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.
2019 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Dutton Ranches, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $58. A while ago, Rodney Strong purchased the iconic brand that is Davis Bynum. Davis was a pioneer in Sonoma County and what became the Russian River Valley. Current winemaker Greg Porthole carries on the tradition and then some. Fairly light in color but rich in aroma (black cherry and dark earth) and the palate does not disappoint either: intense tartness, great fruit, impeccable balance, and a lingering finish. Yowza. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Qupé Chardonnay Y Block, Santa Barbara County, CA: Retail $22. Under screw cap. I was doing an inventory of sorts and I came across this bottle that had not been entered into inventory and I thus have no idea how I acquired it. Yikes. I try to stay on top of those things but, well, yikes. Like previous iterations, this is a delightful quaff. Sure, there is oak, but it is held in check by the fruit (tropical, tree) and the zesty acidity. Good weight and mouthfeel lead to an above-average finish. As I said, perfectly delightful. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Domaines Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Les Princes Abbés, Alsace, France: Retail $25. Despite the fact that I consider myself a child of Alsace (I studied there in college), I do not drink a ton of Gewurz. When I go Alsace, I tend to reach for Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot blanc, or even, increasingly, Pinot Noir before I reach for a “spicy Traminer.” Fairly golden in the glass with loads of the characteristic lychee and spice on the nose. Much of the same on the palate with the addition of more than a bit of sweetness, and I would consider this a bit more than “off-dry.” Again, I do not try a ton of this variety, but the sole fact that this takes me back to my days in Strasbourg more than warms the heart. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés, Alsace, France: Retail $22. Under cork. Of all the white varieties produced in Alsace, Pinot Gris perhaps has the greatest range as it can vary from a mineral-driven tart marvel to a voluptuous, even unctuous, sweet beauty. This near-golden wine lies, as one would imagine, somewhere in between. Wonderful ripe peach and pear dominate the nose with elements of honeysuckle and hyacinth. Stellar. The palate comes off initially as a bit sweet due to all the fruit and its Rubenesque body: full, round, decadent. A healthy tartness also tries (somewhat in vain, honestly) to hold all that richness in check, followed by a lengthy finish. I love this wine, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more control exerted by the acidity. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Kitterlé, Alsace Grand Cru, France: Retail $42. Under cork. With the possible exception of Champagne, I get the giddiest (is that a word?) when I receive samples from Alsace. When said wine is also a Riesling and a Grand Cru? My level of giddiness (again, word?) is off the charts. I studied in Alsace and that is where my interest in wine was born, thus my adoration for the wines from the region. This Grand Cru Kitterlé is fairly intense (and justification for why I hold onto Grand Crus for close to a decade or more) with searing acidity, but it also has wonderful citrus fruit (grapefruit a go-go), great weight and body, and the requisite petrol-like aspect. It calmed down after some time open and revealed an incredibly long finish. Excellent. 91 Points.
2020 Quinta do Vallado Douro Rosé, Portugal: Retail $15. 100% Touriga Nacional. Agglomerated (non-DIAM) stopper. True Rosé. From a fairly large, family-owned producer in the Duoro, this rosé really jumps out of the glass. Fresh red berry fruit, mineral notes, intense florally. The palate is equally fantastic, with all that bright fruit, a zingy, unifying tartness, and a lengthy finish. Holy cow, this is tasty. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Quinta do Vallado Sousão Douro, Portugal: Retail $55. 100% Sousão. Under cork. Another fantastic wine from Quinto do Vallado which is quite dark in the glass, with equally dark aromas: plum, blackberry, cassis, and black pepper. Yowza. Good, even great fruit, with dark components overpowering pretty much everything else. But there is plenty of zingy acidity, even to the point that it dominates the fruit (but in a completely good way). The finish is pretty much as dark as the color would indicate, but somewhat paradoxically, the finish is practically devoid of tannic structure. Excellent. 92 Points.