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.
2021 BiancaVigna Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Extra Brut Rive Di Soligo, Italy: Retail $24. 100% Glera. This is my second vintage of this wine (I tasted the 2019 a couple of years ago) and this cousin is equally impressive. Tart, bright, mineral, fruity, just about all that one could want in a Prosecco from one of the Rives. And for under $25? This really is a bargain. Given how labor intensive the making of this wine is–everything must be done by hand given the Italian laws and the extreme slopes of the vineyard (as steep as 40%!!). It is such a joy to drink a fabulous Prosecco like this and have it sit right on the dinner table and pair so beautifully with shrimp tacos. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut, Italy: Retail $20. 100% Glera. I last tasted this wine nearly two years ago, and I really liked it, this iteration seems to be more balanced with several more layers of flavors and complexity. Pale straw with a vibrant sparkle with white peach, acacia blossom, minerality, and a distinct freshness. The palate is tart but also quite fruity, with just a subtle hint of sweetness. Another fantastic example of the quality and value associated with the Prosecco DOCG wines. On a side note, Kermit Lynch (the importer) is on my short list of people I would love to interview over dinner. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2021 Sorelle Bronca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Particella 232 Extra Brut, Italy: Retail $28. 100% Glera. This was the second bottle of Prosecco DOCG Extra Brut that I cracked during a Zoom tasting with three prominent female heads of wineries in the region. This “232”, thusly named based on the plot number of the fruit, is quite pale (almost colorless), but loaded with fruit (citrus a go-go) and minerality (slate, wet rock). The palate is much the same, along with a nuttiness that often characterizes wines from the region. But this wine is quite different from the torrent of wines that are produced in the Prosecco DOC. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Chasing Rain Merlot, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $25. 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Another vintage of the Chasing Rain brand from the Aquilini family. And another good one. Now, I am no Merlot champion, but this is quite good and loaded with fruit, mostly dark (plum and blackberry) but also some lighter red fruit notes (cherry). Earthier than I had expected, with a touch of tannin on the backend. Well-balanced, solid wine. Very Good. 89 Points.
2017 The Federalist Wines Cabernet Sauvignon The Federalist, Lodi, CA: Retail $23. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese. I have been sampling The Federalist wines for quite some time and there has been a constant: the wines are fruity, quaffable, balanced, and, well, fun. This wine falls directly into that same pattern. Big fruit up front followed by a wave of of tartness and a bit of depth. Look, this is not the most complex wine that I have had this week, but it is a lot of fun, charged with a dose of patriotism. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Lion’s Mane Ordain White, California: Retail $16. 90% Symphony (cross of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris), 10% Chardonnay. I have to say I have not had a ton of Symphony but, in short, I like it. Bright, floral (hyacinth, acacia), fruity (tropical and citrus), with a healthy dose of tartness. While this is not my style of white wine, I can see how this would find an audience. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Lion’s Mane Chardonnay, California: Retail $17. There is a lot of Chardonnay made in California, which is likely the understatement of the year. At the $15-20 price point however, there are not many good ones. Straw to nearly yellow in the glass with a host of tropical and tree fruit, a bit of butter, and yes, oak, on the nose. The oak comes through almost instantly on the palate, but I do not consider this a categorically bad thing. In fact, most of my favorite Chards spend considerable time in barrel. While there is scant information about this wine online, I imagine, given the price, it did not spend a ton of time in oak barrels (they are far too expensive). It also likely went through at least partial malolactic fermentation, given its buttery (albeit slight) nature. In the end? For the price? It is a solid effort. Very Good. 87 Points.
2019 Mettler Family Vineyards Petite Sirah, Lodi, CA: Retail $25. Heavy bottle. 100% Petite Sirah. I have stated countless times that PS is far from my favorite variety. Very far. But I have always enjoyed the Mettler version. Inky dark in the glass with rich black raspberry compote, plum, cassis, and a heavy dose of mocha. In fact, I would say that the mocha is the primary note here and the fruit takes a bit of a back seat. The roles are reversed on the palate as the fruit is front and center and refuses to give up the stage. That fruit is magnificent from start to finish with a burst of tartness and a touch of black earth. Excellent. 90 Points.