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 Ascevi Luwa Collio Pinot Grigio Grappoli, Italy: Retail $25. DIAM3 closure. I have stated countless times that I am not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio—I find many (most) iterations to be rather boring and not worth the time. There are some exceptions, including the PG from Alto Adige. Well, I might have to add Fruilli in general and Collio specifically to that short list. A slight straw to slightly yellow in the glass with a subtle nose of faint citrus and tree fruit (peach), paired with some lovely white flower and mineral notes. All of this intensified as the wine warmed. The palate is layered, rich, and complex. Yowza. Add this to the list of Pinot Grigio that I can get behind. Firmly. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Luana (Ascevi Luwa) Collio Pinot Grigio, Italy: Retail $13. DIAM2 (is that new?) stopper. I have stated countless times that I am not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio—I find many (most) iterations to be rather boring and not worth the time. There are some exceptions, including the PG from Alto Adige. Well, I might have to add Fruilli in general and Collio specifically to that short list as even the entry-level wines from the region I have found to be pretty fantastic. Case in point. Just a slight straw color in the glass with subtle citrus and tree fruit on the nose, paired with some lovely white flower and mineral notes. The palate is nicely balanced and certainly on the reserved side, but it works incredibly well. Nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $80. Heavy bottle. DIAM5. Fairly dark in the glass with a brooding, brambly nose of blackberry, plum, and black pepper. Even with some time open, this wine was shy, almost reclusive in the glass, but it was clear that there would be plenty to admire on the palate. Indeed. While the similarities to the slightly less expressive Atlas Peak Cab are many, this iteration, from the Atlas Peak appellation (yeah, it’s confusing) is richer, more expressive, more “vervy” (is that a word?). Plenty of depth and intrigue here: fruit, tartness, balance. The only element that is lacking would be tannins—they are integrated and silky smooth, so no need to cellar this puppy! Drink up! Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $50. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. DIAM5. While I have tried more than my fair share of Napa Cabs, I would never claim that it is “my jawn” (Philly term). Medium color (at least for a Cab) in the glass with a sweet, fruity nose of black fruit (blackberry, cassis, plum), vanilla, and just a touch of chocolate. Yum. The palate is surprisingly reserved (particularly given the appellation) but good fruit, ample tartness, depth, and verve. Again, not my forté, but this is Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Eponymous Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $60. Big. Ass. Bottle. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Another Napa Cab, my fourth in the last two days, and while I stand by my statement that Cab is not really my jawn (Philly term), I can appreciate a solid iteration of the variety when I see it. And this is one. Dark in the glass with plenty of dark berry fruit (blackberry, black raspberry), black pepper, clove, and vanilla. Past the lips, this continues to impress with good to great fruit, surprising tartness, and a lengthy finish with subtle tannins. Might improve over the next five years or so, but quite lovely now. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Quinta da Fonte Souto Portalegre Branco, Portugal: Retail $25. 75% Arinto, 25% Verdelho. Under cork (as one would expect with an Alentejano wine). Every time I am lucky enough to open a wine from Alentejo, I recall the week that I spent there a handful of years ago now and I long to return. Portugal is a magical place and Alentejo might just be its best-kept secret. This wine is simply fantastic: citrus and tropical notes abound in the glass along with some floral aspects as well as a charming nuttiness. The palate is round and full (thanks, in large part, to its time in mostly neutral oak), but a tanginess bolts forward on the mid-palate and takes over the show through the finish. Again, I am partial to the wines of the region, but this was a particularly compelling bottle. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Samuel Charles Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $80. Big ass bottle. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Under cork. Fairly dark in the glass with dark brambly fruit (cassis, blackberry), vanilla, a smidge of oak, and freshly cut rose. The palate is definitely fruit-forward with all that dark fruit rushing onto the palate and driving the bus all the way to the finish. Some tartness comes in on the midpalate along with some depth. The finish is all fruit, though, with little evidence of tannin, so drink in the short run, 3-5 years, max. Excellent. 91 Points.