The Random Samples — 11/4/2022

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.

2019 Ben­ding Branch Winery Mal­bec Ben­ding Branch Esta­te Vine­yards, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $45. Stu­pidly. Big. Ass. Bottle. Honestly? This is one of the hea­viest bottles I have ever encoun­te­red. Holy crap is this an envi­ron­men­tal disas­ter not to men­tion a poten­tial health risk (torn rota­tor cuff anyo­ne?). Trying to get past the rec­kless­ness of the bottle, this is actually a plea­sant wine with plenty of red and black fruit (albeit hea­vily extrac­ted) with black cherry cola and spi­ce. The pala­te is all about the fruit, which is black-cherry Kool Aid a go-go and plenty of tart­ness. Look, this wine goes through a lot of mani­pu­la­tion (cryo­ge­ni­cally fro­zen, e.g.) and is put into a really stu­pid bottle, but somehow I like this wine. Very Good. 89 Points.

2017 Duch­man Family Winery Aglia­ni­co, Texas High Plains, TXRetail $40. Heavy bottle. Under DIAM5. “I do not drink a ton of Aglia­ni­co” said 99% of the wine-drin­king popu­la­tion and “wait, this is from Texas?” is utte­red by just about all that remain. Not relea­sed until a whop­ping five years after har­vest, this wine is cer­tainly a bit broo­ding in the glass. Black fruit aro­mas (plum, cas­sis) abound with tou­ches of spi­ce and red rose petal. The pala­te carries on with the the­me but the­re is a sur­pri­sing amount of tart­ness and a won­der­ful balan­ce. This is clo­se to my first “Whoa” for a wine from Texas. Exce­llent. 92 Points.

2018 Peder­na­les Cellars Block Zero, Texas: Retail $55. Big. Ass. Bottle. 49% Mer­lot, 22% Caber­net Sau­vig­non, 10% Tan­nat, 14% San­gio­ve­se, 5% Mal­bec. The last vin­ta­ge of this wine after Peder­na­les deci­ded not to replant the vine­yard (the first plan­ted at the winery, hen­ce “Block Zero”) which always had dif­fi­culty ripe­ning. Medium to dark in color with a heavy dose of oak, which domi­na­tes the nose and only ser­ves to mask the dark fruit (plum, cas­sis, red rasp­berry), earth, and spi­ce. Nicely balan­ced on the pala­te with plenty of oak up front, follo­wed by a tart cherry, and finishes with lovely clo­ve. I really like this wine, but it could impro­ve with a slightly less pro­mi­nent oak com­po­nent (and a much ligh­ter bottle). Exce­llent. 92 Points.

2019 Spi­ce­wood Vine­yards Tem­pra­ni­llo, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $40. Heavy bottle. Under cork. Medium to dark color in the glass with plenty of dark fruit (plum, cas­sis, black rasp­berry), noti­cea­ble oak (almost to the point of heavy-han­ded), and a touch of spi­ce. The pala­te is domi­na­ted by the fruit initially, follo­wed by the oak, frankly, and then the tart­ness. I do not have a ton of expe­rien­ce with Texas wine, but it seems that this wine is pan­de­ring to its Texas public, with a rich, fruity, oaky wine. But being a Texan (at least for now), I can really see how this works. Exce­llent. 91 Points.

NV Domai­ne Bous­quet, Tupun­ga­to, Uco Valley, Men­do­za, Argen­ti­na: Retail $15. 75% Char­don­nay, 25% Pinot Noir. I have long been a fan of Domai­ne Bousquet–they make fan­tas­tic wines and they see­mingly are doing it the right way by focu­sing on orga­ni­cally far­med gra­pes and terroir. This spar­kling wine is a fan­tas­tic bar­gain with great green apple fruit both on the nose and the pala­te with nice aci­dity and a lengthy finish. Whi­le I would have liked a bit more of the yeasty aspect that defi­nes the tra­di­tio­nal method, at fif­teen bucks? This is a solid effort. Very Good. 88 Points.

2015 Kautz & Kra­mer Caber­net Sau­vig­non Block 50, Lodi, CA:  Retail $35. Big. Ass. Bottle. 100% Caber­net Sau­vig­non. It has beco­me beyond frus­tra­ting revie­wing wines in bottles that weigh more than most Thanks­gi­ving tur­keys. Good berry fruit, mostly dark (black­berry and plum), with black pep­per and some spi­ce. The pala­te was qui­te fruity, even on the ver­ge of overly so, with a par­ti­cu­larly jammy aspect that seems overly extrac­ted. Look, this is a nice wine and cer­tainly has an audien­ce, but it seems a bit mani­pu­la­ted and, given the ridicu­lous bottle? Yeah, um…. Very Good. 88 Points.

NV Bruno Pai­llard Cham­pag­ne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut, Fran­ce: Retail $80. 100% Grand Cru Char­don­nay (Côte des Blancs). Bruno Pai­llard has long been one of my favo­ri­te pro­du­cers and it has done nothing but climb that rather short list. Whi­le I mostly pop the Pre­miè­re Cuvée, this Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs for about twenty bucks more, is cer­tainly worth the extra cash. Qui­te pale in the glass with just a touch of straw, it is loa­ded with con­si­de­ra­ble tree fruit (whi­te peach) but also plenty of citrus (lime zest and pink gra­pe­fruit). Aro­mas of whi­te flo­wer a healthy brio­che qua­lity, and a touch of nut­ti­ness. The pala­te is rich and creamy with con­si­de­ra­ble mine­ra­lity. It is also on the dry side of cham­pag­ne (only 5 g/l), which really helps to high­light the fruit and mine­ral aspects of this gor­geo­us wine. Outs­tan­ding. 94 Points.




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