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 Viticoltori Acquesi Asti Spumante, Italy: Retail $15. 100% Moscato Bianco. Asti Spumante, at least in this country, has a bad reputation, due almost exclusively to those commercials back in the 70s. Well, some fifty-odd years later, the wine has improved quite a bit and the region is trying to shed that decades-old image. As one would expect from a Moscato, this wine is quite aromatic with oodles of citrus (particularly lime), ginger, and a bit of exotic fruit. Yum. The palate is both quite tart as well as sweet (but far from cloying), a really nice balance. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio Collezione di Famiglia, Sicily, Italy: Retail $13. Under screw cap. As I have mentioned countless times, I bristle when I hear “Pinot Grigio.” Why? Well, my experience has been that, for the most part, the variety, when produced in the Italian style, is rather insipid. There have been exceptions over the years, and most of those exceptions have come from Italy. And as the French might say… “bah, voilà!” while this wine does not make my top-ten list of Pinot-Grigio, it still serves as a lovely reminder to the French that Pinot Gris can be done well in the Italian style. Again, not bind-blowing, but certainly well above average. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Öömrang Müller-Thurgau, Puget Sound, WA: Retail $75. Under glass stopper. 100% Müller-Thurgau. While I guess I liked the 2019, it was really far too tart and could have required many a visit to the dentist if too much had passed the teeth. I have absolutely no idea if the producers pondered my protest, but this vintage? Holy cow. And a whoa. Just a hint of color in this quite pale straw wine with citrus (freshly grated lemon rind) and tree (a slightly under-ripe Asian pear) fruit that joyfully dances over the rim. The palate does have quite a bit of tartness, but it is much more in balance with the fruit of this vintage, which allows the imbiber to appreciate the depth and length of flavors. Again, I would like to take credit for the apparent change in this wine, but, what the heck? You’re welcome. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Druid’s Fluid, White, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. Biodynamic wine. Blend? I looked but found no information, whatsoever. Other than the retail price? Not much available other than: “Each vintage is unique and our estate grown Oregon Biodynamic® blends change vintage-to-vintage expressing the natural cycles of the life on our farm.” So there you have it. As for the wine? Pretty fun quaff if you are into Rhône blends as I am guessing there are healthy doses of Roussanne/Marsanne, Viognier, and possibly Vermentino (which I prefer to call Rolle), since that figures prominently in the winery’s portfolio. Great fruit, minerality, heft, and ample amounts of acidity and verve. An easy drinker despite the (somewhat) heavy bottle. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Druid’s Fluid, Red, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. Varietal composition? Troon has been making iterations of this wine for some time now, through changes in the winemaking team and management. Try as I might, I could not find much info on the varieties or methods used to create this juicy bit of wonderment, but the wine is a delight. Clearly, the fruit is the story and it has a very Beaujolais aspect to it: tons of fruit, more than ample acidity, and a reasonable price. What more do you want? Works on the patio, with dinner, or perusing Netflix. A ton of fun. Excellent. 90 Points.
2021 Troon Vineyard Grenache Glou-Glou Cowhorn Vineyard, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. 100% Grenache. Carbonic maceration. Last year, I liked this wine, maybe even a lot. This year? Our relationship might just be getting more serious. As a fan of the wines from Beaujolais, I approach American Carbonic Maceration wines with some skepticism. The Beaujolais have a long history of making wines this way and it works on so many levels. Many producers in the U.S. see the method (and the wines) as cute little playthings where they like to feel esoteric and clever. That is not Troon. At. All. While this wine is certainly joyful and fun, Troon takes its winemaking seriously and it shows. Sure, the fruit is the story upfront, but there is also incredible balance and a joie de vivre that really comes through. As with most new wines and techniques at Troon, there is a bit of a learning curve and it seems to be accelerated here. Bravo. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Westmount Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under screw cap. There are not many under thirty bucks Pinot Noirs out there that I would be happy to place on my table, but this might very well be one. Rich magenta in color with a nose that showcases its abundant cherry fruit (along with some cinnamon and cardamom). The palate is certainly tart enough to be a Pinot, and there is plenty of fruit. But. It is a bit lacking in the complexity that usually serves the best Pinot so well. Sure, it is good, even Very Good, but that is where I will need to be dropped off. Very Good. 88 Points.