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 Covenant Solomon Blanc, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $75. Big. Ass. Bottle. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It is not every day that a $75 Sauvignon Blanc lands on my doorstep, but that is what happened when this Covenant showed up here in Houston several months ago, that changed. It took me a while to open the bottle given the need to rent a forklift to raise the bottle. Light straw in the glass, with a rather surprisingly muted nose given the aromatic quality of the variety of apple and lemon zest. The palate is round and smooth with hidden fruit and a subtle approach. While I struggle with the tariff here ($75, really?) this is a perfectly pleasant, even fantastic wine. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Davis Bynum Sauvignon Blanc Jane’s Vineyard – Virginia’s Block, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $25. Under screw cap. The late Davis Bynum made his name in the 1970s with great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The brand, which is now owned by Rodney Strong with Greg Morthole the winemaker, still makes fantastic Pinot and Chard, but this Virginia’s Block Sauvignon Blanc might be their best wine year in and year out. A beautiful nose with plenty of citrus: lemon, lime, and grapefruit. The palate is tart, yes, but there is also considerable weight and depth with an incredibly long finish. Really fantastic and close to a Whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Metz Road Pinot Noir Riverview, Monterey County, CA: Retail $36. Under cork. Responsible bottle. Before I get started on the wine, I have to say that it was beyond encouraging to lift a premium bottle of wine and not need a forklift to assist me in the task. Part of the Schied Family Wines portfolio, the website states a commitment to sustainability. Well, with a bottle weight close to half of other wines in the price range, I am inclined to believe them. Fairly light in the glass with bright red berry fruit (cherry, raspberry), earth, spice, and, well, verve, I could not wait to taste this wine. Yowza. Bright, fruity, balanced, and earthy, this wine checks all of the boxes. And while it might fall just short of “Whoa” worthiness, it is a stellar wine in every respect. Excellent. 92 Points.
2020 Raeburn Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $20. Agglomerated stopper. I sampled the 2019 twice and loved it both times. The 2020? Also a fan. Good fruit (tropical dominates but there is also some banana, which does not exactly thrill me), noticeable oak (which works), and just the right amount of acidity. While I rated the 2019 a 90.5 (90 & 91–I sampled it twice), this wine is just a tiny notch below. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Raeburn Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $25. I have been tasting Raeburn for a few vintages now, and this falls in line with the common theme: solid wine, respectable price, plenty to love. Fairly light in the glass with faint red berry fruit, a hint of spice, and some mineral notes. The palate is equally subtle, similar, perhaps, to an Old World wine w (slightly) more fruit. Great tartness, a bit of depth, and an above-average finish. Nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Qupé Grenache, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $30. Under screw cap. 33% Whole Cluster. While not all that familiar with Qupé, I have taken a lap or two with their wines, and while rarely blown away, they have all been consistent: solid, tasty, and honest. Black cherry (on the verge of Kool-Aid) on the nose with a hint of earth and a splash of spice. Good fruit on the palate as well (but much less Kool-Aid-y) with high-tartness and above-average depth. Falls just short of “Excellent”. Quite good. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Quinta do Vallado Douro Vallado Branco, Portugal: Retail $15. Rabigato, Códega, Viosinho, Gouveio, and Arinto. Non-DIAM Agglomerated stopper. A fantastic dry white blend from the Duoro with plenty of tree and citrus fruit, great mineral notes, and fantastic balance. At right around ten bucks on the shelf, this is tough to beat for an easy-drinking, food-friendly wine. Very Good. 88 Points.