. 30% new French oak, 70% concrete. Amy and Kyle Johnson have been making wine under three labels now for quite some time, but the wines still are seeing steady improvement. This Muret-Gaston (the combination of the names of their respective ancestors) Chardonnay is oozing citrus from the onset as well as notes of vanilla and oak. The palate is surprisingly round and full, but also creamy and delicious as fruit abounds initially, followed by some minerality and salinity, with the acidity holding off until the finish to make its presence felt. At only thirty bucks, this wine punches well above its price point. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 The Paring Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, CA: Retail $25. Under cork. Quite dark in the glass, even for a Syrah, almost black, in fact. The nose is not quite as brooding in profile but there is a considerable amount of mocha here, which masks the tart blackberry, floral, and herbal (sage?) notes. The palate is quite nice, with fruit initially, then some of that mocha, followed by a touch of tartness, and an herbal note right before the above-average finish. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $24. I am not entirely sure, but I think this is the fourth or fifth vintage of this wine that I have tried. Nonetheless, each time I try it I am amazed at how consistently fantastic this wine is and how incredibly inexpensive it is (the SRP is $24, but it is usually available for $15-16). Dark fruit (plum, blackberry) on the nose, paired with a host of spices and herbs (clove and sage for starters). The palate is initially quite fruity, but in a controlled, lovely way, followed by a healthy dose of acidity, then soft, but impressive tannins. Sure, great now, but I feel this wine will certainly improve, particularly in the short-term (3-5 years). Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $25. Despite the fact that this was one of the first American wineries I ever visited, I do not have much history with St. Supéry. Based on this Sauv Blanc, however? I think that must change. Pale straw in the glass with green highlights, the aromas of this wine really jump out of the glass: pineapple, guava, this has the tropical fruit aspect in spades. The palate is quite tart and focused with fantastic acidity and fruit. Yum. Again, I do not have much “formal” connection with this brand, but holy cow is this delicious. Excellent. 92 Points.