The Random Samples—2/24/2023

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 WaysChardonnay Any Day, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.

2018 ACORN Sangiovese Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $42. 98% Sangiovese, 1% Canaiolo Nero, 1% Mammolo Toscano. Under DIAM5. The Nachbaurs are salt of the earth kind of people. They have been farming the land and making the wine on their Russian River estate for over 30 years but chances are close to 100% that they will be in the tasting room (or not far from it) whenever I drop in to say hello. For years now, I have sampled their wines, toured their vineyard, and chatted about topics far and wide. While much has changed, there is a constant–the wines are fabulous. This Sangiovese starts out rather closed but, given a bit of time, opens up wonderfully with dark red fruit (plum, cassis), considerable dark earth, a floral, almost lavender aspect, and spice (clove, cardamom). The palate is tart, introducing some vibrancy into all that dark fruit, which works itself out on the mid-palate before a lengthy finish that exhibits some silky tannins. This wine is fantastic now, but will likely improve in the mid-term (3-5 years). Excellent. 92 Points.

2020 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Casillero del Diablo Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $12. Under screw cap. From one of the largest producers in the world, this wine has to be one of the larger bottlings of Sauvignon Blanc on the planet. Freshly cut grass with loads of citrus and tropical notes in the glass of this pale straw wine. The palate is loaded with fruit as well, but it seems to have morphed into more of a tree fruit (peach) along with the citrus. The nice level of acidity makes this an extremely quaffable wine, only the short nature of the finish is holding it back. Very Good. 88 Points.

2021 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $16. Under screw cap. Pale straw in the glass. With intense, freshly cut grass, a bit of roasted almond, interestingly, and citrus rind (lemon and grapefruit). Quite tart on the palate, with plenty of citrus and a decided herbal aspect. The mineral aspect is even more present than the fruit, resulting in a rather austere wine. Interesting. I am not sure where to place this, but I am really digging the lasting finish. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Viña Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc Organic, San Antonio Valley, Chile: Retail $13. Under screw cap. Light straw in the glass with an evident green hue, the aromas consist mainly of tree fruit (under-ripe pear, peach), a bit of citrus (lemon), cut grass, and a hint of cat pee. The palate is quite tart and mineral, with plenty of fruit and an intense, albeit brief, finish. Very Good. 88 Points.

2021 Lucky Rock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Country Cuvée, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $17. Under screw cap. 80% Sonoma County (Russian River Valley) and 20% Lake County. Rather pale in the glass, barely a “straw” in color. Nice tree fruit (pear and peach), fresh-cut grass, a nice floral note, a bit of lemon rind, and, well, cat pee. The palate is initially quite fruity, followed by a luscious mouthfeel (15% aged four months in used French oak), and a wave of tartness. This is the second fantastic SB that I have tasted in as many days. Either I am coming around to the variety or the wines are getting better. I am going with door #2. Excellent. 91 Points.

2021 Titus Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $36. Heavy Bottle. 96% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Viognier. Under cork. Even though as recently as ten years ago it seemed much more prevalent, Napa Sauvignon Blanc is getting harder to come by, which is too bad since I feel some of the best SB in the country comes from its premier appellation. I get it. When Napa Cabernet Sauvignon can fetch 5 to 10 times (or more) what its parental grape commands, why wouldn’t one follow the money? Well, this wine is delightful (despite its heavy bottle) and I hope that it, and wines like it, continue to be made in the Valley. Pale straw in the glass with white peach, lemon mist, white rose, and a bit of an herbal note (basil) on the nose. The palate is rich, creamy, and full (four months in neutral oak), but also exhibits a zingy acidity and layers of depth and complexity. Please don’t let this disappear, and that comes from a non-SB lover. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 Titus Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, CA:  Retail $56. Heavy Bottle. Even a Really Heavy Bottle. 86% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec. With a name like “Titus” I assume that the wine-buying public assumes a hefty bottle, but I would argue to paddle against the tide and be environmentally responsible. But that’s just me? Dark. Brooding. Dark. And it is a bit dark in the glass. Are you picking up what I am putting down here? Black fruit a go-go: cassis, blackberry, plum. Yowza. This is dark. I expected some green pepper, a bit of spice, and an herbal aspect. Nope. Spice, fruit, spice, and more fruit (all of it dark). Yeah, this is not your mom’s or dad’s Cab Franc–this is a brute: dark fruit. And more dark fruit. Little finesse, not much subtlety. Big, even bruising. I would be hard-pressed to guess the variety here.
Very Good. 88 Points.

2019 Titus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Family Estate, Napa Valley, CA: Retail $115. Big. Ass. Bottle. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot. Holy mother of Jesus, this is one heavy bottle. Does it weigh as much as an arm? Yes? And then some (depending on your arm). #DoBetter Holy Crap the bottle is weighty. Ouch. But the wine? Dark and inky in the glass with a funky mélange of blackberry, plum, cassis, and funk (I love the funk). The palate is fruity, even lovingly so, with a bit of funk and an ounce or two of tannin. I really like the wine but the planet really hates the bottle. Excellent. 92 Points.


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Malbec, Mammolo, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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