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. This week, I am focusing on wines that will not set you back too much when it comes time to open the pocketbook to pay.
2019 Benziger Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc North Coast, CA: Retail $16. Under screwcap. Quite light, almost devoid of color with quite a bit of citrus (the grapefruit is predominant but there is also ripe lemon curd and orange zest), with white flower, minerality, an intense tang, and a hint of creaminess. The shocking element to this wine is not the quality–the Benzigers have been making great wine for generations. The aspect that knocks my socks off is that the family-owned winery can continually produce fantastic wines for such reasonable prices. Incredible. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Ron Rubin Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $25. Under screwcap. I was a bit concerned as I find that Pinots under thirty bucks can be, well, challenging. While this does not rival the wines of DRC, it is still far better than I feared. Good cherry fruit, earthy notes, and the requisite acidity. I have had a few wines from this producer now and I see it as a legitimate option when looking for wines true to their variety without requiring a second mortgage. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Guy Saget Sauvignon Blanc La Petite Perrière, Vin de France : Retail $12. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Under screwcap. A pretty basic Sauvignon Blanc that is quite fruity but lacking depth and length. At roughly ten bucks, I am sure that there is worse out there, but there are also some (many) that are better. Fruity on the nose and palate, but also comes off as a tad sweet (residual sugar?), but there is plenty of acidity, so… What to make of this wine? Pretty sure this is better than a light beer option. Good. 86 Points.
2020 Guy Saget Pinot Noir La Petite Perrière, Vin de France: Retail $15. Under screwcap. When people think “French Pinot Noir” they inevitably think “Burgundy” but the variety exists in other regions, too, notably Alsace and the Loire Valley. In both instances, the wine is not as intense or layered as it is in Burgundy, but there are fantastic examples in both regions. This wine is categorized as a “Vin de France” which means it comes from outside any of the established wine regions. But. The rest of the portfolio is Loire Valley wines, I am guessing this comes from the relative area. Great fruit on the nose, rich, fresh, ripe red berry fruit, a bit of spice, rhubarb, and anise. The palate is certainly on the austere side, sure there is fruit and tartness, but it is reserved, to say the least. An interesting expression of the variety. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Valentin Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon Oasis Sur, San Rafael, Argentina: Retail $14. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Under screwcap. I am always wary, it seems of a Cabernet Sauvignon that comes in under (usually) $15 retail. And for good reason (according to me) as many of the wines in that price point are rather insipid and offer little more than a ton of fruit and alcohol. This is not any of that. Yes, the wine is fairly straightforward as a subtle but fruity winebut it also has above-average acidity and enough spice to keep it interesting. Proved to be much better with food. Bon apétit! Very Good. 87 Points.
2018 Valentin Bianchi Malbec Particular, San Rafael, Argentina: Retail $22. B.A.B. Under DIAM 5. While Malbec has its origins in France, it has found a home in Argentina. Dark in color with really dark fruit: black raspberry, cassis, and plum. Add in mocha, forest floor, and black pepper and we are getting close. The palate is more New World than Old, I would say but it is not overly fruity, either. Good balance, though, with a zinginess that comes close to eclipsing all other aspects. What I am saying, I guess, is that this is a wonderful quaff, particularly for the price. Excellent. 90 Points.