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.
2016 Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional Douro, Portugal: Retail $80. Heavy Bottle. 100% Touriga Nacional. It is not often that I get a bottle of 100% Touriga Nacional from the Duoro that retails a couple of sawbucks south of a c-note. In fact, including this bottle, the number stands at one. Dark in color and aromas, this is laden with dark berry fruit (cassis, blackberry, black cherry), tobacco leaf, spice (clove a go-go), and more than a healthy dose of verve. Yowza. The palate, as one might expect from the Duoro, is fruity, but really driven by the tartness and layers of complexity. When I saw 100% Touriga Nacional, I recoiled, as I feared an unctuous, huge wine, but this works on so many levels. Give me a steak, please! Outstanding. 93 Points.
2017 The Hess Collection Chardonnay Panthera, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $40. Big Ass Bottle. Under Cork. While it seems as though the producers of big California Chardonnay are diminishing, there are a few holders on to the style that was in vogue for a solid decade or two. Add this Panthera to the list. Aged for 18-months in French oak (35% new), this might not be as oaky as some on the market but make no mistake, there is plenty of wood. Don’t get me wrong, though, I like an oaky Chard on occasion and this wine suits me just fine. Bold lemon curd and, well, oak on the nose with hints of green apple and white flower. The palate is what one might expect from such a nose: rich. layered, bold, and, well, oaky. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Lion Tamer, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $65. Big Ass Bottle. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Sirah, 7% Malbec. A “modern” interpretation of Cabernet, certainly, with tons of fruit, all at the forefront. Dark and even brooding with blackberry and cassis, there is also a bit of spice (cardamom, clove) on exhibit here. The palate? Fruit, fruit, and more fruit. Behind all of that opulence is some depth, but you really have to search for it. I would put this in the “crowd-pleaser” category, but there really is more to it if one were to take the time to notice. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Saget St Perriere Pouilly-Fumé La Perrière, Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley, France: Retail $35. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Normally, I shudder when I am offered some Sauvignon Blanc–it typically crops pretty heavy which means that while the quantity might be great, the quality of the grapes can be, well, not so great. Except. When the Sauvignon comes from a few specific appellations in the Loire Valley, it is usually stellar. One of those regions, Pouilly Fumé (which Saget calls “Blanc Fumé de Pouilly” for some reason), I normally find a bit more austere than the nearby Sancerre (which I consider the pinnacle of SB), and that tracks here. Light straw in the glass with lovely citrus and tree fruit (grapefruit and green apple), white flower (magnolia blossom), and both mineral and salinity aspects. The palate is well-balanced and layered, more linear than round, leading to a lengthy, and lovely, finish. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2016 Domaine de la Perrière Sancerre Mégalithe, France: Retail $45. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Under cork. There are few regions that get my heart racing as much as “Sancerre.” Just the name is almost worthy of a whoa. Yellow, almost golden in the glass with a rich, round nose of tree fruit (peach, apricot), honey blossom, wet rock, and a salinity that is oh so inviting. The palate is initially quite tart, but then a bit of roundness comes in with the accompanying fruit. Yowza. Simply? This is a lovely Sancerre, perhaps a bit more tart than the norm, but I love tart. Don’t we all? Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Saget La Perriere Sancerre La Perrière l’ Origine, France: Retail $36. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This is now the sixth(?) wine from this producer that I have tried and while all have been solid, this, along with the Megalithe and the Pouilly Fumé, goes above and beyond the other bottles. Straw to yellow in the glass, with oodles of citrus, tree, and even exotic fruit here. Add in honey blossom, minerality, and salinity, and, well? There you go. I have said countless times in this space that Sancerre is my go-to region when it comes to SB, and this bottle confirms that assertion: fruity, tart, deep. Yowza. Excellent. 91 Points.