What’s in my Glass: Random Wine Samples

Lots of samples!
Lots of samples!

As a wine and travel writer, I am often asked to visit wineries and accept wine samples. I say yes to samples, but I try to specify exactly what I want. That does not always work, because wineries and public relations people want to get their wines out there for some media love. Therefore, I end up with more than I had planned. This could not be more true than this fall, where I literally can’t keep up with all of the samples I am receiving and trying not to feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to taste them immediately. (I don’t get paid to write this blog, I have one full-time job and two part-time jobs in real life.) Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to share random wine samples with you incrementally, now and in future posts. I believe all of these I requested.

2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir
2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

The first random wine sample is the 2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir. I visited this winery for a wine dinner as part of the Wine Tourism Conference in 2013. Oddly enough, I had just read about this wine in Wine Enthusiast, one of America’s Best Value Pinot Noirs. Sixty percent of this wine is fermented by carbonic maceration. If I had blind tasted this wine, I think I would have thought it resembled a Beaujolais (made from the gamay grape). It is very light bodied and light in color, easy drinking, fruit forward, and shows soft acid and tannin. If you are new to red wines, this might be a good entry point. SRP $22.

2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer
2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer

I’ve said it time and time again: Gewürztraminer and Kung Pao Chicken is one of the best wine and food pairings ever. The 2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer ($28 SRP) possesses heady, floral and citrus aromas; a soft, textured mouthfeel; rich, ripe tropical and stone fruit flavors and a near-perfect integration of sweetness and acidity. Combined with the warm, spicy brown Kung Pao sauce, it’s euphoric on the palate. This wine is imported to the United States by Magnum Wines International, for whom I used to work in 2013 prior to moving to Napa.

2014 Banfi Centine Bianco
2014 Banfi Centine Bianco

The 2014 Banfi Wines Centine Bianco is a white blend of 30% chardonnay, 30% pinot grigio, and 40% sauvignon blanc. It really shows off the trifecta of grapes with its freshness and aromatics, as well as its dual treatment in both stainless steel and French oak. It has a fuller body than I expected, perhaps due the partial oak treatment, the time spent on lees, and/or the percentage of each grape variety used. Tree and stone fruits dominate the nose and palate, with a touch of smokiness from the oak, and a hint of residual sugar (3.4g/l), which is balanced by moderate acidity. The sauvignon blanc component really shines on the back of the palate, with flavors of lime and lemon. This is a lot of wine for only $11-$13/bottle. I paired this with shrimp.

More samples!
More samples!

If these weren’t enough to whet your palate, I have two or three more cases in my closet to taste during the upcoming months, so stay tuned. As always, if you are in the Napa/Sonoma area and you want to taste, let’s get together with samples.



  1. Getting a plane ticket now! 😉 Wine weekend at Beth’s house or you can throw one spectacular Christmas wine party and I’ll bring the decorations. Cheers!

    1. In all seriousness, random samples are the best way to describe these wines that show up in bulk and don’t always have a theme.

  2. I have way too much wine as well, but the crazy part…I bought all mine! 😉 Wish we lived closer to sample together. Look forward to your future sip reviews.

    1. There’s definitely a method to my madness, it seems. Living in Napa and writing about wine and wineries means I rarely buy wine. However, I am a wine club member at two wineries, Passaggio Wines and Domaine Carneros. The former producer is also my second job, while I love Domaine Carneros’ patio experience and sparkling wines.

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