The Random Samples—5/5/2023

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: Drink Them and It Will ComeSummer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.

Other times, I get just a bottle or two that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category (and, being the math geek that I am, “random sample” has a bit of a double entendre).

2021 Laetitia Winery Chardonnay Estate, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA: Retail $24. Under screw cap. Straw, close to yellow in the glass with plenty going on: lemon curd with a twist of lime, subtle but present oak, a bit of minerality, and delicate spice. Like I said, plenty. The palate has fruit, oak, a bit of butter, oak, but also a balancing acidity. This seems to be a balance between the “traditional” style of buttery, oaky California Chardonnay and a more fruit-forward style. And it works. And for just under twenty-five bucks? Yeah, a bit of a happy space. Excellent. 91 Points.

2021 Laetitia Winery Pinot Noir Estate, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA: Retail $35. Under screw cap. I have been enjoying the wines from Laetitia for over a decade now and I continue to be impressed by the quality and surprised by the value. Medium color in the glass with lovely bright cherry and spice notes. The palate is fruity but also balanced with a zingy tartness and an above-average finish. Really a bright, fruity, lovely Pinot. Excellent. 91 Points.

NV Lanson Champagne Brut Black Label, France: Retail $38. 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. Pale straw with a decided flinty, matchstick, dirty nose. Those aromas are so powerful, in fact, that it is near impossible to detect any sort of fruit here, initially. Eventually, I can find a bit of pear and lemon rind behind all that distraction, but this is still the funkiest nose of the flight. Another wine where the palate far outplays the nose: good fruit, nice acidity, complexity, and all the stuffing. One of the top selling champagnes in France. And there is a reason: it’s stellar. Excellent. 91 Points.

2021 Our Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Photograph, North Coast, CA: Retail $12. Agglomerated stopper. I tasted a couple of Photograph wines last year and really liked them. With this SB, nothing has changed. Medium straw in the glass with rich, even unctuous, tropical fruit on both the nose and palate. It is also tart, focused, and balanced with plenty of zingy acidity. I am not really familiar with the story behind this wine or why they have sent me samples, but I am impressed. And I hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Excellent. 91 Points.

2020 Our Cellars Chardonnay Photograph, Central Coast, CA: Retail $15. Under agglomerated stopper. I tasted a few wines from this brand last year and liked them, maybe even a lot. But I didn’t want to since I am a wine snob at my core and large-production wines such as this are usually, well, not swell. But. These Photograph wines, at least for me, have broken that mold and this Chardonnay is a case in point. Sure. I guess that the oak in this wine is either from staves or chips (a less-expensive way to impart flavor), but you know? It works. Decent fruit, good acidity, moderate yet balanced oak. all for fifteen bucks? I have done far, far worse at even twice the price.
Very Good. 89 Points.

2019 Truett-Hurst Petite Sirah Estate, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $62. Big Ass Bottle. Let me get this out there lest there be any confusion: I do not like Petite Sirah. Unless you include hybrid grapes (hello, Chambourcin, I am talking to you), the list of wine grapes that I tend to avoid is rather short. I am not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc (unless it comes from Sancerre, naturally), and a Pinot Meunier champagne, albeit “cute”, just doesn’t pass the muster for me. And. Then. There. Is. Petite Sirah. To say I am not much of a fan is akin to the pope declaring that he is “somewhat” catholic or politicians claiming that they tend to ignore their constituents. But. This Truet-Hurst Estate might cause me to change my mind (not really, but it is “that” good–even though if it is far from “my style”). Really dark in the glass, as one would expect from the variety, paired with considerable spice and more than a touch of heat (14.8% ABV). If you can get past all of that? Whoa Nellie, this is a fabulous wine. Big. Boisterous. Beguiling. Yeah. All of it is there on the nose. The palate is all of that and a bag of chips with huge fruit, spice, heat, oak, the whole nine. Do not tread lightly here, this is a really big wine that is likely best consumed on its own. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 Truett-Hurst Petite Sirah, Rockpile AVA, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $60. Heavy bottle. 100% Petite Sirah. Rockpile. Just the name gives me chills. It lies at the northern end of Dry Creek Valley, above Lake Sonoma, some 800 feet above sea level, 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. And a beautiful, tough climb via bike. It gets pretty warm up there, protected from the fog by the lake, near perfect conditions for big reds, including Petite Sirah. Quite dark in color, aromas, and attitude, this has to be a favorite of the “P.S. I Love You” crowd (the Petite Sirah appreciation society). Rich, unctuous, fruity, layered. Holy cow, this is big and bold, but also beautiful, if PS is your kind of thing (it’s not mine, but this is incredible). Outstanding. 94 Points.

2019 Truett-Hurst Old Vine Zinfandel Red Rooster, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $49. Really heavy bottle. Quite dark in the glass in both color and aromas with dark berry fruit (cassis, blackberry) along with plum and subtle spice. The palate is rich yet inviting, with loads of fruit, plenty of accompanying tartness, the aforementioned spice, and a whole lot of verve. I have stated many times my affinity for the Dry Creek Valley and thus I am trying to avoid any bias and hyperbole, but this is fantastic. In fact, I dare put this in the top ten(?) percent of the Zins that I have tried in the Valley, and perhaps beyond. Outstanding. 93 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 Champagne, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine, Zinfandel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Random Samples—5/5/2023

  1. GP says:

    If I have more than one glass of wine, my stomach gets upset. Which brand of wine would you suggest for me?


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