Rick's WineSite Journal 1999-2000

Date

Wine - Notes and Comments - ( See Key- See Rating Wines)

Dec 23, 2000

1997 Justin Isosceles Paso Robles  $40 (WS95-RM92)(Label) (website) WS #6 wine of the year.  Spectator Selection. Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot (18%) Ripe blackberry, pepper, spice and cedar softens and reveals big long finish of plum over time.  1993 Leoville Las Cases St Julien Bordeaux $50+ (RM88) (Label)  Light but polished perfume of berry, plum, mushrooms - just like the 1970 vintage. 1986 Freemark Abbey Napa Sycamore Vineyard $50+ (WS91-RM91) (label) Cabernet Sauvignon, cab franc, merlot - perfect complement to the other two wines.. the boldness and power packed flavor of the Justin with the finesse and same floral aroma of the Las Cases! This wine still  has some life yet. At Bill and Beth C's - thanks for a fabulous dinner, wine, fellowship!
Dec 16 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepage 1994 and 1997 - See reviews 1 and 2. (label & web1997 - Big full tightly wound plum, black cherry and chocolate. 1994 - Full plum, cherry, currant and an earthy edge. Slightly more polished than the 97 but less so than the in-famous 96 which has more depth and fruit. (WS92 & 96)(RM & RC-92 ea.) Rick w/ Rick C.
Dec 15 1998 Rosemount McLaren Vale GSM ($24)(RM91) (Label) (www ) (GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, a southern Rhone style wine). Licorice, black cherry, black berry - smooth, polished - good value.
Dec 13 1998 Thunder Mountain Cienega Valley Merlot ($48)(RM89) Surprisingly light, soft, eucalyptus, plum, currant and an amazing tangerine tone - belies its name and label!  
Pirramimma 1998 McLaren Vale Shiraz
(WS92 RM90) Dark, forward, blackberry, plum, mocha, edge of sweet oak/vanilla - both wines single dimensional. Rick, w/ Dan Cof,  Paul Proc, Tom Tpl
Dec 7 1994 Chateau Reynella Shiraz McLaren Vale Basket Pressed  $25 (WS 90RM 90) Dark,  ripe, tasty - initial burst of pepper gives way to plum and a big berry finish with a hint of smoke. If you can only find the 96, tasting notes are consistent. An slight edge of  tart tannins doesn't diminish the flavour.
Nov 28 1997 Columbia Winery - Columbia Valley Merlot (WS 85 WA 88 RM 88) $12. A nice surprise, great everyday wine. Initial taste of tobacco and cedar gives way to a big lingering finish of raspberry with a pleasant tannic edge. This is a super value that will be readily available - 400k cases were produced! 
Nov 24 1997 Sangiovese Napa Valley Juliana Vineyard La Sirena ($28-40 WS81-RM84) Light, sweet-tasting oak, mocha, cherry, a tart bitterness. A Heidi Barrett wine. 
Nov 23 1996 Ravenswood Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Zinfandel - $24 (WS 88 RM 88) Ripe cherry & berry flavors, firm tannins, tar notes. Hedges 1999 Columbia Valley Fume Chardonnay - $10 Fruity, citrus, apple, pear and mineral. This was our lighter Thanksgiving turkey wine. Great value!
21 Nov 1997 St. Clement Oroppas Napa Valley  $40 (WS92 RM 92) Dark, full, smooth, complex - overtones of mint almost overshadow black cherry, and touch of spice. Mild tannins. W/ Rick C. 
Nov 17 Falesco Umbria Merlot 1999 - (RP92 RM89) $12*-18. Parker loves this wine; calls it "perhaps the worlds greatest red wine value - One of the greatest wine values I've ever tasted." Pete's in Bellevue (WA) & Binny's have it for $14! I agree with Parker's taste - blackberry, mocha, smoke dark. Its a bit astringent for my taste and a touch light - hence my lower rating. Still a great value.  He also cites their $10 Vittiano Umbria Red - "buy this one by the case." (RP90) And, 45k cases available, find it! Rick, RP
Nov 15 Lewis Cellars Merlot 1997 (WS 90 RM91) $37 Plum, sweet cherry, currant, sweet flower essence with tannic finnish. Link Label Great offering from Randy Lewis - former Indy racer! With Dan C. at Seatac
Nov 7 Clark Claudon 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon (RM 92) $60 That distinctive Howell Mtn appellation jammy currant flavor, rich balanced berry fruit. Link - Label Tom Clark and Laurie Claudon Clark were featured winemakers at our 99 Napa Wine Experience. They're increasing production as their grape contracts expire with other winemakers and they keep more of their own fruit. Lucky for us - we'll see more of this wine under their label. Another from the fabulous 1997 Napa vintage!
Oct 30 1997 Barone Ricasoli Toscana Casalferro  (WS 94  RM 89) $38. Big bold, tight,  concentrated, closed, fruit - one of the massive 97 super Tuscans. Less approachable than some of the others such as the Guado Al Tasso. 
Oct 22, 2000 Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry 1997 - ($36) (WS 94 RM94) A Bordeaux style from lower Napa. Huge mouthful of fruit full-bodied, complex - flavors of berry, plum, a touch of spice with long smooth finish - one of my favorites.  (Label)
Oct 19 Antinori, Bolgheri - Guado Al Tasso, 1997 (WS96 RM93) $50 - Cab merlot syrah blend - full balanced body, tannic, tight, ripe cherry fruit with a coffee leathery finish. A collectable from the fabulous 97 Super Tuscans. Link - Label At Rick C's.
Oct 13 Soos Creek 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon - ($25) (WS88 RM 88) From Kent WA (SEATAC) fruit from Columbia Vally  - Dark Cherry, currant, a hint of smoke and tannins. Light and loose.
Oct 3 Seavey 1996 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - ($48/30) - (WS92 RM 92) - Cherry, currant, some vanilla, spice and cedar - firm, tight, complex. 
Sept 30 Gruaud Larose, St Julien Bordeaux 1989 - (WS91, RM88)(LBL) (CL) Wasn't as firm and silky as WS says and the flavor wasn't as full and rich; berry fruit, slight mint; opened after an hour, then closed again.W/Rick C
Sept 29 Pride 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $36 (WS94) - Wow - typical Pride - dark, intense, ripe currant, black cherry, blackberry and hint of cedar. Full bodied, huge, yet balanced flavor packed wine. (RM 93) (Label) (Link) (Picture) Rick w/ Dan C. in Renton
Sept 28 Hedges Cellars, Issaquah, WA.  Cellar visit - Tasting notes. Red Mountain Reserve 1997 - Three Vineyards 1997 - Columbia Valley 1998 - Fume Chardonnay 1998 - coming soon. W/ Dan C and Glenn M.
Sept 25 1997 Clarendon Hills Merlot ($38)  (RC 90) With a dense ruby/purple color, this is a big Merlot with considerable tannin. It has an explosive nose consisting of jammy berry, chocolate, and oak. The taste was consistent with the nose, but with spice, followed by a long aftertaste. This is in my novice opinion, a good value.
Sept 20 St. Francis Sonoma Merlot 1994 - $20 - (RM 91, WS 90) - Big burst of  blackberry is followed by a big long finish of strawberry, plum and vanilla. Another reward for patience & stocking up on the 94's. 
Sept 17 Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux, Bordeaux 1996 - $40-48 (WS 89 RM 89) Deep dark ink color misleads how light and lacking in body this is. Nice bouquet and perfume, subtle complexity  reveals raspberry, vanilla and a tannin that softens over the course of an hour, with a pleasant finish.  
Sept 13 Chateau Mont Redon, CDP 1997 - (WS 90 RM 89) Tasted at Le Tournelle in MEM. Distinctive CDP spice with a hint of pepper - perfect complement to a the roast pork w/ a plum pepper sauce - great for BBQ but a bit lacking for a bold beef.. Find this for around $30-35. Visited this vineyard whilst in CDP last summer - adjacent to Domaine Cabrieres, that's their vineyard pictured. Rick w/ Rick C. 
Sept 8 Red Ochre 1997 McLaren Vale Red Wine - From the d'Arenberg group, 88% grenache, 12% shiraz - (named after the Ochre cliffs along the McLaren Vale coast and its red soil which used to be exported to England to make paint!) I don't find many $9 wines worth drinking but this is one that is a good everyday wine for pizza, pasta or bar-be-que. Respectable and at this price its tough to find anything for more than removing bugs off the bonnet! Give it an 86. Got it at Cab's - seen at Binny's for $8!
Sept 2 Reininger 1998 Merlot Walla Walla Valley $25 (RM & WS 89) - Soft and light packing big punch of berry, plum, a hint of spice and cedar with a nice and long moderately complex finish. Kestrel 1996 Columbia Valley Cab Sav $25 (RM & WS 88) - Berry, currant, a hint of that distinctive Columbia Vy appellation 'cognac' flavor. Moderate body and slight tannins. Fox Creek McLaren Vale Shiraz Reserve 1996 - $50 (RM 90 WS 89 RP96!) - Medium-full body, bold, ripe, dark ink colour, moderate tannins, dark berry, a hint of that distinctive McLaren Vale 'blueberry'. Freemark Abbey 1994 Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet - $42 (RM 87 WS 88) Despite being a sentimental favorite of  BC & me, we were disappointed by this rather unexciting, lifeless, shallow lightweight - 'closed' hopefully temporarily. Rick & LJ with Bill and Beth C. Thanks Bill for sharing the load - the Fox Creek and Sycamore.
Aug 22 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepage 1996 - See review and comments. A real treat to try this Wine of the Year 1999 - again at a fabulous steakhouse - Folk's Folly in Memphis - WS Award of Excellence winelist. Some great  '81 Bordeaux finds warrant a return trip (after the Cinq is gone!)! (label & web) W/ Rick C. and Paul P. - intro to really fab wine!
Aug 15 Murrietta's Well Livermore Valley Vendimia 1997 - (Label & website) (double magnum) (RM 90) - Tasted with the 97 Balmoral and 96 Moon Mountain (below). Call this little brother to the Balmoral! 67% cab,10% mrlot, 8% cab franc, 15% zinfandel. Dark cherry, cedar, smoke, cassis, a hint of caramel. Lacks the backbone and tannin and fruit of Balmoral but not by a wide margin - nice fruit and finish - value. Denver Morten's  -w/ Charlie O' & team with Crtsf team.
Aug 6 Raymond Reserve Napa Merlot 1997 (RM 87) -$17. A good value. Let is breathe and it'll soften a bit and reveal some  flavorful black cherry and a hint of currant, sage and smoky oak with a nice finish. This one is worth picking up - better than an every day pizza/burger wine. A great sidekick to their fabulous 97 CS.. see review. (Label)
27 July Domaine Cabrieres - CDP - 1983 - Correspondence 
26 July 2000 When tasting several wines, its customary to start with the lightest wine and progress to the heaviest. This prevents the more delicate or subtle nuances of a 'smaller' wine being over-powered and lost in a bigger, heavier, more forward one. So, typically a merlot would be followed by a meritage, followed by a Cabernet Sauvignon. What a  role reversal of this tasting of 1997 Liparita Merlot, 1997 Robert Craig Affinity, and 1997 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon and the confusion when I prescribed tasting in reverse order!  Groth (RM88) was light backward and closed for at least twenty minutes before it opened up with subtle berry, currant and plum. Affinity followed in form as cited below. Liparita (RM 91) (label and website) brought up the rear, firm, complex, full bodied with tightly wound tannins yet didn't hold back its blackberry and plum fruit with a lingering cherry, chocolate and cedar finish.  I am holding '95 Liparita merlot magnums.  Tasted at Spanish Bay in July 98, it was memorable: the '97 is another to buy & hold (enjoy) as well! a rich, intense character. CRTSF Board Mtg dinner at Voignier in San Mateo w/ JAC, RLC, K. Hutch, Bob G. JJ, Jennifer V, and Steve H.  
5 July Showket Sangiovese 1997 (Napa Valley)  Rich, sweet nose of black cherry and blackberry, supple  with soft extracted flavors. A Heidi Barrett wine. (RM89) ($36) Venge 1996 Scouts Honor Family Reserve Napa 86% Zin, 12% Sangio - Nils V is consulting winemaker to Del Dotto and several other boutique producers - I was expecting much more fruit in this one - didnt live up to his Saddleback label (see review). (RM88) ($30)
30 June 2000 Snowden Vineyards Lost Valley 1997 -  (RM 90) ($30) Just arrived, the inaugural release of Snowden's second wine. A great effort! They targeted this as an everyday wine... they overachieved. Great fruit, balance, and finish. Watch for this to be a winner - get some if you can.
23 June 2000 Robert Craig Affinity 1997 Napa Valley - (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc) - Dark rich blackberry, medium bodied with soft tannins. (RM 89)  One of our featured producers at the 98 and 99 Napa Wine Experience. See their website & label.
14 June 2000 Rosemount Estate Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1997 - ($46 at Chardonnay rest in OMA - retails for about $24)  Rosemount, a major Australian producer had a great 1997 (See Balmoral Syrah 1997) While the Cab isn't as smooth or as intense in fruit as the Balmoral, it is 40% less in price. Those same flavors of plum and blackberry fruit are punctuated by smoke and currant with a touch of caramel. RM 90  See history and winemaker's comments on their websiteLabel. Rick w/ Kathi R, Dan, JJ
7 June 2000 Sebastiani Sonoma County Cask Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 - Popped this etched double magnum at the surprise 75th birthday party/family reunion for mom. Dark berry, black cherry, tar, spice and oak - the tissue wrapped bottle in its wooden case was a hit, and the wine exceeded expectations and was the perfect complement to the bar-be-que. A nice surprise at a splendid occasion.
4 June  Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - Who says they don't make serious Cab in Washington State? Quilceda produces a high quality cab that will stand the challenge of any Napa product. This is one of the Washington State 'cult' wines not widely recognized outside the region...  Perfectly balanced, smooth, packed with fruit - blackberry, plum, currant with a soft elegant finish. Not a bargain at $56 but respectable at the price-point. (RM 93) Is this the Caymus of the northwest? 
2 June 2000 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah 1997 ($37) Wow. Bam! Deep lead pencil purple/red colour, and an intense aroma of perfume and fruit - deeply concentrated plum and blackberry fruit with a touch of vanilla and sweet cherry - initially tightly wound then opens to be smooth, with an incredible long fruit-filled finish. Tinge of tight tannins and acid that opens into velvet finish shows long life ahead. RM 93-94!  I didn't abstain for a month, just enjoyed previously reviewed favorites or several not worth writing about. You'll look long and hard for this intense power-packed fruit finish. See history and winemaker's comments on their website.   Label.
30 May  Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series 1997 - Blackberries, plum, brown sugar (!), and that distinctive Washington State appellation cognac taste with a big finish. RM 90. Tasted at Sullivan's, Naperville, Linda and Erin.
10 May Viader Red Wine 1997 (Napa Valley)  (RM 89) ($48) Supposed to be one of California's best Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, this mountain-grown wine is bold yet moderately structured,  currant, blackberry, cassis and herb flavors. I found this unexciting and a bit flat - perhaps it needs more time. (Label)
28 April 2000 Peter Lehmann - Clancy's   Barossa 1998- [RM/WS  92] $25 - Was there life before discovering Peter Lehmann wines? Yes, but it wasn't as fulfilling. This wine Highly Recommended this month in WS is balanced and has a smooth flavorful finish. Its packed with berry flavors, blue, black, and currant. The midwest is still discovering  Peter Lehmann;  I first found these wines in Redmond, and Clancy's was sold out everywhere around Bellevue and Seattle. Two weeks later they arrived in Naperville, Clancy's included.  I grabbed it all at Binny's - they promise to get more.  
Peter Lehmann Shiraz 1997 - Barossa
- [RM 90] $16 - Another great value, on par with the Greg Norman Cab 96! (see review). Nice fruit - currant, blackberry and peppery spice. This is a great wine discovery and a must buy/try if you’re learning about wine or just looking for something distinctive and great value. Found this at Fine Wines Ltd. in Redmond – it's now available in Naperville.  Check out their
website. See Labels.
21 April 2000 Waterbrook Columbia Valley Melange 1997  - (RM 89) $14 - Another Washington State discovery! Melange ala Meritage is a blend 72% Merlot, 20% Cab, 8% Cab Franc. - Nice fruit, a hint of spice, and a distinctive edge of cognac and touch of chocolate on the finish - a taste I'm finding to characterize many of the local Washington wines (see Ken Wright). Delightfully different. 
Ken Norman Cabernet Merlot 1998 - Not on par with the 96 and 97 (see below) but still good value - Pete's in Bellevue actually offers this at $11!. Not a must purchase like the earlier ones, less fruit and a slight edge, but this a good everyday wine.  RM 87. 
1 April 2000 Peter Lehmann - Cabernet 1997 - Barossa - [RM 90] $19 - A great value, maybe better value than the Greg Norman Cab 96! (see review). Huge fruit - currant, ripe plum and a hint of brown sugar and a touch of vanilla with a big flavor-full finish. This is a great wine discovery and a must buy/try if you’re learning about wine or just looking for something distinctive and great value. Found this at Fine Wines Ltd. in Redmond – I hope to find more if its available elsewhere. Check out their website.
26Mar 2000 Penfolds Kalinda Bin 28 - 1997 - From the same 100+ year old vineyard that supplies the legendary Grange fruit. This 'poor man's Grange' lacks the depth and sophistication but for 1/6th the price its a good value. Black cherry is followed by a hint of cinnamon and then traces of tobacco, tar and dark chocolate. Has a bit of an edge. (RM 88) $22.
21Mar 2000 Rosemount Estates Balmoral Syrah 1997 - Smooth polished flavorful with blueberry, blackberry, plum, anise and a hint of tobacco finish. (RM 91) $39. Greg Norman Estates - Cabernet/Merlot 1997 -  Coonawarra - [RM 89] $14 - Again a great value, almost as good as the 96 (see review). Fruity, balanced and sophisticated yet easy drinking at an easier price. Was the hit of the tasting holding its own against much pricier foes.  Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry 1996 - ($36) (RM92) A bordeaux style from lower Napa. Tightly wound, full-bodied and complex - flavors of berry, plum, spice and earthy. Top o' the tasting - the Aussies close behind. (Label) Chateau Leoville Barton - St Julien 1995 - (WS93) (RM87) ($65)  Betrays its high rating  (and price)- needs lots of time to open. Unstructured and light - smoke, earthy with berry overtones. At Steve H's with the 'beachhead' team - RT, PDR, REM, DB, JM, SH, TH, RR, RDP, SH. 
17 March 2000 Caymus 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley  (WS 90) (RM92) ($70) Smooth, soft, full fruit with a black cherry, currant, pear, and toasty oak flavor and a nice finish. While this wine is wonderful and plentiful with 26k cases produced its overpriced relative to the wealth of quality selections available for less however on the Omaha Prime wine list in Omaha its the best selection and a good value. No Special Selection was produced in 96 so the 'select' grapes are found in the Estate. WS says it lacks complexity and fullness relative to other vintages but I found it very much in character to my other tasting experiences such as the 91 vintage which I hold in my cellar. (Label) Rick w/ Bob G., Ann K., Cathy R., Steve H., Dan C.
Saddleback Cellars Old Vines Zinfandel Napa Valley 1997 (RM92) ($30) As Del Dotto says, a real fruit-bomb! Huge hit of fruit - red raspberry, pear, plum, currant and blackberry with an earthy chocolate finish. This is a signature wine of Nils Venge - wine maker for Del Dotto and others as well as his own label Venge - its a real treat. Just received a large selection of his wines from TCWC so watch for more reviews of his wines.
Mar 11, 2000 1998 DEL DOTTO Napa Valley Sangiovese - (RM92) $40 This is DDO's first release of a 100% Sangiovese, grown on the mountains of Calistoga in Napa Valley. Super fruity nose with a strong intense floral flavor - a big chunky fruity wine. A favorite of Nils Venge, DDO winemaker.  Only a few hundred cases are available. 
9 March 2000 Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages - Sonoma - 1996 - (Cinq Cepages stands for 'five varieties - Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec - aka bordeaux style wine.)  I've enjoyed Cinq Cepages for years. I'm coveting a few cases of earlier years including their luscious 94. Too bad WS had to screw up a good thing and go and name it their Wine of the Year! Now, the distributors are hoarding it to drive up prices, rationing it as if it were a precious commodity, and merchants no doubt will be a) victims b) profiteers, c) good sports d) all the above - victims of distributors  not filling their longstanding good faith orders,  reviled by long faithful customers for being denied an overnight sensation and cult collectors wine - while profiting for the at-any-price hysteria that will drive the market. Cherish it if you find it - and remember those that offered it at reasonable prices, as well as those that exploited collectors and wine-lovers anxious to try a legendary (if only fleeting) wine. Wow - and remember how it tastes - this is what a wine is supposed to taste like!! And what producers should strive for... at a targeted 'release' price of $28! Compare it at $75-100! A big, luscious, long, full, fruitful, flavorful wine with a big finish. What else is there to say? Good luck and enjoy. (RM 94 , WS 95, RP 93). Tasted at Morton's in Phoenix - who were exceptionally fair.
3 March 2000 Mont Redon - CDP - 1996 - $29 - Intense, dark, ripe, black cherry and peppery finish - moderately light. Great compliment to canard au l'orange - try it with a bar-b-que! (RM 87). This CDP (see picture) vineyard with deep river rock and alluvial soil is adjacent to Chateau Cabrieres visited last summer. 
Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards - Link Columbia Valley Washington - 95 CS and 95 Merlot - these NW wines are the house wines of infamous Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, can also be found at Yarrow Bay Grill - widely available in the NW - great value.  The CS has rich berry with a cedar spice finish almost like cognac. (CS 87 - Merlot 87)
25 Feb 2000 Carmanet Moon Moutain Estate Reserve 1995 - ($42) - Fairly complex and medium fullness - berries, currant, anise, sage, a slight wisp of coffee, moderately big finish WS says the flavors run deep and polished. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. WS says best from 2001 through 2009. (4275 cases produced) - WS (92) (REM 91) (Label) This was best is show at the recent Naperville Cress Creek Country Club wine tasting with Bill & Bev Connolly. (Main). (Label)
23 Feb 2000 Barnard Griffin Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 - ($18) - Flavorful black cherry and blackberry with a shades of oak, spice, chocolate, cinnamon and cedar. Moderately complex and medium body with a nice big finish. A Northwest wine with great value - find it at Larry's Market. (RM 89). (Link.)
12 Feb 2000 Vega Sauco - Tinto De Toro 1997 - ($9!) - This is why they run horse races - win bar bets with this one - a $9 wine that'll beat our those costing 3 times as much. Full fruit, spice, cedar, great value. This is the archetypal value wine Knute seeks and prides himself on offering at The Naperville Wine Shop. In a blind tasting this will fool 'em. Buy a case for pizza, pasta, or just sipping.
12 Feb 2000 Robert Craig Affinity 1996 - ($36) - (WS 92)  One of our favorite producers (Napa Wine Exp 98 | 99) Robert and Lynn Craig's Affinity is their flagship bordeaux style blend of Howell Mtn & Mt. Veeder CS, 14% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc. Wow! Huge fruit, a mouthful, wonderful finish, smooth, balanced - tasty! Berries, jam, caramel - and its approachable and ready to drink now. Hard to find but their 97 release is coming next month ... get in line - stay tuned. 
11 Feb 2000 Walla Walla Valley Seven Hills Vineyard 1997 Merlot - (WS 89) ($26) -(WS Review)  Dense and chewy, with lots of blackberry, tar and anise flavors opening up smoothly on the ripe, sweetly spicy finish. Tempting now. Best after 2000. (1200 cases produced). (Link)(Label)
Feb 6, 2000 - 1998 DEL DOTTO Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - (RM92) $62  Perfume of sweet oak & plum - flavor packed currant, black berry, cherry and a sweet oak smooth vanilla finish with soft tannins.  The 15% Merlot and 5% Cab Franc add roundness and a hint of spice and smoke.  27 months aging  in a variety of oak barrels adds a unique delicious sweet oak complexity   Nils Venge is consulting winemaker.
4 Feb 2000 Trevor Jones Dry Grown Barossa Shiraz 1996 ($30) - Undoubtedly one of the most distinctive labels - an oversized gold foil square with a matchbook size small drawing in the middle of a pair of rubber boots sitting by the door! He tops it off with imprints of the boots around the cork!! And tops that off with an oversized imposing bottle!!! A fun wine, a bit astringent at first, black cherry, plum, a bit light. (RM89)
4 Feb 2000 Domaine Du Vieux Telegraph, Vieux Mas Des Papes , CDP (Chateauneuf Du Pape) 1997 ($30) WS 91. I tasted this wine with Alain Narjoux, Maitre de Chai at the winery last summer and very much wanted it to be a hit and was pleased to see it Highly Recommended  in WS Aug 31 issue. I wish I could add to the praises. Read WS carefully - very ripe, fat in texture, earthy.. subtle warnings - this wine is a slight bit hard and is  -  less approachable to the less hearty. ( RM 85)
27 Jan 2000 1995 Neyers Merlot Napa - $24. I am now being rewarded for stocking up on the 95 merlots - St Jean, Whitehall Lane, and now this - they're coming of age now. This one is bigger but slightly less subtle than the others.  (RM88)
23 Jan 2000 1994 Voila! Napa Valley Melange. This is the new second wine from Patrick and Linda Elliott Smith at Elan Vineyards of Atlas Peak in Napa. Well done. I found this at K&L at $17. A great value. Nicely balanced fruit - black cherry and plum. A fun wine. (RM90)
Jan 22 2000 1997 Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $54. Wow. Here come the 97's and if this is an indication then its going to be a great year! This is a big wine with lots of fruit and a nice balance of oak. A layer of smoke and leather grace black cherry, plum and a vanilla and soft cocoa finish. It should be fun to watch this wine age over the next decade. (RM92) (Link) (Label)
27 Dec 99 1997 Fife CS - $29. Given expectations for the 97's being huge this was a slight bit short given that Spectator anointed it a Spectator Selection - still fabulous bouquet & fruit, strawberry, pear, black cherry, smoke, just a bit light. (RM89)
25 Dec 99 Chateau Souverain 1996 Alexander Valley Composee - Rhone style - Syrah, Mourvedre, Voigner - spicy, peppery, tannic, strawberry, vanilla - a bit light. A daring and creative wine for an American producer. A Christmas gift - we enjoyed with Christmas dinner. Thanks J&B Shipped from WC.
20 Dec 99 Del Dotto Giovanni Tuscan Reserve Napa 1995 WS91 $45. Full fruit, oak, berry, chocolate, mushroom, spice - big finish. Cab Sauv Sangiovese blend - only 190 cases produced - find it at K&L and Kellys.This one was tops against the next three (two Opus's!!) with Paradigm a close second.  Opus One 1993 - (WS90), Strong floral bouquet. Nice fruit but rather single dimensional and flat tasted against the 94, Gio and Paradigm! Opus One 1994 (WS91)- Full black cherry, balanced tannin, overshadowed by the fruit and finish of the Gio and Paradigm. Paradigm CS 1995 (WS 93) - Oakville, Napa, $40 WS93 Plum, black cherry, cedar and smoke. Another wine from our 99 Napa trip. Rick w/ AJ and Liat @ Gabriella's in Santa Cruz.
18 Dec 99 David Arthur 1997 Meritaggio - $38 - (44% cab sauv, 24% cab franc, 16% merlot, 8% sangiovese, 8% petit verdot)  Smoke, licorice, chocolate, leather, black cherry -full flavor and long finish, a blockbuster... too bad its tough to find  - got a case at FL. Knute has some at NWS. See David Arthur. Plumpjack CS 1995 Oakville, Napa - $45. Currant, sage, cedar and tar, oak. Freemark Abbey 1992 Bosche Napa CS - Wow! A much bigger wine than I remember in previous  tastings. Full, tannic, rich and complex, lots of life yet. Rosemount Estates Balmoral Syrah 1995 - Full flavor, fruit, smoke, berries. Overpowered by the Bosche. More closed than previous tastings R&L with Connollys, Gondas, D Tozzi.
11 Dec 99 Del Dotto 1997 Napa Cabernet Franc (WS 91) $48 - cedar, spice, coffee, black cherry - polished - limited production - sold out quickly - try their Cab Sav. Of six wines, this was the hit of Fiorito's Christmas Party. See Del Dotto, one of featured producers at Napa 99.
10 Dec 99 Raymond Reserve Napa CS 1997 WS90 SS -$23. 97 is going to be a tremendous vintage for Napa CS. Watch for a plethora of great wines and values. Great value. With 41k cs made, easy to find. Complex, smoke, oak, currant, black cherry. Now.
1 Dec 99 Several Napa producers are releasing their 97 Cab's this month. If you hurry you can get some of the distinctive smaller rare boutique wines that are normally on allocation if you can find them at all. Our favorites that will ship this month are Del Dotto, Elan, Snowden and Plumpjack. See my links page for contacts. I'm awaiting shipment of each so stay tuned for notes.
15 Nov 99 Greg Norman Estates - Cabernet (90%) Merlot (10%) 1995 - Coonawarra - [WS 91] $15/$13
A great value. Great fruit and easy drinking, a wonderful holiday gift. Worth 2x the price and with 10k cases made it should be easy to find. And yes its produce by The Shark, that Greg Norman as you can tell from the colorful shark on the label!  Unfortunately this was chosen by WS as one of the years Top 100 wines - it'll go fast.
1 Nov 99 Domaine Raspail-Ay - Rhone - 1996 - Gigondas $15 - Good value. A big spicy wine - not for the weak - needs to consumed with a big cheese or bar-b-que - or spicy food. Great pizza wine. Discovered Gigondas during our Rhone experience.
25 Oct 99 Ken Wright Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard, Willamette Valley - 1997 $55 - Tasted at Yarrow Bay Grill in Kirkland. Very distinctive taste - a hint of cognac! Big, bold, forward for a Pinot.
1 Oct 99 Pride Merlot - 1997 -  Napa $30 [WS92] - The releases of Napa Merlot's are fabulous - we tasted this one at the winery in July. (This is the magnum I gave Dr. Dan for his wedding!)  Another one to look for is Liparita for a few $ more, but worth it. (Link)
1 Sept 99 The Dead Arm (yes you read it right - you have to read the label (or write me) to get it) 1995 - Shiraz,  d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Australia - $45. Normally I'll focus on less expensive wines but this one is an experience! And its available. Huge flavor - powerful fruit - blueberries - believe it or not! AJ turned me on to this one. Label/Summary.
July 4 99

Napa Wine Experience 99 - Luncheon At Tra Vigne featuring Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto of Del Dotto Vineyards. Wines Tasted: Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1996, Del Dotto Giovanni's Tuscan Reserve 1997, Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 1997, David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Elan Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996.

July 3 Napa Wine Experience 99 - Lunch at Bistro Jeanty, Yountville. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1989, Paradigm Cabernet Franc 1996, Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, and Presented to Rick by Andy from the Platinum Team ..., Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 Magnum.
July 3

Napa Wine Experience 99 - Dinner at Meadowood Resort featuring Plumpjack Vineyards winemaker Mary Pisor. Wines Tasted: 1995 Plumpjack Reserve, 1997 Plumpjack Estate, 1995 Venge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 1997 Plumpjack Chardonnay, 1995 Lafite Rothschild, 1995 Cos d'Estournel, 1995 Pichon Lalande.

July 2 Napa Wine Experience 99 - Paradigm Winery and Plumpjack Winery.

June 6, '99

Horizontal 1981 tasting of various wines commemorating Erin's HS graduation. Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 1981 - WS 89 The most memorable bottle of the tasting, this one overachieved with an abundance of body and fruit remaining, taking best in class from the weekend's selections. A very pleasant surprise indeed. Château Palmer  Bordeaux Margaux 1981 - WS 89 $46 From WS Oct 15, 1994 review - "Always a delicious wine. Soft and elegant with perfumed cherry, strawberry and cedar box character, fine tannins and a silky finish. Drink now.--The Bordeaux 50. (JS)" Tasted from a magnum. 

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