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. Other times, however, I just group them together in the order that I try them, thus somewhat random. Being a lover of puns and a bit of a math
2021 Cattleya Pinot Noir Alma de Cattleya, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $45. I was sent a bottle of this wine for the Fifth Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir and this was what I wrote then: “Dark color, with a bit of a muted nose, with some faint dark cherry coming through. The palate is also rather shy until the mid-palate when the fruit and tartness both jump in. 89 Points.” While that is all certainly true now (I received a second bottle a couple of months ago), it also seems a bit more harmonious. So while I would not change much in my note, I do think I am going to bump it up a point. Excellent. 90 Points.
2021 Herdade do Esporão Vinho Verde Bico Amarelo, Portugal: Retail $13. Loureiro, Alvarinho, Avesso. I was watching LeBron break the all-time scoring record and decided the momentous occasion called for some…Vinho Verde? Even though I am a big LeBron fan, I still need to tackle my samples and while it had nothing to do with the game on T.V., I was excited to taste this VV from perhaps the best producer in Portugal, Esporão. Pale straw in the glass with green and yellow apple, a bit of seashell, and a distinct freshness. The palate is quite fresh and tart, with a mineral salinity, particularly on the finish. Very Good. 88 Points.
2021 Girasole Vineyards Pinot Blanc “Organically Grown Grapes”, Mendocino County, CA: Retail $15. Screw cap closure. Pinot Blanc does not get enough respect, plain and simple. It does not have Grand Cru status in Alsace, it is not the “signature” grape of any region, and is, at best, usually considered an afterthought by producers in the U.S. This Girasole seems different, though, and at $15 this can certainly be an everyday kind of wine. Light straw in the glass with plenty of tropical notes, some melon, macadamia nut, and a really rich nose. The palate is fruity, tart, and refreshing, not as rich as the nose suggested, but that is just fine with me. This is just a really quaffable, delightful wine. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Girasole Vineyards Charlie’s Blend, Mendocino County, CA: Retail $16. Screw cap closure. 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah. Medium garnet color (I honestly thought it would be darker with all that Petite Sirah) with rich, dark fruit on the nose, loads of blackberry and plum. The palate is all about the fruit from the get-go and carries on all the way through the finish. A nice balancing acidity comes in on the mid-palate, and it finishes with just a touch of spice. An organic wine with character for under twenty bucks? Sign me up. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Pellegrini Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Nakai Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $35. Under cork. A ton of citrus on the nose. A ton. Mineral notes as well along with a touch of fresh-cut grass. The palate is quite tart, even really tart with intense citrus and a zinginess to go along with the fruit. There is a little bit of weight, but the story here is all the citrus and the tartness. Fantastic quaff. Very Good. 89 Points.
2021 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde, Portugal: Retail $18. 100% Loureiro. Every time I open a bottle of Vinho Verde, a couple of wonderful images pop into my mind. First, I recall the time I spent in the fabulous country of Portugal. While I have never been to the region where Vinho Verde is produced, Lisbon is one of my favorite cities on the planet and Alentejo, a bit to the south, is a gem. The second? I served Vinho Verde at my wedding and despite myriad reason to do so since, my wife has not yet kicked me to the curb. As for the wine? Subtle nose of citrus, white peach, a touch of celery seed, and fresh-cut white rose. The palate is tart and zingy with plenty of fruit. Fresh, bright, refreshing. Nice.
Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Tannat Estate, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $50. 76% Tannat, 24% Malbec. Under DIAM10. Demeter (Biodynamic) certified. Outside of southwestern France and Uruguay, there simply is not a lot of Tannat made. It can be a harsh, tannic wine, and has been known to take decades to soften up. Troon’s approach (along with a healthy dose of the much softer Merlot in the blend) works magically, as this wine is not only approachable but delicious right out of the bottle. Dark and brooding in the glass with plenty of dark fruit, a touch of anise, and an intensely floral, perfumed aspect. The palate follows suit, with plenty of fruit, spice, nice acidity, and a funk that I certainly associate with the variety. Outstanding. 93 Points.
2019 Truett-Hurst Zinfandel Estate, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $69. Heavy bottle. Under cork. Quite dark in the glass, with plenty of dark berry fruit to go around, predominantly blackberry and black raspberry, along with an herbal aspect (sweet basil), and spice. The palate is simply fantastic. Rich fruit up front, a zingy tartness, plenty of spice, and just a hint of soft tannins on the finish. While I think this will keep and even improve certainly in the short term, it is so deliciously big, bold, and beautiful right now, why wait? Pop now and be happy. Outstanding. 94 Points.