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.
2018 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon Solomon Lot 70, Valley, CA: Retail $220. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is not often that I get a $220 bottle of wine to sample, but here we are. Whoa. Yeah, that’s right, right out of the bottle this is gangbusters. Holy cow. The nose is replete with dark fruit, black pepper, and a green element that is much more basil (or mint) than green pepper. Rich, spicy, and balanced, this really is gangbusters. And whoa. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 Davis Bynum Chardonnay River West Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $28. Under DIAM3. Davis Bynum, it seems, has always been a top producer of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Sonoma County, and when Rodney Strong acquired the brand, the quality perhaps even improved and the wines became more affordable. This is a case in point. This wine, which is usually on the shelves at or below $25, punches well above that price point. Pale straw in the glass with great tree and citrus fruit, honeysuckle, and white peach. The oak treatment is also noticeable, but it blends in well with the other components. The palate is quite lovely: harmonious, balanced, bold but refined, this is an outstanding Chardonnay. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2015 Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $170. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Whoa. And another. I met Tom Eddy a few months ago–he is the brother of a person I would like to think is a friend of mine. But that is not the reason I met with Tom. I mean come on, Tom freaking Eddy? Yeah, sign me up. We met at a fancy Houston eatery and tasted his wines. Yowza. Whoa. And whatever expletive you would like to add. This 2015 Cab? Whoa. Nearly black in the glass with rich dark fruit aromas (blackberry, plum, raspberry), but there is so much more: dark pepper, anise, jalapeño. Yowza. The palate is even better (if possible) with all that fruit, plenty of tartness, and verve for miles. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.
2017 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel, France: etail $25. 60% Grenaches (Blancs et Noir), 20% Syrah, 10% Clairette/Bourboulenc, 10% Cinsault. Although technically apart, the Prieuré de Montézargues is owned by the Richard family, who also own Château la Nerthe. This Tavel is on the lighter side in color for the appellation, but still darker than most rosés on the market; a “slightly darker” and “fairly dark” rosé, with a deeper, fuller, richer nose. Ripe red berry fruit with full-blown richness, and a more subdued acidity. The fruit is the star here, and she is a bit of a diva. One of my favorite rosés. Excellent. 91 Points.
2016 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Clavelles, France: Retail $200. 100% Grenache Noir. A bit darker both in the glass and on the nose than the 2015, and certainly shyer. After a few swirls in the glass, far darker fruit here, even on the verge of brooding: dark plum, cassis, black pepper, and a touch of anise. Unbelievably rich on the palate, big, bold, but still short of brooding, this wine is more of what one might expect from a top-tier Châteauneuf-du-Pape with all the above and a bit of spice. Whoa. Another incredible wine that indicates that this new cuvée from La Nerthe is one to watch–with such variation between vintages, it seems as though this might be a vineyard that is more susceptible to vintage variation than any other with which I am familiar. This might surpass the 2105 eventually–I need a case or two to make sure. Extraordinary. 97 Points.
2015 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Clavelles, France: Retail $200. 100% Grenache Noir. Rare for both La Nerthe and Châteauneuf as this is a “non-blend.” Quite simply, this might be the singular most amazing nose of a wine that I have ever experienced. Perfumed, floral, and incredibly fruity, this is a combination of aromas that is overwhelming, but in a fantastic way. I literally sniffed this for close to 15 minutes before I tasted it. The palate is equally, if not more enticing; that same glorious mélange is present on the palate with incredible fruit, several layers of depth, silky tannins (suggesting years of potential cellaring), and a finish that is off the charts. I do not think I have ever given 100 points to a wine, but this is really close. Let me try this wine again in a decade. Please. Extraordinary. 98 Points.
2020 Quinta do Vallado Douro Prima, Portugal: Retail $25. 100% Moscatel Galego Branco. Agglomerated stopper. As I have said countless times, I have been to Portugal, but not the Duoro and it is wines like this one that make me want to get there as soon as I can. This wine? A brilliant straw in the glass with subtle exotic fruit, white flower, and a hint of white pepper. The palate is completely dry with intense acidity, really good fruit (but in a reserved way), with a bit of weight on the mid-palate and an above-average finish. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.